With the UFC churning out events at a rapid pace, the opportunities to sit back and reflect on an individual fight card or performance are very limited. That brings us here, to the introduction of MMAjunkie’s “Three Stars.”
The concept is relatively simple. An independent, unbiased viewer – that’s me! – selects the three top performers from an event. The first star goes to my most impressive performer from the event, the second star to the second, and so forth. The three stars are judged on their effectiveness and overall impact, whether it comes in winning or losing fashion.
Still following? Good, because here are the “three stars” from this past Saturday’s “UFC 168: Weidman vs. Silva II” pay-per-view event.
Third Star – Chris Weidman
As much as UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman (11-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) will insist he trained the kick-checking technique that led to Anderson Silva’s (33-6 MMA, 16-2 UFC) gruesomely broken leg (watch Weidman vs. Silva highlights), there are always going to be questions surrounding the nature of how the fight ended.
Weidman has taken the unique situation in stride. And while there’s no doubt he did train to avoid taking damage from Silva’s kicks, not even the champion could have predicted one of the great muay Thai strikers in MMA history would snap his leg on a kick he’s thrown countless times.
Nevertheless, Weidman appeared sharp up until the freak accident, and he very well could have been on his way to another form of stoppage had the title fight continued.
While fans will always wonder what would have happened had the brutal injury not occurred, the fact remains Weidman holds two wins over Silva in less than a year. No one can ever take that from him.
Second Star – Travis Browne
Prior to UFC 168, Travis Browne (16-1-1 MMA, 7-1-1 UFC) wasn’t viewed as much more a next opponent in Josh Barnett’s (33-7 MMA, 5-2 UFC) quest toward regaining the UFC heavyweight championship.
Someone forgot to tell the Hawaiian that, though. Browne knocked Barnett out cold with the help of some devastating elbow strikes just 60 seconds into the main-card bout.
Browne arguably has been one of the UFC’s more underrated heavyweights, but with just one loss in nine UFC appearances, “Hapa” has earned some much-deserved respect.
Browne represents a new generation of the weight class, and proved why on Saturday night by becoming the first fighter since 2001 to stop “The Warmaster” with strikes. It was a near flawless performance from the 31-year-old, who has now won three straight fights by first-round knockout.
Moreover, it won’t take long for Browne to reap the benefits of his efforts. In his next bout, targeted for early 2014, he fights Fabricio Werdum for a chance to challenge divisional kingpin Cain Velasquez for the title.
First Star – Ronda Rousey
UFC 168’s main event and Silva’s broken leg grabbed most of the headlines, but the co-main event proved a show-stealer and is receiving appropriate praise for the spectacular fight it was.
UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey (8-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) may have expected to submit Miesha Tate (14-5 MMA, 0-2 UFC) for a second time, but few envisioned the challenger giving her trouble and dragging “Rowdy” into the third round (watch Rousey vs. Tate highlights).
Even though Tate was clearly overmatched and ended up being tossed around the cage like a ragdoll for much of the fight, “Cupcake” did her best to win from start to finish.
Rousey displayed some added elements to her game in terms of striking and grappling, which, despite the armbar finish, helped prove to her naysayers that the Olympian is more than a one-trick pony.
As an extra feather in her cap, Rousey continued to make women’s MMA history by becoming the first female fight to receive two fight-night bonuses worth an extra $150,000.
Whether it’s her in-cage performance, shunning of Tate post-fight, carefree attitude about fan reaction, or the fact it was announced she’ll compete again within two months, it’s difficult to talk about UFC 168 without Rousey being a big part of the discussion.
For complete coverage of UFC 168, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.