With the exception of the event-of-all-events that was UFC 100, I have not looked forward to a fight card with as much giddy anticipation than that of this past weekend’s UFC 126 card. UFC 126 was a card that was as staked as any fight card in modern history. The main event title fight between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort none withstanding, the undercard fights all had potential to steal the show. However, things played out a pit different when the bell finally rang. Below are some following observations note by me in my living room Saturday night.
1. Anderson Silva’s teep kick KO of Vitor Belfort to retain his UFC middleweight title will live on in infamy within the confines of MMA lore. We already knew that Silva was a one of a kind talent before this fight; the manner in which he stopped Belfort may have solidified his place as an all-time great in the sport. Say what you will, but in Muay Thai the teep kick is taught as a defensive technique. The fact that Silva caved in Belfort’s face with such a move is a testament to his sheer badass-ness. Also, bonus points have to be awarded for Silva for actually using a technique taught to him by Steven Segal, yes, that Steven Segal, to end a title fight.
2. While I sincerely appreciate their significance and contributions to the success and popularity of the UFC, let’s begin to face the fact that both Rich Franklin and Forrest Griffin are in the twilight of their careers. In their UFC 126 co-main event bout, neither fighter resembled the caged killer status that both had enjoyed in years past. Granted, both fighters entered the cage caked in enough ring rust to cover Disney World, but you figured with such an even playing field that the fight would be hyper competitive. Well, that was not the case. No, not so much. Granted Griffin looked decent in out muscling and out hustling Franklin, but let’s be honest, Franklin would probably be best suited not tangling with the larger light heavyweights. He just looked, and fought, smaller than Griffin. I’m not saying Franklin is done as a fighter, hell the way he trains will probably mean that he will have a Randy Couture like run in the Octagon. I’m just not sure how competitive he can be at light heavyweight.
3. Its official, Jon Jones is a legitimate freak of talent. Sure, we all knew that his athletic talents and video game fighting style were exciting to watch but what Jones proved Saturday night against fellow light heavyweight prospect Ryan Bader is that he can display grace under pressure. Bader had great wrestling and wicked power in his right hand. Jones looked a bit nervous as he stepped into the cage. In the fight you could see that Jones was taken Bader seriously by the absence of his flashy strikes and slams. Instead, Jones was methodical in his approach until his unheralded ground game allowed him to clamp down a guillotine on Bader. A fight with UFC light heavyweight champion Shogun Rua is imminent which could result in us calling Jones something new: champion.
4. I’m not going to lie, heading into UFC 126 I had thought that the showdown between Miguel Torres and Antonio Banuelos would have earned “Fight of the Night” honors. Hell, on paper it seemed that this fight would have contained all the fireworks of the Fourth of July. Instead, what we were treated to a tactical battle at the hands of Torres. Perhaps we have seen the last of the balls-out attack Torres used to employ. I mean, after all that was the cause of his losses in the WEC, reckless aggression. Training in Montreal at the Tri-Star gym, you can see that Torres now utilizes a more cerebral approach. Still, you have to miss the Torres of old.