Randy Couture file photo : Sherdog.com
UFC 118 had something for every fan of MMA, no matter the personal taste. Whether it be the birth of a truly great lightweight, an unreal UFC vs. Boxing melodrama or the simple pleasures of watching high-level technique executed at the highest level, memorable moments abound.
Thanks to some careful work with the DVR and an always reliable coffeemaker, here are the five moments that surpassed all others on Saturday night.
The Great Escape
For many years now, B.J. Penn’s back control has been considered the ultimate death knell in an MMA bout. There was simply no escaping from the prodigious Hawaiian’s favored position -- at least until the fifth round of his lightweight title rematch against Frankie Edgar.
Down 4-0 on nearly every scorecard known to man, Penn needed some of Anderson Silva’s magic and he looked to be well on his way after securing a nifty takedown. Those serpentine legs of Penn quickly worked their way to back control, but then Edgar did something none of Penn’s past opponents could do.
Instead of accepting fate or freezing up, Edgar did what he does best: He moved and he moved like hell. A frantic, near life-or-death scramble ended with Edgar securing top control and flat-lining any hopes Penn had of a miraculous win.
Captain America Turns The Lights Off
In the blink of an eye Couture went from having a hand on Toney’s ankle to being in full mount. It was right then and there that the UFC vs. Boxing “debate” took on all the legitimacy of a Tennis vs. Water Polo discussion.
How the post-fight hoopla plays itself out is one thing, but at long last the world knows what any sane MMA fan has known for some time -- even the best combat sport athlete needs a thorough fine tuning before stepping inside a cage. While Couture’s effortless dismantling of Toney was utterly predictable, when he changed levels for that low single the whole world got to see the level at which modern mixed martial artists operate in comparison to their combat sport peers.
Not Your Average Bully
Dads the world over will tell you the same thing: The way to deal with a bully is to pop him in the mouth and watch him crumble into a pile of insecurities and tears. Kenny Florian gave that approach a shot, and Gray Maynard barely took a step backward.
Say what you will about Maynard’s methodical, defense-first style, but Florian caught him clean in the first round and what followed was two-plus rounds of downhill hopes for the Bostonian. I’m not sure what it will take for Maynard to lose his undefeated record. I just know he proved it’s going to take more than a clean shot to the jaw.
This Is Why You’re Not a Black Belt
It takes a special mind to truly grasp the intricacies of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Many of the movements are foreign to your average human, and the level of strategic foresight needed to execute submissions against quality opposition is off the charts.
Facts solidified when Nate Diaz simultaneously passed Marcus Davis’ guard while securing a vise on the New Englander’s neck disguised as a guillotine choke. Moments later Davis was unconscious, and while that sight will stick with most, it is Diaz’s classic display of grappling that should be what is most and best remembered.
That Lauzon Kid Is Wicked Good, Yeah
Fighting a guy in his hometown on short notice is usually a bad idea. In his bout with local favorite Joe Lauzon, Gabe Ruediger did little to pull probability in his favor. There was hardly a moment of the fight that didn’t consist of “Godzilla” getting tossed around or popped in the mouth.
Lauzon put the perfect exclamation point on a brilliant performance with a daring armbar transition that would give most fighters some serious pause. Instead of shrinking from the moment, Lauzon seized it by snatching Ruediger’s arm and lacing up a win that will become a permanent part of his highlight reel.
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