The UFC event on December 29th started off the main card with three middleweight bouts that appeared geared to advance the credentials of the winners, but instead left the division more confused than ever. Champion Anderson Silva must be look down at the potential competition in the divison and he is thinking ‘inferior’, especially since Chris Leben, Tim Boetsch and Alan Belcher, all would be hopefuls for a future title shot, stumbled in their fights.
Chris Leben, one of the UFC’s most popular fighters dating back to his ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ Season 1 stint, lost a decision to Strikeforce import Derek Brunson. Leben, coming off a long suspension, was completely flat and off his game and allowed Brunson to control him for the first two rounds. Brunson’s strategy of survival failed to impress most fans and UFC President Dana White, but the loss by Leben means he has a lot of work to do before he gets on a main card again.
Tim Boetsch had reeled off four wins in a row and he faced Costa Philippou, who was stepping up in competition level and stepping in for a teammate to take the fight. Boetsch needed to win to be considered for a title shot, but instead he spent the fight getting beat up by Philippou, who flashed excellent take down defense to go with his solid striking. Philippou ended Boetsch’s run and looks poised to start one of his own, and he was the only Middleweight to actually get a stop in his fight.
Alan Belcher was also riding a hot streak until he ran into veteran Yushin Okami. Okami is a tough out for anyone, but he needs to be sponsored by ‘Nyquil’ because his fights are like ‘so you can rest medecine’ as a fan. And Okami did it again, he won boring, controlling Belcher and exposing him as a notch below. The problem is no one on the planet wants to see Okami versus Anderson Silva 2, so him derailing Belcher’s run means that Silva really has few opponents on the horizon.