When the UFC announced that the main event for UFC 78 (entitled “Validation”, in case you were wondering, but you weren’t) would be the bout between Rashad Evans and Michael Bisping, I was the first to make idle threats about not paying to see it. While I still don’t believe this fight constitutes a main event, the fight card has improved with Ryo Chonan stepping in to take on Karo Parysian.
If you don’t know who Chonan is, you should. He’s a Japanese fighter who personally made the Pride Bushido series significantly better, and he’s also the last person to beat current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva — with an awesome flying scissor heel hook (previously thought only to exist in fairy tales and instructional videos).
Chonan’s record (14-7) is deceptively mediocre, as several as those losses come against bigger fighters who Chonan never should have been matched up with, guys like Dan Henderson and Phil Baroni (the Phil Baroni who suddenly regained his power and explosiveness upon coming to Japan, the land of no steroid tests…just saying). While Pride didn’t do Chonan many favors in the matchmaking department, he still managed to prove himself an exciting, tenacious fighter.
This is a tough change of opponents for Karo Parisyan. He was originally slated to face Cuba’s Hector Lombard, but when Lombard was denied a visa to come to the U.S. (now we’re even for the Bay of Pigs) the UFC was forced to scramble for a substitute. While Lombard is no chump, Chonan is a decidedly better fighter and will require a much different approach by Parisyan.
While Lombard specialized in Judo, like Parisyan, Chonan is more of a complete fighter. He’s also used to facing stronger opponents, so a match with Parisyan at 170 lbs. is almost a vacation for him. Beating Parisyan for his first UFC fight would be a tremendous career boost for Chonan, but losing would likely drop him down to UFC Fight Night cards along with former TUF contestants, and he didn’t come all the way from Japan to be a lead-in for Manswers.
This fight is a key addition for a card that is essentially without a main event. If the UFC can’t come up with a meaningful fight to headline the event the best option is to strengthen the undercard with competitive, mid-level fights. Right now they have the makings of the best UFC Fight Night or the worst pay-per-view. Maybe one more solid fight on the level of Chonan-Parisyan and they’ll have an event worth shelling out $39.95 for.
As of now, I’d say the status of UFC 78 has been elevated from “questionable” to “aiiiight”. And yes, those are official categories. Stop asking so many questions.