Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Rocktagon Recap of UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman

Or, "How to Lose in the Most Poetic Way Possible," as Composed by Anderson Silva!


Seven years. That’s how long, give or take a few weeks, Anderson Silva has held the UFC Middleweight championship.

George W. was president when Silva took the belt off Rich Franklin in 2006. As a matter of fact, all three branches of government were Republican-controlled. The global recession was still months from sinking in, and the most popular movie of the year was about a Eurasian traveler that made fun of Americans even though American audiences never really picked up on the fact. Fallout Boy and My Chemical Romance topped the charts, and more people used Myspace than Facebook. The Wii and Playstation3 hadn’t even come out yet, and stuff like Twitter and Instagram? Virtually unheard of.

There’s no denying that Silva’s reign has been something spectacular, a feat perhaps overshadowed only by Fedor Emelienanko’s ten year undefeated streak. Then again, considering the higher quality of Silva’s opponents, I think it’s more than arguable that his unbeaten streak is already more awe-inspiring than the Last Emperor’s decade of divisional dominance.

All in all, Silva has only looked beatable once, and that was a fight that he still ended up winning by submission. During the time frame, he’s conquered the likes of Chael Sonnen (twice), Dan Henderson, Yushin Okami, Vitor Belfort, Demian Maia, Forrest Griffin and Nate Marquardt -- not to mention tomato cans like Thales Leites, Patrick Cote and James Irvin. The dude has been so dominant, he beats up underperforming light heavyweights as practice to title bouts (Stephan Bonnar, your table awaits.)

Tonight, however, we could see Silva’s epic reign come to a spectacular downfall, since his opponent tonight, Chris Weidman, is arguably the most daunting challenger Silva has ever faced. Despite only having nine total fights under his belt -- while Silva has more successful title defenses than that already -- what we’ve seen out of Weidman thus far has been more than just a wee bit impressive. He’s outwrestled Demain Maia and Alessio Sakara, he’s submit Jesse Bongfeldt and Tom Lawlor, and in the bout that guaranteed him a title shot, he made blood shoot out of Mark Munoz’s face like a Madball filled with catsup. A terrific wrestler with killer hands, he possesses all of the tools needed to not only pose a threat to a versatile fighter alike Silva, but perhaps even enough offensive and defensive firepower to end his title reign for good.

Folks, there is a very, very strong chance we’ll be witnessing history tonight. Whether or not that’s another iconic victory for The Spider -- or a spectacular passing of the torch, by way of brutal upset -- is something we’ll just have to wait and find out for ourselves.

And with that in mind, who is ready for some FIGHTIN’! Grab your girl, a seat, and if you’re lucky, another girl at the same time, because it’s time for the Rocktagon Recap of UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman!

We are coming to you LIVE from Las Vegas Nevada, while I call it LIVE from the Irish pub that’s like one tenth of a mile from my place.

Featherweight Bout
Cub Swanson vs. Dennis Siver

Swanson is coming off four consecutive victories (the last time he tasted defeat was back in 2011, at the hands of Ricardo Lamas)  while Siver, a former lightweight title hopeful, is undefeated as a featherweight. I mean, yeah, he’s only had two fights at the weight class and everything, but…you know.

Both dudes come out swinging to begin the first. Siver throws a high kick, but it doesn't connect. Swanson with a right and an attempted spin kick, which gets converted into an impromptu takedown by Siver. Siver looking for side control. Siver switches to full mount, and Swanson looks for a choke. Both men back up and trading kicks as the round expires.

Siver with some kicks (that may or may not be "pumped up") to start off the second. Swanson with a kick of his own and a solid right. Siver trying for a takedown, and Swanson looking for a cartwheel kick...not surprisingly, he doesn't get it. Swanson with an uppercut and a goddamn gorgeous judo toss. Swanson on top and throwing some bombs. Swanson looks like he could be going for an uma plata, but Siver powers out. Probably a 19-19 bout heading into the final round.

Swanson out with kicks and Siver with a failed discus punch. Swanson is doing some serious damage with his right hand/body kick combination. Swanson drops Siver with a hard right, and a few follow-up punches on the ground and this one is all over. A really, really impressive showing from Swanson here.

Mike Tyson is in the house, and so is Usher. The two will be fighting at catchweight at UFC 166, or so the Internet rumor mill says.

Middleweight Bout
Mark Munoz vs. Tim Boetsch

This is Mark Munoz’s first fight in almost a full year, having last been seen getting his face literally punched off by Chris Weidman. Boetsch, a dude that was riding high on the hog after scoring some surprise victories over the like of Hector Lombard and Yushin Okami, fell back to planet Earth when middleweight up-and-comer Constantinos Phillippou knocked him the eff out last December. Clearly, both guys need a rebound victory here in the worst way possible, so if you’re a fan of people getting head punched, hard, you’ll probably want to stay tuned for this one.

Munoz is billed as the "Filipino Wrecking Machine," which just sounds funny to me, for some reason. Boetsch -- who looks JUST like that dude in "RoboCop" that got toxic wasted, before he got toxic wasted -- with a takedown within a minute of the first. Munoz recovers, gets vertical, and takes down Boetsch. Clinch, with Munoz eyeing a takedown he just can't land. Double leg takedown from Munoz, but Boetsch struggles his way back up. Munoz with some solid punches, and another clinch. Munoz almost has another takedown before the final bell sounds.

Munoz with body kicks and a takedown. Munoz in the sidemount and throwing some ghastly punches to Boetsch's legs. Boetsch back up, and Munoz with another takedown. Munoz relentlessly pounds Boetsch with body shots on the ground. Boetsch up and looking for a takedown, but Munoz blocks it with a sprawl. Munoz landing a barrage of punches as the round expires. Probably 20-18 for Munoz at this point.

...and Munoz with another takedown. I'm seeing a pattern here. Boetsch looking for a guillotine, but Munoz shrugs it off. Munoz trying to get Boetsch's back, and he's landing some solid head shots in the process. Munoz looking for an armbar. He gets tired off that, so he decides to look for a choke instead. Boetsch out, and Munoz continues to pound Boetsch's skull like a bongo. Munoz with two spectacular diving punches on the ground as the round ends.

A unanimous decision victory for the Filipino, who said he was recovering from "depression." Apparently, nothing ends a spell of lugubriousness quite like punching a dude's spleen, and hard.

GSP and Ronda Rousey in the house. UFC 163 has a stacked card and all, but I still ain't watching it.

Middleweight Bout
Tim Kennedy vs. Roger Gracie

Well, here’s a long-delayed Strikeforce match-up that we’re finally getting, long-long after the match-up had any real weight division relevancy. Kennedy, an army fighter dude that’s kinda’ like Brian Stann only less accused-of-rapey, is 7-3 in his last ten fights, having only been bested by the likes of Ronaldo Souza and Luke Rockhold over the last half decade. Gracie, on the other hand, is a world champion jiu-jitsu guy, whose only professional loss was a KO at the mitts of Muhammad Lawal (or as he is sometimes known, “Diet Rampage Jackson.”) Since neither guy is really known for putting on exciting, knockout-heavy performances, the odds of this one be a fight-of-the-night contender are pretty slim. But hey, that is a Gracie in there, after all -- if we’re lucky, we might just earn ourselves a flukey submission of some kind.

Gracie out to "Gimme Shelter," which is like an official theme song for Brazil judging by the high quantity of Nogieuras that use it as a walkout tune, while Kennedy comes out to Alice in Chains's "Rooster." USA chants are all over the arena already.Gracie with a rather facile takedown to begin the first. Kennedy recovers and throws some leg kicks. Kennedy bullies Gracie up against the cage, which allows the Brazilian to set up another takedown. Gracie has a body triangle, but he can't do much with it before the bell sounds.

Now it's Kennedy with a takedown, while working Gracie's back and landing some nasty body shots. Gracie fighting from the ground. Kennedy gets his back again, and more punches ensue. Vertical, and Kennedy with some solid elbow shots. And another takedown. Definitely Tim's round in this one.

Final round. Kennedy with some low kicks to Gracie's left leg. Gracie with a takedown. Not much happening on the mat, so the ref stands them up. Kennedy with a low kick and more punches. Kennedy pins Gracie up against the cage a peppers him with a few shots, where Tim keeps this fight mostly motionless until the bell sounds.

A unanimous decision victory for Kennedy, somehow. A pretty boring fight, but it's not like I predicted that or anything...

Featherweight Bout
Frankie Edgar vs. Charles Oliveira 

Good old Frankie Edgar. The dude was a solid lightweight hopeful that was never given a chance, and when he finally was, he stripped BJ Penn of a title that most MMA analysts figured was to be super-glued around the Hawaiian’s waist till Kingdom Come. After kicking BJ Penn’s ass even harder and having two really entertaining fights against Gray Maynard, Edgar wound up coming up short against Ben Henderson twice, and following a disappointing outing up against Jose Aldo, the former title-holder is currently riding a three fight losing streak.

Since joining the UFC, Oliveira has put together a somewhat lackluster record, with 4 wins, a no contest and three losses since 2010. Making matters worse, in his last fight he missed weight and STILL got KTFO by Cub Swanson. As you can see, this is an example of that old UFC matchmaking chestnut, the “redemption fight” -- i.e., a bout where one party is expected to win after a series of career-derailing losses, while the other party is a division non-factor that can quickly become a division factor by putting in a good showing in said fight.

To summarize: Edgar ought to win by something explosive and highlight reel worthy, but Oliveira is a dude that can just as easily pull off the upset and give us something hilariously painful to enjoy watching, like that one time he beat a dude with a reverse calf slicer. You know, we might just mess up and get ourselves an entertaining little fight here…

Charles with a takedown and he's already eyeing a leg submission. Knees from Charles. Things get vertical once more...there is a clear height and reach advantage for Oliveira in this one. Edgar with some uppercuts and a takedown. Charles back up. More shots from Edgar, and another takedown. Charles with some OK shots from the bottom as the round concludes.

Charles with some high kicks. Edgar grabs his leg and chunks him down. Both men back up, and Edgar gets an immediate takedown. Edgar landing some solid head punches and Charles struggles to his feet. Edgar with a TON of lefts now. Charles attempts a guillotine, but there's nowhere close to being enough time left on the clock to secure anything. 20-18 for Edgar, but it's possible that some judges could've given Oliveira the first.

Edgar with a couple of hard rights and a takedown. Yeah, this fight is all his from here on out. Charles pulls guard and the ref orders a stand up. Now Oliveira is firing back with some really good punches. Edgar with another takedown, but Oliveira is right back up. Charles pushing the action now. Now a takedown from Oliveira, but Edgar rebounds and rattles off a few hard rights. Now Edgar is hitting Charles with some heavy-assed rights. Edgar with a left-right combo, stamped with a neat, somewhat subdued Superman punch. Edgar with another takedown, and a few more shots on the ground -- including a killer diving punch that probably would've KO'ed Oliveira had it connected.

A unanimous decision victory for Edgar. Probably the best fight of the night, and a bout that more or less saved "The Answer's" fighting career.

By the way, Tyron Woodley wants you to see "The Wolverine." Well, I'm sold...

UFC MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT
Anderson Silva (Champion) vs. Chris Weidman (Challenger)

If you’re not getting déjà vu from the first Silva/Sonnen fight right now, you’re probably blinder than Matt Murdock (or Stevie Wonder, if you’re not big on the comic books.) Anderson Silva, now a 38-year-old man, has looked absolutely unstoppable forever, head punching, head kicking and neck choking world class competitors and making them look like utter and complete tools. And on the opposite side of the cage, a dude that’s well versed in what has been proven as the Spider’s only real defensive weakness -- wrestling.

There is one HUGE difference between this Chris Weidman fella’ and Chael Sonnen, though. While Sonnen is certainly a terrific wrestler, there’s no denying that he lacks striking power. Not only is Weidman as solid (if not more so) than Sonnen with takedowns, he can actually obliterate a dude standing OR on the mat (here’s that Mark Munoz video, one more time!) Similarly adept in submissions and submission defense (he did beat Demian Maia, after all), Weidman possess all of the tools necessary to not only counteract Silva’s legendary offensive onslaught, but perhaps completely neutralize him and, egad, possibly finish him.

Looking at Weidman’s toolkit, he’s quite possibly the most dangerous opponent Silva has ever fought, and if Anderson defeats him tonight, it’s pretty much a given that NOBODY in the division is going to be taking the belt off The Spider’s waist anytime soon. So the big question is, can Silva do what Silva has been doing since 2006, or is tonight the night Silva’s unparalleled seven-year reign comes to a startling conclusion?

Folks, this one might just go down in the MMA history books.

Weidman comes out draped in the American flag and rocking "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty. Silva, as always, comes out to "No Sunshine" by DMX. Weidman booed like crazy, while Silva gets a reaction like...well, Anderson Silva, I suppose. Also, Silva won't shake Weidman's hand. Day-umm.

Weidman with an immediate takedown. Weidman landing some solid punches on the ground. Weidman looking for an ankle pick, but Silva escapes. Both men standing now. Silva taunts Weidman and lands a solid left-right combo. Silva drops his arms and lands a knee. Oh god, it's the return of DICK HEEL SILVA! Weidman misses a right and Silva just clowns on him. Silva with a low kick and missed right. Silva with a head kick that misses the mark as the round expires.

Weidman shoots in for a takedown, but he can't get it. Weidman with a missed high kick, and Silva with a missed high kick. More taunting from Silva. Weidman no-sells a few lefts from Silva, and he pretends to do a stanky leg. And at that moment, the single greatest thing in history happens:


...and with several follow-up punches on the ground, referee Herb Dean officially waves the fight off at 1:18 of the second round. Ladies and gentlemen, your NEW UFC MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION, CHRIS WEIDMAN!

In the post-fight, Silva says some he's "changing his life" eight times and that he didn't want a rematch. He's not retiring, but he's not fighting for the belt anymore, he insists. How very Hulk Hogan-ish of him to lose the belt and immediately make his loss the center of attention as opposed to his opponent's victory. How very Hulk Hogan-ish.

SO WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? A Weidman/Belfort bout seems all but a given, and since Silva still has quite a few fights left on his contract, why don't we let Dana have his wet dream and finally put him in the cage against Michael Bisping? Similarly, I think we'd all agree that a Cub Swanson/Frankie Edgar bout would be pretty sweet, and wouldn't a Mark Munoz/Constantinos Phillippou fight be similarly swell? And lastly, how about putting Tim Kennedy in the cage up against the loser of this summer's upcoming Shogun Rua/Chael Sonnen bout?

The Verdict? This is one of those nights that's going to be a part of MMA lore for decades, a paradigm shift that demonstrated once and for all that the old guard is the old guard and the new wave is the goddamned new wave. The Weidman/Silva knockout...in addition to being poetically pleasing...will go down in history as one of the single most memorable moments in the sports' history, an immemorial moment ala' Mike Tyson getting flatlined by Buster Douglas or the Immaculate Reception. And on top of that, the show was actually pretty enjoyable throughout -- whether or not it's a card of the year contender is yet to be seen, but at this point, it's the best start-to-finish MMA show I've seen in all of 2013. 

SHOW HIGHLIGHT: The end of Silva's reign, obviously, but mad props to Edgar and Oliveira, as well. 

SHOW LOWLIGHT: That Kennedy/Gracie fight was Strikeforce-tastic, in the worst way possible.

ROGAN-ISM OF THE NIGHT: "After you hit a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt once, he's still a black belt. You hit him again, and he's a purple belt." 

FIVE THINGS I LEARNED FROM TONIGHT'S SHOW:

  • Height and reach are both overrated (see "Swanson, Cub" and "Edgar, Frank".)
  • Getting punched in the thigh by a dude whose nickname is any permutation of the terms "Wrecking" and/or "Machine" probably hurts. 
  • Texas National Guardsmen have superior takedown defense than Brazilian royalty.
  • Forget Zoloft: the best way to end a bout of the blues is to turn another person's kidneys into Elmer's Glue, and then immediately thank God afterward for your recovery.
  • If you allow your opponent to hit you in the face in a display of utter assholery, don't be surprised if you get KTFO in hilariously ironic fashion...


Well, that’s all I’ve got this week. Crank up “Da Art of Storytellin’ (Pt. 1)” by Outkast and Roy Orbison’s “The Great Pretender,” and I will be seeing you in a few.

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