Saturday’s UFC Vegas 12 event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in the “Fight Capital of the World,” it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at the UFC Apex.
5 – Adrian Yanez
You know what I love about Adrian Yanez? He’s the nicest kid in the world when you talk to him outside of fight night, but when the Octagon door shuts, he’s a stone cold killer. Now that’s the fighter you want to root for, and in his last two fights, he’s taken no prisoners in halting Brady Huang in 39 seconds on Dana White’s Contender Series and then beating fellow UFC debutant Victor Rodriguez in less than three minutes last Saturday. Bantamweight is stacked, but I’ve got a feeling that Yanez is going to be in the mix soon.
4 – Alexander Hernandez
Alexander Hernandez has always been an honest fighter. When he stormed into the UFC, picked up a pair of big wins and let everybody know about it, he believed each word that came out of his mouth. So after some rough goes in his next three, he was just as honest, telling me before last weekend’s bout with Chris Gruetzemacher that he had some doubts whether he was cut out for this. Well, after a move to Colorado to train with the Factory X squad that produced a near perfect KO win, I think it’s safe to say that Hernandez has his mojo back. And that’s a good thing for the always exciting lightweight division.
3 – Bryce Mitchell
I’ll be honest. I thought Andre Fili had a little too much experience for Bryce Mitchell at this point in the career of “Thug Nasty,” but the Arkansas native proved me and a lot of folks wrong as he did what you hope any rising star does in a tough fight – he found a way to win. Was it his most spectacular victory? No, and he’ll admit that, but if he one day gets to the top, Mitchell will look back on this win over Fili as a pivotal one in his development as a fighter. I’d call that a win in more ways than one.
2 – Uriah Hall
Early on in Uriah Hall’s win over Anderson Silva, I wondered out loud if Hall was going to lose this fight due to showing “The Spider” too much respect. And that’s precisely what it looked like, but once Silva warmed up and started tagging Hall, the New Yorker got back into the fight and showed just what he can do when he’s on his game. Saturday’s win over the Brazilian icon was his third straight, and he may very well be on his way to fulfilling the promise the world saw in him when he was on The Ultimate Fighter.
1 – Anderson Silva
There’s not much to say about Anderson Silva that hasn’t been said over the last seven days, and every word of praise was well deserved for one of the greats of the sport, who ended his UFC career as a true warrior and martial artist. So I’ll tell one of my favorite stories about “The Spider,” one that illustrates that in the hardest of sports, he still found a way to find joy in it. So…back when he made his 2006 debut against Chris Leben, the UFC was still finding its way into the mainstream, so there weren’t any post-fight press conferences streamed across the universe. In other words, if you wanted to talk to a fighter after the event, you had to go to the locker rooms. And after a 49-second KO win, I most certainly wanted to talk to the UFC newcomer. We went through the usual questions and I got the usual responses from Silva through his translator / manager Ed Soares. The final question was about Silva’s striking, which was next level. He said it all came from hard work. Okay, it wasn’t going to shake up the internet, but I got my quotes. As I thanked him and turned to leave, he tapped me on the shoulder and said something to Ed in Portuguese in a low tone, as if revealing a secret. Ed laughed and translated. “You want to know the secret of my striking? I’m one of the X-Men.” We all laughed, but the big comic book fan was not lying. Over the next seven years, he looked and fought like a Superhero. And even when he hit some rough patches after losing his title, when he was in the Octagon, he looked like he was loving every minute of it. That enthusiasm was infectious, and it’s what I’ll always remember about covering his career in the UFC.