UFC 113 is over and done with. First of all, I have to give all of those that had faith in Shogun as I gave him little chance even after his 104 performance and he put me in my place, so kudos. While UFC 113 was kinda worth the $45, I'm going to focus on the Light Heavyweight division for now. Let's do the math, in a little less than 3 years the light heavyweight title has been around five different fighter's waist. Out of those five, only two have managed to defend the belt once (jury's still out on Shogun) and both successful defenses were in close contested decisions. Now Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua is the light heavyweight champion. A title many thought he'd get to a lot sooner than he has. So now, in the midst of a flawless performance, it seems bloggers and hardcore fans have pretty much crowned him the invincible force that will lay waste to the entire light heavyweight division and has usurped Fedor Emelianenko, Georges St. Pierre, and Anderson Silva in the pound for pound rankings. I say...let's not get ahead of ourselves. Looking back on the other four men that wore that very same strap, at the time of their victories we were clamoring the same sentiments. When Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson pummeled Chuck Liddell at UFC 71 in a fashion not seen before in an Octagon, many felt he would wear the belt for some time. He would go on to win a close decision over then PRIDE middleweight champion Dan Henderson, coach The Ultimate Fighter 7 opposite Forrest Griffin, and lose a controversial title bout against him. Meanwhile, Forrest Griffin came in with a huge submission win over current champ Shogun and then was able to leg kick his way to the belt. Many (not myself) felt Forrest's scrappy, toughman style would keep him afloat as champion for some time. Here comes Rashad Evans, having defeated then undefeated Michael Bisping and beheading Chuck Liddell, he was to be the sacrificial lamb to Forrest's title reign. Instead, he absorbed punishment for a few rounds before putting Forrest to sleep. Now many felt the improved striking, speed, and obvious knockout power of Rashad Evans was going to be the perfect skills for him to stay undefeated. Enter 'the Dragon'...
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...Lyoto Machida was not only undefeated but had baffled every opponent tossed in his way. Kazuhiro Nakamura, Sokoudjou, Tito Ortiz, Thiago Silva...no one could figure out how to produce any type of offense on the karate expert and it showed as they all stumbled and looked dumbfounded for the duration of their bouts. Rashad Evans, undefeated and champion, was to have the answer so many had sought. The formula to beat Machida. Unfortunately, that formula was missing some key elements because Machida made Rashad look amatuer-ish and quite frankly out of his league in their UFC 98 bout. The Machida Era was proclaimed and he was deemed the Anderson Silva of the Light Heavyweight division. Shogun, having beaten Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell, had other plans. Given very little chance against 'the Dragon', Shogun was seen more as fodder rather than a certified challenger in their UFC 104 match-up. However, the perfect gameplan won...well, almost won him a highly contested decision, but the judges saw it the other way around. As of Saturday night, all of the memory of the close decision has been erased and Shogun, in brutal fashion, has claimed the top prize in the 205-division. Should we now declare the Shogun Era? Well if we learned one thing from the Machida Era is that no one in the light heavyweight division is invincible no matter how good they appear against certain opponents and that's the beauty of the light heavyweight division. It is probably one of the few weight divisions where the challenger is truly a certified threat to the champion every time out. We get to wait in excitement to see how well Shogun will perform now that he is undoubtedly the champion and who's style will be his kryptonite. Is it Rampage's boxing? Is it Rashad Evan's speed and wrestling? Is it Antonio Rogerio Nogueira's well roundedness? Is it Jon Jones' unorthodox style? Is it Randy Couture's dirty boxing? Is it Ryan Bader's wrestling? Is it Anderson Silva's muay thai? Heck, is it a refined Machida's karate style? These are the questions we'll be conjuring up in the next few months and I am sure when the time comes we will get our answers. Until then, we crown a new champion but await some stiff competition in his future.
Just a few extra tidbits:
- I think Dana was kinda harsh with the Kimbo treatment. Yeah he lost and didn't look good but he's a guy they definitely could have kept around to fill out a Fight Night or future Versus card. They could've even used him to fill up a prelim on Spike spot. It's understandable though, Kimbo's old and he just doesn't have the tools to compete with the athletes in the UFC, but I'm sure Joe Silva could have handpicked a couple of guys to at least up the ratings/buyrates.
- I won't lie, I dosed off at the beginning of round 3 of Josh Koscheck/Paul Daley's fight and missed the suckerpunch. However, Dana's justified in doing what he has done but I think it's a bit premature to say he'd never fight in the Octagon again. He's young and still has time to mature, I mean they do have Gilbert Yvel and Phil Baroni employed and they have a murky past. Koscheck is the perfect heel though and will probably make this next season of TUF 12 worth watching to see how well GSP handles his mouth.
- I swear any time I pick against Alan Belcher he wins. Anytime I pick him he gets destroyed. It's just one of those things I have to live with but he did look like a beast against Patrick Cote. Could he be involved in a title eliminator soon?
- Jeremy Stephens throws sledgehammers. It's a miracle to me that Sam Stout was able to absorb some of them blows and keep coming. He's a tough kid and Stephens, with time, could be a contender.
- Doesn't look like the Canadian's faired too well on this card...lol