10 Things We Learned From UFC 125

Guida Moves beyond Gatekeeper Status

I know it comes out of order, but the lessons being learned by Brian Stann in New Mexico apply to Guida as well.

In what was easily the biggest win of his career, the charismatic lightweight Lebowski fan submitted Takanori Gomi in the second round to climb into the upper echelon of the 155-pound division. The victory was Guida’s third straight, all of which have come since making the decision to start living in an RV on an Indian reservation so that he can train with the team at Jackson’s. His success is no coincidence.

Jackson and company have taken the Guida’s wild approach and harness it… a little; he’s still all over map, as we saw on Saturday night, but now there is more purpose to his frenetic movement and the skills that accompany his awkward style are sharper than ever.

This is a much different fighter than the guy who couldn’t finish Roger Huerta or that lost an incredibly exciting fight to Diego Sanchez; this is Clay Guida, Version 2.0 and he’s no longer just an entertaining gatekeeper.

He’s a contender.

Thiago Silva Looked Great/Scary

I have no trouble admitting that Thiago Silva frightens me; the dude looks like he wants to do very bad things to people when he steps into the Octagon. Saturday night was no different, and Silva looked very good doing some very bad things to Brandon Vera and his poor, poor nose.

After a year away recovering from serious back issues, Silva was dominant in manhandling Vera for 15 minutes in a bout that turned into a public humiliation. Early on, it was apparent that Silva was the better man, and by the third round, the Brazilian began embarrassing Vera with open-handed strikes and playful drum solos on his back.

It’s easy to forget that just two years ago, Silva stood across from Lyoto Machida in a meeting of unbeaten, up-and-coming contenders in the 205-pound division. Things didn’t go his way that evening or in his meeting with Rashad Evans a year later, but he’s only lost to the two former champions, and now that he’s 100%, Silva should be regarded as a serious threat in the loaded light heavyweight division.

Brandon Vera Might be Done

Three straight losses, back-to-back beatings that required surgical repairs and all kinds of unfulfilled potential – that is what Brandon Vera is facing after his loss to Thiago Silva. He’s also going to have to endure questions about if he can ever bounce back or whether this is the end of the line.

There is no way that Vera survives to fight another day in the UFC, and with another surgery on the horizon and a very underwhelming performance against Silva, I can’t even see the former future star catching on with Strikeforce at this point. Would you pick Vera over “Feijao” or Mo Lawal at this point? He couldn’t beat Keith Jardine and until his last bout, “The Dean of Mean” couldn’t beat anyone either.

As refreshing as it was to hear Vera be candid about getting caught up in his own hype, he was once again unable to deliver inside the Octagon when it mattered, and that is what matters most.

This might be the end of what was once a very promising career.

Kim and Diaz Equally Impressive

If not for the epic encounter at the end of the card, Dong Hyun Kim and Nate Diaz could have very well have been heading home with a Fight of the Night bonus. As it were, the two welterweights will have to make do with a round of applause and new levels of respect following their performance on Saturday night.

Kim fought a very smart fight for the opening two rounds before his endurance put him at risk in the final frame. The South Korean judoka used his size to bring the fight to the floor and keep Diaz from doing much damage off his back; any time Diaz looked for an opening, Kim countered and maintained control. While he’s not quite ready for GSP, Kim is certainly in line for a step up in competition after putting another notch in the win column.

To his credit, Diaz was game in those opening two rounds and turned it on in the third round when he knew a finish was the only way to secure the victory. There are a whole lot of fighters out there cough Gerald Harris cough who could learn from the effort the younger Diaz put forth in the last five minutes; when you need a finish, you have to go for a finish, simple as that.

This is going to be a good learning opportunity for Diaz, and the more he fights at the 170-pound limit, the more he looks as if he should have been there all along. If he adds a little muscle to his current stick-figure frame, “The Kid from Stockton” could be a potential contender.

End of the Line for Davis, Baroni?

Both of the beloved veterans were finished on Saturday night. Considering the retirement talk was making the rounds prior to the two taking losses, you would have to think that the calls to call it a career will come up once again.

Davis looked good in his lightweight debut up until the point that Jeremy Stephens connected with another thunderous uppercut to end the fight. As much as you could make a case for giving Davis another chance against someone less powerful than Stephens, at what point do you stop trying to find fights for a 37-year-old guy who has now lost three-in-a-row and four-of-five?

The situation is even bleaker for Baroni, and “The New York Bad Ass” showed signs that he knew it following his loss to Brad Tavares. Baroni was visibly distraught after the bout and was understandably emotional backstage, but refused to acknowledge that he’d be hanging up the gloves.

While might not be ready to retire, both men could have very well fought their final bouts in the UFC on Saturday night.


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