In the sports world at large, the first event cancellation in the modern era of the Ultimate Fighting Championship was a curiosity: A one-day headline on the home page of major websites and the subject of a quick mention on national sports broadcasts.
Alistair Overeem had fought 47 times as a mixed martial artist before he stepped into the octagon last Friday night. He had not lost since 2007, and all but two of his 11 bouts over that stretch had stretched no farther than the first round. But the main event of UFC 141 was the Dutchman's debut in the eight-sided cage that's home to the sport's crème de la crème. So there were questions.
PHILADELPHIA -- Four hundred thirty-four days is a long time to be out of work. In today's ghastly economy, a lot of people can attest to the horrors. For Rashad Evans, though, any trepidation was not over landing a job but rather landing punches, kicks and takedowns and performing all job functions at the requisite high level. In his business, rustiness can be dangerous.
Alistair Overeem, who owns about as many heavyweight titles he never defends as he does wins over impressive opponents, is a fraud. At those moments when you are tempted to think that fighting is, for all its bright promise, about the most thoroughly debased sport one can follow, think of this thick rope of Dutch muscle and despair.
When Anderson Silva knocked out Vitor Belfort with a front kick to the jaw while not even deigning to look at him this past weekend, you had to just throw your hands up and admit that this is the best fighter we've yet seen.
So, the Packers won the Super Bowl, but fans of mixed martial arts can't stop talking about how Anderson Silva took down Vitor Belfort in an Ultimate Fighting Championship title match with a single kick.
It's not rocket science to figure out the big winners from Saturday's UFC 126 in Las Vegas. Jon Jones emerged as a light heavyweight title contender with a victory against Ryan Bader. Anderson Silva, on the strength of a stunning front kick, was devastating in a first-round knockout of Vitor Belfort. A rusty Forrest Griffin won a unanimous decision over Rich Franklin after a long layoff, and the former light heavyweight champion should continue to progress when he hits the road to work with new trainers, as he says he'll do for his next fight.
There are two types of fuel that fire fights -- competitive or personal. The competitive juice is the stuff that makes fighters want be the best. The personal type attaches memory and feeling to that goal. That fuel can sustain fighters at the point of burnout, and it can also rob them of energy when they most need it.
For the first three or four minutes of any fight, there aren't a whole lot of guys scarier than Vitor Belfort. Fists a-blazing, the Brazilian comes charging out of the gates like an angry bull with dinner reservations.
On the back cover of Gang of Four's first single, there is a reproduction of a picture and a letter. The picture is of a bull charging a matador. In the letter, the group spells out a dialogue they would like to accompany it.
Power rankings on the sports pages have always seemed a little silly to me. Yet I eagerly pore over them with the colossal seriousness that someone more educated than I might devote to a Kierkegaard treatise. When the experts rank my favorite NFL team at No. 21, say, I scan the list and invariably find a team ranked above us that we beat. (Us? We? No, I don't play pro football, but my unbridled, even unbalanced passion for the game has bred in me the righteousness to invoke such we're-all-in-this-together language.) Seemingly glaring indignities like my Giants being underrated by as little as one or two spots never fail to get me riled up, though not so much when we're ranked above a team we lost to.
UFC 103 may not have been the type of blockbuster show that could overshadow a Floyd Mayweather fight, but there are still plenty of lessons we can take away from the UFC's venture into Dallas, Texas ,on Saturday night.
Just 11 days prior to the biggest fight of his life against Fedor Emelianenko, Josh Barnett, who at 24 became the youngest heavyweight champion in UFC history, was denied a license by the California State Athletic Commission for the Aug. 1 clash following a positive pre-fight drug test for a banned substance, the commission confirmed Wednesday.
One month down, 11 more to go. If they're all as busy as January, we're in trouble. Of course, an active schedule means plenty of fights between ranked competitors, and as we pause to see how the world's best mixed martial artists stack up, a sense of stability seems to be setting in.