This is a column where I will be recapping the night's best performances, and looking at the ripple effects sent out by the nights winners, and some of the losers. UFC 157 was headlined by the first ever women's mma fight in the promotion's 20 year history, featuring 'Rowdy' Ronda Rousey taking on Liz 'Girlrilla' Carmouche in the inaugural women's bantamweight championship bout. Lets take a look at the fighters who came out of the Honda Center with the biggest wins, biggest statements, and anything else they may have swiped on their way out of Anaheim with UFC 157: The Aftermen (and Women)
The Ultimate Warriors
With the bombshell news coming out this past week about the 16 fighters cut by the UFC, and the looming specter of the '100' more that they need to let go, the undercard guys fought as if their career was on the line, which was indeed the case for at least some of them. No two men fought harder than the Fight-of-the-Night winners, Dennis Bermudez, and Matt Grice, though. The first two rounds flew under the radar, but when the horn sounded to start the final frame, Bermudez brought the thunder, and Grice weathered the storm. I'm going to be honest and say my voice while watching a fight hasn't reached such decibel levels since UFC 139. Anytime you get compared to Shogun vs Hendo, losing your job is the last thing you have to worry about.
Where do they go from here? I'd venture to say that Grice finds himself in another rock/hard place scenario in his next outing, and Bermudez takes on a step up in competition. After watching this fight I wouldn't mind seeing a TUF finale rematch with Bermudez facing off against Diego Brandao.
Putting the Welterweight Top 10 on Notice
Robbie Lawler returned to the UFC at 157, fighting in the octagon for the first time since UFC 50. He drew a tough opponent for his return in Josh Koscheck, a 22-fight UFC veteran. In fact, the only men with more fights in the octagon than Koscheck are all in the UFC Hall of Fame. This was Lawler's first fight at 170 pounds, and he looked like a natural welterweight. These guys are both seasoned veterans, and Lawler stopped Koscheck in the first round.
What's next? For 'Kos', who knows? The UFC just cut the 9th ranked welterweight, and Koscheck was 8th. I think he stays around, and gets another chance to crack the top 10, which he will suredly be outside of once the rankings come out.
After examining the current 170 lbs roster in the UFC, there arent many bad fights for Lawler. 170 is currently one of the most talent rich divisions in the UFC. Tyron Woodley? Siyar Bahadurzada is fighting at FUEL TV 8 in Japan against Dong Hyun Kim. The winner of that fight would be a great test for Lawler, as would a fight with the next man on this list, Court Mcgee.
Welterweight's New Volume Puncher
Another fighter on the main card of UFC 157 that got a W after dropping to 170 lbs is Court McGee. The TUF 11 winner had back-to-back losses at middleweight and decided a switch to welterweight was in order. Court out-struck and out-threw Neer in every round, and was the only one of the two to attempt takedowns, landing two of five according to Fightmetric. Another Fightmetric stat in this fight was Court McGee's 166 significant strikes landed. That puts him 12 strikes behind Nick Diaz's 178 landed against BJ Penn at UFC 137, which holds the record. McGee poured it on in the first round, landing 78 significant strikes and throwing 145 of them.
What's next for Court McGee? The aforementioned Robbie Lawler fight would be a great litmus test for both guys to see who is the real deal at 170 pounds, but the division is bursting at the seems these days with talent, so whomever Court draws next will surely be a stiff test.
The Machida Puzzle
The co-main event on the first UFC card headlined by women featured the numbers 1 & 2 ranked light heavyweights in the UFC. Awesome right? Not exactly. There was a lot of talk prior to the fight that this one should have been the real main event, or at least was worthy of going five rounds. Perhaps it would have picked up a bit in rounds four and five, had they happened, but it was doubtful. Now, let us not forget that styles make fights, and Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida have very unique and distinct styles that have gotten them to where they are today. Machida is, as Quinton Jackson put it prior to their UFC 123 fight, 'the ultimate illusive guy', and I couldn't help thinking that throughout this fight. You can't really fault Machida for respecting the 'H-bomb', in Henderson's right hand. You also can't fault Hendo for not going all Ryan Bader and rushing Machida in a flurry of frustration. Machida controlled the fight, didn't get hit often, and this one ended up going 15 minutes without any quantifiable action. Machida got a takedown right before the horn in round one. He also ended up on his back briefly in the third round, which may have been the best moment in the fight on the Henderson side of the cards, even if Machida did trip to find himself there. This ended up being one of those fights where in hindsight, we realize that what went down was an outcome that we should have considered. Did you really thing Dan Henderson was going to just get inside and H-Bomb Lyoto on his first try? Did you really think Machida was going let himself get within shooting range of an Olympic wrestler? We all hoped for another UFC 129 performance from Machida, or a reincarnation of the Fedor fight from Hendo, and it was definitely possible, and if they fought 10 times, we'd most likely see at least one face kick, or one H-bomb, but they wont fight 10 times. They most likely won't fight two times.
What's next? Machida earned his third number one contender spot since his last title fight, and perhaps might fight for the 205 lbs belt, unless we see the mythical Jones/Silva super fight, in which case I'd say he waits it out and we see him in a title fight in late 2013. As far as Dan Henderson goes, his UFC title aspirations are all but extinguished, and I don't think even the aid of testosterone-replacement therapy will turn the clock back as far as he needs it to go in order to win enough to get a shot at the title.
"No amount of press can save these girls from me."
Well here we are. The first female UFC fight is in the books, and it ended with a first round armbar from the UFC's newest champion, Ronda Rousey. Liz Carmouche was a tough opponent, and it was clear she was prepared for Rousey's attack. This fight almost made it to the second round, which would have been a first for the champ. Had this fight ended in an uncompetitive, dominant first minute armbar, things might be a little different regarding the future of women's mma in the octagon. Carmouche was as game an opponent as Rousey has ever faced, and is going to be a tough fight for any girl not named Ronda. Just training to fight Rousey probably stepped up Carmouche's game leaps and bounds, and I am certainly excited to see what's next for the second-toughest female fighter in the UFC. Women's bantamweight fighting is going to keep rolling, with Tate vs Zingano upcoming at the TUF 17 finale, and 11 other girls making their way into the UFC. As I'm writing this I just read that Julie Kedzie has signed with the UFC. Hopefully Rousey/Carmouche was epic enough to keep the mainstream and casual fans attention on the sport, and it's female combatants. We often hear about 'octagon jitters' when a fighter has his first fight in the UFC cage. After a week of almost nonstop press and media obligations, and having to carry the women's mma world on their shoulders, did it seem like either of these girls weren't ready for the biggest stage in mma? Watching the main event, that did not appear to be the case. So where do we go from here with our UFC 157 Afterwomen?
I don't think Liz Carmouche could have had a better losing performance, relative to other opponents Rousey has faced. In my opinion, she is just as capable of being a star as Ronda, especially after that gritty performance. I'd say maybe she gets the winner of Tate/Zingano, or welcomes 'Fireball' Julie Kedzie to the octagon.
And for the champ, I think that her next fight might be met with slightly less media attention, as it won't have the novelty of being the 'first' female UFC fight. At this point it's tough to say who might be next as the UFC only has one more female fight booked, but my guess would be that Ronda co-main events a future PPV with a higher draw in the main event, maybe someone like Jon Jones. Fighting right before a GSP fight might be interesting given what the welterweight kingpin has said in the past regarding women fighting. Only time will tell, but the UFC certainly chose the right women to kick 'this thing' off.