By Jesse Holland
UFC 79: "Nemesis" is finally in the books and aside from a great night of fights, I think it can be said (with a good deal of certainty) that after some rough waters the ship has finally started to right itself.
George St. Pierre is reclaiming his position as one of the most dominant fighters in the game today, Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva taught us that a rivalry as great as theirs can transcend time, and Melvin Guillard and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou proved once and for all that power is nothing without control.
Matt Hughes has enjoyed the kind of career that most fighters can only dream about. Losing to Georges St. Pierre does not affect Hughes' place in UFC history and I find it kind of fitting that the torch has been passed to "Rush" ... via armbar.
That's some symbolic karma right there.
Pay attention Georges. You want to be the next great welterweight legend. The fans want you to be next great welterweight legend. The only thing that can stop you is YOU. Let's hope that tonight's dominating performance is an indication that you've conquered your demons.
Can we have a moment of silence for the match that never was – and probably never will be? Maybe if Matt Serra loses to GSP he can settle his grudge with Hughes – assuming the self-professed country boy is still in the fight game by then.
Speaking of grudge matches, was anyone not on the edge of their seat for the fifteen minute war that was Liddell vs. Silva? I don't even care that it didn't end with a knockout. Saturday's fight was the reason fans were demanding this match for so long – and credit to the fighters - they delivered.
Chuck looked sharp. And color me reactionary, but I was as stunned as Wandy when Chuck started pulling out the takedowns. I'd like to think the impostor that fought Keith Jardine last September is gone for good.
And as far as Wanderlei Silva is concerned, I didn't think he was finished after dropping two straight fights and I still don't think that now that it's up to three. Losing to fighters like Mirko Cro Cop, Dan Henderson and Chuck Liddell is not exactly an uncommon occurrence in this sport and the way Silva fights I'll continue watching him until he decides he's had enough.
In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing "The Axe Murderer" give Rashad Evans his comeuppance.
It was interesting to see Houston Alexander, I mean Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, find out what happens when knockout power is not enough. The undefeated Lyoto Machida continued to mystify as his strategy baffled the UFC newcomer.
Can anyone figure this guy out?
Machida may not have an exhilarating style, but he knows how to get the job done. Sokoudjou was in la-la land prior to the arm triangle. And kudos to Machida for finally finishing an opponent. It couldn't have come at a better time. Now who are we going to compare Karo Parisyan to?
Melvin Guillard is going to have to put a little more mixed in his martial arts. When you have seven losses and six of them are by submission, I think it's time to re-evaluate things.
He's got talent, but so often it looks like he just goes out there to fight, perhaps forgetting that this is a sport and that best strategy (most of the time) prevails. This is a huge win for Rich Clementi (personal and professional), but in a division this stacked it will be a tough road to hoe.
Not as tough as watching Eddie Sanchez fight Soa Palelei, however. This was the only stinker of the night. Palelei looks like a guy who has been out of the game for three years and Sanchez looked like he was getting royalties on the uppercut.
He got the "W" but he's going to have to do better than that if he wants to get past some of the bigger guys like Tim Sylvia.
Again, it was a great night to be a MMA fan. To finish out the recap I'm going to take a look at the future of the fighters of UFC 79. Nothing scientific, just a little wish list of mine.
Georges St. Pierre: If Serra is ready, great. If not, Jon Fitch has earned the right to face you.
Chuck Liddell: Quinton Jackson is out of the question, as is Forrest Griffin. I guess that leaves you with Shogun. No complaints here.
Lyoto Machida: Your ability to finish Sokoudjou is certain to raise your stock. If Shogun doesn't get Chuck, I'm hoping that you do. Thiago Silva wouldn't be a bad idea, either.
Rich Clementi: The lightweight division is full of contenders. Beating a veteran like Spencer Fisher may help you become one of them.
Eddie Sanchez: Tonight's win probably won't endear you to anyone at UFC headquarters, but a win is still a win. You might be Andrei Arlovski's going away present.
Matt Hughes: I doubt you'll be around long enough to fight Serra, but that doesn't mean you can't go out without a bang. I'm sure a match with Diego Sanchez or Josh Koscheck would be entertaining.
Wanderlei Silva: Like I said before, Rashad Evans needs to get a little dirt on that clean record and I think you're just the man for the job.
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou: It's back to the drawing board I'm afraid. You won't see a main event until you rebuild your resume. Fighting some TUF alumni would be a good start. Keith Jardine or Stephan Bonnar come to mind.
Melvin Guillard: With two submission losses and a drug suspension, your days are numbered. A fresh start in the WEC could do you some good – unless you want to slug it out with Luke Caudillo on a Fight Night undercard.
Soa Palelei: Getting battered by Eddie Sanchez in your debut is not the best way to start your UFC career. But you can take punishment. Maybe they'll let Brandon Vera pound on you for a few rounds – it's the kind of match the producers of "Unleashed" love to show.
That's a wrap, maniacs. Hope everyone enjoyed the final show of 2007. For the most part it did not disappoint.
To check out our complete UFC 79 blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage click here.
Just want to apologize to our readers who couldn't get on the site last night. We did some upgrades to our server literally hours before showtime because we knew we would get hit hard. It wasn't a good idea. In fact, it was a disaster. Live and learn. It won't happen again.