As a whole, UFC on Fox 6 delivered some great fights and impressive finishes for fighters looking to move their way up the UFC Ladder. Let’s review:
Demetrious Johnson Cleans Out Flyweight Division
With his first title defense, flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson has cleared out the 125-lb. division. No, seriously.
Since dropping down from bantamweight after his title loss to Dominick Cruz, “Might Mouse” has gone 3-0-1 in the UFC’s newest weight class, with wins over Ian McCall, Joseph Benavidez, and John Dodson. With only 13 flyweights currently on the roster and nine with a flyweight win in the UFC, the division seems to be suffering from the same issue that plagued the bantamweights early on: a lack of depth.
Cruz defended his bantamweight belt against Urijah Faber and Johnson in July and October of 2011, respectively, then was scheduled to fight Faber in a rubber match last July. Faber had to fight all of one fight in order to earn his way back up the ranks of 135. Admittedly, Faber was (and probably still is) the only decent PPV draw of the lower weight classes, but that could also be due to a lack of challengers.
Back when the UFC first announced plans to introduce the flyweight division, I suggested that an eight-man tournament would be the best way to start things off. They opted for a four-man tournament instead, which seems to have comeback to haunt them. Of the four fighters in the tournament, Johnson, Benavidez, McCall, and Yasuhiro Urushitani, only Johnson and Benavidez have won in the UFC.
By the looks of things, the winner of this weekend’s Benavidez-McCall fight will be fighting Johnson for the title next. McCall had two close fights against “Mighty Mouse” during the tournament (the first ending in a majority draw), so a rematch with Johnson could draw some interest. Benavidez also fought well, losing a split decision for the title at UFC 152.
But neither rematch is likely to draw interest among casual fans, which is vital to the success of the division as a PPV draw. For now, the division is relegated headlining TV cards. To me, the best way to remedy this is to simply sign more top flyweights.
Or any flyweights for that matter.
Anthony Pettis Earns Lightweight Title Shot (Again)
Former WEC Lightweight Champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis is tired of waiting for a UFC title shot.
And who can blame him? After beating current UFC champion Benson Henderson at the WEC’s final event, he was promised a shot against then-UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. But after draws and injuries delayed Edgar’s second title fight with Gray Maynard, Pettis decided to stay active and take a fight against Clay Guida; a fight which he ended up losing.But now after three straight wins and a second consecutive knockout, Pettis is once again the next in line for the title.
Prior to the fight, Anthony Pettis’s meeting with Donald Cerrone had “fight of the year” written all over it. Cerrone called out Pettis immediately after his knockout win last August and “Showtime” quickly accepted the challenge. Both fighters have been fan favorites since their WEC days and a slugfest between two fighters who had never been knocked out seemed imminent.
But from the outset, Pettis controlled the action. Overwhelming “Cowboy” with strikes, including a highlight-reel “Showtime knee” near the end, Pettis finished with vicious body kicks midway through the first round. After the fight, Dana White said that he was “sold” on Pettis getting the next shot at the lightweight title.
Champion Benson Henderson fights Strikeforce import Gilbert Melendez at UFC on Fox 7 in April. Like many, I’m wishing for a Henderson win, so we can see the long-awaited rematch of 2010’s fight of year.
Ricardo Lamas Establishes Himself Among 145’s Best
Though Ricardo Lamas has been considered one of the UFC’s better featherweights for about a year, after wins over Hatsu Hioki and Cub Swanson, his prospects for a title shot still paled in comparison to guys like Eric Koch and Chan Sung Jung. So coming in, Lamas knew a win against Koch would officially put him into title contention.
The fact that he beat Koch, who was twice scheduled to fight champion Jose Aldo last year before injuries cancelled both bouts, wasn’t surprising. But the method certainly was.
Like many, I expected a knockout victory to go Koch’s way. Yes, Lamas has knockout wins, but the striking advantage went the way of his opponent. But once Lamas finally got Koch to the ground, he went a different route, stacking him up, raining down strikes, and turning Koch into a bloody mess to end the fight midway through the second.
Lamas is now 4-0 as a featherweight and gains more recognition for his underrated abilities in the division.
- Though he lost by unanimous decision, John Dodson put forth a valiant effort against the champion Johnson. He had the speed to keep up with Johnson, and certainly had the power to knock Johnson down (which he did on a few occasions), but he lacked the stamina to sustain that break-neck pace for five rounds. Regardless, he’s still a handful for anyone else at 125 and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him fighting for the title again soon.
- Glover Teixeira beat Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in what was likely Jackson’s final UFC bout. But unfortunately for the rising light Brazilian, a win over “Rampage” isn’t what it used to be. He came into the bout as a fighter on the rise, but his performance didn’t show much in the way of vertical growth.
- The same goes for light heavyweight Ryan Bader and featherweight Clay Guida. Bader picked up a submission win over Vladmir Matyushenko, but that doesn’t tell us much. His last three wins are against Matyushenko, “Rampage,” and Jason Brillz — not exactly elite competition. Meanwhile his losses have all come at the hands of top fighters (Jon Jones and Lyoto Machida. For the hell of it, I’ll put Tito in there, too). Meanwhile, Guida made his featherweight debut against the always tough Hatsu Hioki. Though he was outstruck and lost on my scorecard, he ended up winning via split decision. Not exactly the fresh start “The Carpenter” was hoping for in his new weight class, but again, it’s a new weight class.
- T.J. Grant is now 4-0 since dropping to lightweight in October 2011. With wins over Evan Dunham and Shane Roller, Grant has shown flashes of potential at 155, but with his TKO victory over Matt Wiman, many now consider him a top-10 fighter in the division. I can’t disagree with them. He had Wiman hurt late in the first and with two nasty elbows from the clinch and follow-up punches on the ground, Grant cemented himself as a fighter to watch in a very tough weight class.