Last night the UFC returned with their annual Super Saturday event on the eve of “The Big Game”, hosted by the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, NV.
UFC color commentator Mike Goldberg opened up the broadcast by proclaiming 2013 will be “super fight” year. UFC 156 was the UFC’s first pay-per-view of the year, and they started it off with a stacked card that included one of those super fights “Goldie” was talking about.
Often with events as stacked as this one, the expectations are so high that they fail to meet those expectations. But this event did in fact reach those expectationswith a dynamite main event leading the pack, a solid co-main event and an undercard that was undeniably one of the best in quite some time.
Even thought this event passed the Super Saturday test with flying colors, there wouldn’t be a “best” if there wasn’t a “worst”. And since when it comes to hearing good news and bad news, I tend to lean towards hearing the bad news first, that’s where I’ll start. So without further ado, here are my picks for the worst of UFC156: “Aldo vs. Edgar”.
The Worst: The co-main event between “Sugar” Rashad Evans and Antonio Rogerio “Minotouro” Nogueira. The co-main event of the evening turned out to be a rather forgetful affair. The majority of the bout took place on the feet, with “Lil’ Nog’s” boxing making the biggest impact, if you can even consider slightly better jabbing an impact, earning a unanimous decision victory. With both fighters being away from the light-heavyweight scene for an extended period of time, it may very well have been ring rust that truly made an impact in the fight. That said, Nogueira had spent a longer time away from the Octagon due to injury, thus it stands to reason that it would be Nogueira who suffered the worst case of ring rust, not so much Evans. But it was in fact Evans who looked flat. Over all the fight wasn’t exactly setting me on fire, but it wasn’t all that boring. Nogueira did what he needed to do; he stuffed Evans’ shots and imposed his southpaw boxing skills to get the nod to secure his spot as potential light-heavyweight title challenger.
The Worst: The Referees/Judges. Being a referee or judge in combat sportsis thankless job. So much pressure is placed on their shoulders to ensure a fair and totally unbiased outcome to the competition their assigned to. Thus, it’s expected that the human element of error will sporadically surface. By no means was I shocked to see referee Kate Winslow wait a tad bit too long when it came to stopping the bout between Edwin Figueroa and Francisco Rivera. It was pretty obvious that Figueroa was out on his feet and it may have looked like he was back-peddling, but I believe he was simply struggling to keep his balance. Later in the night, during the prelims on FX, Winslow again made her presence known in the Volkmann/Green bout. Green, in half-guard on top of Volkmann appeared to be working diligently, when out of nowhere, Winslow felt the need to stand the fight up. Green was being out-grappled by Volkmann during most of the fight and may have been behind on the scorecards. With Green on top, this may have been his only shot of possibly stopping Volkmann with vicious elbows. Without much reason, this was cold heartedly taken away from him by Winslow. As it turned out, that was not a factor at the end of the fight, as Green was able to catch Volkmann with a rear naked choke in the third round, earning “Submission of the Night” honors andunofficially ushering in the invasion of Strikeforce.
Herb Dean did his part as a Winslow follow-up act by taking his sweet time stopping both the Jay Hieron/Tyron Woodley and Alistair Overeem/Antonio Silva bouts. Dean is one of the best and most experienced referees in the game and it did shock me to see how slow his reaction time was in stopping these two fights. Hieron was out after the second punch once he turned into Woodley. Overeem was left imitating Dave Menne against Phil Baroni after “Bigfoot” was finished with him. It could be that Dean was confused when Overeem had his hands down against the fence taking shots. After all, Overeem had been doing that the entire fight, so maybe it took Dean a second or four to catch on and realized Overeem was out cold.
The judges weren’t as present as I would’ve expected them to be. The only real gripe I have about them was their scoring of the main event between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar. Two judges turned in scores of (49-46), meaning, in their perspective, Edgar only won one round. Truth be told, that’s an absolutely pathetic scorecard, when just about everyone, including the third judge, had Edgar winning two rounds. If the third round had swung more towards Edgar, I wonder how those two judges would’ve scored the fight. Nonetheless, it’s a problem that needs to be taken seriously and looked into very closely.
Come back tomorrow for Part 2: The best of UFC 156.