UFC 148 was the most successful live event in UFC history. Though the Pay-Per-View numbers for the second meeting of “The Spider” Anderson Silva (32-4) and Chael Sonnen (27-12-1) have yet to be released, the live gate was over 6.5 million dollars, eclipsing the previous UFC record of 5.3 million and setting a record for MMA in the state of Nevada. ”The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (16-11-1) went out with a “Fight of the Night” earning bang but saw his retirement party crashed by Forrest Griffin (19-7) in a narrow decision loss. Cung Le (8-2) defeated “The Predator” Patrick Cote (17-8) in his first UFC victory. Demian Maia (16-4) was the beneficiary of “Stun Gun” Dong Hyun Kim’s (15-2-1) bad luck when the Korean Judoka’s self-inflicted rib injury brought an early halt to the match. “AK Kid” Cody McKenzie (13-3) found out the hard way that a move to 145 wasn’t going to make his life any easier when “Money” Chad Mendes (12-1) finished him in just 31 seconds. Opening the card, “The Hulk” Mike Easton (13-1) came out on top against “The Pride of El Salvator” Ivan Menjivar (24-9). The UFC and its fans were the clear winners of the night, but the fighters themselves may not have fared so well. To explore this is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
Anderson Silva: Though his performance has been tainted by a slew of gifs and videos on the web displaying his use of less than honorable tactics in the cage, Silva proved again why he is considered by many to be the best fighter to have ever competed in the sport. In the first round, Chael dominated him on the mat, but “The Spider” showed vast improvement over their first meeting when it came to preventing his rival from posturing up and landing damaging blows. In the second, Silva showed that his well-known killer instincts are still sharp by finishing Sonnen with a flying knee to the chest after the challenger threw a wild spinning backfist and tripped. While the intentions of the knee can be questioned, it landed legally and the champ’s post-fight manner was nothing less that honorable.
Tito Ortiz: Tito lost in his third pairing with Forrest Griffin and even had the spotlight of his retirement stolen by the TUF 1 winner’s post-fight antics. However, he hung up his gloves without excuses and put on a “Fight of the Night” earning performance characterized by the aggression and intensity that he displayed in his first Octagon appearance well over a decade ago. It may not have been the fairy tale ending he hoped for, but Tito didn’t disappoint his army of fans in his last UFC bout. The only way he could tarnish his image at this point is to renege on his retirement within the next several months.
Cung Le: The Sanshou kickboxing champion had a vintage performance for the first two rounds of his sophomore UFC effort. Le may not have been able to finish the Canadian striker, but he kept pace, out-landed his opponent, and even managed to rock “The Predator” a few times before the war of attrition began to tell on him in the third frame. It was his first UFC win and another impressive feather in the cap of his combat sports achievements. Le won’t likely battle for a title in the remainder of his career, but there are plenty of exciting opponents in the middleweight division for him to pair with for the enjoyment of the fans.
Patrick Cote: The second man to turn lemons into lemonade at UFC 148, Patrick Cote lost a decision to Cung Le and fell to 4-8 inside the Octagon. However, he again pushed the pace and again put on a highly entertaining fight. He was also never once out of the running for the victory. Cote may or may not be cut once again by Zuffa, but with the middleweight division being a historically weak weight class and chaos caused by an ultra dominant champion, it’s very likely that “The Predator” will be back again if only for his willingness to fight and his entertainment value.
Demian Maia: No matter how you slice it, Maia was the victor in his welterweight debut. He was aggressive and had enough of a weight and strength advantage to cause Dong Hyun Kim to injure himself during a takedown attempt. It may have been a bit anti-climactic, but he still had a solid performance and now has the backing on paper to make a run up the welterweight ladder.
Chad Mendes: It took just 31 seconds for Mendes to blast Cody McKenzie with a blow to the body that ended the fight. “Money’s” only loss remains to the current UFC Featherweight Champion and against the “AK Kid” he showed the same kind of dominance that marked each of his previous 11 wins. If the Alpha Male product continues to put on performances of this caliber, he will be back under the lights of a five-round title fight in no time.
Mike Easton: “The Hulk’s” meeting with “The Pride of El Salvator” wasn’t a pretty fight or even a particularly entertaining one. However, it was a win over a very well respected veteran. Easton pushed the pace and stayed in Menjivar’s face, refusing to let the submission expert take the fight to the mat all the while blasting away at his body with bad intentions. Easton will need to step it up now that he has set the foundation for a run at the mid-tier fighters of the bantamweight ranks.
Chael Sonnen: Sonnen handled his loss to Anderson Silva with grace and professionalism, putting all smack talk aside and making no excuses though the champ arguably left him with multiple opportunities to make them. Sonnen dominated the pound-for-pound king again in the first round, taking him down with ease and dominating position, even mounting the champ near the end of the frame. The only major set back for Chael in this scenario is that with a second loss to the champ on his record, it is very unlikely he will get a third chance anytime within the next several years regardless of how dominant he is. Chael may have to move to the light heavyweight shark tank to further his quest for 12 pounds of gold and time is short in the aging wrestler’s career.
Dong Hyun Kim: “Stun Gun” was a victim of circumstance. He missed the set-up on a major hip toss and instead of resetting and trying again, he attempted to muscle Demian Maia over his hip and damaged his ribs in the process. The loss may be a somewhat inconclusive one in terms of whether he lost to a better man or just bad luck, but as Patrick Cote’s untimely knee injury against Anderson Silva showed, a good excuse for losing doesn’t excuse a fighter from a loss. Now recovery time will force the Korean stand-out to slide further down the ladder.
Ivan Menjivar: Menjivar simply didn’t have an answer to Easton’s aggression. He countered, moved, and tried to take control but was unable to do so. Even worse, as the rounds progressed, Menjivar’s power began to fade and by the third it looked as if he were no longer capable of hurting Mike Easton. At 30, “The Pride of El Salvator” isn’t an old fighter by a long shot, but his position in the ranks is low enough that he can’t afford another set back if he wants another shot at the top.
Forrest Griffin: Griffin won the rubber match with Ortiz. However, he clearly felt he lost when he fled the cage immediately after the final bell, disgusted with his performance. Then, after being announced as the winner, he seized the microphone and gave Tito Ortiz his final in-cage interview. This would normally be seen as a typical Forrest Griffin stunt, his eccentricities are what his fans love about him, but the timing was terrible. All he did was steal the spotlight from one of the sport’s most influential fighters on the night of his retirement. Much like the class clown who makes the wrong joke at the wrong time, Forrest simply came off looking like a jackass and no amount of apologies can undo what was done.
Cody McKenzie: If a fighter can’t seem to get his heels dug in in the UFC, he often faces two options: make a major change in training and retinue in order to come back strong, or just cut more weight hoping to find an easier career fighting smaller opponents. McKenzie chose the second and then he met Chad Mendes. Mendes walked right through McKenzie’s seven-inch reach advantage, socked him in the gut, and then welcomed him to the division with a few right hands on the ground. Size matters in a fight, but McKenzie needs to learn how to use that size if he wants any success in the deep waters of 145.
Click here for the full list of UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen II fight results.