Storylines that emerged from UFC 117
I'm a man who loves his violence, and UFC 117 did nothing if not deliver on that front. For those of you not satisfied with world-class fights alone, only proper contextualization for what went down Saturday will do.
Sonnen tapped out
For more than 22 minutes, Chael Sonnen was doing the impossible -- making Anderson Silva look every bit the flawed human he is.
Then the clock struck midnight, as Silva's lengthy limbs locked up a triangle choke that Sonnen had no hope of escaping. The second Sonnen tapped out, a million obituaries for Silva's greatness went up in flames, and the table was set for a chaotic future in the middleweight division.
There is simply no telling what will happen from here. For all we know, Silva's rib injury excuse is bunk and he got old overnight. By the same token, maybe Sonnen blew his one chance to be a champion in the UFC and will be forever remembered for choking on the 1-yard line.
The collateral damage of this fight may even include Vitor Belfort, who is supposed to be next in line for a shot at Silva's middleweight crown. In light of the drama that UFC 117's main event produced, UFC president Dana White has already started waffling on who has dibs on the No. 1 contender's spot.
Unbelievable as it may seem, the postfight drama could end up making Sonnen's hyperbolic vitriol leading into the fight look like child's play.
The Gypsy knows all and beats all
Roy Nelson was supposed to be a tough night for any heavyweight alive. Against Junior dos Santos, he functioned mostly as a punching bag.
For all the flaws dos Santos showed against Nelson -- questionable cardio and fundamentally flawed striking defense being the most glaring -- he did stuff every takedown that "Big Country" went for and proved once again that he is arguably the best power puncher in the division. More importantly, this win, and the manner in which he got it, guarantees a third straight superfight for the UFC heavyweight title.
I can't even begin to remember the last time there were three straight UFC heavyweight title bouts that even approached superfight status. Against all odds, the black sheep of the UFC's weight classes has transformed into a zoo of intergalactic smash beasts.
Watching dos Santos go from unknown prospect to kill-shot artist in the UFC was a unique experience given the UFC's spotty history with grooming heavyweights. Although the arrival of Brock Lesnar will rightfully be remembered as what got the division going again, smaller moments like the emergence of Cain Velasquez and "Cigano" (which means "gypsy" in Portuguese) are what have made the division sustainable.
A country boy can choke you unconscious
Ricardo Almeida was starting to look like a vulture circling the carcass of Matt Hughes' career, picking away at the last scraps of the former welterweight champion's greatness.
Just as a lifetime's worth of competition started nipping at Hughes' heels, he landed a crushing counter left hook that sent Almeida straight to the canvas. The trip turned out to be one way, as Hughes locked up a front headlock that had every wrestling fan in the house flashing back to the glory days of freestyle wrestling legend Dave Schultz.
Within moments, Hughes' constricting grip strength had Almeida, a world-class submission wrestler, out like a corpse. Just like that, Hughes' unsightly bout with Renzo Gracie was erased from the collective memory and replaced by the sight of an unconscious Almeida laid out on the canvas.
Although Hughes isn't about to make another run at the welterweight title, he did buy himself a healthy dose of relevance in the division. Just how much more fight he has left in him is anyone's guess, but Hughes proved he has way more than the majority of fightheads, including me, thought he did.
Tomas Rios is a contributor to Sherdog.com.
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