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UFC 90 Morning After: Fans Saw a Good Show -- Until the Main Event

Here's the biggest difference between UFC crowds and boxing crowds: The Allstate Arena was almost full at 6:45 Saturday evening, when UFC 90's first undercard fight, Pete Sell vs. Josh Burkman, got underway. In boxing you never see the arena anywhere close to full before the first undercard fight starts.

It was the UFC's first appearance in Illinois, and the crowd in suburban Chicago got an entertaining show -- at least until that strange main event. Yes, there were a few fans who didn't seem happy. Gray Maynard isn't a crowd pleaser (more on that below), and one obnoxious guy tried to get a chant of "bo-ring" started during a stretch on the ground during the Sell-Burkman fight. But no one else joined in on that guy's chant, and through the first nine fights of the night, the fans seemed to think they got their money's worth.

The main event was another matter.

Fans were getting a little antsy during the first two rounds, when Anderson Silva was doing more dancing than fighting, and Patrick Cote didn't have the quickness to catch up to him. And then in the third, when Cote's knee buckled (he said afterward he suffered a torn meniscus, re-aggravating an old injury), the fans let him have it, booing him mercilessly as he sheepishly apologized to the fans in the ring.

As Cote limped back to the locker room, one fan about 10 feet away yelled, "Patrick, you suck, you pussy." Classy!

Overall, though, I'm betting the majority of the people who bought their tickets will do it again if the UFC returns to Chicago next year. It didn't end well, but UFC 90 was still a good five hours of fights.

Quotes of the Night
"I eat that for breakfast, baby."
-- Pete Sell, after beating Josh Burkman, of the big right hand that rocked Sell in the first round. Sell recovered from that right and controlled most of the fight.

"It's over. That's what real men do, they fight and they shake hands."
-- Hermes Franca, saying after he beat Marcus Aurelio that the longstanding grudge between the two was finished. Of course, Franca declined to touch gloves at the start of the fight and instead came flying in and tried to hit Aurelio with a knee and a punch, and he criticized Aurelio during his post-fight interview in the Octagon.

"I want another shot at that belt."
-- Sean Sherk, saying he wants a lightweight title shot. Seeing that B.J. Penn whipped him in the UFC's most recent lightweight title fight, I think Sherk needs at least two more big wins before anyone would consider that.

"The only thing for sure about Spencer Fisher is nothing is for sure."
-- Spencer Fisher, speaking of himself in the third person and not making much sense.

Opposite Corners
Former UFC welterweight champ Matt Serra was in Sell's corner, and he was getting extremely agitated as he screamed instructions to Sell during the fight. Serra yelled, he cajoled, he got in Sell's face.

The exact opposite approach was taken by UFC heavyweight champ Randy Couture, who was cornering both Tyson Griffin and Gray Maynard. Couture was the quietest corner man I saw all night; he didn't say much during the fights, and when he did speak, I couldn't hear a word he was saying, even though I was only about 10 feet away.

In the main event, Cote looked at his corner after the first round and shrugged, as if to say, "Is that all he has?" After the second, the guys in Cote's corner were hollering, "You can beat this guy!"

Musical Notes
Aurelio walked to the Octagon to the entrance music that Fedor Emelianenko made famous. Is he trying to make some kind of statement, comparing himself to Fedor? Or is he just that unoriginal?

Good Call
I like referee Herb Dean's attention to detail. Standing in the Octagon before the main event, Dean walked the perimeter of the cage and carefully scrutinized everything. When he saw that a stool was up against the outside of the fence, he told a photographer to move it a couple of inches back, just in case a fighter was thrown against the cage and hit it.

Bad Call
Referee Tod Fredrickson made a terrible ruling in the third round of Franca-Aurelio, saying that Aurelio had kicked Franca to the head on the ground even though Franca was not, in fact, on the ground at the time. The crowd booed, as they should have.

Ground Game
Fisher so badly wanted to keep the fight standing up that when he knocked Shannon Gugerty flat on his back with a hard right hand at the end of the first round, he let Gugerty stand back up, rather than going to the ground to try to finish him. Eventually, though, Fisher did find an opening, and he said after the fight, "I submitted a guy at his own game."

Drew McFedries, like Fisher, badly wanted to keep the fight standing up against Thales Leites. But McFedries was nowhere near as successful: He was on his back early and desperately trying upkicks to keep Leites from bringing the fight to the ground, but Leites quickly got down and showed off his Brazilian jiu jitsu skills, quickly working his way to McFedries' back and securing the rear-naked choke.

Stock Up
Thiago Alves. By beating Josh Koscheck, he showed phenomenal takedown defense and great striking, like a welterweight Chuck Liddell. He definitely deserves a welterweight title shot, whether he gets it in his next fight or not.

Stock Down
Gray Maynard. Yes, he stayed undefeated by beating Rich Clementi by unanimous decision, but Maynard generated some of the loudest booing of the night for his slow-paced style. Maynard is a great wrestler, and he deserved to win 30-27 on all three' judges' cards, but he's not a very exciting fighter, and that's going to make it tough for him to become a star in the sport.

Fight I want to see next:
Junior "Cigano" dos Santos vs. the Brock Lesnar-Randy Couture loser. With his first-round knockout of Fabricio Werdum, Cigano showed he can play with the big boys. Let's see if he can keep it going.

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