UFC 75: Henderson/Rampage Lives Up To The Hype

It was the biggest fight in MMA history. Despite what some have been saying going into Saturday night’s unification match, that is exactly what Henderson/Rampage was. The fact that these two may not be the “real” champions of their weight class was irrelevant; it was the first unification match of any kind in MMA history, that’s why it was the biggest match in the sport’s history. Thankfully for MMA fans, it lived up to the hype and provided great entertainment and a great main-event. Rampage took the decision, but that in itself proved an interesting end to an interesting night.

Mirko Cro Cop failed in his bid to regain momentum after his upset loss to Gabriel Gonzaga earlier this year. Cheick Kongo provided the night’s upset in a decision win over the Croatian. In this fight, Cro Cop did show the spark that was missing in his earlier loss this year, but ran out of gas late (a broken rib and two groin shots aided to this) and lost the fight because of that. Sadly, that has been the story of Cro Cop’s career in fights that have gone the distance: running out of gas. Every one of his decision losses (Fedor, Mark Hunt, Kongo) point to Cro Cop running out gas and cracking late (Yes, I know Fedor dominated the majority of their fight, so back off). The fight itself looked to be even or close to it after the first two rounds with both fighters getting their shots in and at multiple times throughout, it looked as if one of the fighters was going to secure the win. However, it went to the judges and in the end Kongo’s low blows in the second round didn’t cost him anything and he got the biggest win of his career. Cro Cop now with two straight losses has to ponder what his next fight and ask the question that no fighter in his position really wants to ask: what next?

What would a big UFC card be without a little controversy? That’s exactly what the Michael Bisping/Matt Hamill fight gave the night. It was England v. U.S.A., the UK’s answer to Pride’s Japan v. Brazil rivalry or UFC’s U.S. v. Anybody rivalry and that is what spelled doom for this fight from the get go (that and Hamill coming out to “Born in the U.S.A.”). While Bisping did pull things together late, the consensus among pretty much everybody was that Hamill took the fight to Bisping and handed the Brit his first career loss. It was not to be as the judges gave Bisping the W via split decision prompting many people to revisit the term “hometown decision”.

Houston Alexander may have become UFC’s next knockout artist with his win over Alessio Sakara. Alexander finished Sakara in quick fashion—official time, 1:01—making that his second knockout in UFC (out of two fights with the promotion) with both of those wins coming in a combined 1:49. Of Alexander’s eight wins, five have come by knockout or TKO and every one of those wins came in less than a minute and a half giving him a nice resume for the role of knockout artist. Obviously with an 8-1 record, Alexander hasn’t faced what most would deem “real” competition, but I’m going to guess that his next fight will give him the opportunity to make that leap.

Did Rampage beat Henderson? My answer is No. That is not to say that he didn’t deserve the win, but on my scorecard I had it 49-48 for Henderson; that’s just how I saw it. Do I think the judges made the wrong decision? Obviously, since I scored it differently, but it was a close fight so I’m not going to get all conspiracy theorist on your asses. However, I do believe that a friend of mine had a point when a few weeks before the fight he told me, “If it goes the distance, they’ll give it to Rampage because he has the UFC belt.” Do I think that’s what happened? Probably not, but I’m sure that Rampage’s great finish had something to do with the decision.

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