Jon Fitch file photo: Sherdog.com
Anderson Silva: B
Only a jaw-dropping final-round rally saved the champion from scoring a failing grade and allowed him to retain his coveted title. Silva was pummeled for four plus rounds before silencing the motor-mouthed Sonnen with a painful dose of humility. Also, props to referee Josh Rosenthal for making the correct call on Sonnen’s tap. That situation could have gotten ugly.
Chael Sonnen: C
Sonnen was about to do what no fighter had done in the UFC: defeat Anderson Silva. And let’s not get it twisted, Sonnen was outclassing the champion by an alarming range before he fell victim to an unlikely submission in what was easily one of the most dramatic come-from-behind victories ever. Sound familiar? Sonnen has been here before with the likes of Paulo Filho and others. What’s done is done, and it’s now time for Sonnen to eat crow over the verbal venom he’s spewed for months in leadup to the fight and fix the massive hole in his game that prevented him from being a champion tonight in Oakland.
Jon Fitch: B
A self professed “fourth-round finisher,” Fitch stayed true to this characterization at UFC 117 by notching his eighth consecutive decision victory. His best defense to criticism? Fitch is a top-10 pound-for-pound talent that fights in the sport’s deepest division. A rematch with Georges St. Pierre or a title fight against teammate Josh Koscheck awaits on the horizon.
Thiago Alves: F
Alves failed to make weight (again) for UFC 117, and then got relegated to clean-up duty as Fitch used him to mop the Octagon canvas. It’s time for Alves to move to middleweight, where he can hopefully be trusted to fulfill his obligation to hit a contracted weight.
Clay Guida: C
Guida was a step slower than Rafael dos Anjos all night, but a first-round punch on the button paid dividends in round three as his opponent succumbed to what likely will diagnosed as a broken jaw. A win is a win, and Guida will take this one and rock it like a bad hairdo. Oops.
Rafael dos Anjos: D
Dos Anjos was just minutes away from a unanimous decision victory against Guida, but facial damage sustained in the first round sprouted more pain than he could handle when his face was squashed against the fence. It’s cliché to call him a quitter from your couch, but admittedly one would like to see a big-league fighter will himself through injury and adversity en route to victory.
Matt Hughes: A+
Absolute perfection. The hall of famer dropped Ricardo Almeida flat and then choked the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt out cold with a submission without a name. I had written off Hughes and labeled him as being washed up years ago. Shame on me. At least I’m not alone.
Ricardo Almeida: D
The Renzo Gracie protégé looked smooth in his second fight at 170 pounds, but a left hook and a display of old-man strength from Hughes sent Almeida back to the drawing board.
Junior dos Santos: B+
Believe it or not, the sport’s most technical hands live in the UFC’s heavyweight division. Dos Santos shows a comfort level and willingness to go to the body that is presently unequaled in MMA. With his stellar takedown defense, the Brazilian could be the heavyweight to beat if he can sharpen his outside-striking tools such as the jab and a resourceful kicking game.
Roy Nelson: C
This isn’t NCAA Football: A loss isn’t the end of the world -- and in fact -- some losses can be learned from. This is the case for Nelson, who showed lots of heart and a durable chin in a shutout loss to “Cigano.” Nelson will improve from the painful experience and bounce back in his next bout. Is dropping 30 pounds too much to ask, though?