Despite the occasional craziness from chief Dana White, WWE-style bluster from Brock Lesnar, or morning TV sexytime from Tito Ortiz, UFC is still the serious big kid on the block when it comes to mixed martial arts. Fedor Emelianenko might be heading to Strikeforce, but in general when the best fighters on Earth get down to business, they do it in the Octagon.
Last night’s UFC 101 event was no exception, as the two main co-event victors Anderson Silva and B.J. Penn cemented themselves as two of MMA’s best fighters, both in surprisingly efficient - but quite different - fashion.
Silva came into UFC 101 needing a dominant performance to erase the memories of his last two fights, lackluster efforts against inferior competition. From USA TODAY:
Heavily criticized after failing to knock out or submit his last two opponents, Silva answered all questions about his killer instinct with a one-punch knockout of former light-heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin just 3:23 into the first round of their bout Saturday at UFC 101.
Fighting in the 205-pound division for the second time in his career, Silva outclassed his opponent from the opening bell. Griffin tried to use feints with his hands to set up kicks or straight punches early, but Silva simply bobbed, weaved and taunted his opponent while waiting for openings. He put Griffin on the mat twice with punches before throwing a short, straight right hand caught Griffin on the chin and dropped him for good.
That’s one way to win over a crowd. Before last night, Silva was being called out by Dana White for cruising through his last two fights; this morning he’s being hailed as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. He wasn’t the only fighter shutting up his critics, however. B.J. Penn put on a dominant performance against Kenny Florian:
When B.J. Penn commits to being his best, there isn’t a lightweight in the world capable of defeating him. Kenny Florian learned that painful lesson on Saturday at UFC 101.
Penn put on a performance that will not soon be forgotten. He dominated Florian from the opening round until the 3 minute, 54 secound mark of Round 4, when his rear-naked choke finished matters.
There wasn’t a flaw in Penn’s game, and 17,411 inside Wachovia Center watched in amazement as he methodically picked apart every aspect of Florian’s fight plan.
Like Silva, Penn’s dedication and focus had been questioned recently, especially since losing a January fight to Georges St. Pierre. But also like Silva, Penn regained his edge and dominated last night. If the world needed any more proof that there’s never a dull moment in the world of UFC, last night certainly provided it. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally realizing just how thrilling MMA can be. Better late than never.