Megastars Penn, Silva fail to shine in UFC's Middle Eastern debut
Well, we won't have a hard time remembering the Ultimate Fighting Championship's first effort in Abu Dhabi. In the shadows of all things red, fast and Italian,
One champion's performance was reputation-damaging. The other's ... belt-dropping. How will Zuffa's first UFC in the home country of its new Middle Eastern business partners be remembered?
In a word: Eventful.
Anderson Silva is a hired gun but he's no
From the outset against
When Silva (26-4) wanted to hurt Maia, he did, not taking long to bust up the Brazilian grappling champion's nose and eye socket. Then it stopped. This wasn't
Maia had no hope other than the taste provided by Silva.
"I'd like to say he lost his mind tonight and he got crazy," an exasperated White said of Silva (26-4), whom the UFC president has loudly campaigned for as the pound-for-pound best in MMA. "But this is the third time this has happened. This isn't the first time."
Fifty-one weeks ago in Montreal, Silva apologized and White was embarrassed after a dreadfully boring decision win against
Cote, Leites and Maia shouldn't get out of the second round against a guy possessing Silva's arsenal.
Silva said he felt disrespected by Maia's pre-fight talk, though the champion didn't do a good job of explaining the nature of his complaint, and walked into the fight intending on disrespecting him back. In a sport where you're encouraged to put a competitor to sleep, there are more effective methods of getting a point across than Silva's plan on Saturday.
Better yet, be like
Missing from title defenses White called "goofy" was Silva's inner executioner, which doesn't make sense considering, in the year between middleweight bouts, it appeared and dummied
Tonight it was Silva, court jester. He bombed.
Yet for all the criticism from his promoter, the media and fans, Silva has concluded that what he did tonight is fine: "The way I feel is my mission is completed," he said. "I came in and dominated the fight and did what I had to do."
Unfortunately for his reputation, he didn't really.
B.J. Penn no longer stands as the UFC lightweight champion, and
Live I scored the bout 48-47 for Penn (15-6-1), favoring the now former champion's power shots and rewarding his defense (he blocked a ton of stuff) in rounds that were certainly tight. A replay did nothing to change my mind.
But ringside officials, shipped in by the UFC because there isn't a sanctioning body in the United Arab Emirates capable of handling the assignment, tallied their cards for Edgar (12-1).
One score in particular stood out,
There's an argument to be made for 48-47 Edgar, but to call it a shutout is indefensible. Crosby, one of the first judges to be licensed in New Jersey and Nevada, has a good reputation and often makes himself accessible to discuss MMA judging on a popular Internet fan forum. It would be nice if he explained what he saw in the wake of this decision. If he saw anything at all.
Here's my scoring breakdown:
As if the fistic honor of your country wasn't enough to think about,
Showing the inter-connectedness of MMA as a global sport, Penn's loss is a large tremor in a division that features talent well outside the confines of the UFC.
I'll wait until Aoki (23-4) and Melendez (17-2) engage, one of three title fights set for the Strikeforce card set to air on CBS, before thinking about the new No. 1 at 155. But think about the potential here for Aoki, Melendez, Strikeforce, Dream and the rest of the MMA world. The UFC, until Penn's loss, promoted top-ranked fighters in four of five weight divisions, with the lone holdout -- no pun intended -- being Emelianenko. Now Aoki, or possibly Melendez, could emerge.
There is power to owning that top spot, creating additional interest in a fight that has already hooked both the media and fans.
• Say it ain't so,
• Middleweights will need to reckon with
• The Brazilian jiu-jitsu influenced U.A.E. crowd, bolstered by an initiative from the Royal Family that makes the grappling sport required curriculum throughout the country's schools, seemed to appreciate lightweight
• NCAA champion wrestler
• There was so much handwringing about the negative aspects about an outdoor event in the desert -- rain, sand, bugs -- but thankfully none of that materialized. The UFC is tentatively planning on returning to the neighborhood in August with an event for American troops in Afghanistan, though who knows what the situation on the ground will be as military and political pressure is ramped up in the final months before weather turns cold.