This past Saturday night the UFC and Fox collaborated on what was without a doubt there most exciting show since they partnered up almost a year ago. Ever since the UFC debuted on Fox last November with Cain Velasquez defending his UFC Heavyweight Championship against Junior Dos Santos the rating have decreased with each and every show. That card had only one fight that was shown on live television and was seen more as a test run to see how the UFC & Fox would work together.
Their second show featured three bouts that all went the distance and was headlined by a five round light heavyweight match-up featuring Rashad Evans & Phil Davis. The UFC followed that event up with a Cinco de Mayo tilt from New Jersey. Instead of three main card bouts they were now offering four and while the bouts were entertaining it lacked any real star power. The main event had hometown boy Jim Miller facing Nate Diaz. The ratings for the show were lower than expected and many pundits made sure to voice their displeasure about it.
Getting back to Saturday night, the main event was originally scheduled to be a middleweight fight featuring the UFC debut of former Bellator Middlweight Champion Hector Lombard and fan favorite Brian Stann. The injury bug hit this card in the same way many others have been bitten and Stann was forced to the sidelines and Lombard transferred to UFC 149. When the UFC decided to have Mauricio “Shogun” Rua face Brandon “The Truth” Vera as the new main event there weren’t too many fans who were all that excited about seeing a fighter who was just 1-2-1 in his last four bouts facing a former champion who is one of the top 205lb. fighters in the world.
The three other bouts included Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader, Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner, who was an injury replacement for Terry Etim and the much anticipated return of Mike Swick as he took on DaMarques Johnson. Before I get into the main idea behind this article I have to say that the UFC hit a grandslam with all four match-ups. Each and every one of these bouts delivered in their own way. From Varner and Lauzon’s back and forth affair to Machida’s highlight reel knockout of Bader and last, but not least Vera giving Rua all he could handle, if you’re an MMA fan you went to bed happy Saturday night.
Now on to my M.V.P., how could you not be impressed with the performance, dedication and perseverance Swick has shown over the past 30 months? From battling a baffling stomach ailment to tearing his knee to shreds two weeks before his return bout against Erick Silva at UFC 134 last August. He has never given up on his dreams and never let anything get him down. During his time away from the Octagon he made 15 overseas trips to visit the U.S. troops. In fact during an interview I conducted with him before the fight he dedicated the fight to our brave soldiers.
As the fight was getting set to start, the fans in the arena were eagerly anticipating “Quick’s” walk to the cage and I had goose bumps as he received his instructions before entering the cage. Facing an opponent like Johnson in your first fight in two and a half years is not an easy task, yet Swick met the challenge head on. He looked good early on landing some hard right hands, but soon found himself in some precarious situations in the latter half of round one. Johnson had his back and mounted Swick almost finishing the fight with a D’arce choke, but Swick survived.
As round two began Swick was able to utilize his footwork and had Johnson chasing after him. Just over a minute into round two Swick caught a kick by Johnson and landed a vicious right hand that dropped the fellow Ultimate Fighter alum and followed that up with a few nasty right hands to the fallen Johnson. The fight was stopped and Swick’s return was complete. While Johnson remained unconscious on the canvas Swick couldn’t help but show his excitement. He earned the right and deserved a moment to soak in all the adulation he received from the fans in attendance.
The emotion on Swick’s face while Bruce Buffer announced him as the winner is what makes MMA so special. The crowd felt it, people at home felt and I felt it. That is why I am naming Mike Swick the UFC on Fox: Vera vs. Shogun M.V.P.Tags: DaMarques Johnson, featured, Jamie Varner, Joe Lauzon, lyoto machida, Mauricio shogun rua, Mike Swick, ryan bader, UFC on FOX