The term ‘pound for pound greatest fighter’ in the current state of mixed martial arts is used often. It’s used as both a marketing tool and scale in which to highlight and promote successful fighters. After watching UFC 112 last night, its been made very obvious and apparent that the term needs to be not so loosely tossed around.
UFC’s first outing in Abu Dhabi was somewhat of a mess. The headlining fighters were less than stellar and the main event…well we will come to that shortly. But let’s revisit the topic of the ‘pound for pound greatest fighter’ title for a moment. The names usually associated with that term has of the past couple years are names such as Fedor, GSP, BJ Penn and of course Anderson Silva. But what aspect of the game really determines p4p status? Is a win streak? Is it his relationship with the public? Is it technique? Is it whose he’s fought? Too often p4p status is handed out based according to one of those aspects and not the whole bunch. Take for example Fedor. Fedor has an amazing MMA record 31-1 which is very impressive and more often than not he finishes fights. But who has he beaten in his last fights? He has fought Brett Rogers, Andrei Arlovski, Tim Sylvia and Hong Man Choi. Oh boy. None of these names presented a truly formidable challenge to Fedor to solidify p4p status. To be the best, you must beat the best.
Last night at UFC 112, Anderson Silva delivered what I can only describe as a showboating mockery. Anyone watching that fight knew Silva could have dominated and finished Maia in devastating fashion at anytime he chose. Instead, for the better part of the entire fight Silva gyrated, wiggled and ran around the octagon quite literally. At one point in the first round he was literally doing the Brazilian dance fighting style called Capoeira. In the midst of this ‘show’ Anderson was putting on, he was constantly mocking and urging Maia to do something by slapping the ground, waving his hands and at one point even hiding behind Dan Mergliotta whom literally pushed him back to the center of the ring. In the ladder of the fight Merg even stopped the fight and warned Silva to stop being such a buffoon or he would deduct a point. (Yellow card system anyone?) Everyone that just shelled out $50 bucks to see a potentially gorgeous fight were tossing things at their TV’s at this point, and Dana White was about to explode as we all anticipated. As we were all informed at the post fight conference, UFC president Dana White took Anderson’s middle weight title and tossed it into his managers corner to be presented to Anderson after an obvious decision win before Dana left the fight…yes, he left before the fight was over. Dana White did not place Silva’s title around his waist after that embarrassment we all witnessed; as we saw it was hung over his manager’s shoulder after the fight. Even in his post fight remarks Anderson still remained crass and quite frankly arrogant. However, the big issue for Anderson here is that this wasn’t his first odd performance. His fight against Thales Leites was tainted by awkward showboating as well. So has Anderson Silva’s own mystique gone to his head or is he simply bored with his opposition? I’m going to say it’s a mixture of both. Anderson Silva toyed with his last 3 opponents like a predator does with his prey before he devours it in a way to say ‘look what I can do and you can do nothing about it’. That attitude is not needed in MMA, period. I vote that Dana DOES give Anderson Silva to GSP to really bring out the fighter in him again. If not, I say put him on a Fight Night card and make a different and more bold statement.
Now onto the next controversy of the night; Frankie Edgar’s win over BJ Penn. Watching that fight I couldn’t help to be reminded of the fight between Frank Mir and Minotauro Nogueira. Nog just didn’t look or compete like the Nog we knew. It almost looked as if he threw that fight. (we later found out he had just battled staff and other injuries) BJ Penn did not look like the BJ Penn we know and love. He fought what appeared to be a confused and lost fight. Not taking anything away from Edgar, he had a smart game plan to be elusive and he stuck right to it all 5 rounds. I had BJ landing more strikes, but Frankie did get 2 takes downs, which in fact were the first to be handed to BJ in 6 years. This fight left a bad taste in my mouth. The folks I was watching the fight with, even a couple that were brand new to the sport said something felt off about that fight, and they were right. There were even suggestions of buyout and fight throw in the mix. I just cant put my finger on it, let alone put it into words, but something about BJ Penn last night was off. With that said, I believe this loss was good for Penn. He can step back and reevaluate himself as a fighter and regain that hunger to be at the top again, and that’s the Penn we love.
Matt Hughes and Renzo Gracie also managed to shock us by not going to ground…at all. Hughes controlled Gracie with leg kicks all fight long, eventually being able to drop Gracie at will with them. An awkward moment came when Gracie went down and wouldn’t return to his feet unless Hughes assisted him. Hughes could have really gone in for the kill numerous times but didn’t until the 3 round and even then he was rather merciful. Hughes and Gracie showed much respect throughout the fight and both fighters just looked to be having fun and that’s ok. Post fight Gracie looked like a broken man, but had a smile on his face.
If you follow Dana on twitter, you know how he felt about UFC 112 and you have a general sense of everyone’s disappointment as well. It will be very interesting to see happens in the coming weeks.