(Sonic Boooom! Photo courtesy of NBC Sports.)
On my way through the MGM Grand to the arena on Saturday night I stopped near the food court to drink my coffee and affix my press credential. A twenty-something guy saw the UFC logo around my neck and started talking to me about the fights, telling me what a huge Frank Mir fan he was and how he thought Mir was going to kill Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
“I don’t think so,” I said. “I think Mir’s got the least chance to win of all the guys on the main card.”
“Really?” he said.
“Really,” I told him. “But hey, if you think he’s going to win, put a bet down. He’s going off at 3-1. Although there’s a reason the odds are so high.”
“Yeah, no,” he said, making a face like I’d just told him Santa Claus wasn’t real. “That’s okay. Thanks.”
I don’t know who that guy was, or whether he reads Cage Potato (I assume he does, being both an English-speaker and an MMA fan), but I want to apologize to him. My friend, I’m sorry. Really, really, sorry. I hope you, and to a lesser extent, Frank Mir, will forgive me.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s see who’s up and who’s down after UFC 92 via the enjoyably arbitrary numerical ratings of the Potato Index.
Rashad Evans +218
Every time Evans fights he looks more versatile, more dangerous, and more confident. His stoppage of Griffin proves he deserves to wear the belt. Maybe now the fans will cut him some slack and recognize his skills.
Forrest Griffin -42
Good game plan, good execution early on, but this is MMA and one punch can change everything, especially when it’s followed by thirty more. Humble in defeat as in victory, he’s still as likeable as ever, but his chin is increasingly suspect.
Frank Mir +512
And the first man to stop Big Nog is…Frank Mir? He looked good doing it, and fought smart from start to finish, so he deserves the belt now. If you’d told me six months ago that we’d see Mir-Lesnar II for the unified UFC heavyweight title, and that it would be a legitimately interesting and absolutely huge fight, I would have punched you right in the back of the head as soon as you turned around. Such is life in the MMA world.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira -63
Big Nog seemed to have aged ten years since his fight with Tim Sylvia. He looked slow and simply outclassed. Is Mir simply that good, or are past battles catching up with the former champ? A fight with Couture makes sense, but the loser will have to re-evaluate his career.
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson +124
He looked sharp and confident from the minute he came charging across the Octagon. The knockout of Silva only proves how much better he is now than in his Pride days. Forget a Griffin rematch for now, Rampage-Evans sounds like a hell of a fight.
Wanderlei Silva -50
You can say he just got caught, but how many ugly knockouts can this guy take before something bad happens? Eventually the beatings will pile up, and his wide open style won’t help him any. Up next: Silva vs. Griffin?
Cheick Kongo +42
He looked like a monster awakened by a knee to the groin, but what’s with the title shot talk? His last two wins are both against UFC newcomers. Beat an established UFC heavyweight, maybe one with a ground game, then we’ll see.
C.B. Dollaway +12
It takes a certain kind of talent to remain so unlikeable, even in victory. At this point he should just run with it and play the role of the Brock Lesnar-esque heel. It’s not as if it will lose him any fans.
Dean Lister -132
One of the worst UFC showings this side of Kalib Starnes. Getting knocked out would have been better for his career. If you only want to fight on the ground, Dean, you have two choices: 1) develop a wicked takedown/sweep from the bottom combo, ala Demian Maia, or 2) stick to grappling tournaments. No way he should stay in the UFC after that performance.
Matt Hamill +43
He showed more than just wrestling ability in the stoppage win over Andy. Now he needs to show he can do it against tougher competition.
Pat Barry +31
We still don’t know enough about his ground game, but with leg kicks like that he may not need much of one. Who’s going to be able to shoot for a takedown after two or three of those? He’s still small for a UFC heavyweight, but he’s got more talent than he knows what to do with. This guy can go places.
Dan Evensen – 78
They sure looked painful, but who quits from leg kicks in the first round? Not someone who wants to hang around in the UFC.
Antoni Hardonk +22
Three wins in a row for the Dutchman, but you get the sense he was greatly aided by facing an opponent who didn’t have the cardio due to taking the fight on short notice. It’s still a long way to the top from here.
UFC Rookies -15
Only Barry shined in his Octagon debut, while Wessel and Al Turk flopped. They both deserve another chance on a Fight Night card somewhere.
UFC Matchmaking (aka Joe Silva) +102
The revolving door of light heavyweight titleholders and the multiple upsets proves that the UFC is willing to make the best, most competitive fights it can without protecting anyone. That’s really all you can ask for from a promoter, and UFC 92 reaped the rewards of that strategy.