Heading in to Saturday night’s UFC 156, Antonio ‘Bigfoot Silva’ and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (also known as ‘Little Nog’) were looked at as stepping stones. By the end of the night, they ranked in the top 5 in their respective divisions.
On a card headlined by fellow Brazilian Jose Aldo retaining his featherweight title in close (well, closer than the scorecards said) win over Frank Edgar, Brazilians had a clean sweep on the main card.
Prior to the event, Alistair Overeem had already been pegged as the number one contender to Cain Velasquez’s heavyweight title. Needing only a win over an apparently underestimated Bigfoot Silva, Overeem inexplicably went into the bout with his hands down, totally disrespecting the punching power of Silva. As the fight progressed, you could almost see Bigfoot Silva gaining confidence, eventually culminating in a mastodon of a combination that put Overeem against the cage, and eventually to the mat.
What Silva showed all of us, is something preached in gyms all across the world; you can never take your opponent lightly. Overeem had clearly bought into his own hype, and didn’t respect Silva’s ability. At any level of MMA, especially the UFC, that just can’t be done. While Bigfoots victories over former champions Fedor, Ricco Rodriguez and Andrei Arlovski wasn’t exactly during the prime of their careers, there is no doubting or talking down this win.
As it pertains to Little Nog, there isn’t a whole hell of a lot to talk about. Rashad Evans was apparently one victory away from being offered a 185-pound title shot against Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva, prior to Saturday’s horrible performance. I’m typically not one to crap all over a pro fighters’ performance, but Evans did literally nothing, white Little Nog did the bare minimum in earning the victory. Evans spent a significant amount of time attempting to catch the jab of Nogueira…and that’s it. Evans would occasionally follow up with a two punch combo, but after having that plan backfire against Jon Jones, one would assume that against a high-level boxer like Nogueria, he wouldn’t try that. One would also assume wrong.
When the score cards were read, Nogueira was declared the victor, and was catapulted in to the top 5 of the Light Heavyweight division. Rashad Evans, who contemplated retirement following the Jones loss, may be leaning in that direction yet again. It seems as if Jon Jones beat the aggression out of him last April, and he failed to pull the trigger at UFC 156.
The moral of Saturday’s story; never underestimate your opponent. Don’t hold your hands down by your ass, when a 265 pound giant is standing in front of you swinging meat hooks. Don’t think you jab catch-jab your way to victory based on reputation. The UFC is full of elite athletes today, this isn’t the UFC of old, where one month a fighter would receive a world title shot, and the next week be fighting at a VFW hall in Kansas.
On the amateur level, I’ve seen guys who don’t train in the sport take fights and be destroyed. At the professional level, especially the UFC level, this isn’t the case. In the UFC, every man or woman on the roster trains to win. Before I beat this dead horse, just don’t leave your hands down kids. Anyone can get caught, at any moment.
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