Last night (December 28, 2013), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) closed out 2013 with UFC 168: "Weidman vs. Silva 2" live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card was headlined with a rematch between UFC Middleweight champion Chris Weidman and former Middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
The bout had a definitive ending but left a bitter taste in the audience's mouth. That could be said about a lot of fights on the card. UFC Women's Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey retained her title against Miesha Tate but the fight just lacked a certain competitiveness that was expected.
It wasn't a perfect night of fights but it was a great way to close out what's been a great second half of the year. So let's talk about last night...
The champ is here!
Chris Weidman entered the bout last night in a no-win situation. His first victory over Anderson Silva was ruled a "fluke" by most fans because who could figure a wrestler would be able to topple the indomitable force known as Anderson Silva. It's unheard of, especially when considering the caliber of fighter Silva faced in his UFC career.
That Weidman knocked "the Spider" out wasn't the case of improved striking. It was because Silva was clowning around and was caught. Never mind the fact that Silva has clowned around in all of his fights and finally got his comeuppance. It was a fluke and therefore Weidman didn't deserve the accolades.
Last night's bout ended when Weidman checked a leg kick and Silva's leg snapped in half (highlights here). It was a fluke injury, but it wasn't a fluke win. If you watched the video of Weidman and Silva rewatching their first bout, you'll notice Weidman talked about checking leg kicks for several minutes.
He decided to show the Muay Thai specialist that nothing was going to be either or free last night. Did he count on Silva breaking his leg? No. Do those things happen in MMA? Yes. And it's time to start giving credit where credit is due.
Weidman is 2-0 against Anderson Silva and best middleweight fighter in the world. Deal with it.
Bad ending for Anderson Silva
I don't know if UFC 168 was the last time we'll see Anderson Silva enter the Octagon. Part of me hopes that it is because I don't know what he's got left to accomplish. He's done it all in the sport and is without question one of the all time greats.
After watching the last two bouts with Weidman, one thing is certain though and that's the very real fact that he's getting old. There is no shame in losing to a younger and better fighter, but going out the way he has in those fights is why I just have no interest in seeing him enter the cage again.
Mentally it's gotta be crushing. Knowing that you lost because your leg snapped in half off of a checked leg kick. It was a fluke injury. People check kicks all the time in Muay Thai and it's a very low percentage type injury. Just rarely happens.
The other part of me hopes that he does at least attempt a return. I'd hate for the last image of his UFC career as him being carted off on a stretcher.
Who can beat Ronda Rousey?
Is there anyone in the Women's bantamweight division that can defeat Ronda Rousey? That's a rhetorical question by the way. I know that right now in the UFC's women's bantamweight division there's no one with the skills to beat Rousey.
I was a bit surprised that the fight went three rounds but it's tough to finish an opponent when all they're trying to do is survive. That's not so much a knock against Miesha Tate as it is a compliment of the skills that Rousey possesses on the ground (highlights here).
Rousey made it very clear last night. She is without peer and the rest of the women in the UFC are battling for being second best.
We underestimated Travis Browne's skills...
I'll be the first to say I didn't expect Travis Browne to beat Josh Barnett. At least not in the way that he did it. Those elbows to the head against the fence are becoming one of the most dangerous aspects of Browne's game. Opponents will now need to consider those when trying to clinch against the cage.
Beating Barnett will elevate Browne to the top of the division and likely earn him a shot at the heavyweight title. He's potentially the next great foil for Cain Velasquez, who put a stamp on his series with Junior Dos Santos.
We knew that Barnett was good. Now we know that Travis Browne is better.
2014 is going to be a very rough year for the UFC...
No Georges St-Pierre. No Anderson Silva. UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is out due to injury. So is UFC Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. And you can add Chris Weidman to that list as he apparently needs to get his knee checked out.
That's five of the UFC's most important fighters sidelined either due to injury or by choice. The promotion is going to have to rely on the likes of Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones to carry the torch for the year. Guys like Demetrious Johnson and Jose Aldo are going to have to break out and prove they can draw consistently on PPV.
2013 ended with a bang but 2014 could be more of a wimper.
- Miesha Tate seemed really down at the UFC 168 post-fight press conference. It's pretty clear she won't get another shot at the title unless Ronda Rousey is out of the picture. She's been fun to watch but it's becoming more and more apparent that she caught lightning in a bottle when she defeated Marloes Coenen in Strikeforce.
- Dustin Poirier is beastly. When he's one, there are few fighters in the featherweight division that can beat him. Last night's win over Brandao should get him another shot at the top of the division. I love the idea of a rematch with Cub Swanson.
- Sad to see Josh Barnett get obliterated the way that he did. I'm not a huge fan of the "Warmaster" but he's always been super entertaining and he's one of the few remaining fighters that bridged the gap between the old and new school.
- Is Jim Miller one of the most fun fighters in the UFC? Yes. Jim Miller is one of the most fun fighters in the UFC.
- I hope last night was the last time Chris Leben fights. The years of partying have caught up to him and he just can't fight his style of fight. His chin is gone and he lacks the footwork and athleticism to make the necessary adjustments at this point in his career. What a sad way to close out a career.
- Michael Johnson has all the tools and potential to be a top fighter. It looks like he's finally putting it all together and he'll get another chance to show he should be a top 10 lightweight.
- It was a helluva year for the UFC. Though the ending was a bit gruesome, I loved UFC 168 and can't wait for next year.