Everyone was a winner in the UFC 143 co main event, including the fans, as Fabricio Werdum and Roy Nelson put on a show, deserving of the "Fight of the Night." Photo by Esther Lin via SBnation.com.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) just conducted a textbook campaign of mixed martial arts (MMA) fights, was an accomplice in a robbery and then exited the scene of the crime.
At least that's the story Nick Diaz will be telling his grandchildren in 30 years.
The main event at UFC 143 on Feb. 5, 2012, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, saw a hard fought and close decision victory go to Diaz's opponent Carlos Condit. Diaz felt like he won ... and he wasn't the only one.
Afterward, he was so upset by the decision that he stated he will be retiring from the sport. If he really follows through, it would be a loss for him, as well as for MMA as a whole.
Speaking of losses, let's take a look at the laundry list of losers from UFC 143. It doesn't have to be all "doom and gloom." We can talk winners, too:
Fabricio Werdum -- In his UFC re-entrance, "Vai Cavalo" was given no tomato can by drawing Roy Nelson, one of the toughest guys in the business. Everyone knows this guy is one of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in the world. What they might not know is that his stand up is very good and just keeps getting better. He's now fought two of the best strikers in the heavyweight division in Alistair Overeem and Nelson, and he hasn't really been hurt at all. At UFC 143, Werdum outstruck "Big Country," outgrappled him and outclassed him. He's back and shouldn't be going anywhere for a while.
Renan Barao -- He fought a three round war with a very tough Scott Jorgensen. True, he couldn't put Jorgensen away, but that's easier said than done. Barao outstruck Jorgensen 118 to 58, including several huge spinning back kicks that had the crowd on their feet. He was faster, more precise and just flat out better in every aspect. Afterward, he called for a shot at Dominick Cruz and his championship belt. Of course, this can't happen because "The Dominator" is currently slated to fight Urijah Faber after they coach against each other in the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). The title shot for Barao may not come next, but it's coming soon.
Nick Diaz vs. Carlos Condit -- I'm gonna keep it short and sweet because I didn't like how this one turned out (scroll down to the "Losers" section for more on this). Despite my disappointment in the results, this was a fantastic fight that mostly lived up the hype.
Stephen Thompson -- In his UFC debut, this new welterweight acquisition made a great first impression by brutally knocking out Dan Stittgen with a pretty head kick in the first round. His karate background was evident, as his unorthodox stance clearly confused his opponent. He kept his hands low, his distance elusive, and he used a beautiful combo that lead to a finish in his inaugural Octagon appearance. I expect big things from this fighter in the future.
Matt Brown -- "The Immortal" looked solid tonight, coming off a loss to Seth Baczynski at UFC 139 on Nov. 19, 2011 in San Jose, Calif. The fight was a war, and it was clear that Chris Cope was trying to make things as chaotic as possible, in the hopes that he might land a chance, finishing blow in one of the scrums. Unfortunately for Cope, it was Brown who landed the first big shot. After catching a leg kick in the second round, Brown countered with a big left hook, then a combination of several other short, quick punches that left Cope crumpled up in a ball on the floor. It wasn't a massive win, but it was much needed and he looked solid in so doing.
Dustin Poirier -- In the early portion of his fight with UFC newcomer Max Holloway, Poirier was kept on his toes by a young prospect, looking to make a name for himself in his debut. The fight saw Holloway getting the better of the stand up in the first round, but eventually, Poirier took the fight down to his world where he was able to pull off a very nice armbar submission from the top triangle position. Very high level stuff. The win is Poirer's fourth consecutive UFC win. He's undefeated in the Octagon and just keeps getting better with each performance.
Alex Caceres -- "Bruce Leroy" was putting on an exhibition of kicks in his fight versus Edwin Figueroa. The problem is that two of those kicks landed squarely in the nether region, eventually meriting him a two point reduction penalty by referee Herb Dean when it happened the second time in round number two. It's a shame, because he really looked impressive overall. You just can't give fights away by doing stuff as dumb as that. Kick me in the groin once, shame on you. Kick me there again -- well -- still, shame on you. Stop that.
Josh Koscheck -- After a long media campaign where Koscheck publicly declared that Mike Pierce essentially didn't belong in the cage with him, he certainly didn't show it at UFC 143, if this is, in fact, the case. He may have notched the split decision win, but it was close -- really close. Afterwards, his victory interview was almost entirely interrupted by the crowd in attendance who seemed dead set on booing him out of the building. While he did try and pretend it didn't bother him, he appeared bothered as he walked out of the cage with his head down. It makes me ask the question: "Is this a guy who wants to be the heel, or has he just embraced it to save face?"
Chris Cope -- Being a tough guy that can take a beating will only get you so far in this sport. He's now lost two UFC fights in a row and is probably on thin ice. In his fight versus Matt Brown, the disparity was very clear. They weren't on the same level. If that's the case, he's going to have a lot of trouble against some of the division's elite. Go ahead. Think of a fighter you could match Cope up against that would be a good fight and would also be one you'd want to watch. Be honest. See what I mean?
MMA Judging -- I'm probably going to get mauled for this. I'm sorry. I don't care. Nick Diaz won that fight. I'm not even a Diaz fan, but come on! He pushed the pace. He was the aggressor the entire fight! He landed the bigger shots and never looked hurt at any point. Was it close? Sure. But I just don't see how you don't give Diaz rounds one, two and five. I'm not buying it. Moreover, how in the hot hell do you give Condit four of the five rounds? It's true that Condit outstruck Diaz by a margin of 146 to 110. But, don't be deceived by that. Of Condit's 146 strikes landed, 104 of them were leg strikes. How many kicks did Diaz absolutely walk through during this fight? How many leg kicks did Condit throw just to keep Diaz at bay and not even intending to do damage? I'll re-watch this fight again later and maybe I'll be less upset about it, but right now, I disagree 100 percent.
Nick Diaz -- I get that he was mad after his loss. It sucked. He felt like he did what he needed to win. He felt like he got robbed. But he probably should have sat on his emotion for a night and made a statement the next day. He also may say he wasn't denigrating Condit's performance by his rant, but he did nonetheless. If he really does retire over this, it will be a crying shame.
So that's my list of winners and losers. Be sure to show me how much better your list is than mine by bringing your well thought out barbs and jabs to the comment section below.