Brazil- Responsible for some of the greatest techniques and fighters in the young history of MMA. After Saturday night, also responsible for one of the most exciting UFC cards of all time! UFC Rio was the event, Anderson Silva was the star!
Anderson Silva, who has etched his name into the history of MMA already, looked to avenge a his only loss within the past five years to Yushin Okami. Although a technicality, Silva was disqualified at a 2006 Rumble on The Rock event in Hawaii for delivering an illegal upkick, knocking out Okami. It has been speculated that prior to the card, there were no rules meetings, so the infraction was not intended with malice. A re-match was scheduled for UFC 90, but a broken hand forced Okami out of the match, which would later make a permanent training partner.
That proved to not do much good however, as Anderson Silva was impressive as ever. With the exception of a clinch against the cage in the first round, Silva controlled everything. By the second round the champion had his hands by his waist, inviting Okami to punch him. Okami obliged, and was sent to the ground twice before being finished for having did something so incredibly stupid.
At this point, I usually talk about what is next for the featured fighters. One would assume Silva will be taking on the winner of a Chael Sonnen/ Brian Stann matchup. Can Sonnen replicate his dominant (but losing) performance over a healthy, prepared Silva? I don’t see Brian Stann being a viable contender to take on Silva. Forrest Griffin noted after the fight that Anderson Silva fighting at least two opponents may be the only way to go. Little does Griffin know, that is a Steven Seagal training specialty.
The fans are still screaming for GSP vs. Anderson Silva. Yet Nick Diaz and perhaps Chael Sonnen stand in the way of that match, which Dana White would confirm late Saturday night. This main event would be the largest in MMA history, and anyone on the PPV card would become immediate household names.
What I don’t like is the use of Chael Sonnen on the preview show to sell this fight. Sonnen is an important part to Okami’s training camp, but shouldn’t be in charge of selling the fight for Okami, as it is no longer his time. I understand the need to have an English- speaking person to hype the event, but Sonnen has blown his chances time and time again. I fully expected Sonnen to hit the cage with a steel chair, since he steals everything else from pro wrestling.
I will say however, while watching Chael Sonnen hosting on MMA Live, he was very professional and respectful to all of the fighters, including Silva. When Sonnen realizes he is supposed to do a job, whether it be selling a PPV, fighting in the cage, or hosting an MMA program, he does that job, and does it very well.
Former light heavyweight champions had a re-match of their 2007 bout as UFC poster boy Forrest Griffin took on the once dominant Shogun Rua. Shogun was listed as an overwhelming favorite in their previous fight, but as injuries mounted, so did Shogun’s mobility, and in a surprising upset, Forrest Griffin was able to put away Rua with a rear-naked choke. Since the loss to Anderson Silva, Griffin’s motivation has been questioned, considering you can’t tell when to take the guy seriously, so nobody knew what to expect going into the bout.
Shogun Rua knew what to expect, and that was to avenge his loss to Griffin, in which he did handily. Controlling the pace from the outset, Shogun attacked Griffin, dropped him, followed him to the ground and finished the fight. Very impressive against a top opponent, I would imagine Shogun Rua will face the loser of the Rampage Jackson/Jon Jones bout. Shogun has been vocal about his willingness to fight both of the two.
Forrest Griffin, however, may be close to retirement. Evidence of this are his off-the record comments that he was unmotivated, and was nearing his targeted amount for the end of his career. I would fully expect him to continue his excellent writing career and do major public relations work for the UFC. Griffin is responsible for an entire generation of fans being interested in MMA, and may have a couple more fights left in the UFC. However, it seems as if he is out of the title picture.
Brendan Schaub has been rapidly rising up the heavyweight ranks, defeating former number one contender Gabriel Gonzaga, and the legendary Mirko Crocop. He ran into another legend Saturday night in former UFC Interim and PRIDE heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. “Minotauro” Nogueira, as he’s called, has eight victories over PRIDE and UFC champions, and is surely a future hall of famer, but of late, has been inconsistent.
Not the case for UFC 134 however, as Nogueira quite simply took Schaub to the learning tree. A little clinch work turned into a boxing match, which is right up Schaub’s alley. Never doubt a legend however, as Nog proved he still has the intensity to compete with the young talent at this level, by landing shots to knock Brendan Schaub out cold. This resulted in the most deafening reaction I’ve ever heard during an MMA show from the Brazilian crowd. I would look for Nogueira to face an established opponent in his next bout, perhaps a Shane Carwin (unless one of them dies of old age first), or Brock Lesnar, if he is to return.
Edson Barboza, a muay thai black belt and Ross Pearson, a british boxer, seemed like it would be one of the classic “wind em’ up, let em’ go” fights. While it indeed was a stand up battle, it wasn’t the ‘duck and throw’ war casual fans would like, as both used incredible head movement and footwork, but in the end Barboza remained undefeated in his home country. I would personally love to see a Barboza/ Melvin Guillard fight if Guillard doesn’t get a title shot soon. Speed against speed at its best in the division.
The undefeated Stanislav Nedkov continued his tear against the once highly touted light heavyweight prospect Luiz Cane, stopping him with strikes. Nedkov threw in the neighborhood of 5,000 overhand shots before finally using common sense and setting up a combination that rocked Cane. Nedkov followed Cane to the cage, and destroyed him with huge shots. This was also the first fight of the night in which a Brazilian did not emerge victorious.
I would hope Nedkov improves his technical striking, as throwing overhands repeatedly will get you torn up swiftly against the likes of Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Forrest Griffin, or virtually any experienced striker in the UFC. I honestly feel that if Rich Franklin would have been in the cage on Saturday night, he would have countered a sloppy overhand and ended the fight. Basic mistakes and telegraphing turn a fighter from Fedor 2008 to Fedor 2011.
The atmosphere of this event, the first for the UFC in Brazil, was unlike no other. The fans were wonderful, passionate, and appreciative of the show. Dana White said in the post-fight press conference that he wishes he could come back every weekend, and I’d expect at least one card there per year, if not more. Junior Dos Santos, Lyoto Machida, and Jose Aldo are all potential headliners for another major card in Brazil.
In other MMA news, make sure all of you check out DREAM 17, featuring Gerald Harris, Shinya Aoki, Kawajiri, Caol Uno, Sakuraba and many others. This is Gerald Harris’ first bout since signing with DREAM, and a win will likely set him up for a shot at the currently vacant middleweight title, so we wish him luck.
That’s it for UFC 134: Rio folks!
Don’t forget to FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER for WWE/TNA/UFC/MMA News and opinions!!!!!