Sunday, August 28, 2011

UFC 134: Silva comes home better then ever

After it was all over, UFC's pilgrimage back to the motherland of MMA proved a huge success as a raucous Brazilian crowd was treated to an exciting night of fights. Of course, the culmination of this Brazilian heavy card was Anderson Silva's destruction of middleweight (185 lbs.) title challenger Yushin Okami in the main event. It took Silva (31-4, 18 KO's 6 subs) less than two rounds to dispatch of the number one contender in the division and leave everyone wondering, who can possibly present a challenge to arguably the greatest fighter in the world?

Using the first round to measure his opponent, one could argue Okami (26-6, 9 KO's 4 subs) won that round. Using the clinch game to keep Silva up against the cage he worked the patented Team Quest "dirty boxing" style. However, that was only until Silva broke away before the end of the round and dropped Okami with one of his own patented moves, an unorthodox quick right jab. The bell may have saved Okami, but only temporarily as the man known as 'The Spider' could smell blood.

In the second, Silva (pictured above) seemed supremely relaxed as he changed speeds and angles while confusing Okami with his approach. Eventually he caught Okami again and this time there was no bell in sight to stop the onslaught. The Spider swarmed on his opponent and threw punches to the face, elbows to the body in abundance forcing the referee to stop it at (2:04) of the second round. After the fight when asked by Kenny Florian whose next, Silva jokingly replied, "my clone."

In the co-main event, it took less time than that for former light-heavyweight (205 lbs.) champion Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua (20-5, 17 KO's 1 sub) to avenge his loss to fellow former champion Forrest Griffin (18-7, 3 KO's 7 subs). Actually, it took less than two minutes for Rua to drop Griffin with a right hand to the jaw that staggered the much larger challenger. From that point forward, Rua pounced on Griffin unloading hammer fists, while his opponent tried unsuccessfully to defend. Eventually a couple of those shots connected and left Griffin helpless forcing referee Mario Yamasaki to step in at (1:53) of the first round.

Shogun who was coming off a crushing defeat to Jon Jones where he lost his title was ecstatic as he screamed, "I'm back" in his post fight celebration. Those two fights went pretty much as I had predicted in my preview, but I could not pull off the trifecta as a living legend reminded me and others, he's still far from done. So goes the legacy of former heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo 'Minotauro' Nogueira (33-6-1, 3 KO's 20 subs).

Nogueira, coming back after a loss to current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and a subsequent 18 month layoff due to injury and multiple surgeries, refused to lose in his first fight ever in his hometown. Brendan Schaub (8-2, 7 KO's), who said before the fight, "I'll match up my boxing with anyone in the heavyweight division," was in for a rude awakening as Nogueira gave him a lesson. Schaub had his moments early, but as I stated, you could see in his eyes that on this night Nogueira was not going to be denied.

Matching everything his young challenger threw at him, 'Big Nog', the jiu-jitsu specialist, moved forward in his attack showing extreme confidence in his own boxing game. Schaub appeared surprised that Nogueira withstood his punches and inevitably it was Nog who caught the eager Schaub up against the cage, dropping him with a beautiful right-left combination. Nogueira unleashed a fury of punches that knocked out Schaub cold and down flat on his face. It took a little over three minutes and on this night, no one was happier than Nogueira.

After addressing the crowd with a huge smile on his face in his native Portuguese, he then translated and said he rushed his recovery for one reason. "I had three and a half months to train for this fight; I had surgeries in both my hips and my knee. I sacrificed though because I had never fought at home before." Up next for the former champion? Well, according to UFC President Dana White, who originally was thinking retirement, he now says, a possible title run. "It's not a matter of how many victories, it's who he fights," White said.

With the return to Brazil such a huge success, White is looking to return in 2012; this time not to fill an arena, but rather a stadium. "Trust me, people aren't going to have trouble getting tickets to the next one, I guarantee you that. We're going big next time; we're not playing around next time," White said. Could a mega-fight between Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre be the main event? Only time will tell.

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