The week started with Anderson Silva, ended with Luke Rockhold, and in between, we sprinkled in some Chris Weidman. Not bad for a division that many people believe is among the thinnest in mixed martial arts.
In all, it was a 185-pound showcase, and the group mostly delivered. So what have we learned? Silva is still the best, Weidman is the real deal, and Rockhold is still fighting for respect. The Strikeforce middleweight champion's quandary is among five observations about Saturday night's card.
1. The argument that no fighter can be a top 10 without competing in the UFC is garbage.
It is simple thinking born of simple minds.
Sure, we would all like some inarguable proof every now and again, but hasn't the success of the WEC lightweights coming to the UFC proved that the UFC doesn't have the market cornered on talent? Sure, they have most of the sport's best, but there are several exceptions. Count down 10 more talented middleweights than Rockhold while I wait here. This is a division that had Mark Munoz ranked third on the strength of ... what, exactly? One top 10 win over Demian Maia? That's hardly an infallible resume. The fact of the matter is that Rockhold would do just fine in the UFC. He's tough as nails, has a fairly diverse striking game, has improved takedown defense, and scrambles well.
I think the criticism of Rockhold comes from the fact that he may not have one-punch knockout power or a constricting jiu-jitsu game. He's good at everything, but not textbook "great" at anything. So what? We can say the same about many UFC stars. Maybe one day soon we'll find out for certain.
2. Maybe TRT isn't the wonder drug we've made it out to be.
On Saturday night, Nate Marquardt fought off of TRT. He looked powerful, explosive and seemed to carry his cardio deep into his fourth-round knockout of Tyron Woodley. And Marquardt wasn't the only person over the last week to do so. At UFC 148, Shane Roller put TRT in his rearview mirror and still beat John Alessio.
Which leads to the obvious question: why did they need TRT in the first place?
3. Lorenz Larkin is a factor at middleweight.
Larkin has always been an intriguing talent. He's a very creative striker with good takedown defense, and those capabilities make him entertaining, but the crowd-pleaser might make himself a contender with his move to 185. He looked outstanding against Robbie Lawler, often out-landing the heavy puncher during exchanges. That's a great sign as he progresses in his career.
The move from light-heavyweight was a necessary one. At 5-foot-11, he was certainly undersized in the division, and now his power and speed will mean more against slightly smaller competition. He may not be ready for Rockhold just yet, but I guarantee a Rockhold-Larkin pairing would produce fireworks.
4. Keith Jardine is no longer a top-level fighter.
I don't write this with any malice. Jardine has had a long and respectable career in a demanding sport. He has been deserving of the opportunities that have come his way. He can certainly still compete somewhere in the world of MMA. It's just not on the bigger stages. After losing to Roger Gracie on Saturday night, Jardine is just 4-9-1 since the start of 2007. Worse, he's 2-8-1 while fighting for Zuffa organizations.
While it is true that Jardine has lost to some good competition -- losses to Quinton Jackson, Ryan Bader and Rockhold among others, are nothing to be ashamed of -- you have to wonder where he can find a win in the world he's currently inhabiting. Jardine is by all accounts a good person, a great teammate and a serviceable fighter, but results must count for something in this sport, and Jardine has simply not produced enough to stay at the Strikeforce/UFC level.
5. Jason High got screwed.
Who is Jason High, you might be asking? Well, you would have no idea if you watched yesterday's event on TV. High was supposed to be on it. He fought Nate Moore and won by guillotine choke in just 26 seconds. But High's performance was never aired. Keep in mind that he was supposed to be on the undercard, aired on Showtime Xtreme. Instead, the start time of his fight was moved up, and he never saw the air.
Couldn't Showtime have found a spare 26 seconds to air the fight of an athlete who has won seven fights in a row?