The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in
MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story,
important news and notable quotes.
The UFC’s final card of 2009 saw new chapters written in some of
the year’s most interesting storylines: the return of B.J. Penn to
unabashed 155-pound dominance and Frank Mir’s feud
with Brock Lesnar
and his march to a potentially record-breaking rubber match.
In the vein of a truly great combat sport champion, Penn completely
lapped a contender who many considered the toughest test available,
becoming the first man to stop Diego Sanchez
in the main event of UFC
107 on Dec. 12, the promotion's debut in Memphis, Tenn.
The statistics were staggering. According to Fight Metric, Penn
landed 150 strikes over five rounds compared to Sanchez's eight.
Penn’s first power shot, a right hook 27 seconds in, dropped
Sanchez; his last, a forehead-slicing head kick in the fifth, ended
the fight via doctor stoppage. Sanchez looked about helpless
against the conditioned Penn, failing to gain anything from 27
takedown attempts in the fight. Sanchez suffered extensive facial
bruising and cuts, including one of the bigger forehand gashes seen
in the Octagon, as well as cuts to his lower lip and right eyelid.
By the time it was over, Penn's white tights were stained pink with
Sanchez's blood and the Hawaiian went about licking Sanchez’s
plasma from his gloves.
The dominant performance sparked discussion yet again about Penn
fighting in a different weight class. The fighter’s camp told
Sherdog.com that their outlook matches UFC President Dana White's:
dispatch all lightweight challengers and then move up. The ranks of
serviceable lightweight challengers Penn has yet to dispatch are
growing thin, basically coming down to just Gray Maynard
White told Sherdog.com that Penn is probably one win away from
clearing out the division, and would have to defeat contenders at
170 before getting another crack at arch nemesis Georges St.
Pierre. Penn told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that his next fight
will take place in Abu Dhabi, where the UFC is targeting an April
event headlined by Matt Hughes vs.
backed up a memorable trash-talking campaign against opponent
Kongo by dropping the powerful puncher with a deliberate
overhand left in the first round. Mir then cranked a guillotine to
put Kongo to sleep for the first time in his career. Mir put on
some 25 pounds of muscle for the fight and weighed in at 264,
compared to 245 in July, and also put his newly honed striking on
display working with Jimmy Gifford and Mark DellaGrotte. Mir said
Kongo's erect European boxing stance opened up the winning shot
after a head slip.
The win was a huge step toward in what would likely be the most
lucrative fight in UFC history, a rubber match between Mir and cash
Lesnar. Their meeting at UFC 100 reportedly drew some 1.6
million buys, smashing the previous record. Mir has already begun
framing his career post-UFC 100 as a march back to Lesnar, who is
currently sidelined with an intestinal issue. The next step for Mir
might be Shane Carwin.
Carwin has agreed to a clash at UFC
111 on March 27 for an interim heavyweight title. Mir said
Friday that he was game for the bout, but did not confirm that he’d
accepted the bout yet.
Like Mir, Kenny Florian
also held firm in his weight class coming off a loss, notching a
stoppage against Clay Guida. The
crowd reaction to the hyper-energetic Guida rivaled any other UFC
107 competitor, but Florian took the crowd out of the fight,
opening a nasty hairline cut on Guida with an elbow in the first.
Florian then blasted Guida with a short “baby hook” in the second,
following his opponent to the mat for a rear-naked choke finish.
Florian told Sherdog.com his boxing trainers have long sung the
praises of the short hook.
The other two UFC 107 main card bouts saw Stefan
Struve outpoint Paul
Buentello in a majority decision that featured crowd-popping
exchanges and crowd-maddening stalemates, and Jon Fitch going
the distance for the seventh consecutive time in defeating Mike
Memphis native Alan Belcher
made some pre-fight noise about being slotted on the preliminary
card, but turned in a performance that landed him on the
pay-per-view broadcast. Belcher's uppercut knockout of Wilson
Gouveia earned him and his opponent $65,000 “Fight of the
Night” bonuses, as well as a chance for Belcher to say on the
microphone that he thinks he's ready to challenge for the