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Intelligently Defending 7.12.07: Where Do The UFC 73 Fighters Go From Here
Posted by Ken Kobel on 07.12.2007



It was billed as one of the – if not the – biggest cards the UFC has ever put on. The lineup was filled with up-and-comers, household names, and two title fights. The stage was set for one of the biggest nights in MMA history.

So was UFC 73 actually ‘Stacked'?

Not exactly.

In the end, there were no big surprises as the champions dominated -- a rarity for recent UFC PPV's. The much anticipated Ortiz/Evans showdown ended as anti-climatically as it could possibly end. Even Nogueira did not look particularly impressive.

Still, just because UFC 73 did not turn the MMA world upside down does not mean it was a failure – far from it. The card was still a tremendously well-put together event. Top contenders were given title shots, title contenders were pitted against each other, and one of the worlds best made his UFC debut. The fact that the fights did not live up to the massive hype – and how could they – does not diminish the fact that this card was exactly what MMA fans had been calling for and the UFC delivered.

We can only hope this trend will continue.

Onto this week's column which will continue in the ‘Intelligently Defending' tradition of evaluating a recent PPV and then taking an educated guess as to what will be next for the events participants.

Here we go:

Note: I saw all unaired prelim fights courtesy of UFC on Demand.

Frankie Edgar vs. Mark Bocek

Result: Frankie Edgar, TKO, Round 1

Analysis: This was an energetic and entertaining fight to start off the night. They exchanged on the feet for a little bit with both fighters rocking their opponent at times. Edgar started getting the better of things standing and sent Bocek to the floor with a solid blow. From there, Frankie got Mark's back and let loose with some big punches that ended things with just seconds to go in the first round.

What's next for Bocek? Mark really did not show much in this one. I imagine he signed a three fight deal so we will see him again in what will undoubtedly be a prelim contest. Perhaps he will fight Jeremy Stephens after Stephens' non-UFC bout in late-July.

What's next for Edgar? Get this man on a main card now! Edgar looked great again in this fight and cemented himself as more than a one-trick pony. As I've said numerous times, these lightweight up-and-comers need to start fighting each other in order to sort things out in that division. A Frankie Edgar vs. Thiago Tavares showdown would be excellent in my book.

Chris Lytle vs. Jason Gilliam

Result: Lytle, Submission, Round 1

Analysis: Lytle did exactly what he needed to do by overwhelming Gilliam. Gilliam – who took the fight on very short notice – got dropped early and was then finished off by a crazy reverse triangle/armbar submission.

What's next for Gilliam? As mentioned, Gilliam took this fight on very short notice which the UFC usually appreciates. For that reason Jason will most likely get another shot and in his regular 155-pound weight division. Against who? I have no clue but look for it to be on a future Ultimate Fight Night prelim.

What's next for Lytle? Chris may have done enough in this fight to get himself back on the main card. I would say his chances of getting a broadcast fight are about 50/50 right now. I suppose whether he will be aired or not depends heavily on who his next opponent is. A Lytle/Burkman fight would be a good match-up, or maybe even a Lytle/Cummo bout.

Jorge Gurgel vs. Diego Saraiva

Result: Gurgel, Decision

Analysis: This one was very entertaining. A $2 investment at UFC on Demand may not be a bad idea. It was basically a stand-up battle with the brawling aspect being used far more than any technical aspect. Midway through the second round they engaged in an all-out hockey fight where Gurgel ate about four punches that left his face swollen. The action slowed down a bit in the third which keeps this from being on Griffin/Edgar or Huerta/Garcia level. It was still very good though and a clear win for Gurgel.

What's next for Saraiva? They will give Diego another shot on a prelim. When? Where? Against whom? Beats me.

What's next for Gurgel? Gurgel wins for the second time in a row but still has not shown the contender status that he has been billed as having. In three UFC fights he has shown none of his BJJ and his stand-up is pretty ugly. I expect him to get some tough competition in his next fight. Clay Guida comes to mind as a possible opponent.

Stephan Bonnar vs. Mike Nickels

Result: Bonnar, Submission, Round 1

Analysis: Welcome back Stephan. Nickels rocked Bonnar early and got mount for a split second but was not able to do anything with the position. Stephan got the fight back to the feet and took Nickels down. Bonnar then displayed some nifty ground work and eventually secured a choke on Mike for the win. This was a very impressive performance.

What's next for Nickels? At age 35, I really could not envision the UFC bringing Mike back for another fight. Nickels will go back to the smaller shows and running his tattoo parlor.

What's next for Bonnar? The downward spiral has stopped for Stephan – at least for now. Bonnar's next opponent will say a lot about what the UFC wants to do with him. Do they want to build him up into a respectable name again? Or do they want to use the last bit of his star-power to give big wins to newly acquired fighters such as Shogun? Personally, I think they will let Bonnar get a few more victories under his belt before they let him take on any contenders again. I look for his next fight to be a PPV prelim or perhaps an Ultimate Fight Night main card bout. A Bonnar/Belcher match-up would make sense -- if Belcher stays at 205.

Kenny Florian vs. Alvin Robinson

Result: Florian, TKO, Round 1

Analysis: Robinson came to fight but he was outclassed. Alvin pushed most of the action but really did not do any damage. Kenny was able to take him down about four times using a number of techniques. When Kenny got mount for the third time he unleashed some very impressive ground and pound that actually forced a tap from Robinson. Add another method to the list of ways Florian can win a fight.

What's next for Robinson?: Alvin will land on another prelim somewhere down the road. He came out looking to engage which the UFC loves. I could see one of TUF5 alums as his next opponent. Lauzon maybe?

What's next for Florian?: Ken-Flo looked impressive again. He has a ways to go before he gets back to challenge for the belt -- but each win is a step in the right direction. I would like to see Florian take on Tyson Griffin. It would let us see how Kenny does against another strong wrestler since his first attempt – the Sherk fight – was a disaster.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Heath Herring

Result: Nogueira, Decision

Analysis: I do not know how on Earth this fight was not stopped after Herring sent Nog flying with that high kick. I thought for sure we had just witnessed another upset, but apparently that was not the case. If Herring had stayed on top of Nog he would have ended it for sure. Anyway, Nog controlled the fight other than those 20 or so seconds. Minotauro did not look great by any stretch of the word but he had Heath backing up and came close to a submission a few times

What's next for Herring? Heath is now 1-2 in the UFC which is definitely not the record he or the UFC were expecting. Though, the UFC also was not expecting to be signing names like Nogueira and Fedor when they signed Herring. I can foresee three different paths that the UFC can take for Herring at this point. If they want him to pick up a win, he can fight Eddie Sanchez. If they want him in a competitive fight, he can fight Cheick Kongo – assuming Cheick losses to CroCop. Finally, if they want to use Heath to give a rub to a fighter destined for bigger things, he can fight a returning Brandon Vera.

What's next for Nogueira? This one is easy since Dana has stated that if CroCop wins we are going to get Nog/CroCop 2. It will be fun to see the rematch, but I was hoping for Nog/Arlovski. Oh well.

Sean Sherk vs. Hermes Franca

Result: Sherk, Decision

Analysis: Sherk shoots, eats a knee, gets the takedown, and stays on top for the remainder of the round. Sherk shoots, eats a knee, gets the takedown, and stays on top for the remainder of the round. Sherk shoots, eats a knee… and well you get the point.

What's next for Franca? This was as humbling as it gets for Franca. I am a huge fan of his, but I am glad he did not end things with that fluke knee in the second because he was clearly outclassed in this one. For his next fight I would like to see Franca used as a gatekeeper so we can see just how good Roger Huerta is.

What's next for Sherk? Another easy one since it has been announced that Sherk will defend against B.J. Penn in November. I'll have more on this fight later on in the ‘From the Blog' section of the column.

Tito Ortiz vs. Rashad Evans

Result: dis•ap•point•ment - noun 1. The act or fact of disappointing

Analysis: Where to begin. Tito clearly took the first round with his takedown though he did not do much on top. Then to start the second Rashad came out juking and jiving without throwing a single punch. It reminded me of the kid in gym class who would constantly sprint two inches past the enemy line in ‘capture the flag' before instantly retreating back to safety. This round also saw the foul which probably saved Tito from losing the fight. If Rashad secured the takedown he would have won the round and thus the bout. In the third Tito's legendary cardio was nowhere to be found as Rashad got a late takedown and won the round. This was a mess. I love Rashad in the rematch though.

What's next for Ortiz? Rematch with Rashad in October.

What's next for Evans? Rematch with Tito in October.

Anderson Silva vs. Nathan Marquardt

Result: Silva, TKO, Round 1

Analysis: I knew things did not look good for Nate once Silva started sprinting to the ring with an ear to ear grin and clowning with the security guards. Anderson came out cocky with that over-the-top flying knee he tried to throw, but even when Nate took him down Silva looked fine off his back. The slick move Silva put on Marquardt that switched positions on the ground was a thing of beauty. The champ then went to work with some sick ground and pound. Silva's punches from standing over Nate were brutal -- you typically do not see fighters do much damage from the position. It was all over soon after. Marquardt never had a chance.

What's next for Marquardt? I really hope the UFC does not drop Marquardt like they dropped Jeff Monson after his title lose. I would say there is a decent chance they will do this since they only showed Nate on prelims anyway. My hope is that we will see ‘the Great' again in the UFC. A match-up against Yushin Okami could be very entertaining.

What's next for Silva? Looks like the Lutter fight was just a small bump in the road. Silva is an animal. We already know he will fight Rich Franklin in October. Did anyone else notice Rich after Anderson disposed of Marquardt? Ace looked about as thrilled as someone about to get a root canal. Unfortunately for Franklin, he will be getting much worse come October.


From the Blog

As always the Intelligently Defending blog can be seen at The Official Intelligently Defending MySpace Page. No MySpace account? No problem, you can still view all of the entries. This week's entry deals with B.J. Penn's impending lightweight title shot.

7/11/07 B.J. Penn undeserving of title shot

So let's go over the current state of the UFC lightweight title picture.

You have a champion coming off of one of the most dominating – albeit painfully boring – title defenses in recent memory.

Then you have a stacked division filled with loads of possible candidates to be next in line for a title shot. These candidates include names like Din Thomas, Roger Huerta, Joe Stevenson, and Spencer Fisher.

So who gets the shot at Sherk?

Why it's B.J. Penn of course.

Is beating a washed up Jens Pulver enough of an accomplishment to warrant a title shot? And if yes, then why did Joe Lauzon have to spend six weeks in TUF5 house instead of fighting for the gold after he KO'd Jens?

Mind you, I am a fan of B.J. Penn. I think he is the most naturally gifted fighter on the planet – but let's face the facts. He is 1-2 in his last three fights, he has shown that he takes fights lightly enough to gas terribly, and he has only fought once in the UFC Lightweight Division v. 2.0.

Simply put, he has not earned this title shot. The contenders I mentioned before all have recent resumes that far eclipse that of Penn's. This is a title shot granted on name value alone and nothing else. It is unfortunate since the 155-pound division has been built into one of the most credible divisions that the UFC has. At the very least Penn should have been made to actually earn something by defeating one of the bigger names before getting Sherk.

Ironically though, I think B.J. may be the only lightweight fighter the UFC has that could de-rail that monster.

-Ken


Once again check out this and many other entries at The Official Intelligently Defending MySpace Page. Go ahead and add yourself as a friend.

Conclusion

That's it for this week. I can be reached at the MySpace page or kenkobel1@yahoo.com.





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