|UFC 100: Review and Report - Lesnar and GSP retain their titles
By Matthew Degonzaque, DoghouseBoxing (Aug 6, 2009)
It was a night that MMA fans will never forget. No other promotion has had the success and longevity that the UFC has. The promotion gathered some of its best fighters to celebrate the 100th ‘UFC’ event in the history of mixed martial arts (actually 101st if you want to count UFC 37.5). At one point it was considered a pure blood sport and banned from television. Several different promoters owned it and no one could make this fledging sport a profitable business.
While flourishing in Japan, the entire sport was on the verge of going under in the United States until the UFC was purchased by Zuffa LLC. A company run by billionaires Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta III with Dana White installed as UFC President. This company tried harder than any other to make the sport into what is it today; mainstream and marketable. Under Zuffa, the company still didn’t catch on immediately and at one point the promotion was forty million dollars into the red.
Just when Zuffa was looking into shutting down operations they decided to make one more stab at making it successful. A reality show, called The Ultimate Fighter that would feature 16 fighters living together in a house facing each other in elimination bouts for the right to a UFC contract. The show would give UFC television exposure and serve as free publicity for UFC’s upcoming PPV cards.
The reality show was, unexpectedly, a hit with the right demographics and UFC hasn’t looked back since. Since then the UFC has become one of the hottest and most talked about sports around, its fighters are mainstream celebrities who appear in movies, television and are covered in-depth by the mainstream press. The UFC is now estimated by valued at around a billion dollars and there doesn’t look to be any end in sight to the companies’ dominance over the sport of MMA or any end to all of the financial success that the company is experiencing.
Not just content with making money, the company is also looking for legitimacy. The promotion is doing something that no other company is doing and is actually going from state to state and working on getting the sport regulated throughout the country, included non-major fight states like Ohio and Georgia.
UFC 100 was the summit for the company, a card featuring some of their biggest fighters as well as some of the biggest mainstream attention the company has ever seen. The card already made over five million dollars in gate receipts alone and was expect to do record PPV numbers. The card was a success, every fight was a success in terms of entertainment and the UFC has further secured itself a spot in the mainstream sports media and has solidified its dominance as the number 1 fight promotion in the world today. This is an evaluation of the card:
Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-1) vs. Alan Belcher (14-6)
The Fight: The fight was back and forth stand up between the two men with both men having their good moments. Both men were knocked down and both landed good shots. The fight was very close, but if I had to give it to someone I would’ve given it to Belcher. He was in much better shape at the end of the fight and he landed the best strikes throughout the fight in my opinion, including those front leg kicks which definitely damaged Akiyama. But Akiyama got the decision in the end and it’s to close to argue with.
Yoshihiro Akiyama: Akiyama was a major signing for the UFC as they continue their plans of expansion into the Asian market. Akiyama, along with Cro Cop and Caol Uno, is supposed to lead the UFC into Japan. In Japan, Akiyama is one of the biggest fighters in the sport. His notoriety isn’t due to his fighting accomplishments. In 2006, Akiyama was accused of fighting oiled up against Kazushi Sakuraba in 2006. He later admitted it and his victory was changed to a no-contest and he was suspended from K1. He later returned to action although the damage was done. He was in a Japanese Nike commercial that caused the shoe company to become swamped with complaints.
Anyway, it was a good first win for Akiyama and UFC definitely picked someone with enough notoriety in Asia to sell their foreign cards when the UFC gets to Japan. But Akiyama isn’t going to be winning any championships anytime soon. He was barely able to get by Belcher who isn’t anything more than a fringe contender than Akiyama was supposed to look good against. He may be a notable and controversial fighter outside the cage, but don’t expect Akiyama to be making any noise inside of the cage.
Jon Fitch (23-3) vs. Paulo Thiago (11-1)
The Fight: Thiago looked good in the first round when he managed to out maneuver Fitch on the ground and take top position. Thiago even secured a choke hold on Fitch that looked like it might’ve ended the fight. Fitch fought out of it and managed to avoid getting taken down at the end of the first round. It was the most success Thiago had during the fight. For the next two rounds, the fight turned into the standard Jon Fitch fight with Fitch coming forward and using his wrestling to take his opponent down and secure dominant position. From there Fitch grinds out a decision win, rarely finishing the fight, not that I hold that against him. Jon Fitch wins by decision and ands the Paulo Thiago hype train.
Jon Fitch: Fitch is in the unique position of being of the one top welterweight in the world, but still not qualified enough for a title shot. That’s due to his one sided defeat at the hand of GSP last August at UFC 87. Like Thiago Alves, Fitch was game but was controlled from beginning to end. Fitch has comeback from that with two wins in a row over Akihiro Gono and Paulo Thiago. But his lack of competitiveness against GSP and name value is what is keeping him from getting another chance at GSP.
He needs to really show that he is a better fighter than he was last year if he wants to defeat GSP. He needs to look impressive and dominate his future opponents instead of grinding out decision win after decision win. Right now I think the best option would be a rematch with Thiago Alves, whom Fitch defeated four years ago. Both guys have come along way since then and both are now in the exact same position. It only makes sense to pair them off against one another now; we’ll get to see who has improved the most since their last fight.
Dan Henderson (25-7) vs. Michael Bisping (17-2)
The Fight: Henderson came right out looking to trade against Bisping landed several big right hands that shook Bisping. Bisping spent most of the first round back pedaling looking to avoid Hendo’s onslaught. Henderson clearly won the 1st round due to his aggression and that overhand right. Bisping started the second round and stood his ground until he walked into Henderson’s right hand and was knocked unconscious.
Dan Henderson: Bisping definitely talked a lot of trash about Henderson in the build up to this fight while Hendo remained the bigger man and stayed respectful in the build up to the fight. That’s the usual type of behavior from Henderson though; he does his talking during the. Once the bell sounded, he owned Bisping from start to finish. To top it off, he finished the fight with an exclamation point, knocking Bisping completely unconscious in what is going to become a highlight reel clip for years to come.
People want to try and badmouth Henderson for dropping an extra shot on Bisping after he dropped him, but the bottom line is that fighters are supposed to continue until you’re told to stop. The referee stopped Henderson after he landed that ground shot, not before it. Henderson was already throwing the last punch even before Bisping landed on the ground fully. Henderson can’t stop in mid air. It was a good stoppage. Anyone who thinks otherwise, this probably isn’t the sport for you because I’ve seen a lot worse.
This win was Henderson’s 3rd win in a row since returning to the UFC in 2007. He has more than earned a rematch with Anderson Silva. Henderson has become a much bigger fan favorite in the UFC lately and I think a Silva-Henderson rematch could be much bigger financially for the UFC than their first fight was. Bisping was already guaranteed a title shot if he won so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that Dan Henderson, one of the few old school fighters still going strong, will be given another crack at ‘The Spider’ in the near future.
Before I posted this, Dana White announced that Henderson was next in line for a title shot as long as Silva makes it out of his fight with Forrest Griffin unscathed this weekend. Silva-Henderson II; Dana White won’t have to worry about Silva coasting to anymore victories.
Michael Bisping: Bisping talked a big game before this, bad mouthing Henderson in the media continuously. His team even dominated Henderson’s team on TUF. He had everything to gain and everything to lose. If he won, he would’ve defeated his first top level fighter and would’ve gotten a title shot against Anderson Silva in November in London. Now he got knocked out in a one sided bout and has to start all over again.
Personally I never truly considered Bisping to be a top level fighter. He’s got good movement, but he’s not an amazing striker. He’s never really shown anything in his UFC fights that indicate he will be a future legitimate title challenger. He’s fought in the UFC 9 times and his record is 7-2 with not a single win coming over a top 10 level opponent. He really should be 6-3 but he was given a gift decision in his fight with Matt Hamill. It looks like Bisping could fight Wanderlei Silva at UFC 105 in London, a fight that could wind up even worse for Bisping than his fight with Henderson.
I don’t expect Bisping to become a world champion. I just don’t think he has the skill level.
Georges St. Pierre (19-2) vs. Thiago Alves (16-4)
The Fight: GSP fought the smart fight and used his amazing wrestling ability to take Alves down repeatedly throughout the entire fight. Alves was looking to use his stand up to knock out GSP and had some success on the fight but couldn’t stop the take downs. Alves showed good ground defense in not getting submitted, but that was about the only good thing he did during this fight. The entire fight was basically the same, GSP keeping Alves on his back and controlling him from the top position. GSP won a clear one sided decision.
Georges St. Pierre: Georges St. Pierre is without a doubt one of the best fighters in the world and in my opinion has eclipsed Matt Hughes as the best welterweight the UFC has ever seen. He’s more complete and skilled as a fighter than Hughes ever was. St. Pierre’s wrestling is truly some of the best in the game at this point, which is truly incredible considering he had no wrestling experience before coming to MMA. He took the man who people thought would be his greatest test, including me, and dominated him like he was just another opponent.
At this point there isn’t really anyone that I can think of who can defeat GSP at 170lbs. The winner of Mike Swick-Martin Kampmann looks to be the next in line for a title shot, but neither guy has ever really shown that they can hang with a fighter on the level of GSP. GSP is in Anderson Silva is in at middleweight: he has defeated all of the top contenders now and has to deal with picking off whomever the UFC can find to put in front of him.
Thiago Alves: Alves was dominated, but he’ll come back. He’s only getting better as a fighter at this point and I wouldn’t be surprised to be him improve to the point where he is fighting GSP again in another year or two. At this point GSP is just too much for him and Alves’ takedown defense isn’t good enough to stop GSP from taking him down. It just says how good GSP is right now cause Alves was able to avoid being taken down by great wrestlers like Matt Hughes and Josh Koscheck. Alves day will come though, but for now, like I already said, I wouldn’t mind seeing him take on Jon Fitch in a rematch and try and avenge a previous loss of his.
Brock Lesnar (4-1) vs. Frank Mir (12-4)
The Fight: From beginning to end, Brock Lesnar destroyed Frank Mir. Lesnar able to do whatever he wanted to Mir. Mir, who held a UFC interim belt coming into the fight, appeared willing to let Lesnar take him down and seemed content working off his back. No doubt Mir was hoping to land a big submission again like he did in their first fight, but Lesnar is much better now, especially with his control from the top position and ground and pound. Mir was literally helpless as Lesnar laid on top of him and brought down hammer firsts for the entire first round. Mir was barely recognizable at the end of the first round. Mir came out and threw a good high knee, but let Lesnar take him down again. Everything started to go exactly as it went in the 1st round until it became to much and the fight was stopped in the 2nd round.
Brock Lesnar: Say what you will about Brock Lesnar the man but Brock Lesnar the fighter has certainly come along way since he stood looking around clueless and let Frank Mir kneebar him at UFC 81. In each of his last 3 fights he has shown improvement. Lesnar’s still not the best heavyweight in the world but his physique, speed and power make him a dangerous opponent to anyone in the heavyweight division.
As for his post fight antics, so much has been said already that I’ll just keep it short. Lesnar was inappropriate in some of the things he said. His comment about jumping on his wife? Who cares? She liked it. Lesnar bashing event sponsor Bud Light in the post fight interview? Probably a stupid movie especially since it could’ve cost the UFC money.
As for Lesnar getting into Mir’s face and talking trash about him while the doctor’s were working on him: Uncalled for. People want to say that Mir talked a lot of trash about Lesnar in the build up, but it went both ways. Lesnar had no business getting in Mir’s face like that. The fight was already over.
Lesnar had to apologize for his actions at the post fight press conference although I doubt the apology was sincere and I’m sure he won’t hesitate to act the same way again in the future. Lesnar knows what he’s doing. He’s promoting himself, creating a persona so more people will want to watch his future fights and make him even richer in the future. As a former pro wrestler, Lesnar knows how to work a crowd into frenzy and get emotions running high. He made millions doing it during his time in WWE playing a bad guy and is making millions doing it now. He may have incurred the ire of the UFC higher ups and had to publicly apologize but Brock Lesnar still accomplished his goal; after the event, people were only talking about him.
His next challenger isn’t quite clear; there are three fights coming up in the next couple of months and one of the winners will likely get a crack at Lesnar in the future; Couture-Nogueira at UFC 102, Velasquez-Carwin or Cro Cop-Dos Santos at UFC 103. But whoever Lesnar does wind up fight, people will pay to watch.
Frank Mir: Frank Mir had nothing in this fight. For the entire first round he looked content to lie on his back and wait for a submission that was never going to come. Finally towards the end of the first round, after getting hit with several big shots from Lesnar, Mir realized that he actually needed to do something if he wanted to win this fight. But Lesnar was able to put Mir on his back and control him so easily it quickly became clear that this wasn’t going to be Mir’s night.
Mir was dominated so badly that he’s going to need to win a few fights if he ever wants to get a rubber match with Lesnar. I don’t see him ever getting that far though. Mir has never been that great of a fighter in my opinion. He’s got great Jiu Jitsu, but he’s never really proven to be a great MMA fighter. He’s been in the UFC since 2001 and has a UFC record of 10-4 yet he has accomplished so little. His 3 biggest wins in the UFC are against Tim Sylvia (UFC 47), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (UFC 92) and Brock Lesnar (UFC 81). They look like impressive wins on paper, but if you really look at the circumstances surrounding each fight it doesn’t hold up as well.
Mir defeated Sylvia by breaking Sylvia’s forearm in a modified armbar attempt that only the referee noticed. Even Sylvia didn’t know he was injured and wanted to keep fighting. Lesnar was 1-0 when Mir fought him and was clearly not versed enough on the ground when Mir caught him. Mir only caught Lesnar in a leg lock after the referee saved Mir from being knocked out. According to Dana White, Nogueira was hospitalized before the Mir fight with a severe case of staph infection and was still feeling the effects heading into the fight with Mir.
A couple of years ago Mir was on the verge of getting bounced out of the UFC. He made his triumphant comeback to the promotion after his motorcycle accident and delivered poor performance and after poor performance. He defeated Dan Christianson (split decision) but lost to Marcio Cruz (TKO in 1) and Brandon Vera (TKO in 1). He was given a last chance fight, against a journeyman in Antonio Hardonk. Mir picked up an easy win that saved his place in the promotion. Mir will probably get another fight against a major contender, but I doubt he will ever come close to a big title fight again.
Three men emerged from UFC 100 with their stars shining brighter than ever. Dan Henderson is finally getting the recognition he deserved from fans after knocking out Michael Bisping in a United States versus United Kingdom showdown. Fans were lining up to watch him lay out the smug Bisping and they got their wish. Now he’s a bigger name that he has ever been. He’s won three fights in a row against good fighters and will finally get a second crack at Anderson Silva. Henderson is now one of the biggest names in the sport, he’s already one of the best and Hendo is finally getting the career recognition that he deserves.
Georges St. Pierre has established himself as the greatest welterweight in the history of the UFC. GSP is in the position at welterweight where Anderson Silva is at middleweight right now; he’s cleaned out the division of all of the elite contenders and is now stuck picking at the scraps left over in the division. GSP is already waiting in the wings for UFC to line up his next opponent which will likely be the winner of Mike Swick versus Martin Kampmann bout in a fight that just reeks of mediocrity. GSP will defeat the winner of that fight with ease. The only fighters who I think will give GSP problems are Anthony Johnson (7-2), but even he probably needs more developing, and a middleweight super fight with Anderson Silva.
Love him or hate, and most hate him, Brock Lesnar has become ‘the man’ in the UFC. He has become the fighter that is going to pull in the big numbers for the UFC. He is a big, mean and scary looking monster of a man who people are in awe of. He has a personality that makes fans part with their money and buy tickets and pay per views in droves. To top it off; Brock Lesnar can actually fight and is only getting better.
In a fighting career that has lasted little more than two years, Lesnar has improved into a legitimate fighting machine and in three fights in a row he has dominated Heath Herring, Randy Couture and Frank Mir. People want to criticize Lesnar for his post fight antics, but they served their purpose. You’ll tune into Brock’s next fight...just like you tuned into UFC 100. The UFC 100 buy rate was an amazing 1.72 million pay per view buys which puts it as the most watched MMA pay per view and the 4th most watched PPV of all time putting it only behind De La Hoya-Mayweather, Lewis-Tyson and Holyfield-Tyson II. That’s an impressive number, especially considering it was only Brock’s 5th fight. Just imagine what numbers he is going to do in the future as he builds his following and takes on bigger challenges. Expect more big fights featuring Lesnar in the future as he looks to be the guy who will be carrying the UFC on his shoulders for the foreseeable future.
So keep your eyes on Brock Lesnar, everyone else will be.
Questions or comments,
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