Ultimate Fighting Championship promised a great night of action, and it truly delivered. UFC 117 can easily compete with its predecessor UFC 116 for the “Best event of the Year” award, providing all the drama necessary for being remembered as one of the best cards in promotion’s history. Here are 10 conclusions from this entertaining night at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California:
Stefan Struve: I expect the Dutchman to be in Top 5 of the UFC Heavyweight division in three years from now. Unfortunately, not everyone develops the same way as Jon Jones. Stefan Struve needs a little bit more time to roughen-up in the UFC. Skills, Heart and Determination are all there. He’s just an unpolished diamond.
Johny Hendricks: The young Oklahoma-native continued to impress inside the Octagon, this time against the LowKick-favorite Charlie Brenneman. Hendricks finished the fight via the second round TKO, improving his record to 9-0. He’s currently 4-0 in the UFC, with two TKO finishes. Time to bring this kid to the PPV main card, Dana.
Phil Davis: Mr. Wonderful is another example of a young UFC prospect, who moved up in the ladder following UFC 117. Davis dominated the powerhouse Rodney Wallace, before improving his record to 3-0 in the UFC and 7-0 overall. Phil Davis is one of the most decorated wrestlers in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and will surely play a huge part in the Light Heavyweight dramas in the future. Fighting the experienced Tim Boetsch could be a start of Mr. Wonderful’s climb up to the UFC 205 elite.
Junior Dos Santos: Unlike many others, somehow I left slightly unimpressed with Junior Dos Santos in this fight. Yes, JDS is one of the best Heavyweights currently competing in MMA, but in my opinion “Cigano” lacked the depth in his striking game against Roy Nelson. Dos Santos threw only one leg kick during the fight, putting most of his emphasis on uppercuts and hooks. Dos Santos has to be much more well-rounded that this against the winner of Brock Lesnar vs Shane Carwin.
Matt Hughes: I was so impressed with Matt Hughes today. His ability to recover from back-to-back losses against Thiago Alves and GSP and go on a three-fight winning streak against game opponents in the UFC, proves exactly why Matt Hughes is the UFC Hall of Famer. In my opinion, Hughes will be in the mix for the shot at the title during 2011, and I will be not surprised if we’ll have him again as the UFC Welterweight Champ. It may be a severe case of Randy Couture syndrome here.
Clay Guida: Step by step, Clay Guida is becoming a well-rounded Mixed Martial Artist. His “Berserk Mode” is already legendary, as everything left now is to collect some victories against top opponents. The fight against Takanori Gomi could be great for Guida, as well as for the Japanese legend, who will look to solidify his place among the UFC 155 elite.
Thiago Alves: “The Pitbull” looked like a lightweight against Jon Fitch. That weight cut played a huge part in the UFC 117 co-main event. Thiago Alves should fight at 185. Period.
Jon Fitch: Eight consecutive decisions, with last finish coming more than three years ago. That’s more like Tito Ortiz winning his last fight against Ken Shamrock. Sorry Jon, but if you do everything in your power to finish the fight, and you still go to decision: this means you have a problem you should work on. There’s no doubt about Jon Fitch being a Top 5 Welterweight, who deserves a title shot. But first and foremost we are all fans, and we want to see entertaining fights.
Chael Sonnen: Provided another reason to why we love MMA. I said before the fight that it’s if Sonnen truly believes in his abilities to defeat Anderson Silva, we can safely expect a war on August 7th. And that’s exactly what happened. Determined Chael Sonnen did what Patrick Cote, Thales Leites, Forrest Griffin and Demian Maia failed, and that is forcing Anderson Silva to actually display his fighting skills. But in the end, it takes a lot to dethrone a King, and Chael Sonnen came 120 seconds short of what could be the biggest upset in MMA history. Vitor Belfort’s last fight was at UFC 103, and I personally don’t understand how you can be out for more than a year, and still have a shot at the Champ. Chael Sonnen deserves that rematch.
Anderson Silva: At first glance, it looked like Anderson Silva did not want to release his hold on Chael Sonnen. Whether the decision is correct or not, the fighter should release the hold immediately after the referee’s interference. Despite being completely outclassed throughout the fight, Anderson Silva managed to survive and break the will of his opponent by forcing a tap out. Silva proved he’s a great Champion, and that it will take an incredible effort to take the belt off his shoulders.
Photos: Tracy Lee for Yahoo! Cagewriter