Yeesh, what a weekend. Every night there was live MMA for our consumption – some of it good, some of it bad – and every day there was breaking news (again, good and bad). This sort of information overload is rough on the brain, so to facilitate processing it all, MMA Convert has put together a post-weekend scorecard. There are winners here and there are losers, but at the end of the day what matters most is that they played the game. Or something like that. Anyway, here goes!
-Chris Lytle – At Saturday’s weigh-ins he announced he was retiring, and suddenly Sunday night’s UFC on Versus 5 main event between Lytle and Dan Hardy meant something. So what would be a fitting send off for a man well-known for swinging for the fences and stacking “Fight of the Night” bonuses like firewood? If you guessed “a bout of nonstop swinging for the fences and another Fight of the Night bonus”, you are correct! For nearly three full rounds Lytle traded with Hardy with the kind of reckless abandon that gets most people killed, and finally, when Hardy grew desperate late in the third round and shot for an ill-advised takedown, the TUF 4 runner-up judiciously applied a fight-ending guillotine (which earned Lytle the “Submission of the Night” prize as well). All told, Lytle has grossed over 500,000 bucks in public discretionary bonuses, and with an Octagon record of 10-9, he’s laid down the roadmap to success for UFC gatekeepers for years to come. It’s been a heck of a career, and on Sunday night it was one heck of a fight, and now Lytle leaves on his own terms – with a hard-fought win and a bigger bank account than before.
-Shawn Tompkins – Just prior to last night’s UFC event the news broke that ace kickboxing trainer and coach Tompkins had passed, and it rendered whatever followed somewhat bittersweet. The Canadian touched many in the sport, and it’s a testament to his character that his loss has affected many so profoundly. He was one of the big cheeses at Xtreme Couture and later at the TapouT gym in Las Vegas, and he honed the likes of Mark Hominick and Sam Stout until they were keen, razor-sharp edges. But his impact extended beyond those he taught, and the common denominator in the mournful declarations of all is that Tompkins was a great guy. We won’t know the cause of the 37-year old’s death until an autopsy is done and the results made public; however, what we do know is that one of MMA’s shining stars is gone. Mark us down as the loser in this instance.
-Ben Henderson – Everyone knew Henderson was tough, but few expected the ex-WEC champ to lay a beating on lightweight contender Jim Miller as thoroughly as he did. Every submission was countered, nearly every wrestling exchange was dominated, and aside from one third-round knockdown, Henderson was the one doing damage. If it was unclear where he stood in the rankings, the muddied waters have settled just enough for us to see that Henderson is up there and may soon be ready to take a crack at the UFC title.
-Jim Miller – It was a nice, long streak, but now it’s back to the drawing board for the New Jersey-based jiu-jitsu black belt. Of course, it shouldn’t be hard for Miller to get back on the horse, as he’s got the skills to beat nearly everyone – and for sure many would’ve succumbed to those relentless submission attempts he put forth. He just ran into a brick wall named Ben Henderson. Though Miller lost on Sunday night, he will definitely be back.
-Ronda Rousey – To paraphrase Jack Nicholson in the 1989 flick “Batman”, “This 145-pound female division needs an enema.” Well, Olympic judo bronze medalist Rousey, with her hyper-aggressive game and smooth, technical grappling, seems to be just the female to do it. Though marred by officiating controversy, her Friday night Strikeforce Challengers bout provided a glimpse of what’s to come, and if she stays the course it won’t be long before we’re treated to a 145-pound title fight that champ Cris “Cyborg” Santos might actually lose.
-Jens Pulver – It was painful to watch Pulver wash out of the WEC, and that has 100% to do with how beloved the former UFC lightweight champ is to us. But his first venture into the realm of bantamweights, in a Saturday night pay-per-view for a promotion we may never see again, saw “Lil’ Evil” return to form with a dominant performance over WEC vet Coty Wheeler. It sucks seeing Pulver lose, but when he wins via those same fists that once made him champ, how sweet it is.
-Dan Hardy – The Brit obliged Lytle and engaged in a striking war (and when he didn’t, he got tapped), but even when dealing in his bread and butter, Hardy came up short. Still, despite recording his fourth Octagon loss in a row, it was made known immediately after the fight that Hardy still had a job with the UFC. Congrats for him in that regard, and hopefully his stated time away from competition will involve redefining his skill set and filling in some glaring holes.
-Jorge Gurgel – Dude, please. Your jiu-jitsu is what got you into the UFC. Stop standing and banging and go back to grappling more. You are not Chris Lytle.