A week or so ago I wrote about possible story lines to be on the lookout for in the aftermath of UFC 102. I honestly wasn't expecting too much from the event, but the event really exceeded my expectations and then some. This was all topped off by the Nogueira/Couture fight more than living up to the hype. So I wanted to chat a bit about what the event taught us and what's next for some of the fighters.
-Brandon Vera just can't seem to get that hype train rolling again. It seems whenever he goes up against someone semi-good, he just can't get the win or he wins unimpressively. He had some spots where he looked good last night, but with his talent you expect him to be able to finish guys like Reese Andy and Soszynski. Some people will say a win is a win, but certain fighters are not held to the same standard and Vera is one of them. A lot of that is due to his outrageous talk early in his career, combined with some impressive efforts early in his UFC career. That was Vera's fourth fight as a light heavyweight in the UFC. Besides Keith Jardine, all of his opponents have been mid-level guys at best. It's time for Vera to sink or swim in the UFC LHW division in my opinion. He needs to face a top ten opponent, and Thiago Silva would be the perfect fight.
-Chris Leben is the epitome of a fighter that clearly doesn't have his best interests in mind when it comes to fight strategy. You have fighters that a described as brawlers, but Leben takes that term to another level. I was just shaking my head at some of the wild punches he was winging last night. That loss probably gets him dropped from the UFC. Jake Rosholt didn't look too bad in standing and trading with Leben. However, I was most impressed with the submission he used to put Leben out. That was a thing of beauty. I expect the UFC to continue to mold him carefully with good match-ups.
-Nate Marquardt absolutely decapitated Demain Maia. It was a highlight reel finish, but it's also a whammy because we didn't really get a chance to see how those two match up. I had stated over and over again that I thought Marquardt was going to be too much for Maia. However, I don't think anyone say that coming. I think Marquardt deserves the title shot over Dan Henderson. However, I wouldn't be mad at those to fighting one another for the right to fight Anderson Silva next. Especially since Silva is unclear in regards to what he wants to do next. In regards to Demian Maia, I think he'll be back, but it's clear he needs to improve his stand up game. You can't beat top level opposition consistently just being superior in one discipline.
-Thiago Silva probably should get an apology from me. In fact, Thiago Silva is the man...there I said it. However, as good as his win was for him and his career, it's kind of like the Maia/Marquardt fight. Jardine has tendencies to get overwhelmed early, and even though Jardine was the aggressor it still makes me question just how good Thiago Silva is. Even though Jardine is a highly ranked LHW, I still think Silva is quite a ways away from a title shot being that the current champion destroyed him earlier this year. So Silva is probably going to be gatekeeper status for a while or unless he just KTFO out of 2 or 3 opponents in a row. As I mentioned earlier, I'd like to see him and Vera square off next. Keith Jardine will probably be safe from getting dropped from the promotion. This guy has had a murderer's row of opponents in the last two years, and he's still close to .500 during that time span. Plus, he probably has too much of a name for the UFC to allow him to go to Strikeforce.
-Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is my favorite heavyweight of all time and he absolutely pumped new life into his career with his win over Randy Couture. I don't think the fight was close at all because Couture was basically fighting to survive for over half of the fight. I have a poll asking if you thought Nogueira earned a shot at the winner of Lesnar/Carwin so make sure you hit that up if you haven't already. In regards to Randy Couture, he signed a new contract on yesterday before the Nogueira fight. This will probably see him move back down to the UFC LHW division for a slew of money fights. He said he's going to take them one fight at a time, but honestly I don't expect Couture to finish out that contract fighting in the deepest division in all of MMA.
-Gabriel Gonzaga got back on the right track with his win.
-Todd Duffee is a monster. Jesus that guy is huge, and he was already asking Dana White for another fight before the post fight press conference last night according to White. Duffee said he wanted the fast track, so we'll see what happens with him.
-Ed Herman is probably facing getting cut, even though he got injured in the fight.
Give us your thoughts on the event and what you learned in the comments section.