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The UFC closes out 2008 with a bang

As far as major fight cards are concerned, you’re not going to get much closer to perfection than what fight fans witnessed at UFC 92 on Saturday night.

Even the most fickle of critic is going to have a tough time finding flaws with last night’s “Ultimate 2008” as the event delivered in just about every regard.

Good production? Check.

Strong commentary? Check.

Good pacing? Check.

Efficient judging and officiating? Check.

An effort to show more than the five guaranteed fights on the PPV broadcast? Check.

Compelling matchups featuring stars vs. stars? Check.

Highly-anticipated fights that delivered strong action? Check.

Surprise outcomes that will keep fight fans and the media talking for days? Check.

Alright, you get the idea.

UFC President Dana White said in his post-fight press conference that UFC 92 lived up to the hype and a sane human-being cannot make a rational argument against that statement.

On a fight card filled with highlights, at the top of the list was the night’s main event which saw Rashad Evans procure the UFC light heavyweight title from Forrest Griffin following a third round TKO.

The fight had a little bit of everything: drama, action, and a major change in momentum. But most impressive of all was the degree of skill that was on display during the bout.

Critics of MMA often complain that the sport is nothing more than bar room brawling in a cage. However, Griffin vs. Evans exhibited too much technique to ever be confused with a street fight.

Neither Evans or Griffin will ever be confused with championship-caliber boxers, but they applied compact and crisp striking that made for a very aesthetically appealing fight.

If you were going to force a critic of MMA to watch a fight in hopes of changing their opinion that the sport lacks skill, you could have shown them Griffin vs. Evans. Meanwhile, also showing strong standup skills on the card were both Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Frank Mir.

In knocking out Wanderlei Silva in the first round and avenging two previous losses to the former PRIDE middleweight champ, Jackson showed improved defensive standup capabilities. While Jackson still needs to work on his standup defense from the waist down and start checking kicks, he exhibited good head movement and controlled the range between him and Silva.

When Silva did land strikes to the upper body of Jackson, the impact was usually minimized by Jackson diverting his upper body in the opposite direction in which the blow was coming from.

As for Mir, the jiu-jitsu black belt not only displayed improved head movement and footwork, but he employed tactical mastery. With Nogueira known for being able to absorb unconventional amounts of punishment, Mir avoided several gambles that would have caused him to expend too much energy in an attempt to finish Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Instead, Mir was patient and waited for his opening in the second round.

The amazing knockout by Jackson coupled with the upsets by Mir and Evans provided more memorable moments on one card than we had seen combined over the course of multiple recent events promoted by the UFC. Even the show’s other televised fights involving Pat Barry vs. Dan Evensen, C.B. Dollaway vs. Mike Massenzio, Cheick Kongo vs. Mustapha Al-Turk, and Antoni Hardonk vs. Mike Wessel all offered strong entertainment value.

Not only were the fights themselves good, but the outcomes were definitive and created intriguing matchups heading into the new year. The UFC now finds itself with a huge rematch between Brock Lesnar and Mir on its hands to unify the UFC heavyweight title. And a rebound win by Jackson gives the UFC an option of matching him up with new UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans in a bout that has the potential to draw a strong buyrate on pay-per-view.

Additionally, the exposure that Kongo, Hardonk, and Barry all received during impressive wins on a high-profile card will help strengthen the promotion’s depth in its heavyweight division.

Without a single disappointing fight on the card and strong matchups created for 2009, the UFC delivered one of its most successful events in company history with UFC 92.

  • Patrick says:

    Only issue I had was with the late stoppage on Al-Turk… That should have been stopped earlier, when people in a bar are yelling “stop the fight” there’s an issue.

    Also, C.B. tapped, and you all saw it, don’t lie.

  • Robert says:

    This event hardly lived up to the hype. It was not even close to the best fight card of the year. The production values are great yeah, but as far as the fights give me a break. Wand and Nogueira are so far past their prime that they look Randy’s age not Randy. Not to mention Al-Turk and Dollaway/Massenzio had no business being on the main card of the biggest event of the year.

  • Mike says:

    Robert what were you watching? That was a good event. Al-turk & cb were worth watching so how does it matter which card they’re on? Even though they are past their prime you shouldn’t talk trash on Wand & Nog unless you can get in there and beat them yourself. That’s a message for all you haters.

  • Patrick says:

    Eh, I disagree with you. It lived up to the hype it had, I’m talking about the fan hype, not the marketing hype (nothing will ever live up to what marketing promises, come on…).

    Good fights, 3 upsets, not a lot of decisions (thank god they didn’t show Okami/Lister). Dollaway was on the main card because of TUF (at least the fight ended fast?). Al-Turk/Kongo was main card because they can’t keep Kongo on the undercard forever (or can they… Jon Fitch anyone?).

    Wand and Nog are past their prime I agree, however: Wand past his prime is still better than many many 205 pounders in the ufc. Nog past his prime can very well still submit anyone out there bar few, Nog has one more loss in him and he’s out, he has very little vision in one of his eyes already.

    It was a good card, there will always be complainers who are just out for that one perfect fight card that could very well never happen, count your blessings and enjoy the great fights that happened last night.

    And you can’t say Pat HD Barry didn’t throw VICIOUS leg kicks, I mean come on.

  • Ryan Seacrest says:

    The card was all it was cracked up to be…Great!!! The only thing I had a problem with is that if Light Heavys and Heavy Weights are going to fight, don’t have a 130lbs ref in the octagon because if Big John or Herb Dean were doing the Rampage/Wandi fight, Rampage would of never got the last 2 punches in while Wandi was KTFO. I remember last time a ref was trying to stop a fight and could not stop Babalu when he was chokeing the shit out of that guy and he was release from the UFC. I think that Rampage getting his revenge by knocking the man out but was it necessary for the 2 extra punches….please discuss or am I seeing things?

  • nate says:

    I didnt enjoy seeing Wanderlei or Nog lose. Emotionally, they are two of my favorite fighters to watch.

    Nothing against Rampage or Frank Mir though, both looked great.. Frank Mir looked incredible, since when can a BJJ guy get a standup game overnight? I cant wait to see how he prepares for Lesnar now.

  • nate says:

    Forgot to say:
    I hate seeing Rashad fight and will avoid any card with him on it. Last night was no exception. I wish I had some way of articulating all the things I hate about him in a healthy way, but I dont have that ability.
    I was disappointed with the ref in Rashad vs Forrest.. it is clear to me Forrest tapped. Even if the ref didnt see that, it should have been stopped earlier, Forrest didnt need the extra 7-8 punches he got after he was already not defending himself.

    Great ref stoppage on the fight with Frank vs Nog though.

  • Q says:

    The Nog stoppage was too quick. He has recovered from worse, even though the fight was all Mir up to that point.
    As for CB tapping, you’re right, I believe I saw that as well, although I dunno if it was a dedicated tapout.
    And rampage hitting Silva after the ref stoppage…no one on the broadcast seemed to have noticed. A little strange if you ask me, because they were blatant.

  • James says:

    Great card. Didn’t like C.B fight billed ahead of Rampage. I agree with the post above that I DO NOT LIKE watching Rashad fight. I was shocked that he won, but his athleticism was far better than Forrest. I would much rather have seen Rampage thrown right into a re-match, but oh-well. Mir stunned me. i didn’ t think he had it in him. What a story, and I hope he pulls Lesnar’s arm off. If Rampage gets the nod, I hope he beats Evans.

  • kentuckyfightfan says:

    Mir/Nog stoppage too quick? Were you watching the fight? Mir was beating him to every punch and had Nog rocked at least 3 times before the onslaught that finally ended it. Letting Nog lay there and take punishment is not good for him nor the sport.

  • mike wolfe says:

    The stoppage on Nog was the right call. He had a hard time getting to his feet, and was stumbling once he did. He was out, and even if he could’ve absorbed more punishment, he shouldn’t have. Watching a guy of his stature get needlessly hammered would’ve left a bad taste for a lot of fans, including me.

  • JOe K. says:

    Great Card!

    My only concern is no Submission of the Night.

    It seems fighters are becoming more and more afraid of the ground game. Everyone wants that flashy knockout because they don’t want to be deemed a “boring” fighter and lose their job.

    I hope this was a fluke and not the beginning a disturbing trend.

    Other than that great card!

  • voridor says:

    Didn’t Hamill seem really sluggish and somewhat out of shape? I was drinking, but my group of fans around me seemed to see the same thing.

  • Max says:

    I watched the fight and YES CB TAPPED!!! What’s up with that kid.
    There’s a lot of haters posting up comments in regards to Rashad Evans. Claiming that Rashad is one dimensional… Who really gives a F***!!! So was Chuck Liddell, a good striker and a good sprawl. But everyone seems to agree that Chuckie was a great fighter even though he had a limited arsenal. Rashad was getting his ass whip for the majority of the fights…. Who really gives a F***!!! What matters is whose hand is raised at the end of the fight. Rashad evens admitted that he starts slow. Nogueria is famous for his come from behind victories but no one is a bitching about that. Rashad’s antics disgust you… Who really gives a F***!!! Liddell throws up gangs signs up in every fight. Rampage thinks his a werewolf. St Pierre is a breakdancer. Anderson Silva is also dancing in the ring. It makes for good entertainment. Stop hating. Rashad has proven himself time and time and time again. He definetly belongs in the top 10 light heavyweight and pound for pound. If you don’t like him because you “THINK” you know the kind of person he is… OK Rashad is a good fighter on the road to being a great fighter. And he fights with a lot of heart in that ring.

  • KTru says:

    Hamill did look sluggish…….but he won…..just like Rashad

  • ultmma says:

    Strong commentary? Check.

    Good pacing? Check.

    Strong commentary?? come on Sam, strong in front of Joe and Mike just doesn’t work. let’s just say they, are what they are (c-level) and the UFC is not getting rid of them anytime soon.

    On pacing part I have to give the UFC porps because there was very little lag between fights and they handled all the short finishes very well.

    thumbs up to that> i never found myself groaning over the UFC taking their sweet ass time between fights.


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