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Technical problems be damned, the UFC and Fox put on a pretty good show last night with a Flyweight title fight, the end of an era at Light Heavyweight, and some quality Lightweight violence .
UFC on Fox 6 was a success for the UFC and the athletes. The Flyweight title fight between Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson delivered good action, the main card delivered quality violence and excitement, and the under-card had some finish of year type stuff.
The production side of things had some issues however. The Facebook fight ran over time and lead to an awkward moment where Dominick Cruz and Jon Anik stood trying not to look at each other, there where sound hiccups at the start of the Fox broadcast, and apparently some Fox affiliates dropped the main event when it ran over time. Fox also seemed very concerned about showing excessive amounts of blood, spray painting over stains on the canvas and avoiding showing the face of Erik Koch during the post-fight interview process.
All in all it sees Fox still has a bit to learn about UFC events and seems somewhat reminiscent of UFC 4 with Royce Gracie's triangle win of Dan Severn going unseen because it ran over time. Look for the UFC and Fox to make some adjustments moving forward: be it adjusting the time of fights, adding more time to broadcasts, or simply taking away the ability of affiliates to cut away early.
On to thoughts on the actual fights:
- We saw a side of Demetrious Johnson we've never seen before last night. Early in the fight John Dodson was fresh and able to avoid Johnson's strikes using footwork, frustrating the champion. And Johnson began to chase Dodson and overextend on his punches, Dodson landed hard counters that clearly hurt the champion in the second round. But Johnson kept his cool and came back strong in the last three rounds to defend his title as Dodson tried. It was a gutty performance that showed that Johnson has the heart of the champion, and last night he looked like belong along side the other UFC Champions.
- The title fight provided another prime example of why the three points of contact rule, as currently written, is one of the worst rules in MMA. Dodson played the game of putting his hand on the mat in the hopes of drawing a foul when Johnson was looking to throw knees. Not sure how this rule could be fixed, possibly by making it so it has to be an elbow down instead of just a hand to consider it a third point of contact. In any event, it is something that needs to be addressed and there was a certain amount of justice in Johnson using legal knee strikes to turn the tide against Dodson.
- Glover Teixeira made taking Quinton Jackson down look easy, which is no small feat. In the first round Teixiera hurt Rampage with strikes, took Ramage down, took the back, and then nearly finished Jackson with strikes after knocking him down. I feel there was a fairly strong case for a 10-8 round in the first, and it was never really competitive after that as Rampage ran out of gas in the later rounds.
- With this final fight by Rampage, a chapter has closed on the Light Heavyweight division. Rampage was the last of a generation of fighters at that weight that helped launch the sport into the main stream. Along with Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, and Tito Oritz, the Light Heavyweight division was one of big personalities and even bigger fights. Now that era of MMA has come to a closed, and while the Light Heavyweight division has plenty of new talent it will never quite be like that golden area of the UFC Light Heavyweight division.
- Wow Anthony Pettis was impressive. He kept Donald Cerrone backing up and landed just about every strike he threw. He finished Cerrone with a nasty kick to the liver and stamped his ticket to a title shot. Pettis has surely learned his lesson about how difficult UFC titles shots are to come by and should just wait out the title fight between Gilbert Melendez and Benson Henderson.
- Ricardo Lamas looked very impressive and hyper violent in his victory over Erik Koch. The ground and pound he used to finish the fight was positively vicious. Lamas looked like a real contender and considering the timing of this match, it would seem to work out nicely if he was paired with the winner of Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar.
- Erik Koch likely was effected by his long layoff, but to a certain extent it might also just have been too big a step in competition. Koch is still just 24-years-old and had yet to face a fighter of the caliber of Lamas. This fight showed Koch that he needs to improve his clinch and ground work, and he has plenty of time to refine his skills.
- T.J. Grant looked like a monster last night. Grant's stand up has improved by leaps and bounds, he really looked like a wrecking machine both on the feet and on the ground Those standing elbows he used were flat out awesome and hopefully that are a full time part of his arsenal now. Grant is ready to throw his hat into the contention ring at 155 lbs and should get a contenders fight next time out.
- Decisions like Clay Guida over Hatsu Hioki are why MMA fighter's guards suck, because there is literally no point in developing a threatening guard unless you can become a flat out beast a locking up submissions. Otherwise a fighter like Clay Guida is simply going to defend while inside the guard and collect a win bonus because he was on top during the grappling exchanges. It is actually more tactically sound for fighters to simply work on standing up or stalling until the referee comes over to stand them up. Developing a guard game takes time, and trail and error, and with judging the way it currently is in MMA there is no point in investing that time in training.
- Pascal Krauss looks like he is developing into a good and intriguing Welterweight. I really like the way he throws a variety of combinations, I just would like to see him starting to sit down on punches a little more. His win over Mike Stumpf was a great example of how technique beats strength in the striking game. Stumpf was loading up on all his punches and Krauss threw nice, crisp strikes that beat Stumpf to the punch every time. But Krauss didn't really follow up when he had Stumpf stunned or hurt and that is the time to sink down a little lower and really put something extra on those shots.
- Ryan Bader is still a very good Light Heavyweight. He has struggled with elite guys, but his quick dismissal of Vladimir Matyushenko should remind everyone that he is a top flight Light Heavy and I expect to see him back in the title picture soon.
- The rest of the fights I'll cover quickly. Shawn Jordan got the win, but his total lack of defensive skills on the feet are going to get him killed against a serious Heavyweight, Sean Spencer was competitive but eventually the ground superiority of Rafael Natal carried the day, and David Mitchell's ugly striking got the job done.