Sunday, December 30, 2012

Reflections of... UFC 155 and the World Heavyweight Title

Last night's main card nearly had the dubious honor of being outdone by the FX/Facebook undercards. Then the co-main and main event had their turns.

After a preliminary card where all but the last fight were awesome (best fight of the seven being Jamie Varner beating Melvin Guillard), fans who bought the PPV were treated to two awful fights and a third that was only interesting because Tim Boetsch was clearly fighting injured.

Thankfully, Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon put on an unbelievable - and unbelievably bloody - show, as Miller picked up a decision in a brutal encounter.

I gained tremendous respect for Lauzon for fighting through the pain and excessive bleeding and has definitely made his name relevant in the lightweight division. For Miller, the victory definitely should move him up a few notches in Dana White's mind.

If I were booking, I'd put Miller against Gilbert Melendez (who does NOT deserve an immediate title shot after missing two fights due to injury) and give the next shot to the Donald Cerrone-Anthony Pettis winner next month.

And then we come to the main event: Cain Velasquez absolutely decimated Junior Dos Santos for the sweeping majority of five rounds to pick up a definitive decision victory, and win the UFC World Heavyweight Championship.

As I said in my preview, Cain had to be able to bring JDS to the ground every round to win and he did just that. What I did not expect was that Cain's kickboxing was going to match JDS' stand-up and rock the champion and make him unable to trade for almost three rounds.

One thing that is lost in this fight, though, is that both men weighed about 240 pounds. When Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin were in the title picture, everyone claimed the division was evolving where 300-pound men would cut to the weight limit and own the title picture. I am very glad to see the division is instead being run by fighters who have size, but are the best combination of size, speed and endurance.

With Velasquez now the champion, he has quite a few title defense options coming. Obviously, finishing the trilogy with JDS is something that needs to happen, but I think that can be saved until the end of the year. JDS needs a win to earn a rematch, and I do want to see the champion finally defend against Alistair Overeem.

That match appears to be on its way to happening, as White announced Overeem will most likely get the title shot with a win on Feb. 2 against Antonio Silva. If he loses, though, then the picture gets murky.

Silva shouldn't jump into a fight with Cain after he got decimated mere months ago, so the shot could fall back to JDS. Most likely, though, it will go to Daniel Cormier (given he's willing to fight his teammate), Josh Barnett (who will have a win under his belt after next month), or Fabricio Verdum (who should be JDS' next match if Overeem wins the shot).

I am loving how deep the UFC heavyweight division is. There is certainly an elite class of heavyweights above the others, but that's par for the course everywhere. Right now, I'd say the 265-pound division is the best run in the UFC.

On a side note, I would like to say that with regard to the middleweight division, no one earned a shot tonight. Costa Phillippou got close, but he's a fight away. White was correct in naming the Michael Bisping-Vitor Belfort winner the No. 1 contender, and I look forward to that fight next month.

While people are beside themselves about the Light Heavyweight and Welterweight divisions giving title shots to people who lost their last fights, I'm glad the remaining divisions are awarding shots on merit, making men like Nick Diaz and Chael Sonnen the exceptions, not the rules.

One final note before I get back to work on the year in review blog: To those complaining that Ronda Rousey's title fight is headlining over Machida-Henderson, shut the f*** up. This is a UFC rule I firmly stand behind: Championship fights headline. No exceptions.

I don't care if Fedor and Lesnar came out of retirement tomorrow and signed. If they aren't fighting for the belt, the Flyweight World Championship takes precedence. I don't care how many points you stack up; if the fight you want headlining has no belt on the line, and another fight does, the title fight wins. Period. End of discussion.

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