Five Quick Rounds 11.20.12: GSP/St. Pierre Edition
Welcome to another edition of Five Quick Rounds, 411’s fastest-finishing weekly opinion column. I’m your host, Wyatt Beougher, and I want to apologize in advance for the somber tone of this column, but I can assure you that it’s out of respect for the dead.
Round 1: UFC 154 – St. Pierre Returns to Form
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
UFC 154 took place Saturday night, and it marked the return of welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre after more than year off due to a major knee injury. He fought interim champion Carlos Condit to unify the titles, and after twenty-five minutes, there was little doubt that Condit had been outclassed, as St. Pierre picked up the unanimous decision with only one of the three judges giving Condit so much as one round. The main card started with a fun (if one-sided in the later going) fight between Pablo Garza and former featherweight contender Mark Hominick, and Garza was able to use his reach to frustrate Hominick and score a decision win. Rafael dos Anjos and Mark Bocek were next, and dos Anjos was able to secure a unanimous decision win of his own, and while the first two fights on the main card (and the main event) were decisions, they were exciting fights. The Tom Lawlor/Francis Carmont fight that followed dos Anjos/Bocek was not. Carmont picked up the split decision win in what was definitely the ugliest fight of the night. In the co-main event, Johny Hendricks earned himself a welterweight title opportunity, needing just 46 seconds to catch Martin Kampmann with a big left hand that ended the Dane’s night.
Overall, a pretty good night of fights, in spite of all the decisions (a trend that extended to the prelims as well). The main event was exactly what GSP needed to silence the questions surrounding his return from so serious an injury, and he also found out the identity of his next welterweight title challenger, although that fight probably won’t happen until late next year based on conjecture at this point. I’m disappointed that Hendricks will have to either sit out or risk his title shot, as he’s more than earned it, in my opinion, tearing off five straight wins since losing to Rick Story in 2010, with two of those wins coming against former title contenders Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck. And while little needs to be said about Lawlor/Carmont, I think the decision would’ve been a controversial one had either man really looked like they were trying to win the fight. Aside from that blemish though, this was as solid a main card as the UFC has put on this year, even if it wasn’t littered with bigger name fighters.
Round 2: Bellator 81 – Lightweight Finals Set
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
Bellator held their 81st show on Friday night, and when the night ended, the two men who would be fighting to be Michael Chandler’s next
victim challenger were revealed, as Marcin Held and Dave Jansen advanced to the finals of the season seven lightweight tournament. Held defeated UFC veteran Rich Clementi via submission, winning with a toe hold in 3:04 of round 2, while Jansen was able to score a split decision win over Ricardo Tirloni. In other main card action, Marlon Sandro earned a technical submission win with a rear naked choke in just 2:05, and Perry Filkins earned a unanimous decision win over Jonas Billstein.
If I were Dave Jansen, I’d spend the next few weeks focusing my training on defending leg locks and chokes, as that seems to be Held’s bread and butter. As for Held, here’s hoping he doesn’t look past Jansen to a rematch with the only man to defeat him inside a Bellator cage, Michael Chandler, because Jansen demonstrated on Friday night that he’s never truly out of the fight, as he lost the second round to Tirloni and most of the third, only to finish strong with a takedown and a suplex that stole him the round on two of the judges’ scorecards.
Round 3: Dana White Confirms TMZ Rumor
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
Dana White was on the Jim Rome show last week, and he officially announced that Ronda Rousey was the first woman ever signed to a UFC contract, as well as the fact that she would be the initial UFC women’s bantamweight champion. And while no details of her debut were released, and there hasn’t been an announcement of any other women signed to the promotion as of my deadline, White had high praise for Rousey’s beauty, as well as her fight acumen and killer instinct, calling her a superstar in the making.
As I discussed last week, with the closing of Strikeforce, it had been rumored that Ronda Rousey would be added to the UFC roster, but as of my deadline last week, it was still nothing more than a rumor. White’s announcement on Jim Rome’s show put those rumors to rest and now it’s only a matter of waiting to see who Rousey will fight in what will likely be the first women’s fight in UFC history. Based on Gina Carano’s track record as a ratings grabber for both EliteXC and Strikeforce, I think White and company should at least consider putting Rousey’s UFC debut on one of their FOX shows. If the January card isn’t feasible, then at least interview her during the broadcast and build to a title defense on the April 20th card. Rousey is extremely marketable, so it shouldn’t be all that hard to capitalize on her crossover appeal and turn her into a household name.
Round 4: Bisping Wants an Interim Title
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
Last week, Michael Bisping, who will face Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 7 on January 19th, 2013, in Brazil, tweeted about the speculation that Anderson Silva would be taking extended time off in 2013 (more on that in the next round). Bisping stated that if Silva wanted to be a movie star, then the UFC should make his fight against Belfort an interim middleweight title fight. Bisping was referencing a statement that Silva had made that he would be in Montreal over the weekend to shoot a part in an action movie with Lyoto Machida and not to challenge Georges St. Pierre after his fight with Condit.
I’m not one of those guys (like more than a few of my colleagues) who are dead-set against interim titles, but I do think that if the promotion is going to create an interim title, it should be mandatory that the interim title holder defends that title, or else why not just have your interim title fight instead be a title eliminator? You get the same end result – the winner fights the current champion whenever he/she returns. I’m also in disbelief that Bisping would suggest that he and Belfort are the most worthy competitors of fighting for the hypothetical interim title, as both Chris Weidman and Tim Boetsch have put together longer win streaks than either Bisping or Belfort (in fact, Belfort still only has one win in the UFC’s middleweight division, and that win is against a fighter who now competes at welterweight. And while I don’t think either Weidman/Boetsch is a worthy interim title fight either, I do think that the Bisping/Belfort fight should be the first round of a four-man tournament to decide Silva’s next challenger. Have Boetsch and Weidman square off in early 2013, with the winner of that fight taking on the winner of Bisping/Belfort, and then you’ve got a legitimately worthy contender for the Spider, who should be back from vacation (or having already completed his superfight with GSP) by that point. In fact, I’d put the Bisping/Belfort winner vs Boetsch/Weidman winner fight on the same card as GSP/Silva, along with Johny Hendricks taking on whoever establishes theirself as a potential welterweight contender (Rory MacDonald, even though he said he won’t fight GSP?), so that after the hoopla surrounding GSP/Silva is done, we know who each man is moving on to fight next.
Round 5: The Ongoing Anderson Silva Saga
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
As previously mentioned in the last round, Anderson Silva had been the subject of several reports last week stating that he’d be taking an extended vacation in 2013, that he wouldn’t return to the Octagon until late 2013, and that he had no interest in a superfight with Georges St. Pierre if he won against Condit on Saturday night. Silva had also reportedly said that he wouldn’t be at the Bell Centre on Saturday to have an in-cage staredown with GSP after his fight. To the surprise of much of the MMA media, Silva did appear at the Bell Centre on Saturday, but it was before the show started, and he essentially worked the crowd with a combination of statements (that he did in fact want to fight St. Pierre) and vagaries (that he doesn’t know when said fight might take place). This put credence to most of what UFC honcho Dana White had said earlier in the week, that Silva wouldn’t be taking time off and that he would be fighting St. Pierre, although White’s proclamation that Silva would enter the cage after St. Pierre’s fight turned out to be incorrect.
It appears as though Silva has learned something about showmanship outside the cage from his greatest middleweight rival, Chael P. Sonnen, and while I’d prefer St. Pierre to fight Johny Hendricks after the latter earned a title shot on Saturday night, I can’t deny the allure of the Silva/St. Pierre fight. It makes sense, no matter how you look at it, as it’ll be the biggest fight the UFC can promote this year, both from a financial and also from a fanfare perspective. Plus, it’s the rare occasion where two of the best pound-for-pound fighters are going to step into the cage with one another and see who truly is better after years of speculation. No matter where the fight takes place, it’s going to do big business, whether it’s in St. Pierre’s native Montreal, a soccer stadium in Silva’s home country of Brazil, or somewhere in the middle, like JerryWorld (aka Cowboys Stadium in suburban Dallas, Texas). Add to that what will likely be the UFC’s all-time highest buy rates, and you’ve got what should be a can’t-miss fight. In that light, if the vacation talk and coyness about scheduling are a ploy by Silva to get Dana White to throw more money at him, I certainly can’t blame the man. And if this fight does happen? I’ll be throwing $65 the UFC’s way, you can be sure of that.
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