There’s a fine between winning and losing, as they say, and never was that more ably demonstrated than at this past weekend’s UFC 114 event.
Take Luiz Arthur Cane for instance, who appeared to be heading for an early victory against Cyrille Diabate when he connected with a powerful blow which his opponent later admitted had momentarily knocked him out, awakening only as his head hit the canvas. Diabate showed remarkably quick powers of recovery however and just moments later exacted a swift revenge, claiming a TKO victory and handing Cane, once considered to be a rising star at 205lbs, his second defeat in a row.
He wasn’t alone though in seeing victory slip from his grasp though.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was the clear favorite heading into his main card bout with Jason Brilz, yet it was the underdog who enjoyed the most success. In the second round in particular he had Nogueira in a tight guillotine choke and later rocked Lil Nog in an exchange on their feet. Dana White later suggested that was Brilz opportunity to finish the fight, but he didn’t capitalize on it and the fight eventually went to the judges scorecards where Nogueira ended up winning a controversial decision.
On to the next fight on the card and highly touted heavyweight prospect Todd Duffee ran the show for almost the entire bout against Mike Russow before an out-of-the-blue punch in the final frame knocked him clean out and handed him the first loss of his career.
Of course in the main event Rampage Jackson also offered up a pivotal moment when the entire balance of the fight could have been shifted. Up until that point in the third round Rashad Evans had been in control and appeared to be heading for a decision victory.
Then Jackson finally connected with something meaningful, dropped his rival and began throwing strikes in the hope of finishing the fight. One or two more solid blows could have been enough to do so, but somehow Evans remained elusive even in his dazed state, and Rampage’s brief window of opportunity past.
Four fights, and four outcomes that were moments away from being altered. In the days following the event we could have been celebrating the swift return to form of Luiz Cane, Jason Brilz pulling off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory, the continued rise of future star Todd Duffee, and Rampage Jackson’s triumphant return to the UFC.
Instead Cane is being dismissed as yesterday’s news, Duffee’s no longer being widely considered as the next big thing in the heavyweight division, Brilz has received a more sympathetic than celebratory reaction, and Rashad receives plaudits for his strategy while Rampage fields questions about his lengthy layoff and ring-rust.
A fine line, indeed.