Maybe you stumbled out of bed and into the shower this morning without even realizing it, but a new day has dawned in MMA.
The Machida Era is over. It lasted just under a year, and about half of that time was marred by a dubious legitimacy, but now it's officially ended, its structures lying in ruins, its memory filed away in history's backroom right next to the reign of King Edward VIII and the age of laser discs.
Now we have to pick up the pieces and try to make sense of this new time period we find ourselves in. I imagine this is what it was like on the first Monday morning in the Pleistocene Epoch. A bunch of saber-toothed tigers wandering around, a little confused and still suffering from a slight Pliocene hangover. Brave new world, and all that crap.
Let's begin the first day of the rest of our lives by digging through the rubble to find the greatest triumphs, worst defeats, and those most likely to succeed or fail horribly after UFC 113
. Biggest Winner: "Shogun" Rua
Obviously, knocking out the champ in the first round is about as good as it gets. The victory was vindication for Rua, who, at least for the moment, is finally living up to the promise of his Pride days. Now let's see if he can make a successful title defense, most likely against the winner of the "Rampage" Jackson-Rashad Evans fight at UFC 114, without inviting any controversy about his own legitimacy.Biggest Loser: Paul Daley
His loss was as plodding as it was predictable. No one expected him to be happy about it, but his post-fight sucker punch was an all-time low in the UFC. He could have complained about Koscheck's wrestling-centric game plan and a certain segment of the population would have gone along with him. Instead he lost his cool and got himself fired/banned from the UFC, while also ensuring that he'll be remembered in MMA circles for all the wrong reasons.Most in Need of an Ice Pack: Lyoto Machida
When the former champ first came to in the center of the Octagon, he looked a little battered and dazed, but not so bad off. When the camera cut back to him a minute or so later, his eye had been replaced by a bruised golf ball. It's going to take a custom-made pair of sunglasses to cover that one up.
(Runner-up: Jason MacDonald
. "The Athlete" suffered a broken leg on a takedown in the prelims. If you have any good book recommendations, send them his way. The guy's going to be on the couch for a little while.)Most Disappointing in Defeat: Kimbo Slice
Not that anyone expected him to run right through Mitrione, but he could have at least done a little more to seem interested in the proceedings. After a few leg kicks from "Meathead" he was more than happy to fold up and wait for the stoppage. Maybe a fight with Jose Canseco in Japan would be more his speed right now.Least Likable in Victory: Josh Koscheck
Wrestling his way to a decision was the safe and sure route, so it's hard to criticize him for that. But really, another phantom foul followed by a verbal assault on the Montreal crowd? I can't remember the last time a fighter earned a title shot while making so few friends in the process. Most Improved: Jeremy Stephens
When he first came to the UFC, "Lil' Heathen" was just a tough kid who hit extremely hard. Against Sam Stout he proved that he can now go toe-to-toe with the more technical strikers in the lightweight division. He's still young and there are no shortages of holes in his ground game, but at least he's moving in the right direction, and it's a good thing, too. Tough guy sluggers have a limited shelf life in the UFC.Best Barely Legal Maneuver: Alan Belcher
The difference between a completely illegal piledriver and a painful but legit move is truly one of degrees. Had Belcher brought Patrick Cote down at something closer to a ninety-degree angle, it would have qualified as a spike. Instead, he used more of a fifty-degree angle, qualifying it as a slam. That's legal, but not by much.Saddest Collapse: Tom Lawlor
With his weigh-in antics and entertaining entrances, Lawlor has made himself into the life of the UFC party lately. But if he can't deliver in the cage he'll quickly become more of a court jester than a lovable class clown. He brawled with Joe Doerksen in the early going, then ran out of gas in the second round and lunged his way into a choke for the finish. As great as his Dan Severn mustache looked on TV, it doesn't change the fact that he needs a win in a bad, bad way.Most Likely to Star in a "Road House" Remake:
Referee Dan Miragliotta
Maybe it's his accent, his (lack of) hairstyle, or just his sheer size, but Big Dan seems at times like a glorified bar bouncer in the Octagon. Just look at the way he collared Daley and pinned him against the cage before making him "promise" to be cool before he'd agree to release him. Clearly, this is not the first time Miragliotta's been put in that role. Be nice, Dan. Be nice, until it's time to not be nice.