The UFC delivered again in Brazil thanks to some spirited efforts from fighters and a generally raucous crowd. The show opened up with six straight stoppages and featured some epic knockouts including Vitor Belfort’s finish of Dan Henderson. A few quick thoughts: Jeremy Stephens went from “meh” at 155 pounds to “must watch” at 145 / Brandon Thatch’s height and striking make him one of the most interesting prospects at welterweight in some time / Paulo Thiago’s time is over / Rafael Cavalcante needs to beat a legitimate opponent before I’ll buy back into his hype / Daniel Sarafian needs to get Mike Dolce on the phone / Dan Henderson will recover fine from the loss but needs to look at retiring in 2014 before his legacy is tainted / Any doubts about how big an impact TRT has on Belfort’s career should have been erased by the muscle-bound beast in the Octagon last weekend. After suffering the first knockout loss of his career (and third straight defeat in the Octagon), Henderson was understandably down when interviewed after UFC Fight Night 32. He’s a seasoned competitor and will be back at some point next year, knowing that finishes are part of the game and no man is invincible. However, where his next bout will take place remains to be seen. The UFC is likely to lowball “Hendo” in terms of re-signing him based on past issues with management and his recent stumbles, while Bellator could definitely come in and add another UFC veteran in decline. Ideally, Henderson will be content with the cash he’s made thus far in his career and do what it takes to give one final run at a UFC belt. Frankly, the Bellator title is beneath him while retiring without UFC gold would essentially make him the Dan Marino or Jim Kelly of MMA, i.e. a Hall of Fame stud who couldn’t ever win the big one. “Bones” got on a number of nerves this past week with a few statements pertaining to the UFC matchmaking team’s decision to give Alexander Gustafsson an opponent outside of the Top 5, saying an “off” camp affected his performance in a hotly-contested clash with the Swede, and most recently threatening to “kill” controversial NFL lineman Richie Incognito. For awhile, Jones was doing a good job of focusing on the task at hand instead of drawing attention for questionable comments but it seems he might be back to his old ways. There’s nothing wrong with an individual wanting to speak his/her mind, but someone in Jones’ camp needs to polish up his decision making skills when it comes to what topics are worth discussing publicly and what subjects are better left for kitchen-table talk. EA Sports has given fans an opportunity to vote on a fighter to stand alongside Jon Jones on the upcoming UFC video game. Most notably, Miesha Tate beat Ronda Rousey in the first round of the tournament to crown the lucky winner. That in itself indicates EA Sports made a bad decision to give online masses input on a final product. Gamers likely remember a similar tournament relating to Madden 2012 where then-Browns running back Peyton Hills ended up on the cover despite a field of superstars as competition. As such, don’t be surprised when Tate – who has yet to win a fight in the UFC and only landed on TUF 18 because Cat Zingano was injured – wins the whole shebang. In what is becoming a far-too often occurrence, Pettis withdrew from yet another fight due to injury. Sadly, “Showtime” has spent a good portion of his career on the sidelines, and fans have once again been robbed of seeing the entertaining 26-year old in action. Someone upstairs at Zuffa, and internally at RoufusSport where Pettis trains, needs to start looking into exactly why he ends up in bandages so often based on protecting the 155-pound champion’s long-term prospects. Is it a matter of working too hard in the gym? Is it a matter of the type of exercises/drills he’s doing? Is it diet? Injuries are natural in a sport as rigorous as MMA but you’d be hard-pressed to find a fighter who is as associated with being hurt than Pettis and that’s concerning. It’s no surprise Gracie is picking Weidman to beat Anderson Silva at UFC 168 given his own professional relationship with the middleweight champ. Likewise, it’s equally understandable why a man with the last name Gracie would favor a BJJ-based victory. In fact, it actually makes a lot of sense regardless of your family lineage. Weidman didn’t have any issue taking Silva down in the opening round of their initial meeting and only ended up blasting him in the second based on Silva’s showboating. This time around, Weidman isn’t as likely to give Silva an opportunity to strike and there’s no doubt he has the ground game to advance into position for an Arm-Triangle Choke or make Silva expose his back for a Rear-Naked Choke. Hughes, who is not exactly known for his endearing disposition, decided to throw some shade on Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz by pointing out their decisions to betray the UFC had resulted in their exile from the organization. “Those guys, there’s certain times in their careers, weren’t loyal to the UFC. So now they’re paying the price,” said Hughes to MMAInterviews on the matter. I hate to agree with Hughes, but he is right in the sense that Couture and Ortiz both lit the match ultimately burning down a bridge with the UFC. Granted, UFC President Dana White soaked the wood in gasoline prior to it going up in flames, but that’s a different story altogether. There haven’t been many better video blogs from UFC President Dana White than the latest feature the production staff released. In addition to lighthearted moments involving White taking a shot in the butt and UFC executives scaring their sleeping cohorts on the flight back from UFC Fight Night 32, it also captures the reactions of Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson a few moments after the conclusion of their main event match-up. Additionally, a crying Rony “Jason” is seen smashing a door backstage in an emotionally charged moment as he deals with suffering a knockout loss earlier in the evening. If it doesn’t show up in our Headlines section today make sure to check out a sister-site or YouTube for the goodies. Yesterday, the UFC celebrated 20 years as a MMA promotion. That’s right – on November 12, 1993 the Octagon made its first appearance and an undersized grappler by the name of Royce Gracie helped change the world’s view on fighting. I had just turned 17 and was clueless at the time as I’d remain for the most part for another decade. Sure, I caught a few fights on VHS, but the lack of availability on a regular basis made it a hard product to follow unless truly dedicated. Finally, I caught a few PPVs in their entirety and was foaming at the mouth by the time TUF rolled around. The show cemented my love for the sport and here I am today, still as glued to the set now as I was then. It’s been a great ride so far and the next 20 years should be even sweeter! P.S. – Feel free to share your own story/timeline relating to the anniversary in the Comments section. The UFC may not be hosting a Fan Expo this weekend or inducting anyone into the Hall of Fame, but the company made sure the 20th Anniversary show would still be special by booking an exceptionally deep lineup from top to bottom. Outside of the opener between Gian Villante-Cody Donovan, the card is incredible and concludes with one of the most anticipated title-fights in some time. UFC welterweight king Georges St-Pierre has looked nearly unbeatable in his bouts but can’t eat the type of power top contender Johny Hendricks packs. Throw in Hendricks’ wrestling acumen and it could be an interesting evening unless GSP finds a way to stay outside the entire time things are standing.
Welcome back to the 10-Point Must! Every week I’ll give my thoughts on ten topics from the past seven days with hopes the readership will contribute their takes as well in the Comments section. This time around, subjects range from
UFC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis’ health-related woes to a Hall of Famer calling out a few peers to a quick look at this weekend’s epic lineup for . (Photos by USA Today Sports Images) UFC 167