Aside from the train wreck of an ending, UFC 168 was a pretty exciting event. Of the five main card fights, zero went to the judges’ scorecards, and most ended early, with only Rousey and Tate making it to the third round. There were some dominant performances on the undercard as well, with William “Patelino” Macario’s bloody domination of Bobby Voelker, and Michael Johnson’s second-round knockout of Gleison Tibau.
The momentum continued right along through the main card, and by the time the main event was about to go down, the excitement was at a fever pitch. Finally, the questions would be answered. Finally, we would know what to make of the first fight between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva, and we’d truly know which one of these two is truly superior in mixed martial arts.
It was difficult to watch Anderson Silva laying on the mat clinging to his ankle, screaming in pain. And then shortly after the fight, the various photos started popping up on social media of Silva writhing in agony in various spots on his trip from the octagon to the ambulance. It was a dramatic and unpleasant ending to a great night of fights, a night that saw two champions defend their titles, a dangerous contender emerge at heavyweight in Travis Browne, and Chris Leben fight for what will hopefully be the last time, on the losing end of an outright assault by a very motivated Uriah Hall.
No pressure, No Diamonds
Poirier went to town on Diego Brandao, and with good reason. Poirier claimed that Brandao told him prior to the weigh-ins that he was going to cut his throat, so of course Poirier was fired up and got right in his opponents face and told him he was going to break him, and that he knew it. Brandao came into this fight seven pounds over the 145-pound featherweight limit, and the added weight didn’t give him any advantages against “The Diamond”.
With a minute left in the first round Poirier began to work some serious punches to the body, and the picked Brandao apart against the fence until he finally dropped and Poirier finished him off with some hammerfists at the very end of the round. Poirier looks more and more confident and comfortable each time we see him in the octagon and at 24 years old and already sporting a 7-2 UFC record, I think his potential has yet to be reached, and if I was picking his next outing, I’d go for the rematch of their 2012 classic and pair him up Chan Sung Jung.
Dr Jeckyll Equally as Monsterous as Mr Hyde
Jim Miller didn’t want to end the streak of finishes that was starting to gain momentum when he stepped in the cage against Fabricio Camoes at UFC 168, and notched his 12th UFC win when tapped the Brazilian via a first-round armbar. Miller said post-fight that he worked in his camp on staying calm and being more technical.
“You’ve seen me fight aggressive, like an animal. You’ve seen Mr. Hyde, I tried to bring Dr. Jeckyll out today and he’s a killer too”.
Miller has really only had a few rough performances, and if he really has dialed in his aggression, there are a lot of great fights for him at lightweight right now. If Raphael dos Anjos hadn’t gone and mistakenly signed on to fight Rustam Khabilov, that would have been a good fight. I think a good next fight for Miller would be against a fellow UFC 168 fighter, Michael Johnson.
Browne Makes Quick Work of The War Master
I didn’t doubt the look on Josh Barnett’s face for one second when he entered the octagon at UFC 168. He looked intensely focused some bad kinds of stuff. Travis Browne looked back across the cage almost intrigued by the deathstare being sent his way by “The Warmaster”. When these two locked horns it didn’t take long for Browne to brutalize Barnett with some giant-sized elbows to the side of the head that put the former UFC heavyweight champ to sleep.
My thoughts on Travis Browne: Give this man a title fight. How interesting is a fight between Travis Browne and Cain Velasquez? I know that Fabricio Werdum was next in line for a title shot, and since Velasquez is healing up from shoulder surgery, that Werdum is most likely next for Browne, but just think about what would happen in a fight between those two. I’m not saying that Browne beats Velasquez, but I sure do want to see it.
Eight Fights, Eight Armbars
If Katy Perry and Joan Jett don’t get your adrenaline pumping before a fight, you don’t have a soul. Tate looked like she was having the time of her life during her walkout, and Rousey looked like she was ready to end someone. Tate had already exceeded all of her contemporaries when she made to the five minute mark in a fight with Ronda Rousey. She defended an early armbar, and showed a lot of heart and resiliency in the fight, but got thoroughly dominated by Rousey.
Rousey showed some advances in her striking game, and was able to tag Meisha on the feet and land some good punches to Tate’s face during their grappling exchanges. In the third round Ronda locked up an armbar and Tate quickly tapped, knowing that her rival was willing to take her arm home with her if necessary.
Rousey’s next bout was announced afterward, and she will take on Sara McMann in the main event of UFC 170 in February. McMann has the distinction of being an Olympian herself, in wrestling, and could be the only women in the UFC with a skillset as advanced as Rousey’s. And should she get past McMann, she still has the rightful number-one contender Cat Zingano waiting in the wings. The negative reaction she got from the Las Vegas crowd after refusing handshake with Tate after the fight may be the real story to this one, as Rousey may be poised to fill the void the UFC currently has when it comes to big pay-per-view draws.
The Spider Snaps a Limb
We knew that anything was possible in the rematch between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva, but nobody could have foreseen the terrible way it actually would end. After a dominant first round by Weidman, where he dropped Silva and nearly finished him with punches from inside his guard.
Anderson came out in the second with the type of spring in his step that is usually followed by a highlight reel knock out. He whipped a hard leg kick at Weidman, who checked it with his knee. This sent Anderson to the mat after briefly attempting to put weight on the two bones in his leg that had just snapped across his opponent’s knee. Just like that Weidman moves to 2-0 against the greatest fighter of all-time and it could have been the last time we see Silva in the cage. My gut feeling is that he will return, even if only for one more fight.
Weidman can’t seem to catch a break with outcomes like these. A win is a win, and he’s got two over Silva. He now moves on to defend his title against Vitor Belfort, and even though the logical thing to do would be to have these two face each other somewhere in North America, I have a feeling Team Weidman might be headed into enemy territory for that fight.
Front-Page Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor