UFC FIGHT NIGHT 38 – Hendo/Shogun: The Afterglow

What a stubborn old man.

As I mentioned on Thursday’s column, don’t call it a comeback.  Seriously, don’t call it that.  It was a great win, and Dan Henderson showed a great deal of composure and heart after getting floored twice by Shogun.  But by now, everyone should know, Dan Henderson has heart and composure.

Henderson picked up his first win since his last win, and it just so happened to be against Shogun Rua again.  And just to add a little drama to night’s proceedings, he was rocked twice early before mounting a comeback, and turning Shogun Rua’s nose into a cubist’s nightmare.

I am relieved this matchup ended early as it did.  I love watching Shogun and Hendo, and I hate that either has to lose, but to see either have to endure a second war that mirrored Henderson/Shogun 1 would have been hard to watch.   As it stands, this is pretty brutal, but at least it was quick by their standards:

Somewhere as Rich Frankin’s juice machine whirred, Franklin felt a disturbance in the Force.

I don’t know where Shogun goes from here.  Aside from back-to-back losses to Alexander Gustafsson and Chael Sonnen, and back-to-back wins against Chuck Liddell and Mark Coleman, Shogun manages to exchange a win for a loss each time he steps into the cage. While he’s not the most consistent fighter, he is still an exciting fighter and a draw.  He’s clearly on the fringes of the light heavy division, but he can bring out the best in his opponents.  I’d love to see Shogun/Little Nog 2 come to fruition, but with Lil’ Nog’s inability to stay healthy, it seems seeing Shogun fight Fabio Maldonado, Ryan Bader, Rich Franklin, or even Feijão could help to clear up where Shogun is headed: fun, fan-friendly fights or farewell fights.

With Hendo, things seem even blurrier.  Yes, he is 43. Yes, he will not undergo TRT anymore. Yes, he ended Shogun in spectacular fashion.  But he still fought a sloppy and slow first two rounds before moving the placement of Shogun’s nose by 3 inches.  If the 205-pound division has taught MMA fans anything, it’s that there is Jon Jones, and there is everyone else.  Watching him react to instead of putting together combos for Shogun, Hendo doesn’t look up to speed for the elite of the 205. But if there’s anything you can assume about a guy as old and as battle-tested as Hendo, it’s that he’s a survivor.  Because their second fight meant so much to Hendo and because they both came up through Pride, I would love to see Wanderlei Silva and Hendo part III, but if he gets an opponent ranked in the top five at 205, I bet we’ll be back to talking about TRT and age.

“OF THE NIGHT” PERFORMANCES

CB Dollaway withstood a wild flailing attack by Cezar Ferreira and put the Brazilian away early, racking up another win south of the equator and providing some unintentional  comedy for the fans:

It doesn’t sound good to say you wanted to give your wife a KO for her birthday.  In all seriousness, CB is ready for primetime.  He needs a top 10 opponent. Someone like Tim Kennedy, Uriah Hall or Costas Philippou could provide fans the chance to see the next step in the Doberman’s outstanding progression.

In addition, to CB Dolloway, Fabio Maldonado showed once again why the uglier the fight gets, the more you can count on two things: zombie comparisons and the look of confusion on his opponent’s faces.    Yes, he needs to work on his takedown defense.  Yes, he could benefit greatly from a better gas tank.  However, his opponents need to work on their striking defense. They also need to work on the realization that they are in for a zombie apocalypse night of fighting when they sign on to meet Maldonado.  Maldonado was controlled handily in round one, with Gian Villante tying him up and holding him down repeatedly.  Maldonado’s zombie metaphor description only snowballed, however, when his head was split open in the second and rather than falling to Villante, Maldonado found a home for his jab.  Villante could offer little more than a look of astonishment as Maldonado kept moving forward and forward and forward, using his jab to set up some monster body shots that slowed Villante significantly. Maldonado proved once again, he’s a guy that’s impossible to ignore and almost impossible to hurt.  And more than that, he’s changed the perception everywhere about the connotation of the name Fabio.

A couple of questions that I was left with after the night concluded:

  • Is heat the great equalizer? Dana White tweeted at one point in the evening that the temperature in the arena was 93 degrees with 86% humidity.  Why is that?  Why are these venues being booked?  Is it because of the UFC’s affiliation with the GLOBO TV network and the Brazilian market?  It seems a little dangerous that the fighters, especially those who have to cut significant weight, could run a higher risk of dehydrating by fighting in a venue like that. If nothing else, give the commentating team a break next time and let them go old school Andy Sipowicz with their attire. Better yet, if they are in South America, guayaberas all around.
  • Will Chope, who? After word of Will Chope’s past came out yesterday regarding his previous assault on his ex-wife which led to his discharge from the Air Force, Chope was not only scratched from the card, but was cut from the roster and the company.  With Diego Brandao opponent-less, the UFC paid Brandao his show and win purse.  However, it leaves a lot of questions that the UFC has yet to provide and answer for.  Did they know about Chope’s past?  Did Chope disclose the incident to UFC brass prior to being hired?  Does the UFC delve as deep as it should into the background of the fighters it signs?  Like I said, a lot of questions, but the one thing that does seem to ring true:  all it takes is one night of exciting finishes to start a brand new news cycle and move away from the Will Chope news of the morning and afternoon.  Good thing for Zuffa and Chope, I suppose.
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