As I told it, UFC 168 was supposed to be a night of redemption for two former champions. It was to be a night where a coronation times two took place for Miesha Tate and Anderson Silva.
Apparently I did not get the memo to defending champions Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman because they had plans of their own and although they both were able to retain their respective titles, the fashions in which they were done were instances in which no one expected, especially the latter bout/main event.
There’s another unexpected occurrence that took place on this memorable evening, which forced me to miss the mark in three of the five bouts. Thank God for the two forecasts that did go as expected.
Here’s a look back at an exciting card, that ended on a somber note:
Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier def. Diego “DB” Brandao via TKO-Punches (4:54 of Round One)
What I had as a display of wrestling and striking prowess at the hands of Brandao was the exact opposite. Poirier showed everyone under observance that “Diamonds” are forever. His ability to counter strike Brandao and chip away at him with punches and leg kicks allowed Poirier to have his way with the Brazilian. The two takedowns Brandao landed proved meaningless as Poirier immediately returned to his feet and continued his onslaught. Poirier was able to force Brandao to the fence and land a takedown of his own. Brandao was allowed to return to his feet, only to receive a barrage of punches, forcing referee Mario Yamasaki to end the bout with six tickers left in the opening round.
Jim Miller def. Fabricio “Morango” Camoes via Armbar Submission (3:42 of Round One)
Camoes opened with a swift kick inside the lead leg of Miller and from there engaged Miller into a clinch against the fence. Ultimately, Camoes placed Miller into an area of familiarity, which eventually sealed his fate. Miller popped Camoes with a knee and followed with a stuff of Camoes’ takedown attempt. From there, the two found themselves at the center of the octagon, where Miller would block a kick of Camoes and respond with an overhand left to Camoes’ head. Camoes responded with a flurry of punches. Camoes followed up with a kick, but Miller catches it and executes a takedown. From the ground position, Camoes was able to counter with take down of his own. This only proved to be counterproductive for Camoes, as he left his arm open for the inevitable. Miller, being the submission scholar he is, saw the dangling limb, locked onto it and forced Camoes to tap out to an armbar.
Travis “Hapa” Browne def. Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett via TKO- Elbows (1:00 of Round One)
Browne opened immediately with a kick and left hook combination, which allowed him to get Barnett into a Thai Plum variation of the clinch. In that clinch, Barnett was able to land a knee onto Browne, which brought about immediate separation. Barnett tried to change levels to pull off a takedown, but found himself on the receiving end of a knee that cut him open, leading to his demise. The momentum carried the two to the cage and Browne saw an opening in the form of Barnett’s head, leading to a series of elbows that rendered Barnett motionless. In microwave fashion, Browne secured a victory over a fighter who has not suffered a knockout loss since 2001.
“Rowdy Ronda Rousey def. Miesha “Cupcake” Tate via Armbar Submission (4:02 of Round Three, UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title Bout)
The logical strategy for Tate to reclaim championship glory was to punch Rousey relentlessly but maintaining distance at the same time. Also, if the fight goes to the ground, protect her arm at all costs. Unfortunately, Tate implemented an ill-advised strategy. She relented on throwing punches and engaged Rousey in the clinch. For Tate’s efforts, she was on the receiving end of a whopping six takedowns, in the form of Rousey’s judo tosses. Anyone that knows Rousey knows the judo toss/throw is a personal segue to her bread and butter, the armbar. What shocked many was Ronda was 0-4 in her first group of submission attempts. Truthfully, with Rousey’s improved striking, she could’ve finished Tate with a knockout, but after the third takedown attempt, it was clear to me Rousey was out to prove that point and in the third round, she did just that. With under a minute left in the round, Rousey was able to secure her go-to play, scoring a second armbar, submission over her bitter rival.
Chris “The All American” Weidman def. Anderson “The Spider” Silva via TKO/Stoppage (1:16 of Round Two, UFC Middleweight Title Bout)
After getting a feel of Silva’s range courtesy of an attempted punch and kick, Weidman was able to land a takedown on Silva, further exposing Silva’s vulnerability in takedown defense. Weidman dominated the opening round with 4:24 of ground control. The champion’s ground and pound, wrestling and positioning clearly took Silva out of his element. Silva was able to score some punches from the bottom, even forcing some blood to trickle from the champion’s nose, but Weidman was relentless with the punches and elbows he rained Silva from the top. In the last :20 of the opening round, Weidman stood up and followed through with one final punch from the top as a warning to Silva that suggested “there more’s to come”. The second round saw a bunch of fainting from Silva, but Weidman would not take the bait. Weidman continues pushing the pace, forcing Silva into a back pedal. Weidman came forth with a kick to Silva’s midsection. Silva responded with a kick of his own, but Weidman was able to check the kick, which resulted in an unexpected turn. as Silva’s kick connected with Weidman’s shin, Silva’s shin broke in a way where his leg halfway wrapped around Weidman’s, resulting in him screaming in unbearable pain. Having no other choice, referee Herb Dean was forced to call the fight, rendering Weidman successful in his first title defense.
Even if Anderson Silva did not suffer that freak injury, in the words of Take No Prisoners Sports’ Editor-In-Chief Keith Madyun, “I’m not so sure Anderson would’ve won this fight”. The dominance of Chris Weidman was too glaring. He fought the perfect fight and for a second time, the current, reigning UFC Middleweight Champion of the world cracked the code of one Anderson “The Spider” Silva.
This card will be remembered for a combination of the right reasons and that one melancholy reason.
We here at TNP Sports would like to congratulate Chris Weidman on proving his legitimacy as champion in this sport. More importantly,we recognize the greatness that is Anderson Silva’s career. Most importantly, we wish him a speedy and successful recovery and well wishes with whatever he does moving forward.
Thank you fight fans for lending time to us…please come into the new year of 2014 safely.
By Antoine Hoffman