– After the epic war of words and hype surrounding the Rampage Jackson Vs Rashad Evans fight I think a lot of people were fooled into thinking they were going to witness a Bonnar Vs Griffin or Garcia Vs Korean Zombie style war.
Evans has never been that kind of a fighter though, and with a Greg Jackson strategy in tow, wrestling was always going to be his route to victory. Even when he has engaged in a striking battle in the past his tendency is too stay on the outside rather than go toe-to-toe. His KO over Liddell for instance came after a round and a half of virtual non-activity on his part.
– Rampage was in decent shape considering his lengthy layoff, but he still seemed like he was missing a gear for much of the fight. It’s not too dissimilar a feeling as I had watching him take on Keith Jardine and Forrest Griffin. His reactions and hand-speed also seemed a little off which made Evans look even quicker than usual.
– If Rampage had been able to capitalize on the Evans knockdown in the final round things could have ended up much differently. Crucially a number of strikes to his grounded opponent missed the mark. If they had connected the fight may well have been over as Evans was dazed and the referee looked ready to step in.
What’s puzzling is why Rampage didn’t try to press home his advantage when the two were stood up again, as Evans was clearly still wobbling. Perhaps, like Thiago Silva in Evans last fight, Rampage had just simply ran out of gas.
– I felt the event definitely suffered a little from not having the originally scheduled Lil Nog Vs Forrest Griffin bout. That would have been the perfect lead-in to the main event, whereas the Michael Bisping Vs Dan Miller fight was a bit of a stretch as the co-main event and didn’t seem to catch the crowds imagination.
– As I’d expected Bisping was the more technical striker and after a slower first round did exude more confidence than he normally would against a more dangerous opponent. There are still holes in his defenses when he’s in the offensive though, and that will continue to cost him at the highest level in the division.
– Bisping is still calling for a title shot against Anderson Silva at some stage in the future but he’ll need to get more wins under his belt before that could become a reality. Even if he does succeed in that regard that’s a fight that would end very badly for him. A rematch with another Silva, Wanderlei, does seem like a more realistic goal.
– As in his previous bout with Demain Maia, Miller never backed down despite coming off second best in the stand-up exchanges, but at the same time never seemed fully committed to getting the victory. Dana White wouldn’t commit to whether Miller would now be cut, but after three losses in a row it’s a good possibility.
– Dana White has said in the past that each UFC event guarantees at least one or two jaw-dropping, ‘WTF!’ moments, and Mike Russow’s knockout of Todd Duffee certainly fits into that category.
– Up until that point Duffee had looked pretty good if you consider that he was competing in only his seventh MMA bout, neutralizing Russow’s wrestling and dominating the stand-up. Either Russow has an excellent chin or Duffee does not have the one punch power his seven second KO in his previous fight had led us to believe, because he landed a number of heavy strikes without any real joy.
– Russow’s win isn’t exactly ideal for the UFC. Todd Duffee was all set to be the next rising star of the heavyweight division, while Russow wasn’t on anybody’s radar, and his memorable KO doesn’t disguise the fact that his performance was horrible up until that point.
Duffee is still only 24 though, and at heavyweight your only ever one punch away from a clean KO. I believe he still has the potential to be a solid contender in the division.
– I felt Mike Brilz had done enough to win his encounter with Lil Nog. He was running on empty in the final round though which didn’t help his cause. It was still well worth him accepting the fight on short notice though as it put his name on the map, bought hims some goodwill from the fans, and earned him a $65,000 bonus for ‘Fight Of The Night.’
– It wasn’t the performance Nogueira would have been looking for, and while not derailing his title aspirations, the controversial win doesn’t exactly help his cause. I was still impressed with his sweeps and escapes throughout the fight though.
– Diego Sanchez finds himself in an awkward spot after abandoning the lightweight division after his loss to BJ Penn, and now losing in his return to welterweight. A swift move back down to 155lbs may well follow, and that’s an idea that Dana White appears to agree with. Personally I’d still like to see him in a rematch with Kenny Florian at lightweight, but he may now need to get a win under his belt before that can become a reality.
– John Hathway looked very good indeed, and seemed very calm and composed in his first main card fight against his toughest opponent to date. At 22 years of age there’s still lots of time for him to develop his skills, and that could gives him the potential to become one of the future stars of MMA in the UK.
– In the prelims perhaps the biggest surprise was seeing former rising star of the 205lb division Luiz Cane handily dispatched by Cyrille Diabate. later Diabate did admit though that Cane had momentarily knocked him out with a punch, but he came to as his head bounced off the canvas and he went on to stage an impressive comeback. Cane now has fallen to two first round losses in a row.
– Other notable prelim results included Amir Sadollah failing to make any kind of headway against ‘Stun-Gun’ Kim, and now moving to a mediocre 3-2 in his MMA career, while Melvin Guillard got back to winning ways with an impressive KO win over Waylon Lowe.
– A big story still to emerge from this card is the pay-per-view buy rate. There was a great deal of hype surrounding this event thanks to the rivalry between Rampage and Rashad stemming from a popular season of The Ultimate Fighter, plus the biggest series of UFC Primetime to date, widespread media coverage (including major support on ESPN), and the buzz surrounding the UFC fans expo which pulled in 125,000 visitors in Vegas this weekend.
Dana White suggested earlier in the week that they were looking for around 800,000 – 850,000 buys which in itself would be a big success. I think that’s a realistic target under the circumstances, but there’s a real possibility that it could even surpass those numbers and push closer to the 1 million sales barrier.