Underdogs Kings in Brazil (UFC Fight Night 61 Review)

ufc_fn61Heavyweight fighters can often be the most exciting fighters in the world of combat sports as they provide the fans what they love, knockouts. Ending a fight is what fans want to see and whether it comes on the feet or on the mat there is little difference. There is something about a pure knockout though that makes fans stand up and makes fans remember that fight. As great as submissions are they are all strategy and precision which many times is not appreciated by most especially when it comes to a fighter taping which can sometimes be controversial or even prove that a fighter just simply pulled the trigger too soon. The same can be said for the Technical Knockout as many times the referee stepping into the fight to end it before a fighter gets severely injured is seen as too soon. A pure knockout though leaves no doubt and is all about the power of fighters. As much as there is a sense of precision in boxing it is often the power of a fighter that ends the fight. There is no ref or judge that will come into play if a fighter is out cold and there is nothing more exciting for fans than seeing that end. The heavyweight division provides that more than any other division as the entire division is made up of big strong men ready to swing. That is the style that was adopted by Antonio Silva when he began his MMA career. Despite his BJJ black belt Silva has often preferred the stand-up game earning 13 knockouts as opposed to his 1 decision win and three submissions. Silva loves the stand-up game and heading into his latest fight against Frank Mir at UFC Fight Night 61 there was little question where he wanted to see the fight. Mir on the other hand is one of the extremely few heavyweight fighters that prefers the fight to stay on the mat. He is by no means a bad boxer but with his own BJJ black belt he has carved out a niche for himself in the heavyweight division. He has become known for being one of the best BJJ heavyweights in UFC history and after breaking the arms of Tim Silvia and Antonio Nogueira he has a reputation to uphold. After a year off Mir has claimed that he feels better than ever before and that a new workout routine and attitude towards his training has made him a better fighter. With both fighters starting the fight on the feet many believed that Mir would be looking to put the fight on the mat while Silva would try to keep it standing. With Mir’s superiority on the mat it seemed like the smart idea to avoid the power of Silva and take the fight where he feels the most comfortable. Then the fight began and from the start it seemed like Mir had no interest in putting this fight on the mat. Coming out in an orthodox stance, Mir may have confused the Brazilian who had rarely seen the former champion fight right-handed. That period of adjustment was what would sink Silva in the end as he looked to hang back and make his adjustments while Mir was ready to go forward. With a big left hand Mir ended the fight and gave fans exactly what they look for from the heavyweight division, a big knockout. The win for Mir was a long time coming as he never seemed to be right in his fights leading up to his time off and now he seemed back to the dominant heavyweight he used to be. The loss for Silva could be devastating as he came into the UFC with plenty of hype and has not met that hype. With three losses and one no contest in his last four fights Silva is very close to finding his way out of the UFC. Mir on the other hand seems to be back and if his new training continues to produce like it did in Brazil there may be another title run ahead for the one-time champion.

As the fans awaited the heavyweight clash where they were expecting a finish the co-main event may have been the best bet. Although the lightweight division does not have the same finishing reputation of the heavyweights the UFC had put together two fighters that love to end fights. Edson Barboza and Michael Johnson have been known to make a quick night out of their fights. For Barboza the stand-up game is all about creativity which is something very unique the world of MMA. With everything in play, Barboza calls on his background as a Muay Thai fighter to use everything in order to earn the knockout. For Johnson it is more of a traditional approach to the KO as he is all about power. He is extremely aggressive and loves to come forward with hard punches that could get a knockout at any moment. With two fighters set to face-off in what should have been a slugfest the crowd was in for a treat in the co-main event of the night. Meanwhile both Johnson and Barboza were looking to show that the lightweights can bang too as they went for the knockout immediately. Both fighters opened the fight swinging for the fences and making sure they did everything they could to end the fight early. Through three rounds both Barboza and Johnson were landing big shots that would end many fights but never seemed to end this one. Barboza was throwing a variety of strikes including plenty of kicks while Johnson was putting together combinations with his boxing ability. As the fight moved on Johnson began landing punishing blows and although Barboza refused to let them phase him the damage was adding up. Neither fighter could end the fight like they had aimed but the fight was almost everything that was promised. Both fighters went out trying to end it all early but in the end it was Johnson who took home a win in a unanimous decision. The loss for Barboza continues his pattern of winning a couple of fights only to lose his third. He will remain in the division as one of the most exciting lightweight fighters but will need to figure out how to put together a legitimate streak if he wants a shot at the title. Meanwhile Johnson took the win, his fourth straight, and is likely headed to a much more talented fighter as he seems only a few wins away from the title shot he is looking for and with a goal to fight for a belt this year he is sure to come out swinging whoever he faces. Whether that is Benson Henderson, who he called out post-fight, or another top 5 fighter his next fight will be the biggest of his career.

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