The Ultimate Fighter
Michael DiSanto checks in with thoughts on Friday's UFC on FX 5 event...
BIGFOOT BLUDGEONS HIS WAY BACK INTO CONTENTION
There is no hiding from the fact that it is difficult to right the ship after back-to-back knockout losses. Some fighters are never the same again. Confidence is gone. The whiskers are a bit more brittle. And hesitation often dominates the day.
Not for Antonio Silva. The man known as “Bigfoot” rebounded from back-to-back knockout losses with arguably the best performance of his career. Yes, I know he dominated Fedor Emelianenko four short fights ago. But the Russian, who was once one of the best in the world, looked like a chubby middleweight next to the gargantuan Brazilian.
Travis Browne looks like anything but a chubby middleweight. He is a physical freak in his own right. Silva didn’t care. He wasn’t intimidated. He never hesitated. And his confidence definitely was not shot. He instead took the fight to Browne from the first second until the fight was finally waved off at the 3:27 mark, with Browne left lying in a heap and likely not fully aware that he had just suffered his first career loss.
The only question Silva didn’t answer was the state of his once sturdy beard. Browne never really landed anything of consequence, so Silva didn’t have to answer whether the back-to-back knockout losses left any lingering effect on his durability.
The win instantly changed Silva from a heavyweight question mark to an instant contender. After all, Browne was surely on the short list of potential title challengers for the winner of December’s bout between champion Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez.
Maybe the previously aborted bout between Silva and Alistair Overeem is the perfect next step to determining who should stand first in line behind Velasquez in the challenger queue? Maybe a bout with Stefan Struve to determine who stands behind Overeem is the better answer? Whoever is next, there is little denying that Silva’s lunchbox-sized fists reasserted his relevance in an ever deepening heavyweight division.
What do you think?
DID NERVES GET THE BETTER OF BROWNE?
Was it just me or did Browne seem overly committed to the Kool-Aid smile he wore on his face during his entrance and the pre-fight announcements? “Hapa” is generally a happy guy, but there was something uncomfortable about his smile. Was he especially nervous competing in the first UFC main event of his career? Did he enter the fight with a pre-existing injury to his left knee, which would have likely left him less than confident about the outcome? Or, was he just genuinely that excited to compete against Silva?
Lots of fighters come up short in their first shot at the true big time. Browne shouldn’t read too much into the loss. Anything can happen whenever two 250-plus-pound men step into a cage wearing four ounce gloves. Browne got caught, but he just as easily could have clipped Silva with one of his own savage right hands. The question now is whether Browne will learn and grow from his first professional loss, or whether this was evidence of the upper limit of his abilities. My guess is the former will be the case.
ELLENBERGER ADDS TO THE WELTERWEIGHT CROWD
When Jake Ellenberger stepped into the Octagon to face Martin Kampmann, he was so close to a title shot that he could probably taste it. That proximity was dramatically increased in less than two rounds, as Kampmann scored an improbable and exciting technical knockout victory. Ellenberger took a solid step toward erasing the memory of the Kampmann loss on Friday night with a solid, workmanlike victory over tough veteran Jay Hieron.
Ellenberger has now won seven out of his last eight bouts. With names like Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez on his list of vanquished foes, Ellenberger has to be part of the discussion when the topic of top 10 welterweights gets kicked around. I don’t know where he stands vis-à-vis a guys like Kampmann, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch and Johny Hendricks, but he is definitely rightfully among them.
DODSON EARNS FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP OPPORTUNITY
The nascent flyweight division is already full of excitement. Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez engaged in a thrilling tactical affair that crowned the division’s inaugural champion just a few short weeks ago. On Friday night, The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 bantamweight winner John Dodson used a stunning knockout of Jussier Formiga to earn the first shot at the new champion. We will breakdown that fight in detail when it is closer. But my guess is it will be blur when it finally gets underway, because these are the two fastest guys in the sport, bar none. Will Dodson become the first TUF alumnus from the last 11 seasons to win a UFC title? We will all find out soon enough.