It was a thrilling night of fights on Saturday from beginning to end at UFC 140 in Toronto.
As Jon Jones continues to prove himself as the most dominant fighter to come down the pike in a long time, the action from the first preliminary bout was a fitting prelude to the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion's second successful title defense. Along the way, three former Ultimate Fighter coaches had noteworthy bouts, and a man who was once thought to be a TUF footnote scored an impressive victory. To make sense of all the action, here are "Three TUF Thoughts" on UFC 140.
#1: Frank Mir deserves another shot against the young guns.
As big as the names are, it felt like Saturday night's co-main event between Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was a battle between two stars from another era. Neither man has fared especially well against the new generation of younger, faster heavyweights, with Mir's losses to Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin, and Nogueira's knockout loss to Cain Velasquez.
But when the former TUF 8 coaches got into the Octagon for a rematch of their bout at UFC 92, Mir showed that he deserves another shot at showing he can hang with the younger crowd.
It's true that Mir's three-fight winning streak includes lackluster wins over an aging Mirko Cro Cop and an underperforming Roy Nelson. However, the win over Nogueira is not nearly so impressive as the manner in which it was accomplished. With his first-round kimura, Mir became the first man ever to submit Nogueira, and justly won Submission of the Night honors in the process. Nogueira may indeed be past his prime as a mixed martial artist, but when you can force a submission from the man who trains Anderson Silva in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, it's a significant accomplishment. It will be interesting to see where Mir goes from here, but on Saturday night, he showed that he is still a significant name in the UFC's heavyweight division.
#2: Time Is Running Out on Tito Ortiz.
It's been easy to root for Tito Ortiz lately. His thrilling submission victory over Ryan Bader was followed by a gutsy performance on short notice in a Fight of the Night loss to Rashad Evans.
After his loss to Rogerio Nogueira on Saturday, it's become apparent that Tito Ortiz's days as a professional fighter are numbered.
It's not just that Ortiz lost. Even when Ortiz was on a five-fight winless streak, he was finished just once in that stretch, going the distance with three former UFC Light Heavyweight Champions in Evans, Lyoto Machida and Forrest Griffin. Now, Ortiz has lost two in a row by decisive stoppage, and it's becoming more and more apparent that it's getting to be about time to hang it up.
Ortiz the UFC a huge solid by stepping up on short notice for the Evans fight, it's unlikely that anyone will be hurrying to show him the door, and that's OK. During the buildup to Saturday's fight, Ortiz spoke of retiring this coming May, and mentioned the possibility of a retirement bout against Forrest Griffin, a rubber match of their series that started five years ago. Given everything that's happened this past year, "One more for the road" sounds like just the right approach for Tito.
#3: Costa Philippou is making the most of his second chance.
When TUF 11 alum Constantinos Philippou picked up his first UFC win in August, he made it quite clear that despite a win over a durable UFC veteran in Jorge Rivera, he wasn't pleased with his performance.
After beating Jared Hamman on Saturday night at UFC 140, the native of Cyprus was singing a different tune, and with good reason.
Costa was dominant in his bout against the hard-headed Hamman, showing the pugilistic prowess that made him a runner-up in New York's Golden Gloves boxing tournament and earning a first-round TKO victory. Afterwards, when talking with Joe Rogan, he called it the best day of his life, and if what we saw on Saturday is any indication, there will be even better days ahead.
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