Starring: Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir, Tim Sylvia vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Overall this was an exciting UFC PPV event with a couple decent undercards (Tim Boetsch’s improbable victory over David Heath to name one) leading the way to the “Co-Main Events”. While the title billed the top two fights as such, in fans’ minds there really was only one “Main Event”, and it wasn’t even for a title. The Movie Mind will correct the UFC’s mistake, and cover the two Man Events in the correct order:
Let’s first get to what should have been the second-to-last fight, even though there was an “Interim” title on the line. Tim Sylvia did a nice job in his stand-up game taking it to Nogueira early and often and effectively avoiding multiple shoot attempts at the same time. Then, the same old criticism came back again to haunt Sylvia as he tried to do just enough to get the win. He didn’t continue to press Nogueira when it was crystal clear Sylvia could do whatever he wanted in the stand-up game. Sylvia is the UFC’s version of Herm Edwards…just trying to win by 3 points and “not lose” instead of going for the kill. It came back to bite him in the ass when Nogueira forced a submission as most thought he would do. Here’s to hoping Sylvia decides to change his game-plan soon and still throw some deep routes even if he is up by 2 TD’s. So what if you throw an interception once in a while and let the other team back in it…at least you are going for the win.
The UFC does as good a job of any sports league to create intriguing back-stories to their matchups. The best story of the young 2008 MMA world had to do with a freakish former ‘Pro’ wrestler (after being a former ‘Real’ wrestler and NCAA champion) named Brock Lesnar making his entry into a world where fakes and frauds are exploited quickly. There was never any doubt about Lesnar’s size, strength, work ethic, and conditioning going into this fight. The guy is a physical specimen, weighing in pre-fight at a ripped 265 but surely heavier than that by fight night. He was a true champion wrestler in college and for two years after college, but was lured into the cash-lined pockets of Vince McMahon after that stint. Vinnie Mac is to big-time amateur wrestlers as Hugh Heffner is to celebrity chicks trying not to compromise their morals for a big payday. Well, Lesnar did compromise them, but after a few years decided to go back into real competition. His tryout for the NFL was short-lived so he decided to fully dedicate himself to becoming a true MMA fighter.
So here he was, making his UFC debut against a guy that was the former Heavyweight Champion of the UFC. A few years back, Frank Mir was a guy that many thought to be unstoppable. Then he had a bad motorcycle wreck and during his comeback and people questioned his dedication and work ethic. I give a lot of credit to Mir for taking this fight. He was in a no-win situation: if he won, it was against a former WWE star with no experience; if he lost, it was against a nobody-former WWE wrestler with no experience. Yet, Mir still took the fight in a way to show people that he is serious about making another run at the heavyweight title.
The pre-fight atmosphere was palpable. Even as UFC fights have become more and more the “in” place to be seen for celebrities, this fight was more so than ever. It was particularly evidenced by the truest merging of the sports and entertainment world: Pro wrestling. The Undertaker, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and Sable (Lesnar’s wife by the way) were all in attendance for their boy. It was almost as if they were there to say, “See everybody. We were right all along. Pro wrestlers really ARE the best athletes in the world.” While that may have been a stretch, there is no denying the fact that a man as big and powerful as Lesnar shouldn’t be that athletic.
Let me say this regarding the result of the highly-anticipated match. I was really impressed with Lesnar. First and foremost, he came out tougher than I thought he would be. Usually you see a guy his size and while they are strong and powerful, they lack toughness. As the old saying goes, “weights don’t hit back”. Yet he proved that wrong after only a couple seconds in the ring. He took control of the fight from the onset by pummeling Mir, even hurting him with punches Mir had “effectively” blocked. That’s what happens when you have two steaks for hands. He took Mir to the ground and began dominating him there, reigning down blows and forcing every fan to pick their jaws up from off the floor. Then there was what I consider a horrible travesty: they stopped the fight because one of Lesnar’s punches hit the back of Mir’s head. There was no doubt Mir turned his head as he was getting hit. That should not be a defense technique as a way to get the opponent to do something illegal. Unfortunately the ref stopped the fight and took a point away from Lesnar. The point deduction was irrelevant, as the ref had effectively killed Lesnar’s momentum while collecting Mir’s official “Get out of getting your ass beat” card.
Lesnar still came strong after they were stood up, slamming Mir to the ground, but ultimately his lack of experience did him in as a more-experienced Mir forced a tap due to a leg-lock. Brock got caught and Mir earned the win. However, there is no way that Mir wins this fight if they didn’t get stood up, nor does he win it any other way than by submission. In fact, I cannot see a way that Lesnar can lose by anything other than a submission hold. How do you knock a guy out whose chin looks like a steel shovel? Mark my words, as long as Lesnar sticks with this MMA thing, he will be a force to be reckoned with for a long time to come.