Despite a lackluster headline bout between fighters that, with a win, “might” get a chance to face Brock Lesnar, the UFC 110 show was an overall success from my perspective.
Between the magnificent ground-game displayed by George Sotiropolous, the slug fest between Bonnar and Soszynski, and the beat down issued by Cain Valesquez, this event was filled with truly entertaining fights.
So who were the biggest winners and losers from Saturday night?
George Sotiropolous - The biggest win at UFC 110 by far was Sotiropolous. Although Dana White has said that title-shot talk is a bit “premature,” Sotiropolous’ display against former title contender Joe Stevenson indicates that he has to be in the mix. It’s refreshing to see new blood in the lightweight division and I think a fight between B.J. Penn and George Sotiropolous would be a huge battle against two ground-game masters. There’s no doubt in my mind that this would be a better fight than Penn vs. Edgar, currently scheduled for UFC 112.
Cain Velasquez - Velasquez’s destruction of a legend in the sport has me putting him at #4 in my UFC heavyweight rankings, with Lesnar, Mir, and Carwin out in front. It’s only a matter of time now, before he faces one of those guys. Dana White has already said that if Mir or Carwin are not ready to take on Lesnar in July, Velasquez will get the shot. If not in July, he’ll get a shot at the title no later than November.
Wanderlei Silva - Wandy’s back! Fresh off of facial reconstructive surgery and a drop to 185 pounds, a “newly improved” Silva was much more patient and tactical than I have ever seen him before. This strategy is exactly why he won this fight. The old Silva’ might have swung for the fences, win or lose. His last flurry and ensuing knockdown of Bisping with 30 seconds to go, was definitely the tipping point in the bout. Let’s hope “new” Silva is the guy competing at middleweight going forward.
Michael Bisping - Bisping is my biggest loser of the night, and not just because he lost his fight. The more I see him in action, the more I realize how much of a poor sport this guy really is. There were several times throughout the bout where his surly attitude emerged. Refusing to sit in his corner, pushing away the corner man wiping him down or offering water, pulling his hand away from the ref, and then pouting after he lost are just a few examples. You figure that the overhand right he ate by the hands of Dan Henderson at UFC 100 would have knocked some sense back into him. Guess not.
Antonio Noguiera - It’s tough to see UFC/Pride legend, Nogueira defeated so easily. This was only the second time that Nogueira has ever been finished in a fight. But the problem is that it has happened two times over the last year and a half. Originally, I thought his TKO loss against Mir was a fluke. But more than likely, it’s his diminishing speed that is causing him to get into harms way more often these days. Yes, he looked great against Randy Couture in his last fight, but Couture is 46 years old! It seems like Nogueira is going through what Liddell experienced just prior to his first retirement. Virtually knockout proof in his heyday, Liddell has recently succumbed to KOs by Rashad Evans and Mauricio Rua. If Nogueira wants to become relevant in the heavyweight division again, I think he’ll need to retool his skill-set with a focus on what has always come naturally to him -- his jiu jitsu game. If he continues to focus on his striking, don’t expect for him to get his hand raised in the Octagon anytime soon.
Mirko Cro Cop - Despite actually winning his fight, many have questioned how well he really did. Originally set to face MMA veteran, Ben Rothwell, Cro Cop instead matched-up up against Anthony Perosh who took the fight with two days of notice. You would have assumed that Cro Cop, would have mopped the floor up with this late replacement, right? Not quite. Although, he did eventually defeat Perosh, Cro Cop didn’t quite display the full finishing power that the fans have been accustomed to. And he certainly did not put his powerful high kicks on display. In the end, it sounds like the Croatian will likely face his original opponent, Ben Rothwell, in a soon to be scheduled bout. It will be like his fight against Perosh never really happened.