UFC 134 RIO: The business of UFC for the first time in the last few years has been down in both attendance and pay perview numbers as events have not had as many big main event bouts due to a rash of injuries. That however has not prevented the UFC from putting on a number of highly entertaining events the last few times out which includes this weekends return to Brazil with UFC 134 Rio. The build up to the event saw the Brazilian media and fans embrace the UFC which lead you to believe the night of the show might bring something special. The preliminaries only had one standout performance which came from Erick Silva who made an impressive UFC debut with a first round stoppage over fellow Octagon first timer Luis Ramos. The most notable thing from the event early on was that the fans were in full attendance and rambunctios from start to finish.
The Spike televised portion of the card featured a wild fight between Rousimar Palhares and Dan Miller. Palhares has been known for being unpredictable performances and this time was no different as after hurting Miller in the opening round “Toquinho”, for reasons known only to himself, thought the fight was over after landing a flurry of punches on a grounded Miller. Palhares ran and jumped atop the cage only to have referee Herb Dean inform him the fight was not over. Next thing you know the action is restarted and Miller hurts the Brazilian as the round came to a close. The second round saw “Toquinho” dominate with takedowns and brutal ground and pound, along with getting away with illegaly grabbing the cage on multiple occasions. Miller displayed the toughness that you would expect from himself and his brother by surviving that round. Despite being in complete control of the fight up to that point Palhares was fatigued by the third round allowing Miller to win the round by outboxing a faded Rousimar. However “Toquinho” was awarded the unanimous decision by wide margins on the judges scorecards.
The pay per view broadcast delivered on all fronts with finishes in 4 of the 5 fights featured which saw all but one of the home country fighters achieve victory. The sole defeat from the Brazilian contingent came at the cost of Luiz Cane who was stopped on strikes in the first round by UFC rookie Stanislav Nedkov. Next up was the high point of the night for many longtime MMA fans as former PRIDE and UFC Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira reminded fans of why he’s so revered as he knocked out Brendan Schaub in the opening round of their bout. “Minotauro” certainly did not look like his vintage self but turned the clock back one more time and reportedly had quite a few fans and even media members in tears with his victory.
The only fight to go the distance followed as Ross Pearson and Edson Barboza fought a competitive three round bout which Barboza won by split decision. The co-main event saw Mauricio “Shogun” Rua get redemtion over Forrest Griffin whom he was defeated by in his UFC debut back in 2007. Rua did so with yet another first round stoppage as he hurt Griffin standing and once Forrest was on the ground “Shogun” once again showed why he has the best hammer fists in the sport as he pounded out a win. Which brings us to the main event that featured UFC Middleweight Champion successfully defend his title and gain a measure of revenge over the last man to get a win over him, Yushin Okami.
The opening round was more of a feeling out process for both fighters up until the final seconds as Silva landed a high leg kick that connected behind the head of the challenger. Upon the start of the second round the champ came out looking to put on a show opening up his offensive arsenal with kicks as Okami tried to respond with a jab that Silva deftly evaded and in turn knocked down the challenger with a jab of his own. Silva allowed Okami to get back to his feet only to drop him once again shortly thereafter with a right hand. “The Spider” attacked his fallen prey with elbows to the body and a few solid punches to the head before the referee ended the fight to the elation of the crowd. With the win Silva made his record ninth consecutive UFC title defense and further established himself as the top fighter in the sport to many. A great finish to a great event as well as another step forward for the growth of the UFC.
Boxing Judges: And the beat goes on. Forgive me for sounding redundant but when my viewing experience of a fight is ruined by bad scoring I’m going to voice my contempt. This time it was in the rematch between Jose “Miau” Nieves and Cuauhtemoc Vargas which Nieves won by majority decision. These same to fighters had previously met in the same venue where Nieves was given the win via split decision. Although I did not see that fight there is no doubt in my mind that Vargas was robbed of a deserved victory in the rematch. The most dissapointing thing aside from the fact that not nearly enough people saw this fight to protest the verdict is that Vargas did not win on any of the judges scorecards which were 114-114, 117-113, and 117-111. Such wide margins on the latter two cards in what was a much closer fight than they would indicate is deplorable and makes you wonder if Vargas ever had a legitimate chance of winning the fight outside of knocking out his opponent. Unfortunately this will be swept under the rug and the business of boxing will continue both for better and worse.
Andrei Arlovski: Sure Andrei Arlovski got his first win in his last 5 fights in the return of ProElite on Saturday night but sometimes it’s not if you win but how you look in doing so. In that regard the former UFC heavyweight champion looked far removed from the fighter who was once considered one of the best in his division. The fact that it took Arlovski the majority of three rounds to defeat little known Ray Lopez despite attaining mount position more than once demonstrates how far either his skills or confidence have eroded, if not both. Considering Arlovski had been knocked out in three of his previous four fights yet continued on with his caeer gives me no doubt he will further do so but his best days are clearly far behind him and fans can only hope he will be matched up against opposition that cannot do serious damage to him inside the cage, or even worse, outside of it.