UFC Fight Night on FS1: Highs, Lows, and What’s Next
Parent company 21st Century Fox made a risky decision by taking all of the UFC events and shows from FX and FOX and moving them to the new location of Fox Sports 1, the previous home of the Speed Channel. With a new channel, came new complaints from viewers. FS1 was thought to not be available on some major providers leading up to UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs Sonnen. Thankfully for Fox, an agreement was met with DirecTV, Dish, and Time Warner Cable to carry FS1 just in time for network’s UFC debut.
Fight fans were most eager for the event not only because it was being featured on free TV, but because it was stacked card featuring some of the most compelling figures in MMA. While the card did feature a lot of great fight moments, there were a few performances that momentarily disrupted the momentum of an overall great card.
Diego Brandao vs Daniel Pineda
Brandao revealed that he may have broken his hand in the opening round of his bout with Pineda, but that isn’t the story here, the empty gas tank of both fighters is. UFC featherweights cut a lot of weight, as some could be 155’ers. That may have something to do with the significantly shallow gas tanks of some 145 fighters. Both Brandao and Pineda seemed to either have an adrenaline dump, or weren’t prepared to fight at a frantic pace, as the fight slowed down significantly after the first round. This was somewhat discouraging, as I’m a big fan of Brandao’s killer instinct.
What’s next: another “in the mix” fight for Brandao, as he hasn’t proven his top 10 worth yet.
Joe Lauzon vs Michael Johnson
I was really excited to hear that Lauzon was warming up the main card in his hometown of Boston. But after the first few moments I was wondering where his head was. The bout was mostly one-sided as Johnson used his stick-and-move boxing to land some heavy blows on Lauzon, particularly in the first round. After that, the fight lacked luster. On a perfect fight night, it would have been ideal for fan favorite Lauzon to win in his hometown. Sadly, he just didn’t show up for action. Acting somewhat gun-shy, the crowd reacted to the lack of urgency Lauzon showed. It may have been the lopsided first round that sucked the momentum out of him. However, it was a great performance by Johnson against a usually always game Lauzon.
What’s next: Johnson should get Ross Pearson or Edson Barboza and winner should move one step closer to the top 10. For Lauzon, take some time off if you can to rest and reevaluate. You’ve been in some wars lately.
Urijah Hall vs John Howard
This fight sparked a lot of interest in casual fight fans. The deliverer of the most devastating knockout in TUF history, Urijah Hall, was finally facing an experienced striker. Howard, on paper, was going to be willing to exchange on the feet. While the fight did have some great exchanges, it was the over camaraderie between Hall and Howard that baffled even the commentators. The two were constantly touching gloves any chance they got. I felt as if the mutual respect and friendship that Hall participates in with his opponents not only takes away from his performances, but also makes the fights not as exciting to watch. The intensity level drops as soon as anyone becomes overly friendly inside the octagon during the bout.
What’s next: Hall needs to evaluate his mental game. Howard should get another “in the mix” fight to solidify his home in the UFC. I don’t believe Dana White was particularly thrilled about that bout: “HORRIBLE!!!!!!!! The high 5 fight of the night WTF” via Twitter.
Conor McGregor vs Max Holloway
This fight is what I was hoping the Lauzon fight was going to build on, a Boston hero doing work. What a great performance by McGregor against a tough, young striker in Holloway. Even after suffering a knee injury in the bout, McGregor pushed the pace with his grappling and dominated Max Holloway on the way to a UD victory. The Boston crowd obviously loved it, giving him a standing ovation for his efforts.
What’s next: if not seriously injured, McGregor should get the winner of Poirier vs Koch because it would nice to see a fighter advance up the 145 ranks faster than usual and his performance and charisma showed he may be the fighter to pull it off. As for Holloway, back to the drawing board and an “in the mix” matchup.
Michael McDonald vs Brad Pickett
I was screaming at the TV during this one, “How is this guy still up?” McDonald put on a striking clinic and showed everyone why at only 22 years old, he’s not going to stop showing why he deserves another title shot. Pickett showed some serious heart by not slowing down even for a second after absorbing so much damage in the first round. This was probably the most fun fight of the night and both fighters deserved the FOTN bonus.
What’s next: McDonald should fight Faber (although the UFC may not agree), just because seeing the best vs the best in that division is always fun. If he gets through Faber, he should get another title shot.
Urijah Faber vs Iuri Alcantara
“Vintage Faber” as Joe Rogan put it. In the opening round we saw Faber in rare trouble, but once he secured the top position, there was no stopping his attack. It was a satisfying fight and a great win against a dangerous opponent.
What’s next: Faber should fight MacDonald, as he also had a great performance on FS1. And if he wins, well, I guess another title shot. There’s really no one else for him to fight that’s relevant. However, Faber did hint at a Cruz fight in the post-fight press conference.
Travis Browne vs Alistair Overeem
Wow. That’s essentially what every fight fan’s Twitter read. Overeem came out and showed why he was still ranked the #5 heavyweight in the world, giving Browne almost all he could handle with knees to the body and punches to the temple up against the cage. Thankfully, the referee didn’t stop the fight, as Overeem gassed and Browne threw a front kick “Spider” style to the jaw that sent the former K1 and Strikeforce Champion to the canvass. Browne showed a great display of patience and heart as he just climbed up the heavyweight rankings.
What’s next: For Overeem, it’s hard to say. He needs to reevaluate what he wants. A bout with Nelson sounds reasonable. Although, I do not want to see that bout past the first round, as both fighters have little endurance. As for Browne, a bout with Werdum for No. 1 contender (if Cormier drops to 205 and Velasquez stays champ) sounds about right.
Shogun Rua vs Chael Sonnen
Sonnen is back to vintage form. After controlling most of the fight with superior grappling, he found himself in a position to choke Shogun with a guillotine from his own guard and took it. I was glad to see him go for the finish and not be content with pitter-pattering his way to a UD victory. Of course in vintage Sonnen fashion, he has already publically called someone out: Wanderlei Silva.
What’s next: For Sonnen, The Axe Murderer. That’s a grudge match everyone wants to see. For Shogun, a reevaluation, as he is 2-4 in his last six. Possibly the loser of Bader vs Teixeria.
Other notable highs: Matt Brown’s steamroll of Pyle. Calls out GSP? Give him Koscheck. He’s a hard worker and I believe he deserves a crack at the top 10, but it will be a true test to see if he can handle an elite wrestler. The top of the welterweight division is filled with them.