As Dana White said in the post-fight press conference, the trend for 2011 has been ending events asking how the next card will measure up, and then watching that next event blow the previous one out of the water. Such was the case with UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida. The card kicked off with a bang when “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (12-3) ended “The Machine” Mark Hominick’s (19-9) night in seven seconds with just one punch. Coming behind the featherweight showdown, emerging welterweights Brian Ebersole (45-14-1) and “Prince” Claude Patrick (14-2) fought back and forth to a razor thin Split Decision in a fight that showed all aspects of mixed martial arts. Next on the card, renamed former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion “The People’s Champion” Tito Ortiz (16-10-1) brought the heat to “Little Nog” Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (19-5) before having the flames doused by a brutal series of short hooks from the younger Nogueira brother. In the co-main event, “Minotauro” Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-7-1) out-boxed fellow former champ Frank Mir (16-5) before having victory snatched from him courtesy of a vicious submission reversal that saw Mir severely damage Nogueira’s arm. Finally, at the end of the night, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion “Bones” Jon Jones (15-1) successfully defended his title against the last man to defend the belt, “The Dragon” Lyoto Machida (17-3). The fans came out the big winners again, as they have in almost every Pay-Per-View event in 2011, but for the fighters, there are always The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
Jon Jones: Lyoto Machida was, and to a certain extent still is, seen as the most dangerous opponent on the planet for the young champion. Jones spent the first round of his second title defense doing something he had never done before: looking human. Jones was hit hard, had trouble landing his own strikes, and was at a loss to mount an offense. However, like a true champion, he fought through it and came out strong in the second. He scored a quick takedown and opened Lyoto’s forehead with a single vicious elbow that changed the entire tempo of the bout. Shortly thereafter, Jones landed a knee to the body that slightly buckled “The Dragon” and took advantage of the effects to lock in a tight, fight-ending standing Guillotine. With Machida out of the way, it is extremely unlikely that Jones will lose his belt anytime in the foreseeable future.
Frank Mir: The former UFC champ has done so well with his boxing in recent years that it seems many pundits have all but forgotten his ADCC championship-level submission skills. Against fellow former champion “Big Nog”, Mir reminded the world just how good he is on the ground. Mir started off in dire straights with Nogueira landing repeated combinations that Frank was unable to answer. The end seemed certain when Nogueira dropped Mir and pulled him into a tight Guillotine Choke. Apparently “Minotauro” also overlooked or at least underestimated Mir’s abilities on the ground as well. With one slick escape, Mir went from losing badly to severely damaging Nogueira’s arm with a Kimura shoulder lock. Just 3:38 into the first round, Mir shattered Nogueira’s lower humerus, won “Submission of the Night” honors, and possibly booked himself a shot at becoming only the second man in UFC history to hold the heavyweight strap three times.
“Little Nog”: UFC life has been rough for the younger, smaller Nogueira twin. He entered the cage against Tito Ortiz on a two bout losing streak and just 2-2 in the Octagon. Nogueira needed an impressive win to reaffirm his place in the UFC’s most competitive division. Against Ortiz, that is exactly what he got. Ortiz attacked head on right out of the gates, but it was “Little Nog” who by far was the more effective striker in the pocket. Nogueira battered Ortiz, backed him up against the cage, and three minutes later landed over a dozen unanswered blows that forced the referee to jump in and save both Ortiz’s health and “Little Nog’s” career in the UFC.
Brian Ebersole and Claude Patrick: Ebersole and Patrick’s meat and potatoes display of fundamental MMA was a joy to watch for any MMA fan, being the only PPV fight to go the distance. It was not a fight that will be remembered as anything special, but it did serve a very important role in the event as a whole. Much like a pallet cleanser in an expensive meal, it was a nice, clean, entertaining bout that allowed fans’ adrenaline from the opening fight’s seven-second KO wow factor to wear off just enough to receive the full effect of the spectacular marquis bouts that followed it. Ebersole won a very close fight and has now gone from dark horse to legitimate welterweight threat, but neither man did anything but impress their fans and their bosses with a very entertaining, balanced, and solid display of mixed martial arts skill and work ethic.
Chan Sung Jung: One punch and seven seconds was all that “The Korean Zombie” needed to make a very clear statement to the UFC featherweight division and the MMA fan base as a whole. He entered the cage an underdog to the highly accomplished kickboxer Mark Hominick and as the pair met in the center of the cage, it was clear that Hominick was very confident in that advantage. The Canadian attacked with a combo ending in a vicious left hook that the Korean calmly and cleanly evaded before throwing a single straight right hand that blasted “The Machine” from the realm of consciousness. Jung then pounced and threw in a dozen or so hammerfists to prompt the referee stoppage, but they were clearly academic as was any debate over who should receive the $75,000 “Knockout of the Night” bonus.
Lyoto Machida: Lyoto Machida did what no man in the UFC has been able to do. For a grand total of seven-and-a-half minutes, give or take a handful of seconds, he made Jon Jones look lost in the Octagon. In the first round, he clearly dominated not so much because he out-landed Jones roughly 1.5:1 but because he stopped Jones from mounting an offense and had the champion seemingly bewildered at the inability to land anything remotely significant against the Karate-Ka. The second round started out much the same, but when the champ opened a cut on Machida’s forehead, “The Dragon” seemed to come apart. Jones finished off Machida shortly thereafter with a vicious standing Guillotine after nearly evening the score in terms of strikes landed. The issue for Machida is that fans have a short and very simplistic memory. They don’t remember his early dominance or the fact that he was robbed in a previous decision. All they see is that he was choked unconscious and is now 1-3 in his last four fights. Everyone knows that Machida is an elite fighter, but he needs several convincing wins to keep his career alive.
“Big Nog”: The elder Nogueira twin has had one of the most legendary careers in MMA history and actually had a championship caliber performance in the works against Mir up until his rival reversed him and ended the bout. Unfortunately, age and pervious injuries combined with the severe damage done to his elbow, shoulder, and upper arm by Frank Mir’s Kimura has likely ended “Big Nog’s” career, at least as a top contender in the UFC. Nogueira is tough as an iron coffin nail and recovers very quickly, but just the fractured humerus, at the most half the damage he sustained from Mir, is at least a year-long recovery if surgery is required, which it likely is. This means Nogueira is looking at anywhere between 10-15 months before he is in the cage again. This would put “Big Nog” at 36 years of age following an extremely brutal career trying to rebuild his title contention. Should the shoulder and elbow be seriously damaged as well, Nogueira could be out for almost two years, a death sentence to almost any career in his situation.
Tito Ortiz: While “Big Nog” was in the midst of one of the best performances of his career prior to the soul-crushing and possibly career-ending injury to his arm, Tito Ortiz had an ugly showing from the start. Rebranded as “The People’s Champion”, Ortiz has found the only way the word “Champion” will ever appear next to his name again without the word “Former” attached to it. In the past five years, Ortiz has gone 1-5-1 in the Octagon and the brutal whooping the younger Nogueira brother put on him may be the worst beating Ortiz has taken to date. Ortiz came out aggressive and was completely ineffective. His punches, the few that landed, were all but shrugged off by Nogueira, making it painfully obvious that Ortiz no longer belongs in the Octagon with the elites of the light heavyweight division. Ortiz is long overdue for retirement and if he continues the way he has, he will join long-time rival “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock (28-15-2) as one of the most mocked former greats in MMA.
Mark Hominick: Mark Hominick was in a very good place in his career. He had fallen just short of winning the featherweight crown, hadn’t been finished since 2008, and was primed to jump right back into title contention with a win. Even losing his UFC 140 bout wouldn’t have hindered his title aspirations too much. The only thing that could damage Hominick’s promising UFC career was a very brutal, one-sided loss, and that is exactly what happened. “The Machine” came in looking to showcase his vastly superior striking skills and one punch later was on his back counting the tweet birds circling his head as “The Korean Zombie” treated his skull like a bongo drum. The seven-second loss took all the starch out of the Canadian brawler’s shorts and puts him right back down with the hopefuls for at least two or three fights.
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