UFC 103 wasn’t the best fight card the company has ever put together, but it was solid from top to bottom. The show was the promotion’s second event in the state of Texas, and featured Vitor Belfort’s devastating announcement to potential UFC foes that he’s back, and he’s hunting for heads.
Although the pay-per-view/Spike TV broadcast didn’t feature any title bouts, there were plenty of bouts that had title implications connected to it. Let’s take a look at the night’s winners and losers:
UFC 103 Winners
1. Vitor Belfort: The guy was left for dead by most MMA fans until he quickly knocked out Matt Lindland at Affliction: Day of Reckoning earlier this year. Belfort parlayed that effort to abruptly end Rich Franklin’s light heavyweight title bid, while apparently securing a middleweight title fight of his own.
2. Tyson Griffin: Who said he doesn’t finish fights? Griffin stopped a very tough Hermes Franca and showed off his vastly improved striking skills. After winning his last six fights via decision, it was important for Griffin to win impressively to put himself into the lightweight title picture. Griffin probably needs one more big win before he gets a crack at BJ Penn’s title . . . but so does his training buddy, and fellow lightweight contender, Gray Maynard.
3 (Tie). Paul Daley & Efrain Escudero: Nobody expected either fighter to look THAT impressive on Saturday night. Both overwhelmed their opponents with impressive striking, with Daley putting a halt to Martin Kampmann’s welterweight title chase with precise and heavy-handed striking. Escudero, on the other hand, used a big punch to end Cole Miller’s night prematurely.
UFC 103 Losers
1. Rich Franklin: UFC president Dana White said that a win would’ve put Franklin into the Top 5 of the UFC’s light heavyweight division, but that didn’t necessarily mean he would have had to wait in line too long for a shot at gold. With Rampage Jackson & Rashad Evans postponing their bout, and “Shogun’s” opportunity a month away at UFC 104, Franklin actually could have been next if it weren’t for Belfort. Now it’s back to the drawing board for Franklin, who probably just saw his last title run go up in smoke before his very eyes.
2. Martin Kampmann: It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Kampmann who first found out that his original opponent, Mike Swick, was forced out of the welterweight top contender fight. Then, when it was announced that Paul Daley would replace Swick, it pretty much was a lose-lose situation as he not only lost-out on a potential title shot, but gets to welcome an unproven UFC rookie to the Octagon. After suffering a devastating loss to Daley, it looks like Kampmann’s going to have to climb up that steep ladder once again.
We know you can do it, Martin.
3. Mirko Cro Cop: At age 35, you can pretty much kiss any thoughts of a heavyweight title shot goodbye. Cro Cop’s career as a legit contender was officially laid to rest when Junios dos Santos kneed and punched Cro Cop into vision problems. Even though he has a couple of fights remaining on his UFC contract, Cro Cop hasn’t shown any flashes of the dominance that he did during his PrideFC days a few years back.