Photo of Wanderlei Silva by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting
It was a fight card that was sabotaged and doomed to fail from the start.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ambitiously went after having the first ever back-to-back event weekend in the promotion's history. On paper, it was doable, but then the big bad injury bug crept in and ruined everything.
Undeterred, UFC President Dana White resolved to make new match ups, continue with each fight card ( and 4UFC 147) and even kept UFC 147 as a pay-per-view (PPV), a move that drew much criticism from fans and mixed martial arts (MMA) writers alike.
At the end of the day, despite the lack of star power, UFC 147 (which took place LIVE from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on Sat., June 23, 2012) delivered with a card full of wild fights that had the rabid Brazilian fans cheering and soccer-chanting for most of the evening.
After the jump, I'll comb through the list of standout winners and losers, and will also recap just what made their night such a smashing success or, in some cases, a dismal failure:
Brazil -- If, after this event, the UFC decided to hose every event in Brazil, from here on out, could anyone even argue? After everything this card went through, in the way of injuries and fight lineup "musical chairs," you'd think the enthusiasm would have soured (and in other parts of the world, it did), but not in Brazil. If you regularly watch the UFC's Facebook "prelims," you have become accustomed to seeing many empty chairs. Las Vegas crowds are fashionably late. New Jersey fans aren't a lot better. But not so for the fine citizens of Belo Horizonte. Thousands upon thousands crowded into the Mineirinho Arena, and they were there early. It wasn't the World Cup. It wasn't even a huge UFC card. But they didn't care. They wouldn't have missed it for the world. It was fun to see.
Rich Franklin -- If there was any doubt about the decision from the last time "Ace" took on "The Axe Murderer," there certainly was none of that this go-round. Even though Silva came dangerously close to finishing him in the second round, Franklin survived, answered the bell for the third round and continued to pick apart the Brazilian legend with well timed and placed striking. He was better and it was obvious, but it was a fantastic fight. "Wandy" fought his heart out, but Franklin was just a little more crisp and well-conditioned.
Fabricio Werdum -- "Vai Cavalo" has looked fantastic in both his fights during his return to the Octagon. Since being re-signed by the UFC, he has told everyone with ears that he wants a title shot. It looks like he may be well on his way. I don't know that beating Russow merits a crack at the belt, but the way he dismantled him and Roy Nelson definitely proves he's an elite heavyweight. It will be interesting, to say the least, to see who Joe Silva puts him in the cage with next.
Cezar Ferreira vs. Sergio Moraes -- If you didn't love this fight, I don't know what it takes to entertain you. For three rounds, these two middleweights went after it with back-and-forth brawling action that was so fast and violent it made my head spin at times. Ferreira was a very deserving winner, but both of these guys deserve respect for the show they put on.
Rony Mariano Bezerra -- Rony "Jason" was a man on a mission from the time he came out of the tunnel. I've seen fighters shed a few tears after a fight, but I can't remember the last time I saw a professional mixed martial artist crying on his way out to the cage. Bezerra was not going to be denied. For everything Pepey threw at him, he had a better counter. He wanted it, he worked for it, he earned it, he deserved it.
Thiago Perpetuo -- There are things in life that are far scarier and more difficult to overcome than fighting in a cage. One of those is cancer (to say the very least). Perpetuo was able to do that, as a nine-year old boy, and as he stated during his time on TUF Brazil, he's suffered too much in his life to let anyone stop him now. He fights with that spirit and it shows. During his bout versus Leonardo Mafra Texeira, he had to overcome adversity. Early on, he got clipped with a left hook that rocked him and ended up swelling his eye closed. But he fought through it. In the second round, he finally got the takedown and the dominant position he'd been looking for. He avoided several close armbar attempts and was eventually able to pound out his opponent for the win.
Francisco Drinaldo -- This guy is a monster. Drinaldo was one of a few fighters who made me very excited to see him at future events in the Octagon. He reminds me a decent amount of Hector Lombard, mainly is build, but also in his attacking style. He's super explosive. Just ask Delson Heleno who, basically was used as a human punching bag for several minutes before the referee finally saved him from the possibility of a whole being punched into his face. "Massaranduba" is the man.
Rodrigo Damm -- It's been a long time coming for the 32-year old Damm, who has fought for such organizations as Shooto and Strikeforce. Before last night, he had lost four of his last five fights. It was definitely time to go back to the drawing board, and TUF Brazil gave him a chance to do that. Unfortunately, Damm sustained kidney damage while cutting weight, forcing him to have to withdraw from the competition. He was a favorite to win it all, and his win at UFC 147 showed why. He has a ton of potential, and even though he's already 32, he's a very welcome addition to the UFC's Featherweight stable of fighters.
The UFC -- How many ways did they screw up this weekend? Let me count the ways. They staged back-to-back events in the same weekend, which is an over-saturation that only works if you've got a ton of star power behind it. I get that they had some injury issues, but even if everyone stayed healthy, would it really have been wise to have these two events in the same two-day span? I don't think so. On top of that, the coverage for TUF Brazil could hardly have been botched more badly. Anyone who was watching it on delay, now that it's finally on TV, is not going to be interested in watching the rest of it, now that UFC 147 basically played spoiler for the whole series. TUF Brazil was a good idea, I just don't understand why the UFC decided that Brazilians were the only ones who cared about it. They weren't.
Wanderlei Silva -- I hate putting his name down. He competed like a warrior. He always does. He went for the kill in round two. He spent all his energy and never really recovered. If the fight had been stopped, we'd be having a totally different conversation, but it wasn't...and we aren't. I'd still personally love to see "Wandy" fight Vitor Belfort. It just feels incomplete. They genuinely don't like each other. It's a fight that sells itself. Either way, Silva doesn't have much gas left in the tank. This loss may not signal the end of his career, but it's a yellow light.
Mike Russow -- The Chicago crimefighter had picked up quite a head of steam after going 4-0 to kick off his UFC career. He and all his supporters have been campaigning for him to receive a title shot soon, claiming his spotless record as the evidence for him being deserving of such an opportunity. Let's get real. Russow beat four guys who are no longer in the UFC, and none of them have gone on to do anything to make the promotion sorry for cutting them. Russow seems like a nice guy, but he comes in out of shape, isn't very well-rounded, and was exposed by a top-level fighter. He still belongs in the Octagon, but his next fight should (and most likely will) be a step back.
Godofredo Pepey -- Don't get me wrong, for most of this fight, he fought his heart out. He simply lost to someone a little bit more motivated and skilled. With that said, the way he ended things lacked class. Most of the fight, he was punching to the back of the head. He was warned several times, but he kept doing it. In the third round, he was doing all he could, including going low with some kicks that, quite frankly, were questionable with their intent. It's cool that he and Rony "Jason" kissed and made up afterwards, but trying to go at him after the final horn was also pretty "bush league."
Yuri Alcantara -- After winning 13 straight, he just looked uninspired versus Hacran Dias, who was making his UFC debut. It's worth noting that Dias has now won nine straight and is a highly touted prospect out of the top notch Nova Uniao camp. This loss may not look as bad in a year or so if Dias lives up to his hype, but right now, it looks bad. It was a decision loss, true, but most of the fight saw Alcantara getting bullied in ways we haven't really seen before.
That's our list. Who made your roster of noteworthy victors and bigtime busts?