In front of the largest crowd in UFC history, the biggest MMA fight card of the year played out and now its time to review and look ahead
UFC Welterweight Champion George St. Pierre vs. Jake Shields
Result: St. Pierre via Unanimous Decision
George won in very unenthusiastic fashion. While this is a big name for GSP to add to his legacy as he builds his resume as one of the best in MMA history, he has shown a pattern of wanting to win safely more so then win convincingly. Both fighters refused to turn this into a war; neither Shields or St. Pierre really went after the other. Even when GSP had damage to his eye Shields did not capitalize. St. Pierre won because he did more then Shields not because he really "won" the fight.
Next for GSP: It seems like when the stage is the biggest (UFC 100 against Thiago Alves; UFC 129 against Jake Shields) George can't muster enough aggression when expectations are high for whatever reason. Hopefully someone in his camp will take the time to explain to him that putting on an indifferent perfomance hurts his image, reputation, and legacy as a fighter. I do not want to see GSP fight Anderson Silva until he shows in a fight the drive to dominate and be the best. A matchup with Strikeforce Welterweight Champ Nick Diaz would answer a lot of questions at this point.
Next for Shields: The reason why Shields won 15 fights in a row because he was determined to find a way in every fight to win at all costs. Yet Saturday night he looked nervous and unwilling to push the pace of the fight. The best thing for Shields is to get back into the Octagon and fight again soon. A matchup with Josh Koscheck would be good for the morale of both fighters after they both lost to GSP.
UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick
Result: Aldo via Unanimous decision
This was one of the most exciting fights of the night. Hominick showed that a solid standup fighter who is willing to maul an opponent on the ground has a chance against Aldo. Have to give alot of credit to the Champ for perservering through Hominick's pressure for five rounds. Aldo won more rounds then Hominick, its just ashame someone had to loose.
Next for Aldo: At the post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White announced that Aldo would next defend his Featherweight belt against Chad Mendes at UFC 133 in Philadelphia. Seems like a short amount of time between fights for a guy who got his share of damage in a five round war. Three months and a week? Before you know it Aldo will channel his inner-Nick Diaz and complain he is being overworked and forced to fight too often....I'm just kidding.
Next for Hominick: Hominick may not have won the fight but he earned great respect from the fans, other fighters and the UFC brass. After he has sometime to heal from his "cosmetic injuries" and time with his new born child, a fight with either Josh Grispi (if he beats George Roop) or Diego Nunes (if he defeats Kenny Florian) would make sense and also ensure he doesn't drop to far back in the rankings top heavy featherweight division.
Randy Couture vs Lyoto Machida
Result: Machida via Knockout
Either Randy Couture didn't execute his gameplan right or the Lyoto Machida that dominated Tito Ortiz, Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans is back. Machida used an old school Kyokushin Karate kick (also known in Kung Fu as a form of the "Craine Kick") to knockout Couture. Steven Seagal and the Blackhouse Camp can try to spin this all they want, but Machida's extensive background in Karate is where that kick came from.
Next for Machida: This win stops a two fight losing streak for "The Dragon" and gives him the opportunity to start working his way back into contention for the light heavyweight belt. Although he wants to fight on the UFC 134: Rio card, all of his potential competition is booked for the next couple months. Best thing for Machida is to take sometime and see how fights such as Jackson-Hamill, Griffin-Shogun, Franklin-Little Nog, and Evans-Davis turn out. Only other option is for Strikeforce to loan the UFC Renato Sobral to fight Machida on the Rio card (unlikely, but it would be an interesting fight between two brazillians).
Next for Couture: After the fight Couture looked convinced he was done fighting. He's going to be 48 years old and he said he doesn't want to do what Chuck Liddell did (you know receiving brain damage in your last few fights before you get a desk job as a UFC executive). Couture has many hollywood options to go with and he will appear from time to time as an "advocate" for MMA fighters. The man is a legend and one of the best all time, let him walk away on his terms.
Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Jason Brilz
Result: Matyushenko via Knockout
Vlad "The Janitor" showed that there is still serious power left in his hands. Brilz lacked the saavy or refined skills to stay with Matyuskenko for long and the fight was over quickly.
Next for Matyushenko: Vlad isn't going to be working his way up the ranks to fight for the belt at this point in his career, but he is good enough to hang around for some interesting matchups. If Tito Ortiz beats Ryan Bader then you can have Ortiz-Matyushenko 2 or if Vlad "The Janitor" doesn't want to wait around too long for his next fight a matchup with Brandon Vera would workout for both fighters.
Next for Brilz: Going 3-3 in six fights in the UFC is respectable but its not going to help your chances of staying in the big leagues. After losing two fights in a row against MMA veterans, Brilz needs a fight against a fighter who isn't so saavy. A fight with Alexander Gustafsson would be interesting, testing Brilz standup skills and Gustafsson's wrestling skills.
Mark Bocek vs. Ben Henderson
Result: Henderson via unanimous decision
Although it was not the most exciting fight, Henderson won because he wanted it more the Bocek. Bocek had the crowd behind him but it wasn't enough as Henderson got his Mojo back and was able to counter Bocek's takedowns and not allow Bocek to do any damage.
Next for Henderson: Now that he has excercised the demons of his loss to Anthony Pettis in December, Henderson needs to keep working his way up the ranks of the crowded lightweight division. A matchup with either Sean Sherk or Takanori Gomi would be a good test for the former WEC Lightweight Champ.
Next for Bocek: At this point in his career, Bocek has showed that he is basically a gatekeeper to the top level of the lightweight division in the UFC. His four losses have been to Ben Henderson, Jim Miller, Mac Danzig, and Frank Edgar. Maybe its time that Bocek and Kurt Pellegrino fight to see who stays relevant in the UFC Lightweight division.
Quick thoughts on some Preliminary Card Fights
Rory McDonald vs Nate Diaz: After consecutive losses to McDonald and Dong Hyun Kim its apparent that Diaz does not have the strength to hang in the Welterweight division. McDonald threw him around like a rag doll in their matchup. Diaz put on some entertaining fights as a lightweight so maybe he will go back down to 155 or maybe he needs to spend more time in the weightroom ASAP. Meanwhile McDonald bounced back well from his last second loss to Carlos Condit. A fight with Paulo Thiago would be interesting.
Sean Pierson vs. Jake Ellenberger: Ellenberger has now won four straight fights. He is a tough fighter and has proven that he can hang in the UFC's welterweight division. Matching him up to fight John Hathaway would be an interesting measuring stick for both young fighters. In the meantime, Sean Pierson isn't getting any younger. The UFC may keep him around for the next Canada fight card after Vancouver and there is no telling when that will be.