Over the years, the lexicon of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has become entrenched in the language of mixed martial arts.
And just in case BJJ's importance had been forgotten, UFC 81 served as a stark reminder of its continued presence, and need. The technique ultimately decided four of the five main card fights and both main event fights. Height, strength, and hype proved sadly ineffective when confronted by BJJ.
Nogueira gained steam in the second round, scoring with his own fists, including a nice left hook. However, most of his takedown attempts were stuffed by a confident Sylvia. In the decisive third round, the Brazilian finally scored a takedown, swept to top position and ended up in side control. As Sylvia scrambled to his feet, Nogueira locked in a guillotine choke to capture the win.
Nogueira is an MMA legend and UFC fans are now learning why. With Saturday's victory, he became the first fighter ever to win both the PRIDE heavyweight title as well as the UFC title. But his UFC 81 win was only for an interim title. To complete the legend, Big Nog needs a win over current UFC champ
While it's admirable that Couture is gunning for
For Sylvia, his UFC 81 performance represents a strange rebirth of sorts. Although Sylvia lost, there is no shame in the way he lost. He was aggressive like the Sylvia of old and he looked sharp with his striking in the first round. He was also classy in defeat and even basked in the newfound love the fans have started giving him. Sylvia is still a top heavyweight fighter. After all, his two losses in the last year have come to two of the division's, and the sport's, best. Appearing healthy and hungry again, Sylvia should be a fixture for a long time to come.
In the end,
Natural ability, or raw physical skills, are no longer enough to win at the highest levels. While Lesnar brought a strong amateur wrestling background to the table, he has only been training in MMA for a couple of years, starting at the age of 28. Mir is currently 28 and already has 12 UFC fights under his belt. So by the time Lesnar was just getting started in the sport, Mir was already a champion veteran.
To expect Lesnar to make up that experience deficit would have been unreasonable. But, it would have been worse for the UFC and the sport if he had actually somehow pulled it off. Now, fans who followed Lesnar to the UFC based on his popularity as a pro wrestler have found out what it takes to be one of the best in the sport.
Sure, Lesnar overwhelmed Mir with power, easily took him down and worked his ground-and-pound. But, like a true veteran, Mir weathered the storm (with a little help from the ref, who gave Lesnar a questionable one-point deduction for two strikes to the back of Mir's head) and began working submission attempts before taking down his prey with the kneebar. Mir countered Lesnar's athletic talent with tricks of the trade that only experience could have taught him. And that's how it should be.
This high-profile victory catapulted Mir back into title contention. It was his second-straight victory by submission and he appears to be back to full-strength after his motorcycle accident.
If the UFC can't make Couture-Nogueira happen, then why not set up Mir-Nogueira instead? That title fight would be a matchup of the UFC's top two BJJ heavyweights. Both are also very competent on their feet, making such a matchup a perfect blend for entertainment.
For Lesnar, it's back to training and learning the all-around MMA game. He didn't disappoint with his strength and power, but we still don't know much about his stand-up striking and he needs to keep working on his BJJ defense. In time, Lesnar could be a contender, but for the next year or so, he needs to be pitted against lower-tier fighters as he builds up his MMA resume. There are no easy outs in the UFC, even in its weaker divisions. And at UFC 81, Lesnar learned that lesson.
Boetsch never had to unleash his wrestling skill as he dominated standing up. He peppered Heath throughout the first round with back-leg front kicks, added knees to the head later in the round, and finally threw Heath head first into the cage and canvas before finally winning with undefended ground strikes.
Boetsch looked confident and poised in his Octagon debut. If his wrestling is anywhere close to where his stand-up game is, "The Barbarian," who is only 27, will undoubtedly be a force in the division. One can only imagine the entertaining matchups between Boetsch and established fighters such as
While Boetsch has the makings of a future contender, a couple of other UFC newcomers didn't fare so well.
But at least Yundt's night didn't end the way fellow debutant
For the second straight pay-per-view event, the UFC managed to squeeze in eight of the card's nine fights onto its pay-per-view telecast. With UFC's recent pay-per-view price increase, the bulked-up content is a very promising trend. When fans shell out hard-earned cash to watch a UFC event, it makes sense to give them what they paid for. By toning down the filler material and packing the telecast with as many fights as possible, the UFC appears to understand this and deserves to be commended.
So, am I being greedy if I ask for that ninth fight as well?