Sunday, July 8, 2012

THE ROCKTAGON RECAP OF UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen 2!


Featuring Incredible Hulks with Thors in their pants, Korean judo champs doing their best lawn dart impersonations and Chael Sonnen having the TRIP OF A LIFETIME!


There’s hype, and then there’s the INSANE MEGA HYPER SUPER DUPER HYPE behind UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen 2. If you don’t know the back story here, you’ve probably been living in a cave for the last two years. Well, that, or you just don’t watch MMA. One or the other, I suppose. 

The abridged version goes a little like this. About two years ago, Chael Sonnen came THIS CLOSE to defeating Anderson Silva for the UFC Middleweight Championship. This, I might add, was after Sonnen spent a good half a year mercilessly mocking both Silva and the entire nation of Brazil - not at all an ironic turn of events, as Sonnen ended up losing said bout via a superlative display of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu prowess.

And then…Sonnen tests positive for TRT. And almost ends up in the pokey for insurance fraud. In the interim, Silva murder death kills Yushin Okami and Vitor Belfort - two of the best middleweight fighters on the planet, mind you. So Sonnen’s year long suspension comes to an end, and he handily defeats Brian Stann and barely scrapes by Michael Bisping in a number one contender’s bout. And then, the Sonnen Shit-Talk Express reaches hyper speed, with a long, long-anticipated rematch scheduled for a June card…IN BRAZIL.

Well, plans kind of fell through there, so the match was rescheduled for a Vegas duel. Which, after almost two years of build-up, culminates in this, the single most anticipated rematch - and as some have said, the single most anticipated match period - in UFC history.

The rivalry here has reached downright legendary status. Sonnen showed up on talk shows carrying a toy belt, proclaiming himself the “real” middleweight champion, and even wrote an entire manifesto slamming Silva, Brazil and the Portuguese language. Silva retaliated by wrestling some Mayans and threatening to knock all of Sonnen’s teeth out of his head with “illegal” techniques taught to him by Steven Seagal. And at the weigh-ins? Well, he decided to do this right here.

Clearly, these two do not LIKE each other, and out and out mayhem is the only possible outcome for tonight’s showdown. MMA fans the world over have waited for this moment for 24 months…and tonight, it’s FINALLY here.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Rocktagon Recap of UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen 2!


As always, we are coming to you LIVE from the beautiful Bailey’s in K’Saw, Ga., while the live hootenanny is emanating from Las Vegas, Nevada. I’ve never seen the house this packed before - if the local crowd is any indication, then this show ought to break a million PPV buys, easy.

Mike Easton vs. Ivan Menjivar

Not a whole lot to say about this one, really. Menjivar is a journeyman that’s had has ass kicked by everybody from GSP to Urijah Faber, while Mike Easton is a dude whose sole distinguishing characteristic from the million trillion other bantamweight fighters on the planet is that he thinks he’s the Incredible Hulk. As in, he comes out wearing a Hulk Halloween mask, and rocks the trademark purple shorts and everything. The only noteworthy thing stemming from this bout was the fact that Easton, apparently, had a sack of potatoes in his shorts for the duration of the fight…that, or his absolutely absurd upfront package was an oblique tribute to an old “Saturday Night Live” routine or something.

Anyhoo, Easton wins it, via unanimous decision. A very, very forgettable bout, to say the least.

Chad Mendes vs. Cody McKenzie

Mendes is coming off a first round stoppage loss to perma-Featherweight champ Jose Aldo earlier this year, while McKenzie is just some dude from “The Ultimate Fighter” with a neat looking guillotine choke. And also, he kind of looks like Tom Green, if Tom Green was a meth-snorting Enduring Freedom veteran.

Well, this one didn’t last very long, as Mendes drops and hammer fists McKenzie into a momentary coma barely half a minute into the fight. A performance like that will surely raise Mendes’ stock, while almost certainly ensuring that McKenzie will be relegated to non-televised FUEL undercard matches for the rest of his UFC tenure.

Demian Maia vs. Dong Hyun Kim 

After looking like a dildo in a bout against Chris Weidman earlier this year, Maia makes his welterweight debut this evening, taking on longtime WW stalwart Dong Hyun Kim (not to be confused with his distant cousin, Long Duck Dong, of course.)

An absolutely bizarre finish here, as Maia ends the fight by lawn darting Kim into the canvas with a waist lock takedown. Upon impact, Kim apparently broke a few ribs, which allowed Maia to drop some easy hand sandwiches on the fallen Korean for a facile stoppage victory. The official time of victory: 0:47 of the very first round.

Cung Le vs. Patrick Cote

The storyline here is that 40-year-old Le - an ex-Strikeforce standout - is looking for his first ever victory in the UFC. Cote - a guy that, believe it or not - was a championship contender in TWO weight classes over the last ten years, is returning to the Octagon after a two-year exile. So, yeah…this fight really doesn’t mean shit in the long haul, I suppose.

A more technical match-up than I expected, with “Actor” Cung Le actually using some jabs and grappling to subdue Cote as opposed to just throwing those “Street Fighter III” looking hurricane kicks for fifteen minutes. A somewhat close bout, but it was easily all Le for the duration. 30-27 across the board for Le, in what was, at best, a mediocre match-up.

Forrest Griffin vs. Tito Ortiz

Ortiz, in what is allegedly his FINAL UFC BOUT EVER, SERIOUSLY, REALLY, WE MEAN IT, comes out to Eminem’s “Mosh” and wearing a metallic gladiator mask. Umm…maybe it’s an obscure reference to that old school “gladiator” opening theme the UFC used for a good decade or so?

Anyhoo, this was a really entertaining fight, with Griffin controlling the tempo, and Ortiz - quite dramatically - landing a few clean shots that put Griffin down (albeit, not out) late in the third round. Things get REALLY bizarre when Griffin just up and leaves the arena as soon as the bell sounds, which leads to Dana White tracking him down and forcing him to march back to the cage. It’s a unanimous decision victory for Griffin, which, yeah, was probably the right call. And then, in a moment that’s almost assuredly a precursor to an involuntary mental wellness evaluation, Griffin rips the microphone out of Joe Rogan’s hands and proceeds to interview Tito Ortiz HIMSELF in the post-fight.

The MMA forums out there seem to be pretty divided on the quality of the match, but as far as I am concerned, it’s probably the best fight I’ve seen all year. Granted, I’ve only seen like five shows this year, but still. You had a competitive match-up, with some genuine human drama, and just enough pro-wrestling bullshit to make it equal proportions awesome and ridiculous. Definitely our fight of the night winner, if you ask me.

UFC MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT
Anderson Silva (Champion) vs. Chael Sonnen (Challenger)

The crowd seems to be more pro-Silva, but then again, there’s about 30 gazillion Brazilians in the house, so there you have it.

The first round was a carbon copy of the first fight, with Sonnen securing a takedown right off the bat. He lands a few shots on the ground, but nothing too significant. Definitely Sonnen’s round, but Silva’s defense here was way, way superior to his performance in the first bout.

Round two begins. Sonnen shooting for a takedown, but Silva defends. Sonnen bullies Silva against the cage and goes for another single leg. Silva shakes it off, and Sonnen attempts to land a spinning backfist…only to end up TRIPPING OVER SILVA’S LEG AND FALLING FLAT ON HIS FACE. Holy shit. Silva connects with a brutal knee to the sternum, and the elbow monsoon, IT IS ON. Sonnen scrambles to his feet, only to get dropped by a barrage of punches from the defending champ. Silva with some fast and furious shots on the ground, and this one is all over, folks.


Winner, via second round TKO - Anderson Silva! The stoppage comes at 1:55, making this “The Spider’s” 15th consecutive victory in the UFC.

In the post fight, Silva cuts a promo in English (sorta’) and invites Sonnen to a barbecue, an off-hand reference to a joke Sonnen made about sexually abusing Silva’s wife earlier in the year. An exceptionally satisfying conclusion, not only because of Sonnen’s poetic self-destruction, but also because you know who accurately PREDICTED the finish a week ago.

SO, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Well, there’s no denying that the UFC middleweight division is stacked, but finding a single contender to Silva’s strap is really, really difficult to assign at this point. Some have argued that the winner of the Weidman/Munoz bout deserves a title shot, but if Hector Lombard trounces Tim Boetsch in a few weeks, I think he’s definitely a considerable challenger, as well. The UFC has long dreamt of a Silva/Bisping showdown, so if Bisping is able to defeat Brian Stann later this year, it really wouldn’t surprise me if he was rocketed to a title bout, either. My assumption? The winner of Weidman/Munoz bout takes on the winner of the Lombard/Boetsch winner in a number one contender’s bout before the year’s over, while Silva - pending a Bisping victory this September - does battle with a certain Englishmen early in 2013.

While still a top ten middleweight, Sonnen is staring down a LONG climb back into title contention. Methinks a bout with any number of middleweight wallflowers - Okami, Palhares, Belcher, take your pick, really - will most likely become a reality before the year’s over.

Forrest Griffin will never, ever get another title shot in his lifetime, but since he’s a marketable enough name, he’ll probably have another co-main event match-up before the year is through. How about lining up against the loser of the upcoming Ryan Bader/Lyoto Machida match-up?

A Cung Le/Rich Franklin bout is pretty much a given after tonight’s show. And it would be neat to see Maia try his luck against some of the heavier hitters in the welterweight division - how about a contest against Josh Koscheck or Jake Ellenberger later this year? And lastly, Chad Mendes proved his top five featherweight worth this evening, so how about giving him a crack at the winner of the upcoming Marcus Brimage/Jimy Hettes bout?

THE VERDICT:

This is going to be a controversial show for a long time, I can just tell. While there were a lot of dark spots on the evening, I thought it was, overall, a really entertaining show with two flash knockouts, a crazy ass slobber knocker co-main event match-up and one of the most heated main events in MMA history (which, itself, is already garnering conspiracy fuel, with some Sonnen advocates saying that the flying knee that, essentially, finished the bout was an illegal head shot).

I can see how some casual fans would be disappointed by the show, but I thought it was pretty damn good. Maybe not on par with some of the better shows this year (especially, the finish-heavy UFC 146), but as far as I am concerned, it was WELL worth the $5 cover charge I paid to see it. It may not be an all-time greatest card contender, but if you have some free-time this week, it’s probably worth the time and effort (and the $44.95) to catch a replay.

SHOW HIGHLIGHT: The main event certainly delivered an all-time, GTFO ending, and Forrest’s wacky antics were, admittedly, pretty entertaining.

SHOW LOWLIGHT: I never, ever want to see Mike Easton and Ivan Menjavir do anything on TV ever again.

ROGAN-ISM OF THE NIGHT: “They’re playing Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots now!” - uttered during the Ortiz/Griffin bout.

FIVE THINGS I LEARNED FROM TONIGHT’S SHOW:

  • The “Incredible Hulk” is a 135 pound, anorexic African-American man that can’t finish fights. 


  • If an angry Brazilian man attempts to toss you head first through a cage, it’s probably a good idea to protect your ribs in the crash landing. 


  • Most gladiators wore shorts with a flame pattern on the side and lugged around double-sided American/Mexican flags before going into battle. 




  • If you’re going to throw a spinning back fist…be sure to practice maintaining your balance a few weeks beforehand. 

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you this week. Crank up “Building Steam with a Grain of Salt” by DJ Shadow and “Pilgrimage” by REM, and I’ll be seeing you in a few.

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