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The Aftermath – UFC 121

It was the biggest show since the last Brock Lesnar fight, but on this night, there would be a new champion. Cain Velasquez conquered Lesnar in an exciting main event that helped out what was just an OK card at that point with the exception of Diego Sanchez vs. Paulo Thiago. Sanchez breathed life into the card after two pretty pedestrian fights to start off the night. Jake Shields vs. Martin Kampmann nearly killed it dead again before the main event.

Here’s what we thought of UFC 121:

Thumbs Up
Best Fight: Cain Velasquez vs. Brock Lesnar
Worst Fight: Martin Kampmann vs. Jake Shields

I actually loved this show with the one notable exception. I haven’t done this in a while, but I’m going to run down the full card.

What is wrong with Gonzaga? This is a guy who has the talent to beat (or at very least compete with) the top guys in the division and he’s been reduced to an opponent for TUF competitors. I don’t know whether it’s a crises of confidence or if his punch resistance has just been eroded to such an extent that he can’t perform at this level. He just isn’t the same fighter anymore. He needs to take some time away, get his head right, and decide if he still has what it takes to compete because with all respect to Schaub, he will get decimated by any of the upper echelon heavyweights.

I have a tendency to overestimate how washed up Ortiz is. Every time he fights I expect him to get destroyed, and while he’s not winning anything, he has been competitive against mostly good quality competition. This is not a case like Liddell where he’s getting knocked out every fight. Ortiz still has enough left that you could argue in favour of him fighting on. Personally, I just don’t see him beating anyone that will really add value to his legacy. His record is as good as it’s going to get, and with his future secure, it’s the right time for him to get out.

Matt Hamill has found his level. He’s probably always going to fall a little short against divisions best, but he will be a handful for anybody else.

I expected Diego to win. I believe people overrate Thiago. I was still impressed with the manner in which he dominated. He looked like the Diego of old, and that’s definitely a good thing for the welterweight division at the moment.

Shields didn’t impress anyone with that performance. He did nothing in three rounds and all the damaging blows came from Kampmann. He proved he can take a guy down, make some transitions, and then do nothing with it. If that fight had of went to a fourth round he would have been stopped. The only reason he got let off the hook this time is because Kampmann was overly cautious about conceding the take down and thus was more hesitant than usual. I reckon Jake is set for a rough time in UFC.

The main event was a fantastic spectacle. Two absolute monsters just going at it. I fully expected Velasquez to come out on top, but I had always felt he lacked that star making ingredient. I was wrong. He won me over both with his performance and how he conducted himself pre and post fight. Congrats to the new champ.

The fact of the matter is Brock is going to struggle against anyone who can provide resistance to his takedowns. Ultimately, Lesnar is the fighter he is now. That is what has made him a success in MMA. I don’t think there is a lot that can be changed about him.

I had said previously that I don’t think Brock will ever beat Shane Carwin if they fight again. He is never going to beat Velasquez either. That doesn’t mean he’s not a great fighter. He is. 99% of guys out there won’t be able to deal with what he brings to the table. It just so happens that two of UFC’s top tier heavyweights have the solution to the puzzle. That leaves him in an awkward position. Where does he go from here? Will he be content to knock off contenders until a new opening presents itself?

Thumbs Up based on the epic feeling main event and the great Diego fight
Best Fight: Diego Sanchez vs. Paulo Thiago
Worst Fight: Martin Kampmann vs. Jake Shields

Jake is so annoying. He literally does NOTHING effective on the ground. I tend to disagree with Duan often when he talks about “roly sh*t on the ground”, but in this instance he’d be absolutely right. Oh look at Jake Shields with his smooth, technical guard pass!! GREAT! Only problem is he gets to the best positions and then doesn’t hit, and rarely goes for submission attempts so it’s effectively just a BJJ position exhibition. THAT IS NOT FIGHTING in any way shape or form. Normally I’d say he should in no way win a decision with stuff like that, but I can’t really say that 100% here and that’s where my problem with Kampmann comes in.

Martin showed time and time again in this fight, that he could get out from under Shields (when in the mount no less) and he wasn’t in danger of being submitted. So with all that knowledge, why in God’s name wasn’t he letting fly with his striking?? He was so frustratingly timid on the fight. I kept waiting for an explosion but it never came. Then when Shields was absolutely knackered and sucking wind, Kampman decided to start grappling with him BY CHOICE! Was he trying to prove a point? I don’t get it. He could have just stood up, make Shields stand back onto his tired legs and obliterate him. But no, it wasn’t to be. Very disappointing.

GSP or Koscheck will destroy Jake.

Anyway, Brock vs. Cain was pretty cool huh? Very pleased for Cain. He’s a hell of a fighter and seems like a good lad. I really hope they get Overeem in to face him down the line. That would be insane!

Cactus Jim
Thumbs Up
Best Fight: Diego Sanchez vs. Paulo Thiago
Worst Fight: Martin Kampmann vs. Jake Shields

Let me just get the bitching out of the way. Jake Shields can take an exciting fighter like Kampmann and manage to create one of the more boring fights I’ve seen in a while. If that performance earned him a title shot then Joe Silva should be kicked in the balls. Besides that fight I thought the rest of the card was fun to watch. The main event was exciting while it lasted (a Brock Lesnar flying knee, WTF?), and I find a Cain versus JDS fight to be more intriguing than if Brock had retained his title. Sanchez was still a weirdass, but looked good after getting through the first round of his fight. I think that Tito Ortiz has proven once again that he hasn’t kept up with the sport and has no relevance at this point in his career. The guy can sell a fight as good as anyone, but he can’t win one to save his ass. He’d be a good pick up for Strikeforce, which could keep him hanging around UFC if Dana decides to cock block. If I was calling the shots, Tito would be out of a job. Good show and worth checking out for anyone that hasn’t seen it yet.

Thumbs In The Middle (pointing upward)
Best Fight: Diego Sanchez vs. Paulo Thiago
Worst Fight: Martin Kampmann vs. Jake Shields

When Diego Sanchez fights like Diego Sanchez, he is just a joy to watch. I wonder if BJ Penn took a little something out of him and he had to get that eye of the tiger back? Because the way he fought in this fight with Thiago, who is probably a slightly tougher opponent than John Hathaway, was worlds different than his pathetic performance in Vegas. Maybe it was just an off night. Whatever it was, having this Diego back in the UFC is nothing but a positive. I think the rest of the guys said enough about Jake Shields’ dissapointing performance, but I was pretty disappointed in Kampmann as well. Shields was done and Kampmann didn’t smell blood and take him out. Not to say that’s why he should’ve lost, but he can’t cry about losing. Brock Lesnar looked human thanks to Cain Velasquez. I wonder how this loss affects Brock down the line? Losing on a knee bar is one thing, but losing by being beaten up at your game is another thing.