Sunday, July 03, 2011

UFC 132 Thoughts

One of the biggest themes going through today's card was redemption. Each of the three main fights had a fighter attempting to redeem themselves from a previous event in their career. In each case, the fighter achived redemption.

Going into his fight, Tito Ortiz had two options - win his fight, or be let go from the UFC. Given that he had not won a fight since 2006 and his most recent fights saw him look rather pedestrian (not too mention the various injuries/excuses Ortiz had offered to explain his poor performances,) the general consensus was that Ortiz would be looking for a new group to fight in after UFC 132 had finished.

Funny thing about that though. Ortiz ended up dropping Bader with a punch early in the first round, then securing a guillotine choke to record a victory. Not only was that Ortiz's first victory in 5 years, it was the first time in 10 years Ortiz had stopped a fighter who was not named Ken Shamrock. In mere minutes, Ortiz had managed to turn the fans into rabid fans supporting him, and set himself up for a greater run in the UFC.

Chris Leben was on top of the world on July 3rd, 2010. He had just won two fights in 2 weeks - an accomplishment that has very little precedence in modern MMA competitions. He was considered to be within a fight or two of a title shot in he middleweight division. But that was not to be. In October, Leben was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence. Two months later, he faced Brian Stann and was destroyed by the new up and comer. Leben's future prospects as an elite MMA fighter were in question.

Leben was paired with Wanderlei Silva for this card, and Leben was thrilled to be facing his idol. He took full advantage of his high profile opponent, and in 27 seconds, cemented himself as being in the upper tier of middleweight fighters. Leben weathered a brief flurry from Silva, then dropped him with multiple uppercuts before finishing with the fight on the ground with some frightening ground and pound. Leben was back, and accepted by the community as a great fighter.

Dominick Cruz has an unusual style, one that has helped him dominate the Bantamweight division as its champion. However, Cruz had one blemish on his record - a loss to Urijah Faber in 2007. It hung over his head for a long while, and only at UFC 132 did he have an opportunity to change this.

During the fight, Cruz used his manic unorthodox style to keep Faber off balance and prevent Faber from having any sustained success in attacking. As well, Cruz was able to attack and get some solid strikes in, along with some takedowns. This gave Cruz the victory and avenged his one loss in his career. He was redeemed in his eyes.

Sports, and specifically fighting sports, produce many opportunities for redemption stories to be told, so long as the fighter involved holds their part of the bargain. Tonight, we had three fighters tell their stories of redemption to us, and remind us how powerful a redemption story could be.
***
My predictions were 9-2, putting me at 53-32-2 for the year. I won four wagers at a profit of $63, making my profit for the year $79.80.

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