Wow.

That’s pretty much all I can say about last week in the world of MMA.

1st, I’ll give a brief run-down of the winners and losers at this weekend’s pay-per-view, UFC 88:Breakthrough.

-Ryo Chonan def. Roan Carneiro via Split Decision after 3 Rounds.
-Jason MacDonald def. Jason Lambert via Submission (rear naked choke) at 1:20 of Round 2.
-Tim Boetsch def. Michael Patt via TKO (strikes) at 2:03 of Round 1.
-Kurt Pellegrino def. Thiago Tavares via Unanimous Decision after 3 Rounds.
-Dong Hyun Kim def. Matt Brown via Split Decision after 3 Rounds.
-Nate Marquardt def. Martin Kampmann via KO (strikes) at 1:22 of Round 1.
-Dan Henderson def. Rousimar Palhares via Unanimous Decision after 3 Rounds.
-Rich Franklin def. Matt Hamill via KO (body kick) at 0:39 of Round 3.
-Rashad Evans def. Chuck Liddell via KO (punch) at 1:49 of Round 1.

I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t watch all of the fights Saturday night. Just like most of you, at the end of the day, I want to be entertained, and I also have favorites, and with not many guys I go out of the way to see fight on that night’s card, I skimmed through it.

I did, however, notice some things of importance.

Rashad Evans is not just a wrestler. Like the current UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion and Evans’ next opponent (as confirmed at the press conference after the PPV by UFC President Dana White) Forrest Griffin, Evans has evolved as a fighter and increased his skill set in a matter of years. I did not see a stand up knockout victory for Evans as a possible scenario for his fight with Liddell.

Dana White was right about Rich Franklin. Franklin, an original 205 fighter, who went down and won the 185 lb title before losing twice to Anderson Silva, is probably the #1 185 fighter in the world, but the problem is the best fighter in the world PERIOD is in his weight class. Should Franklin decide to stay at 205 (GREAT idea, IMO), he’s definitely going to be in the pack for a title shot with one more quality win.

It’s damn near pointless to be a 185 lb. fighter if Anderson Silva stays at 185. A couple of top-tier 185 lb fighters fought Saturday night, including two of the top 5 in Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson, and a top 20 guy in Nate Marquardt. All coming out of Saturday with wins, despite Franklin fighting at 205, one would wonder who’s going to get the shot at Anderson Silva. The answer is, who cares? Does it even matter? My opinion, and the opinion of many others, experts included, is that the guy with the best shot to beat Silva is GSP, the current 170 lb. champion. Frankline and Henderson have both taken their ass-kickings (I didn’t say losses because along with being losses, the fights weren’t even close) from Silva, and no offense to Marquardt, but he’s not on Silva’s level. So call it the Middleweight division if you like, but from now on, until Anderson Silva gets old or dies, the 185 division will officially be referred to as Purgatory.

As far as what will be the after-effects of UFC 88, Dana White has already confirmed that Rashad Evans has earned a shot at the UFC light-heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin, more than likely to take place in December for the UFC’s year-end show.

Both Griffin and Evans are former TUF champions (Griffin season 1; Evans season 2) and have expanded their skill sets. Evans has become a more well-rounded fighter, adding impressive striking to his repertoire¬† that already includes world-class wrestling. Griffin, probably most well-known for his slugfest win over Stephan Bonnar to earn him the TUF Title, has definitely become more technically sound with his striking, learning that he doesn’t always need to trade punches to win a fight.

As far as the fates of some of the other winners, I think most immediate questions come to Dan Henderson and Rich Franklin. Both guys can fight at 185 and 205, and as I’ve already stated, there’s no point in going that 185 route, that is, if they are in search of a title. If they wanted to just keep getting paid, both guys could stay at 185, demolish every other fighter, and make sure they were the #1 and #2 contenders for all time. However, I think both men want to be champion, so as far as that goes, I definitely see both fighting at 205.

Franklin, more of real 205 fighter than Henderson, who probably looks more natural at 185, is probably in the top 5 as far as UFC light-heavyweights go, so with a good quality win in his next fight, he could definitely make a case for a title shot.

Lastly, in what might be the BIGGEST news of last week, Randy “the Natural” Couture has “returned” to the UFC to defend his Heavyweight championship against none other than Brock Lesnar. This was confirmed by both fighters’ camps and the UFC last week in the days leading up to UFC 88. Obviously with their being 2 heavyweight champions in the UFC now (Couture, the champion, and Nogueira, the interim champion), the winner of the Couture/Lesnar fight will fight the winner of the Nogueira/Mir fight to unify the championship.

That’s all for today, I’m worn down, but tomorrow I’ll continue evaluating the Light Heavyweight situation, as well as further discussing the Randy Couture return to the UFC.

Until tomorrow… I leave you with this.

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