Sunday, February 06, 2011

UFC 126 Thoughts

In April, I asked the question What do you do about a problem like Anderson? In the end, I wasn't sure how exactly to force Silva to stop with the antics and actually fight. Based on UFC 126, Joe Silva and company seem to have determined how to do this.

Silva came out and defeated Vitor Belfort in the first round of their fight. No dancing, no waiting for a counterstrike. Once the fight opened up a bit, Silva was willing to fight toe to toe with Belfort, and used a straight front kick to Belfort's jaw to win. This was the most impressive Silva looked since the Forrest Griffin fight in 2009. It was also a departure from the Silva seen in the Damien Maia and Thales Leites defenses. This Silva wanted to finish the fight.

In part, this can traced to Silva's desire to best a person he felt was a turncoat. Rumour had it that Silva was angry that Belfort had taken a title shot against a fellow camp member. As well, Belfort was still more beloved in Brazil than the currently more successful Silva. To defeat Belfort was to gain the respect of his home country, and to defeat a defector.

As well, Silva had something to prove. His fight with Chael Sonnen chipped away at his unbeatable aura. Sonnen was 2 minutes away from getting a decision victory on Silva, having dominated him for 4 1/2 rounds. Silva got a remarkable triangle victory for the win, but all of the sudden there was doubt about him. Was he the best pound for pound fighter in the world, or was Georges St. Pierre now the best fighter? He needed to not just win his next fight, he needed to win it impressively. He needed a stoppage.

Credit to Joe Silva for putting these fights together, and to Dana White to begin talking about a possible Georges St. Pierre/Anderson Silva superfight, to give Silva a carrot to drive towards. We've seen what happens when you challenge Silva; the question now is what will happen if Silva runs out of challenges?

***

Every once in a while, UFC can pull of a shocker of an announcement. Somehow yesterday they made one of the most surprising announcements of their history.

Jon Jones had just completed a definitive victory over Ryan Bader, which was surprising for the domination that Jones showed. Then Joe Rogan showed up into the ring and gave some shocking news. Rashad Evans had suffered a knee injury, and a new opponent was needed for Lightheavyweight champion Shogun Rua. Rogen then asked Jones if he was willing to take the fight with 6 weeks of preparation time. Naturally, Jones said yes.

Really, Jones had no reason to say no. Taking a fight against an elite fighter with 6 weeks of preparation and recovery time from a previous fight is a no lose situation for him. If he wins, then obviously he's a world champion. If he loses, then he has a built in excuse that he didn't have enough time to prepare. With that said, it could be too early for Jones to actually become champion. Though he's looked strong to date, he hasn't faced any elite fighters. And he's in the process of still learning. He's very much a raw talent that is still forming into a fighter.

Even still, the UFC was correct to give him a title shot. They have hit on something that has the imagination of most of their fans, and you should always strike when the iron is hot.

***

(Added 10:51 pm) My picks for UFC 126 were 6-5, with my betting getting me 69.80, or a loss of $0.20. For the year, I'm 12-9-1, while losing $27.20 on my theoretical wagers (this assumes that PartyBets considers a draw to be a lost wager.)

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