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There was a very pro-Cung Le crowd at Heroes Sports Lounge in Modesto, CA - where this writer happened to catch UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson on Saturday. Le has been based in San Jose, CA for essentially his entire career, and all of the other California fighters were cheered on at the bar as well. Aside from Urijah Faber, it was Le who got the loudest cheers.
That is to say, until Wanderlei Silva started teeing off on him, and the bar exploded in rabid cheers for "The Axe Murderer." It was an odd sight to behold, especially as someone without rooting interest in either fighter. There were audible boos for Wanderlei and cheers for Le, yet once he started teeing off on Le, it was very clear that the crowd was in Wanderlei's corner. Was it because of the fact that they just had the bloodlust going and wanted to see someone get knocked out, or was there something more?
In all actuality, there was probably a lot more to it. More than almost any fighter, Wanderlei has been loved by the fans for his fights as well as his personality. He's so humble and fun-loving, and wants nothing more than to entertain the fans. Watching him in interviews, he'd honestly be adorable if he didn't possess the quality to rip you limb from limb and mercilessly beat you with them. But yes, other than the potential destruction of one's entire being, he is, in fact, adorable.
Wanderlei's "Axe Muderer" ways have been absent of late. The spurts of intense, high gear action have become few and far between, and it's likely that everyone in the bar simple wanted him to get a win, at any cost. It could have been those patron's own mother in the octagon being kneed repeatedly in the face, and they'd likely have cheered him on. Knee, Wandy, knee.
Le is still a wildly popular fighter, as evidenced by the fact that he earned more (before fight bonuses, sponsorships and a potential cut of the PPV) than any other fighter on the card, with $350K. That's really impressive - but he'll have to win these kinds of fights in the future to keep making it. San Jose will always be behind Le, save in a PRIDE-induced frenzy while watching Silva knee him into nothingness, and the UFC can always fall back on him if they need a big name for another event in California, but he'll need to win his next fight.
Apparently, Le was brought back and given a multi-fight deal, though typically, the UFC can cut any fighter coming off a loss (or for a myriad of other reasons). 350K is just too much money at this point, and those fans in the bar will quickly forget about him if he keeps losing and keeps dropping fights to PRIDE fighters far past their prime. The UFC may have a decision to make sooner rather than later.
Though Dan Henderson and Mauricio Rua put on what is probably the best MMA fight we'll see this year and one of the better fights of all time in the history of the sport on Saturday for UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson, it did further some major concerns about Henderson, who hopes to be competing for UFC gold sometime very soon. But first, a little bit of backstory on Henderson and where he stands.
Henderson has always been a guy who could fight at multiple weights ... he made his money at middleweight, but held the Strikeforce light heavyweight championship, and beat Fedor Emelianenko at heavyweight. Recently, UFC president Dana White has talked about Henderson and where he stands - noting that Henderson could be fighting for UFC gold at either light heavyweight or middleweight. The current light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, is an enigma, and he's fighting Lyoto Machida at UFC 140. It seems like Henderson would be the underdog in both of these fights, but they're definitely attractive matchups.
At middleweight, Anderson Silva holds the title and will defend it next against Chael Sonnen in a rematch. Again, Henderson at this point would be an interesting matchup, despite having lost to Silva in the past. "Hendo" was actually nearing another fight with Silva before leaving the UFC due to contract disputes.
The problem, though, is the fact that Henderson just might not be a great fit at middleweight anymore. At light heavyweight, he gassed big time against Shogun by the middle of the third round. In round four, he was breathing heavily and in the fifth and final round, he only had enough gas to survive, and it almost cost him the win. Had the judges scored that final round a 10-8 for Shogun, we'd be looking at a draw and one less immediate contender for the title.
He's 41 years old, and his gas tank looked even worse the last time he fought at 185. It's really up in the air as to whether or not he can continue fighting at a high level with that weight cut, something that a guy like Silva would certainly be able to take advantage of. It's a shark tank at 205 right now, but it might be best to just suck it up and give Henderson a title shot while the getting is good. He was just part of one of the better fights this year, he really should be in nothing but big fights.
Let's just hope those big fights are where he's at his best, which is probably at light heavyweight, right now.
Though UFC 139 featured what was probably the best fight we've seen this year in the night's main event between Dan Henderson and Mauricio Rua, it was probably best suited for that event, as opposed to the inaugural UFC on Fox event that saw Junior dos Santos score a TKO victory over Cain Velasquez in just 64 seconds. The first, and most obvious reason is that the Fox event averaged above five million viewers and had a reported peak of 8.8 million viewers – though some are now saying it could even be above nine million.
In other words, why second guess an event that performed above expectations and became the most-watched MMA event in history – without even factoring in the Brazilian audience. No, it's safe to say that going with Velasquez vs. dos Santos was the best course of action, as the heavyweights always bring in the numbers.
But now, a week after that event, UFC 139 puts on a helluva show, from Urijah Faber showcasing a revitalized skillset to set up a bantamweight title fight with Dominick Cruz to "The Axe Murderer" Wanderlei Silva throwing muay thai knees from the clinch to score a TKO over Cung Le, to Henderson and "Shogun" putting up a fight for the ages. It was an event worth every bit of an 8.8 million viewership, but that doesn't mean it will get it. Far below that, more than likely. That's just how the UFC's pay per view model has worked.
What will be interesting, though, is whether or not the UFC on Fox event will lead to more buys for UFC 139. Retroactively, we can say this event should be through the worth and worth every bit of your $49.99 or $54.99, depending on your preference for high definition, but before the fight, how much interest did it draw? You had two knockout artists in Shogun and Henderson in the main event, and Wanderlei in the co-main event. Faber was possibly the bigger draw on the card and, on paper, it's a card that could have exceeded most folks' expectations of around 300k buys.
If the event gets, say, 500,000 buys, can we then say that it got a boost from UFC on Fox? How about 600,000? It will be very interesting to see how many buys this event gets, but the UFC is most definitely heading in the right direction with UFC on Fox, regardless. And the actual deal with the network doesn't even kick in until 2012 – so the future of the sport is bright.
One way to help it along, though? Put Dan Henderson on one of the early Fox cards – it doesn't matter who against and it doesn't matter if he's the main event or the co-main. Whether he drops to 185 in pursuit of Anderson Silva's belt or he has his eyes on Jon Bones Jones, the public needs to see the 41-year old fight and, more than likely, win.
On Saturday, during UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson, two legends in the sport of MMA absolutely went to war. There are so many cliches in the sport these days, starting with the Gladiator-inspired intro to UFC events (which will be phazed out once the UFC's deal with Fox kicks in, so say your goodbyes over the next couple events) to the pre-fight declarations of wanting to go out there and put on a war. It's not exactly "rare" that these fighters deliver on their promises, but there is one thing that's definitely rare.
Rare is what we saw in the main event, when Dan Henderson and Mauricio Rua went to war for five rounds. Like any good wars, their were swings in momentum. Henderson clearly had the advantage early on, connecting early and often with that ferocious right hand, while peppering "Shogun" with a left straight. Henderson swarmed several times, and almost finished a couple times in the third round.
But the exertion while trying to finish cost him, and he entered round four extremely tired. He fought gamely, and even could have taken that round to a draw, but Shogun had a bit of a fire lit in him. Round five was total exhaustion in every way. The only things that saved Henderson were an iron chin and the fact that Shogun was too punched out to throw his shots from mount with any authority.
The fight ended in Henderson's favor, as this writer feels it should have, and it's hard to not want to see them fight again. The California-born Henderson surely would bring a war to Shogun and be favored again in a second fight, but at this point in both of their careers, it's hard to imagine them spending more fights on one another. Henderson just vacated the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship, and has his eyes on the winner of Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida, or perhaps on Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen down at middleweight.
Either way, the point is that you need to watch this fight, if you have not yet. Go on - do it. I'll wait.
WASN'T THAT AWESOME!?
Not only did Urijah Faber pick up a big win on Saturday over Brian Bowles on UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson, he actually got folks excited to see a rematch with bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Faber knew going into this fight that he'd likely be getting a title shot if he walked away from San Jose victorious, but he did much more than that. A lot of times, when a fighter knows he can get a title shot if he wins his next fight, he'll fight safe. Faber certainly has the wrestling tools to give Bowles fits and win the fight that way.
But that thought didn't even seem to cross his mind.
Though Faber finished the fight with an impressive guillotine choke at into 1:27 into the second round, it was his striking and gameplan that stole the show. Faber was thoroughly and soundly beaten in his last fight against Cruz, though he did win the first one in 2007 via guillotine. Cruz grew a lot since that point, and when they met earlier this year on July 2, Cruz danced around him and won easily on points. Faber has always had passable standup, but he has had troubles throwing with power and committing to his strikes.
He landed a lot against Cruz - but couldn't follow up with something else and failed to pack enough heat with the initial strike. But on Saturday, Faber really let loose against Bowles. Not only did he tee off and follow through on his punches, but he planted his feet and put a lot of power behind them. He cut off the cage when Bowles circled or retreated, trying to go with a more technical approach. Faber threw him off that approach and landed multiple times with shots that clearly would have eventually put Bowles down if not for the submission.
The most important thing Faber did was make a fight with Cruz interesting. This might just be one writer's opinion, but Cruz has this weird way of being completely unimpressive while baffling other fighters. It's not a matter of him not delivering huge knockouts or finishes in general, he just moves a whole bunch, and Faber did not fight a sound fight when they last met. It is now a much more interesting affair, providing the California Kid can keep it up.
The debut event for UFC in San Jose ended up with a full night of exciting fights and at least one hometown hero tasting defeat.
In the main event, light heavyweights Dan Henderson and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua faced off in a five round fight. Henderson went on the attack from the first round on, bloodying Rua around the left eye early and stuffing Shogun's takedown attempts. The two combatants kept up a furious pace in the opening two rounds, but both fighters quickly tired. Rua in particular looked completely gassed by the third round. Henderson was also winded following the opening rounds, and was unable to finish Rua. The fight went the distance and Henderson won the unanimous decision on three scores of 48-47, bringing his career record to 29-8.
In the match preceding that one, San Jose local legend Cung Le made his UFC debut, against Wanderlei Silva. Unfortunately, things did not go so well for him. Le seemed to take the majority of the first round, before getting bloodied towards the end and Silva beginning to find his rhythm as the round ended. Silva fairly demolished Le in the second round, notably catching him in a clinch and busting Le's nose with a vicious knee. Le shot for a desperation double-leg, but started getting pounded with hammerfists and the referee stopped the match in a TKO in 4:49 of round 2. With the loss, Le's career record stands at 7-2.
You can always find MMA coverage and news at Bloody Elbow.
In one of the marquee matchups in UFC's first San Jose event, bantamweight superstar Urijah Faber defeated Brian Bowles via submission in 1:27 of round 2.
After a 10-9 first round by Faber, he came out swinging in round 2. A big early uppercut rocked Bowles and he pounced, unloading with a flurry of punches. Bowles survived the assault, but Faber was able to lock on a guillotine choke, and Bowles tapped soon after.Faber's career record improves to 26-5.
In the second match on the main card, welterweight Martin Kampmann won a split decision in three rounds over Rick Story on scores of (28-29, 30-27, 29-28).
Next up on the card is the co-main event, a middleweight bout putting Wanderlei Silva against local San Jose hero Cung Le. After that will be the main event of Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
As always, you can locate all news and information pertaining to mixed martial arts at Bloody Elbow.
The main card for UFC 139 is officially underway. In the first fight on the PPV, Stephan Bonnar dominated three rounds against fellow light heavyweight Kyle Kingsbury and picked up the win on a unanimous decision.
The win is the third in a row for Bonnar, who is back on the right track after a string of three losses between January 2009 and February 2010. UFC 139 also marks the first time that Bonnar has fought since December 4, 2010, when he also won a unanimous decision against Igor Pokrajac.
Bonnar has done a good job of revitalizing his career since his back-to-back fights against Krzysztof Soszynski, the second of which kicked off his current string of victories. His overall record now stands at 14-7, but Saturday night's win at UFC 139 made a big statement to the world that the most famous runner-up in Ultimate Fighter history is far from washed up.
For all your MMA news, notes and info, head over to Bloody Elbow.
As the main card is about to get underway, the preliminary fights have wrapped up for UFC's debut show in San Jose. Ryan Bader, the former Ultimate Fighter winner, wrapped up the prelims with a victory in what many felt was a must-win fight for him following two straight losses. He was able to defeat Jason Brilz via knockout in the first round with a glancing blow to the head.
The full preliminary results as the main show gets underway:
Light heavyweight bout: Ryan Bader defeats Jason Brilz by knockout at 1:17 of round 1.
For news, notes and coverage of all MMA happenings, please visit Bloody Elbow.
UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson is set to go down on Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose., It marks the first time the promotion has ever been to San Jose, the longtime base of Strikeforce, the promotion that was semi-recently purchased by the UFC. In the main event, Mauricio Rua is taking on fellow PRIDE legend Dan Henderson. Another PRIDE legend in his own right, Wanderlei Silva, is taking on Cung Le in the co-main event of the night. The event will be live on PPV.
SB Nation's odds partner, OddsShark, has some of the lines and odds for the event, but to be honest, they're nothing particularly juicy. You can find both Henderson and "Shogun" as marginal favorites, but there are a lot of really close fights on the night. The only real "lock", at least by general consensus, is Michael McDonald over Alex Soto. Most of these matchups are extremely competitive all the way down, with questions like "How much does Wanderlei Silva have left?" and "How will Ryan Bader fare after his recent loss?" I suppose that fight, between Bader and Jason Brilz, is one that features a heavily favored fighter, but Brilz is a gamer and might be a solid underdog bet.
Using the Bodog odds listed on OddsShark
Mauricio "Shogun Rua (20-5) +100 vs. Dan Henderson (28-8) -130
Wanderlei Silva (33-11-1, 1 NC) +115 vs. Cung Le (7-1) -145
Urijah Faber (25-5) -250 vs. Brian Bowles (10-1) +195
Martin Kampmann (17-5) +115 vs. Rick Story (13-4) -145
Stephan Bonnar (13-7) +120 vs. Kyle Kingsbury (11-1, 1 NC) -150
Prelimary Card (Spike TV)
Gleison Tibau (23-7) -170 vs. Rafael dos Anjos (15-5) +140
Miguel Torres (38-4) -340 vs. Nick Pace (6-2) +260
Tom Lawlor (7-3, 1 NC) +265 vs. Chris Weidman (6-0) -350
Matt Brown (12-10) -145 vs. Seth Baczynski (14-8) +115
Shamar Bailey (12-4) +230 vs. Danny Castillo (11-4) -300
UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson marks the UFC's first event ever in San Jose, and just one of very few events in the Bay Area thus far. The promotion has previously been to Oakland, namely for UFC 117: Silva vs. Sonnen, but since San Jose and the HP Pavilion had served as the home base for the Strikeforce organization for a number of years, the UFC had never secured an event in the city.
The card promises fireworks throughout, but especially so in the main event between PRIDE legends Dan Henderson and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. The two fighters boast 48 wins between them, with 30 of those wins coming via knockout. Henderson is coming off a TKO victory over one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time in Fedor Emelianenko, while "Shogun" just dusted former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin in 1:53 in his last fight.
On top of that, the card features a co-main event of Wanderlei Silva vs. Cung Le, the latter of which has fought in California multiple times, and is based in San Jose. Other fighters with California ties include Urijah Faber, Kyle Kingsbury, Danny Castillo, Michael McDonald and Alex Soto.
UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson fight card:
Mauricio "Shogun Rua (20-5) vs. Dan Henderson (28-8)
Wanderlei Silva (33-11-1, 1 NC) vs. Cung Le (7-1)
Urijah Faber (25-5) vs. Brian Bowles (10-1)
Martin Kampmann (17-5) vs. Rick Story (13-4)
Stephan Bonnar (13-7) vs. Kyle Kingsbury (11-1, 1 NC)
Prelimary Card (Spike TV)
Gleison Tibau (23-7) vs. Rafael dos Anjos (15-5)
Miguel Torres (38-4) vs. Nick Pace (6-2)
Tom Lawlor (7-3, 1 NC) vs. Chris Weidman (6-0)
Matt Brown (12-10) vs. Seth Baczynski (14-8)
Shamar Bailey (12-4) vs. Danny Castillo (11-4)
One week after staging an event in Anaheim, the UFC is bringing its first ever event to San Jose with UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson. In the main event, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua will be taking on Dan Henderson. For more on the event and MMA in general, go to Bloody Elbow.
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