The UFC couldn't have scripted a better end to their 2nd annual International Fight Week. Fight City, Nevada was the site where the following three American athletes stood out a notch above the rest on a historic night for the world's leading mixed martial arts promotion. You can hold them responsible for the following charges: Rewriting history, beautiful destruction, and flat out hard work.
1st Star - Chris Weidman
As he made his walk to the cage with the American flag draped over his back to the sounds of the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers classic "Won't Back Down," All-American Hofstra Wrestling standout Chris Weidman knew that his life would be different when he made the walk back, with some new hardware around his waist.
"No one's invincible," Weidman told Joe Rogan just moments after he knocked out arguably the greatest mixed martial artist this sport has, and will ever see. This is the attitude Weidman continuously carried in the weeks leading up to the fight, and with the tutelage of an all-star team that included Ray Longo, Matt Serra, and John Danaher, it worked.
"I tried to induce Chris into playing my game, and that didn't work," Silva told reporters following his loss, the first of his UFC career. Well, Anderson, he did play your game. And like a hero taking on the boss in the final level of a video game - he beat you at it.
Weidman now goes from hunter to hunted for the rest of his UFC career. Whether he remains champion or not for an extended period of time, everyone will want a shot at the guy that KO'ed Anderson Silva. What makes me truly believe that he can remain a champion in this sport for a long stretch isn't just his God given talent, upside, and his wrestling, it's his team and his attitude. He's like a New York version of GSP. Chris Weidman will be a star in this sport for a very long time.
2nd Star - Cub Swanson
It was one hell of a back and forth battle but like so many fights there's that one moment where one man establishes that he is the better man on the night. That moment for Cub was a lovely throw with around one-minute remaining in the middle stanza that allowed him to get full mount and steal his opponents soul. From that moment on Siver wasn't able to gain any momentum, Swanson was just having fun in there.
"If it's a one-sided fight and you're just imposing your will, it should look beautiful." - Cub Swanson on beautiful destruction.
Once Swanson had Siver back pedaling a couple of minutes into the 3rd he landed everything he threw with authority. Beautiful is really the perfect word for it. What Swanson has become over the years inside the cage is one of the most fun, and dangerous fighters in the sport today. This is great news for us fans, and bad news for his future opponents.
3rd Star - Frankie Edgar
Toms Rivers, New Jersey's Frankie Edgar may be one of the most complete fighters in MMA today. The kid has already done enough in the sport to earn a spot in the UFC Hall of Fame, and his best years may still be ahead of him. There is no one who goes bell to bell in the sport quite like Frankie. The way he continues to anticipate and catch his opponents kicks then just toss them aside reminds me of how everyone on the playground in grade getting their kicks caught by friends. His footwork also remains tops in the game. While he's had some trouble in recent history with uppercuts and one famous upkick, he was able to stay out of harms way for the most part against Oliveira, especially on the ground where he always kept his head on his opponents chest. His clock awareness was also a factor as the 2nd round closed.
Hopefully for Edgar he can get a couple more fights before he's rushed into another title shot at 145. Let him string a couple of wins together first and get one the old fashioned way. It's doesn't matter if there is a belt involved or not - Frankie Edgar continues to be one of the most must see athletes in the game today.
Honorable Mentions: Mark Munoz