File Photo: Sherdog.com
UFC 112 once again was a double-edged sword. While the atmosphere at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi was nothing short of spectacular and the promotion’s first outdoor event was a successful experiment, the fights, particularly on the main card, did not live up to the hype.
Anderson Silva has been the center of criticism after the show for his eccentric performance against stopgap challenger Demian Maia. Frankie Edgar deserves all the praise in the world for his tactical masterstroke against B.J. Penn, but their five-round encounter just wasn’t much of a “fight.”
It is uncertain where he lost it, but Penn was sorely lacking the killer instinct that saw him chainsaw through previous top contenders Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez. Was the Hawaiian hurt or has he reverted back to his performance-hindering old ways?
Read on for a closer look at the five main card bouts and a forecast of the fighters’ futures inside the UFC.
Mark Munoz def. Kendall Grove -- TKO (Punches) 2:50 R2
What happened: It was all Grove early, as the Hawaiian picked up where he had left off against Jake Rosholt last November, clipping Munoz with a well-timed uppercut. The winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” season three, Grove’s takedown defense was sharp and he punished the Filipino fighter with punches in bunches. Grove also threatened with an anaconda and a guillotine choke in the first round as well as a rear-naked choke and an armbar in the second. Ultimately, however, he lost position and was pounded out by the windmill-like ground-and-pound of Munoz.
Forecast for Munoz: Even though Goran Reljic lost his last fight, he could be a good opponent for the “Filipino Wrecking Machine.” Down the line it would also be intriguing for Munoz to go up against fellow outstanding wrestler Aaron Simpson.
Forecast for Grove: The “Spyder” continued his win-loss-win-loss pattern in another fight he needed to win. The 27-year-old, 6-foot-6 Grove could next face the winner of Credeur-Lawler or the loser of Cote-Belcher, both fights taking place at UFC 113.
Rafael dos Anjos def. Terry Etim -- Submission (Armbar) 4:30 R2
What happened: Etim, one of UK’s finest, started strong with a tight guillotine choke -- a move he had won his last fight with. Dos Anjos passed to side control, though, where he landed knee strikes to the ribcage and was warned by referee Marc Goddard “not to use elbow strikes to the spine.” In the second stanza, the Brazilian ran a BJJ clinic on the young Englishman, mounting him a couple of times before applying a kimura from north-south position and transitioning to the fight-ending straight armbar.
Forecast for dos Anjos: The very exciting young Brazilian star has gotten his teeth into the UFC after a 0-2 start in the promotion. Fellow young guns Evan Dunham, Efrain Escudero, Jim Miller or Ross Pearson would all guarantee great fights if paired up with the Gordo JJ fighter.
Forecast for Etim: The loss snapped a four-fight win streak spanning almost two years for the young Brit. His next challenge could come from a group including Joe Lauzon, Cole Miller and Dennis Siver.
Matt Hughes def. Renzo Gracie -- TKO (Punches) 4:40 R3
What happened: It was kind of frustrating to see an outstanding wrestler like Hughes and an elite BJJ black belt like Gracie kickbox for three rounds. At least one has to applaud the tactical accomplishment of Hughes, who eventually wore down an opponent using leg kicks, even though Gracie was no threat to him on the feet. The end came when Hughes knocked a stationary Renzo down and out with 20 seconds to go in the third round.
Forecast for Hughes: Who is left for him to fight? Maybe a third crack at his personal kryptonite, Dennis Hallman, who is still under contract with Zuffa.
Forecast for Gracie: The 43-year-old MMA legend suggested even before the fight against Hughes that he may drop down to lightweight for his next fight. As the promotion cannot throw a true pioneer and superstar of the sport into the cage with just anybody, he would likely fight a big name at 155 as well. Coming off a tough loss himself, Takanori Gomi could be an option here.
Frankie Edgar def. BJ Penn -- Decision (Unanimous)
What happened: For the first two rounds, the general impression was that even though there wasn’t much going on, Penn was controlling the action and landing the better shots using his counterstriking approach. Starting in the middle round, Edgar mixed his striking with wrestling feints to throw Penn off balance. The challenger started to take over as he moved into striking distance with quick combinations. Penn just lacked his usual sharpness and was frustrated by the agility and workrate of Edgar, who eventually wore him down without landing any big shots.
Forecast for Edgar: It seems to be a no-brainer that the champion will have to make the first defense of his title against the opponent who handed him the lone loss in his professional career -- Xtreme Couture “Bully,” Gray Maynard.
Forecast for Penn: To keep his motivation high, the promotion could try to keep the belt off the Hawaiian’s waist for as long as possible. It is possible that Penn will have to earn another shot at the title, likely against the winner of Edgar-Maynard, by winning a title eliminator against fellow divisional top dog Tyson Griffin or Jim Miller.
Anderson Silva def. Demian Maia -- Decision (Unanimous)
What happened: For three rounds, pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva positioned himself as a true heel -- bad boy in pro wrestling lingo -- with a provocative and presumptuous performance, taunting the hapless challenger before peppering Maia with hard punches and leg kicks. Starting in the fourth stanza, Silva appeared to have lost interest pummeling his compatriot and shifted back not one but three gears, virtually doing nothing but riding out the remaining 10 minutes. In those last two rounds, the Abu Dhabi crowd, which was rooting for the champion in the beginning, rallied behind Maia even though he was totally outclassed. Maia could not get within striking distance within the 25 minutes, but he endured the beating and showed heart.
Forecast for Silva: As entertained by the UFC commentary crew, Silva may next drop down to welterweight to face fellow promotional superstar George St. Pierre. However, after Silva’s UFC 112 performance, UFC President Dana White doesn’t sound interested in the matchup. Another option is for Silva to move up to heavyweight and try his antics against former three-time IBF boxing champion James Toney.
Forecast for Maia: Although outclassed, Maia deserves to continue fighting the best in his division because of his heart, skill and continual improvement. Fights that make sense for him could come against compatriot Vitor Belfort, the colorful Yoshihiro Akiyama or a rematch against Nate Marquardt.