UFC 100 Analysis: The Main Card

By Tim Leidecker Jul 14, 2009
UFC 100 went in the books on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, and the promotion’s top two aces -- Brock Lesnar and Georges St. Pierre -- successfully defended their championships. Overall, it proved an entertaining event that lacked some surprises and upsets, as most of the favorites did their homework in more or less convincing fashion.

Sherdog.com has revisited the five main card bouts, gotten to the heart of the action and provided an outlook on the future of the 10 participants.

Yoshihiro Akiyama def. Alan Belcher -- Split Decision

What happened: Akiyama, the former K-1 Hero’s light heavyweight tournament champion, made a successful North American debut. In doing so, the 33-year-old judo ace hardly made use of his supreme ground fighting skills and instead fought the majority of the bout on his feet against Belcher, an accomplished striker.

While the argument can be made the American got the better of the exchanges on the feet -- he knocked down his opponent in the first round and closed his left eye completely in the third -- Akiyama clearly showed his superiority when the fight did hit the mat.

Forecast for Akiyama: The Zainichi Korean fought the type of fight preferred by UFC brass -- i.e. a stand-up battle -- and was rewarded with “Fight of the Night” honors. Consequently, he has moved into the upper half of the promotion’s middleweight division, with possible fights against Patrick Cote, Dan Miller or the loser of Nate Marquardt-Demian Maia looming on the horizon.

Forecast for Belcher: “The Talent” returns to the drawing board after a tough loss in arguably the biggest fight of his nearly three-year-long UFC run. Belcher remains a strong stand-up fighter and wields underrated jiu-jitsu skills, but he needs to work on his wrestling in order to take his game to the next level. Someone like CB Dollaway, Drew McFedries or Chael Sonnen could be next.

Dan Henderson def. Michael Bisping -- KO (Punch) 3:20 R2

What happened: Henderson, the former Pride welterweight tournament winner and middleweight champion, dominated all 8:20 of his one-sided bout with Bisping, the overmatched “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner. “Hendo” pressed the action and punished the cocky Brit with his punching power and world-class wrestling.

Photo by Sherdog.com

Could the loser of Machida
vs. Rua be next for Henderson?
Similar to his fights with Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin, Henderson did not bother taking his opponent to the ground and only used his wrestling sporadically during short bursts on the cage. The brutal knockout serves as a rude awakening for anyone who declared Bisping ready for a shot at Anderson Silva’s middleweight title.

Forecast for Henderson: Despite three consecutive wins against above-average opposition, the UFC seems reluctant to put Henderson into a rematch with Silva. With practically nobody else to fight at 185 pounds, the two-time Olympian could move back to the light heavyweight division and take on a returning Chuck Liddell or the loser of Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.

Forecast for Bisping: The defeat has to a tough one for Bisping to swallow, as it marked the first time in 20 fights “The Count” had been knocked out. Getting him back on the right track and putting together a compelling matchup in the process will be a difficult task for matchmaker Joe Silva.

Jon Fitch def. Paulo Thiago -- Unanimous Decision

What happened: Fitch and Thiago were sitting in their locker rooms ready to fight at 8 p.m. PT when they were told to put on their track suits; the co-main events were moved forward on the card over fear of exceeding the boundaries of the three-hour pay-per-view.

In the fight, Fitch avenged the shocking knockout loss his American Kickboxing Academy teammate, Josh Koscheck, suffered against the previously unknown Brazilian in February. Fitch demonstrated he has become a complete mixed martial artist, who was equally comfortable standing up, fighting in top position and from the bottom.

Forecast for Fitch: With his loss to Georges St. Pierre still fresh, it will take a few more wins before Fitch can challenge the Canadian again. As arguably the number two fighter in his division, only top opponents make sense for him at this stage of his career. Fights against Dan Hardy, Martin Kampmann or former EliteXC welterweight champion Jake Shields would be worthwhile.

Forecast for Thiago: Now that the Brazilian cop has demonstrated a neat set of skills, Thiago may be kept around as genuine test for up-and-comers like Carlos Condit, Dustin Hazelett and Anthony Johnson.

Georges St. Pierre def. Thiago Alves -- Unanimous Decision

What happened: St. Pierre used his mixture of wrestling, ground control and occasional spurts of ground-and-pound to shoot down Alves. The Brazilian was the bigger man in the cage, but that did not help him much, as he spent the majority of the bout on his back underneath the relentless St. Pierre.

American Top Team’s Alves was the more explosive striker standing up, and his jiu-jitsu was good enough to keep him out of major trouble on the ground. However, he did not have the wrestling chops needed to take down the champion.

Forecast for St. Pierre: “Rush” has successfully cleaned out the welterweight division, which is why the call for a super fight with middleweight champion Anderson Silva will only grow louder in the next couple of months. However, much will depend on Silva’s upcoming clash with Forrest Griffin at UFC 101.

Forecast for Alves: Even with the decisive defeat, the “Pitbull” remains a talented fighter who’s young enough to make another run at the title. There are few opponents that make sense for him to tackle, and the UFC seems unlikely to sacrifice other contenders like Martin Kampmann and Mike Swick. Perhaps a matchup with compatriot Paulo Thiago could serve as a jumper.

Brock Lesnar def. Frank Mir -- TKO (Punches) 1:48 R2

What happened: World-class trainer and game planner Erik Paulson had carefully chosen two positions in which the hulking champion could make sure he would not make the same mistake he made in his UFC debut against Mir 17 months ago -- a headlock from half guard and a gut wrench from side control. Both involved punches, of course.

Mir’s dreams of repeating the feat he managed at UFC 81 by becoming the first and only fighter to defeat the 280-pound former professional wrestler came to a swift end when Lesnar easily defended a rolling kneebar 35 seconds into the match. Lesnar made sure to tick off the fans after his TKO win, banking on his belief that top heels sell more tickets than baby faces in MMA.

Forecast for Lesnar: Everybody wants Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko now, but given the past relationship the UFC has had with the Russian’s management, that dream fight seems unlikely to happen in the near future. The MMA community will likely see the winner of the Shane Carwin vs. Cain Velasquez match at UFC 104 rushed into a title shot. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira could get a crack at Lesnar should he get past Randy Couture next month. Even Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic could challenge Lesnar for UFC heavyweight supremacy if he can beat Junior dos Santos in convincing fashion in September.

Forecast for Mir: The former champion looks like a man stuck between a rock and a hard place. A rubber match with Lesnar might be in his future, but he would likely need a couple of victories to move back toward the top. Potential opponents include Gabriel Gonzaga, Heath Herring and Cheick Kongo.
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