UFC 117 not only produced a dramatic night of fights, it also provided answers to a lot of burning questions. Here’s what we know, now that the dust has settled in Oakland. (Figuratively speaking. Obviously, there’s still a ton of dust floating around in Oakland.)
Junior Dos Santos Is Not Superhuman
In round one, he did what we expected him to: beat Roy Nelson like a mulleted heavy-bag. But when Roy managed to survive the onslaught — massive props to Big Country, by the way — Dos Santos visibly slowed down and couldn’t inflict as much damage as he did in the opening frame. The fight didn’t bode well for JDS’s chances against the Lesnar/Velasquez winner. As we saw at UFC 116, Brock can take a brutal beating and come back for round 2 fresh as a daisy.
Matt Hughes Is Still a Threat
When Hughes suffered back-to-back losses to Georges St. Pierre (at UFC 79) and Thiago Alves (at UFC 85), it seemed that his days as a competitor were swirling down the drain. Hughes’s blanket-ish return performance against Matt Serra didn’t prove much, considering Serra’s injuries and ring rust, and his beatdown of Renzo Gracie in Abu Dhabi said more about the loser than the winner. But smashing Ricardo Almeida standing, then choking him out with a front headlock in the first round? That’s a huge feather in Hughes’s cap. This was not a "master’s division"-type fight; Almeida was a legitimate welterweight player, who was coming off his third consecutive win against Matt Brown at UFC 111. Hughes may be more interested in hunting than fighting at this point, but he’s a contender again. The question is: Which Gracie-associated fighter can he get next?
Jon Fitch Is the Most Predictable Fighter on the UFC’s Roster
Yeah, yeah, you can’t knock a guy for effectively executing a gameplan, but watching Jon Fitch fight is officially becoming a chore. He’s now the most decision-prone fighter in the UFC, and his fights are carbon-copies — he’ll grab you, establish a dominant position, and do everything but finish. (Repeat as necessary.) Before UFC 117, Dana White announced that the winner of Fitch/Alves would get a title shot. Now he’s not so sure. Can you blame him? It’s hard to convince fans to buy a pay-per-view when the odds of a thrilling fight are so slim.
Chael Sonnen Is a Filthy Liar — Except When it Came to This Fight
He said he’d come straight at Anderson Silva and make the champ fight. He did. He said he has dominated every fight in his career, even the ones he lost; a laughable statement that turned out to be eerily prescient. He said he’d take Silva down and punch a hole in his face. Well, there wasn’t an actual hole, but Chael Sonnen did pound Silva’s face like it had never been pounded before. Sonnen landed a whopping 289 strikes on Silva, which is 81 more than Silva had been hit with in his previous 11 UFC fights combined. Chael, we’ll never doubt you again. We’re even willing to believe that those remarks about Lance Armstrong really did come from a Hispanic imposter.
Chael Sonnen Will Never Be Able to Stop a Triangle Choke
…and because of that, he’s pretty much peaked as a mixed martial artist. He exposed Silva’s weakness in wrestling, while once again highlighting his own: Jiu-jitsu is a foreign language to him (and appears to be a lot harder to pick up than Portuguese Pig Latin). The fact that Sonnen was able to shut Silva out for 4.5 rounds is incredibly impressive, but whenever he’s on top of somebody with grappling skills, he’s working on borrowed time. And while he deserves a rematch against the champ at some point, it’s hard to imagine that the result will be any different.