Calm, Composed Silva Stops Mendes
Entering the ring, Mendes did not look physically imposing. His tall, lanky frame did not seem as though it could handle the lean, rugged looking Silva. But Mendes was able to connect with a high leg kick from the outset that rocked Silva. Yet Silva showed composure beyond his years and managed to by his time in the clinch. Fully recuperated, Silva managed to gain top position on the ground and administered what is becoming his trademark: violent ground and pound, which forced a stoppage. With this win Silva has extended his winning streak to four straight victories and has earned a future bout with an elite fighter.
Reljic Prevails in a Slobber knocker
This fight was nonstop action, where momentum shifted back and forth, with monster shots being delivered by both fighters. Reljic was in control for most of the first round by showing an array of flashy leg kicks, which were reminiscent of his fellow countryman, Mirko Cro Cop. During the latter half of the first round, Gouveia, throwing wildly, connected and pushed forward, stunning and taking Reljic down.
The second round was a war from start to finish. Gouveia built off the momentum created at the end of the first and clobbered Reljic with his trademark left hook dropping him. Yet, Gouveia was unable to finish, throwing an abundance of punches and gassing himself out. Reljic weathered the storm, scrambled to his feet and landed an overhand haymaker that finished Gouveia. What a back and forth slugfest that never lacked action.
Gouveia is simply not very dynamic. He kept his hands low, showed no movement and took massive punishment. But he has a granite chin, which enabled him to keep coming forward. Reljic is a diverse fighter who exhibited toughness and managed to survive an onslaught to secure a win in his UFC debut.
The Axe Murderer is back with a vengeance
Chalk Keith Jardine up as another highlight reel knockout victim of Wanderlei Silva. If this fight showed you anything about Wanderlei Silva, it is not to get anywhere close to him. When a fighter chooses to fight inside with him, the results are usually devastating. That was the case for Jardine, who instead of staying on the outside and using his jab, decided to trade close range. Silva caught him with several punches and finished him with shockingly destructive ground and pound.
With this first round knockout, Silva has re-established himself in the division and shown the UFC fans just how dangerous he can be. As for Jardine, he fought similar to how he did against Houston Alexander, reckless and without discipline. Once again, his lack of focus cost him the fight.
This bout, without question, should earn KO of the night. After the stoppage, Jardine lay prone on his back, eyes rolled to the back of his head; put to sleep by Silva’s barrage of punches. Silva punctuated his return to prominence and puts a potential career at middleweight in doubt. Rematches against Quinton Jackson or Chuck Liddell could be in the cards.
The Dragon Extinguishes a Legacy
In what could have been the last fight of Tito Ortiz’s UFC career, the perplexing style of Lyoto Machida earned him a unanimous decision victory. From the moment Machida entered the octagon he did not look intimidated, instead he was eerily calm, as if unaware of the magnitude of the situation.
Machida fought precisely the fight he wanted. He was able to slow the tempo and dictate the pace. Machida fights defensively, always shifting positions, never staying in one spot. By using constant movement, fakes of all sorts, he keeps his opponents off balance.
Ortiz’s occasional takedown attempts were stifled by the slippery and elusive Machida. Even though Ortiz was physically stronger, he was unable to take Machida down and unwilling to fully commit to aggressive striking. Machida displayed phenomenal takedown attempts and a combination of diverse kicks that often found their mark. Rarely did Ortiz put together effective striking combinations. When Ortiz forced Machida backwards he was able to land some solid punches but it was a rare occurrence.
Throughout the fight, Machida was able to implement his strategy and land two devastating knees to the body, the second of which buckled Ortiz’s knees. Despite a desperate, last second triangle attempt, Ortiz was essentially ineffective. As the fight came to an end, Ortiz was left cut and bleeding from above his eye, his thighs blistering red, and his ribs battered and bruised.
In the post-fight interview, Ortiz was graceful in defeat but showed no real remorse for his lack luster performance. He has had a great career but never evolved into a diverse fighter. His takedowns and ground and pound had always been his bread n’ butter, but when those are controlled, he is lost. Machida on the other hand has a bright future. This win propels him to the top of the division but his style is not fan friendly. Machida does not seem to have a killer instinct and needs to be pit against an explosive striker who will force him to exchange.
Penn Reins Supreme
BJ Penn made it abundantly clear who the true UFC lightweight champion is. From the outset, Penn controlled the fight by landing jab, after jab, after jab. Sherk was a sitting duck and refused to incorporate head movement. That was fine for BJ, who consistently found a home for his punches. Penn was never in trouble and fought patiently, dissecting Sherk with a steady dose of straight jabs.
Sherk, who was expected to attempt takedowns, rarely did so. Instead he seemed content to try and stand with Penn, where he was clearly outclassed. After a slow paced fight, it was finished in explosive fashion, as Penn landed a knee and continued with strikes. This victory should squash any doubt about Penn’s conditioning or focused, because he fought at the pace he was comfortable with throughout the contest.
At this point, there are very few meaningful fights left for Penn at lightweight. Without a doubt, he stands atop the division with no clear cut challenge. A rematch with Georges St. Pierre makes the most sense, in what would pit two of the UFC’s biggest and best stars.