Starring: Georges St-Pierre vs. Jon Fitch, Brock Lesnar vs. Heath Herring
There are probably about three fighters left in the UFC that I would pay to watch: Chuck Liddell, Rampage Jackson, and Brock Lesnar. Lesnar was in danger of falling off that list until Saturday night’s performance. While there may be a lot more fighters I am interested in, I have decided that $45 simply isn’t worth it unless the event features one of those three. Maybe that then makes me a fraud as a fan of the UFC, but I need fighters with some star-power and hype…and I don’t mean the kind of undeserved over-hype ala Kimbo Slice, but instead a well-deserved hype resulting in a buzz or aura around them. Lesnar has that, and he didn’t disappoint at UFC 87.
No disrespect to Mr. St-Pierre because he probably warrants discussion in the “best pound-for-pound fighter” argument, but I would not have bought this fight without Lesnar’s appearance on the undercard. The reason he is able to still draw fans like me to watch him is because he is the antithesis of Kimbo Slice. While he came from the WWE as a paper-athlete, he stepped into Dana White’ office and told him he wanted real competition from the start. He wasn’t looking to mull around in the doldrums of Elite XC or one of the lesser leagues, he wanted to be in the UFC and fight its top competitors. He also did not have a career path paved in gold for him the same way Slice did, only to disappoint against one of those much lesser quality fighters. He had an early tune-up fight but then jumped right into the fray with Frank Mir, a former champion who may not have been at the top of his game, but was damn close. We all know how that one ended after Lesnar was submitted following an early dominating performance. He then was scheduled to fight Mark Coleman, a longtime MMA veteran and legend, in this UFC event but his opponent was changed to Heath Herring after Coleman injured his knee. On paper, Heath “The Texas Crazy Horse” Herring should have been the toughest foe yet for Lesnar. But I guess that’s why they don’t fight on paper.
The reason there are only a few fighters worthy enough for me to spend that kind of PPV dough was on full display in the early fights. While there were some tough dudes with a lot of talent, there was little or no excitement in watching them. Kenny Florian proved he was a more intelligent fighter than Roger Huerta in what amounted to nothing more than a tactical showdown. Florian was a gracious winner declaring that Huerta had a bright future ahead of him which may very well be true. Still, there were no fireworks anywhere during the early matches. Rob Emerson knocked out his fellow Ultimate Fighter Season 5 opponent, Manny Gamburyan, in all of 12 seconds. In fact, I had to rewind the DVR to see the start and finish to the fight because I had to sneeze. Jason MacDonald was submitted by a more skilled Demian Maia in the third round of their equally tactical battle. All in all the fights outside of the two main events were a letdown in my opinion. Maybe it didn’t help that Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg make every single fight out to be the Thrilla-in-Manilla. Seriously, somebody needs to simultaneously lend Joe Rogan a razor and b*tch-slap his a**. I still don’t know why Rogan thinks he has been appointed the definition of an Alpha-Male, but please somebody bring him back down to earth. And Goldberg, please…please stop acting like every single fight is the greatest match in the world. You are starting to sound like Bill Walton only a lot less entertaining and much more annoying. (ie. When I think of Boris Diaw, I think of Beethoven in the age of the romantics!”
The Title Fight was an exciting battle and put both fighters’ best attributes front and center: St-Pierre’s sick all-around athleticism and fight skills, and Fitch’s tough-as-nails fortitude. While St-Pierre was clearly in another class in terms of skills, it must have had him worried that he simply could not put away Fitch. While I certainly appreciate Fitch’s heart and toughness, it also doesn’t mean that you are a great talent just because you can withstand a beating. St-Pierre versus BJ Penn as the most likely next matchup for his title defense should prove to be a much more even battle. Although it is difficult to understand how anyone can be as talented as St-Pierre.
For the “secondary” main event of the night, Lesnar entered his hometown arena in Minneapolis, MN to a huge welcoming and did not disappoint. After opening the fight by charging 100-miles an hour out of the corner and whiffing with flying knee, Lesnar stood toe-to-toe with Herring for about 30 seconds. That’s all it took for him to land a straight right-hand that looked like it shattered Herring’s eye socket. Either Herring just simply didn’t see that one coming, or Lesnar is actually that fast. Herring tumbled backwards and from there it was just a matter of whether he would survive or not. He did survive, but more likely due to Lesnar’s overly cautious ground work and concern for not getting tapped out again. That to me was the only disappointment in this fight: Lesnar’s inability to finish off Herring. Although I must say it was cruelly fun to watch him dominate an equally dominant fighter at times in Herring. It should be interesting to see what is next for Lesnar since as he continues to improve he could become a scary fighter. The heavyweight division has nobody who can match his size, strength, or speed. The only thing we have yet to see is how he responds after getting smacked in the mouth.
Brock also managed to pick up the worst display of sportsmanship award after doing a gravedigger type dance after the final bell, and carrying on with his antics for about 5 sold minutes after the fight’s conclusion. Brock needs to learn that this is not the WWE and all that stuff simply makes him look bad. He does not need to be the “villain” because most other fighters hate him already for his participation in the fraud that is the WWE. Hopefully he will learn how silly he looked after the fight and rid his celebration routine of those antics. Yes, Herring ran his mouth off a lot before the fight, but usually that is merely a tactic to sell the bout. It’s not personal. So please, Brock, drop the nonsense and shake the man’s hand after the fight. Your dominance over a strong opponent has already spoken for itself.