* I very much enjoyed UFC 82. It wasn’t the most action-packed UFC but if anyone missed it (and still doesn’t know what happened) it’s definitely worth watching. If, for some reason you don’t possess a working television, give Yahoo.com‘s feed a try. I checked it out last night and it was probably the best quality live streaming video I have ever seen.
* While I still refuse to compare Anderson Silva to Mike Tyson, one can not argue that he is the most dominant champion in MMA right now. What a masterful performance. So, who does he fight next? Well, unless the UFC has another trick up their sleeve (see: Coleman, Mark) it appears to be Yushin Okami. Unless, that is, Wandy decides to move to 185 if he defeats Jardine in May.
* While Okami looked impressive against former Middleweight champion Evan Tanner, I don’t think he will pose much of a threat to Silva (shocking, I know). Would I like to see Silva-GSP? Absolutely, but not now. If GSP defeats Serra next month, he needs to reel off at least three or four wins in a row before earning a shot against Silva.
* It’s strange to look back on the site of Henderson walking into the Octagon nine months ago following Rampage’s victory over Liddell while holding two Pride titles and now both are gone from his grasp. Last night officially ended the Pride-UFC battle and, just in case you hadn’t done so, I think it’s safe to award the victory to Zuffa.
* I haven’t seen the dark matches so I can’t comment on those but I was probably most impressed with Josh Koscheck. He’s had a lot of time to think about that devastating loss to St. Pierre in August and he certainly put it behind him because he looked like a different fighter. Koscheck has always been known for his tremendous wrestling skills but last night he showed the full arsenal while defeating Dustin Hazelett with a beautiful high left kick.
* On the flip side, not a good showing for Jon Fitch. Considering he was supposed to cement his place as the number one Welterweight this had to be deemed a disappointment. No disrespect to Chris Wilson – he should be proud of his debut – but Fitch didn’t look as strong as in the past. I blame the same issue that caused Andrei Arlovski and Rich Franklin to look tentative in bouts last year. Knowing that a title shot is yours if you win can play funny tricks on the mind (so I’m told).
* What can you say about Cheick Kongo other than I think he was officially exposed last night. His striking didn’t look pretty not to mention his jiu jitsu. I’ll tell you what did look impressive: Kongo’s build. I watched the show with non-MMA fans and they were mesmerized by his look. So, at least there’s that.
* The most interesting part of UFC 82 is where do the main fighters go from here? What becomes of Arlovski and Koscheck whose UFC contracts have now expired? Is Herring the number one contender all of a sudden? Does Fitch still deserve that title shot in the Welterweight division? Where does Silva go from here? Does Hendo stay at 185? And on it goes. It’s all very exciting.
* So, Mark Coleman vs. Brock Lesnar. Not sure about you guys but I didn’t see this one coming AT ALL. I love when we are legitimately surprised by upcoming bout announcements. Sort of like Show vs. Mayweather. By the time they meet in August, Coleman would have been out-of-action for almost two years (a loss to Fedor). I can’t imagine the UFC has signed him to more than a one-fight deal because he’s simply being served up to Lesnar as his first high-profile victory. However, this fight will be so intriguing because you have the first-ever UFC Heavyweight champion battling “The Next Big Thing” to prove he is still relevant. Beautiful.
* Saturday’s fight of the night? Well, I just might have to give the nod to Rafael Marquez-Israel Vazquez III. Once again, these two engaged in another fight of the year candidate and just like the rematch, Vazquez outlasted the hard-hitting Marquez. No real surprises there other than the fact that the fight went the distance. When discussing the greatest boxing trilogies of all-time, these two must now be entered into the conversation. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind making their rivalry a best-of-seven and I would also like to nominate rounds four and twelve for 2008 round of the year.
* Earlier this year, Allan Green was an in-studio guest on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights. He was very brash, insightful and critical of fellow fighters – particularly Jean Pascal. He repeatedly said that Pascal was “a joke” and shouldn’t be considered a top-10 fighter. Well, at least Pascal never backed out of a fight. Meanwhile, Friday night, Green was supposed to be featured on FNF until he unexpectedly failed to show up. Obviously it’s hard to pass judgment without knowing the entire story yet but, still, there is no excuse for not showing up without giving an excuse. I expect Green to get suspended for this stunt while Pascal prepares for a huge showdown with Edison Miranda in June. Funny how that works.
* Obviously I didn’t see it, but it sounds like Lucian Bute performed just as expected in his bout against William Joppy on Friday. The Montrealer(!) stopped Joppy in the 10th round of his first IBF Super-Middleweight title defense. So, you know, bring on Pavlik!
* My heart goes out to Pele. Geez laouise that was one of the worst sports injuries I have ever witnessed.
* Finally, Friday night’s IFL event was probably the best produced telecast in their short history but the fights just didn’t do it for me. They all seemed to drag on too long. By the way, I know they love the ring but why is it so damn big? It looks at least 1.5 times bigger than a boxing ring and that makes the fighters seem less impressive in my books. Get rid of the ring all together but, if not, make it smaller!