Great card this past Saturday from top to bottom. Plenty of exciting fights, great finishes, a few comebacks and of course a controversial split decision. Check out 10 Thoughts on UFC 160:
1. Cain Velasquez, part 1. Wow. His second victory over Bigfoot Silva was ultra impressive (that’s putting it mildly, I was actually applauding at home). Silva had stuffed a few takedown attempts, which was a good sign for him to avoid a replay of their first fight. It looked like this fight was going to head in a different direction. And it did. It was Silva who claimed he would put hands on Cain to knock him down, but instead, Cain showed pinpoint accuracy and devastating power to make Silva do the shaky leg dance before collapsing. Velasquez was the favorite to win and for good reason, but few were probably expecting such a quick and decisive victory over a guy who went three rounds against Alistair Overeem and plastered him in the end. In their first fight, Cain displayed his ground and pound game and stifling top control. Silva admitted to nerves and diverting from his game plan with that leg kick. The second fight? Silva avoided the takedown sure, but Cain displayed his dangerous striking ability, another facet of his very well-rounded and elite level skill set. Ultra impressive.
2. Cain Velasquez, part 2. Cain Velasquez could build something really special. He’s already a two-time UFC Heavyweight champion, who is blazing hot right now. But he could make a mark in UFC lore and go down as one of the all-time greats. You could make a strong argument that his resume is already more impressive than Tim Sylvia, despite only defending the title once so far. The competition that Velasquez has faced and the manner in which he has defeated them is much more significant. Only Randy Couture stands higher in UFC heavyweight history, and the way Cain is going right now, his name could be mentioned along with guys like Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and GSP. A JDS trilogy fight is likely at some point, and there are a few other intriguing matchups to consider, especially if Jon Jones ever decides to move up to Heavyweight. Cain needed a successful title defense and he got his first in a big way. It could be the start of a long reign.
3. Junior Dos Santos…you have got to be kidding me. How often do you see a heavyweight not only throw a spinning back kick to the head, but also connect with it? And not only connect with it, but land it cleanly enough to finish a fight? Where the hell did that kick come from? Dos Santos is known primarily as a boxer. Mark Hunt was supposed to be the former K-1 champion, but JDS ended up with the highlight reel kick. He added a very impressive accomplishment to his career with that performance. Maybe Dos Santos got a call from his fellow countryman Vitor Belfort, but whatever it was, it was unbelievable. Give credit to Dos Santos, who easily could have backed off a bit in a fight he was clearly winning. He went for the kill, and he earned it in spectacular fashion. JDS isn’t going anywhere folks, and he just might have earned another crack at Cain Velasquez.
4. What can’t Glover Teixeira do? The guy is known for his fearsome striking ability; trading punches with that guy is not going to be the game plan for any opponent who faces him. But Teixeira finished a very good fighter in James Te-Huna by pulling guard to complete an arm-in guillotine. An amazing move from a guy who makes a living off of knocking guys out. If opponents have to be wary of his submission skills as well, Glover Texeira is going to be that much harder to beat. He may be looking at a title shot very, very soon.
5. Donald Cerrone impresses. Cerrone looked fantastic in his return to the Octagon, he bounced back nicely from that big loss to Pettis. Noons seemed to have taken a page out of the Nick/Nate Diaz approach to MMA: walk forward and eat a lot of punches and kicks to dish out punishment. Problem was, Cerrone was too skilled and beat up KJ all night long, both in the stand-up and on the ground. Noons’ face was a mess and although he connected solidly a few times, he clearly wasn’t at the same level as Cerrone. Cerrone just boosted his stock and stays relevant at the top of the LW division, while Noons has to right the ship in a hurry.
6. Gray Maynard’s best days may be behind him. TJ Grant is an up-and-coming lightweight, a new face to the elite ranks of the LW division. But Maynard was supposed to win this fight and he was doing exactly that early on. He got caught by a tough, skilled fighter and it happens to everyone, but Maynard is 33 years old and he had two chances at the title against rival Frankie Edgar. Looking back at those fights, and his performance against Grant, and you might say his best chance to win a title is long gone.
7. The value of split decisions. It looked like Max Holloway was going to win a unanimous 29-28 decision against Dennis Bermudez. Instead, Bermudez got the nod for a split decision win. Mike Pyle also managed to pull out a split decision win, although his fight against Rick Story was a little bit closer. I had Holloway winning the first two rounds over Bermudez, as I’m sure many fans and pundits did as well. That decision was an upset. The same could be said for the Pyle/Story decision, but again, that fight was much closer. They always say don’t let it go to the judges, and fighters sure do try, but if both guys are just as determined and tough as the other, decisions are going to happen. These last two fights will go down as losses for Holloway and Story, and that’s not fair to them in the big picture. There should be an asterisk next to fights like this that means “many people think this fighter actually won” or “the decision was controversial”.
8. Holding on for a win takes a whole new meaning. It would be interesting to see how much time Khabib Nurmagomedov spent with his hands wrapped around Abel Trujillo’s waist. Khabib dominated that fight, slamming Trujillo multiple times, taking him down at will, just basically rag-dolling him. But Trujillo was never in serious danger of being finished, and he got back up every time Khabib took him down. Khabib essentially turned it into a hug-fest, wrestling match. There’s nothing wrong with that, fighters should go to their strengths and do what it takes to win. Khabib has other weapons as shown in his previous fights, and he may need to utilize them more to win fans and move up the ladder.
9. Robert Whitaker needs a step up in competition. Colton Smith is no pushover, he beat Mike Ricci, a Tri-star guy with lots of hype. Smith was hanging with him for a while, but as the fight went on, the difference in experience and skill between the two became more apparent. Whitaker showed a lot of patience and skill, waiting for the right opportunities before capitalizing. It’s time to see what he can do against a top fighter.
10. Ice Ice Baby. It’s becoming commonplace for Rogan to point out some spilled ice in one of the fighter’s corners in the Octagon after the fight resumes. You would think that between the UFC, the cornermen, the athletic commission people and the ref, that they could address that issue. Hopefully, it won’t take an injury to make the UFC really get on top of that, so fans can focus on enjoying the fight as opposed to worrying about one of the fighters slipping on ice.