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MMA Fastball: Mauricio Rua looks like Shogun again

Mauricio "Shogun" Rua looks like Shogun again: Since Mauricio "Shogun" Rua defeated Chuck Liddell by first round TKO at UFC 97: Redemption, all of the talk has been about Liddell's fall from grace. No, it does not look like we will ever see "The Iceman" fight as a title contender again. In fact, we may never see him fight again, period. However, the talk should be about the speed with which "Shogun" connected with kicks and punches on his adversary. It should be about the frantic pace that was set by Rua in a fight where he finally began to remind us of the guy we once saw throwing down in PRIDE.

Said another way, leading up to the Rua encounter, Liddell had at least been in his last three fights. He lost a pretty close decision, one that he dominated in the first round, against Keith Jardine at UFC 76. He won a close decision over longtime PRIDE Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva at UFC 79. Liddell even looked pretty good in the first round against Rashad Evans (until Evans got his timing down in the second round, that is). But against Rua, Liddell never had a chance.

Rua is back.

Kyle Maynard is amazing: Turns out that the fight card congenital amputee Kyle Maynard was showcased on this past Saturday only drew about 100 online PPV buys, according to Too bad. That said, the fact that Maynard was able to make it to a decision against Brian Frye in his MMA debut with no elbows or knees is simply astounding: forget whether he won or lost. Further, the notion that he went 35-16 as a high school wrestler in Georgia is amazing as well.

In sum, he's one of the best stories of the year. Heck, he's one of the best stories of any year and should serve as an inspiration to us all.

Anderson Silva fights a boring fight against Thales Leites: Silva is one of the greatest MMA fighters of all-time. He may be the greatest striker that has ever stepped foot in the Octagon. But his decision victory over Leites at UFC 97 was one of the most boring main event bouts we've seen in a long time. Silva certainly deserves a pass considering what he's done during his career, even if his last encounter against Patrick Cote wasn't of the exciting variety either. Further, it takes two to fight and Leites really wasn't doing much to help.

That said, you have to think that Silva will come out motivated to stop his opponent as quickly as possible in his next bout. If not, expect an even more significant backlash from the fans than what he's already received.

The British Fighters on TUF 9: I'm an American. There's no doubt, therefore, that I'm going to root for the Americans to bring home the TUF 9 crown, just as I would expect every available British citizen on the planet to root for Bisping's team. That said, you have to give the British credit where credit is due so far on the show. They're not the ones that brought Junie Browning's brother on the show to start trouble. They're not whining. They're working hard and are clearly coming together as a team.

Right now, it's hard to say the same about the Americans. But it's early.

Cheick Kongo vs. Brock Lesnar: Anyone else out there want to see this fight? There is no doubt that Lesnar is capable of taking this encounter to the canvas. While there, he'll likely dish out a good whooping. But those big punches he's been connecting with on his feet due to an extreme size and reach advantage on opponents (he landed on Couture, Herring, and even Mir to an extent) may be harder to come by against a man with the striking skills and sheer size of Kongo. In other words, if Kongo can survive the ground and pound he's likely to come up against for any length of time, his size and athleticism could prove lethal when upright against Lesnar.

Then again, maybe not. Either way, it might be interesting to see how things play out.

If Chuck Liddell's fighting days are over: He's been an amazing fighter and a good ambassador for the sport. Liddell never made excuses; he never backed down; and he always came to fights ready to do just that, fight!

He'll be missed.

Alistair Overeem as the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion: All of a sudden with Strikeforce's recent dealings, the fact that Overeem is their heavyweight champion has some meaning. After all, they now have Brett Rogers and Fabricio Werdum for him to tangle with.


Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza vs. Jayson "Mayhem" Miller at DREAM 9: The first time these two met at the DREAM Grand Prix 2008, a submission clinic was put on. Souza deservedly won a decision, as his submission offense was more relevant. Still, you've got to love a rematch here if you enjoy grappling encounters. The speed with which these two transitioned from move to move and escape to escape was special.

Nick Diaz is a lot bigger than first thought: Most knew that Diaz would have a reach advantage over Frank Shamrock when the two went at Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz. But who knew that Diaz, supposedly the smaller fighter in that he was coming up in weight after competing in mostly the lightweight division, would be bigger (not just taller and lankier) as well?

Regardless of size, there was no doubt who the better fighter was after that encounter.

Scott Smith gets props for being the most sudden knockout puncher in the game today: When Smith knocked Pete Sell out with that now famous punch from nowhere, you had to give him his props. But after losing most of the fight against Benji Radach, to then come up with a huge punch like he did in the third round kind of causes you to expect that kind of performance from him.

Scott Smith is never out of a fight.