Saturday night. the inaugural event of Fox Sports 1 went down as the UFC debuted with UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen. For now, we don't know the show performed ratings-wise and that remains the biggest question of the night. However, aside from a disappointing showing from TUF 17 runner-up Uriah Hall and late replacement John Howard, they couldn't have asked for a better set of fights. With the FS1 debut in the books, lets take a look at the winners and losers from last night's show at the TD Garden Arena in Boston, MA.
Chael Sonnen - The UFC took a rather substantial risk featuring Sonnen in the headlining bout. It was clear they were counting on him to sell the fight with his trademark trash talk, but Sonnen has long been known as grinding wrestler who's pre-fight antics can outshine his in-cage performances. That definitely was not the case Saturday night, though. Not only did he pick up his first win at Light Heavyweight and secured himself a top-10 spot in the rankings, he did it impressively with a first round finish over stiff competition in Mauricio Rua.
Matt Brown - The TUF 7 veteran Welterweight is currently on one of the most unlikely winning streaks in the organization. Two years ago, he was 1-4 with fans calling for his release after having been finished in each of those losses. He turned that around with some wins over lower level fighters and now has 6 consecutive wins over solid competition. Everyone one of those fights have been exciting and 5 of them include finishes. His ground game and submission defense are still big question marks, but for now he can enjoy his Cinderella moment and Knockout of the Night bonus for finishing Mike Pyle in only 30 seconds.
Michael Johnson - It's no secret that the Blackzillians have struggled to find success in important fights, but last night Johnson did just that. Coming off consecutive losses, few would argue that he wasn't fighting for his job when he stepped into the Octagon against Joe Lauzon on Saturday. But, he rose to the occasion and put on arguably the best performance of his career so far. He consistently outworked the UFC's bonus machine, punishing him with quick boxing combinations and never letting Lauzon take control of the fight.
Conor McGregor - There was a ton of pressure on McGregor heading into his second UFC fight. Leading up to the event, the Irishman was extraordinarily hyped by the media and the promotion. While his performance against Max Holloway wasn't the most spectacular of the night, he clearly controlled the entire fight and even showed off a solid ground game in the second half of the bout. Let's hope the "pop" he felt in his knee in round 2 won't keep him out of action for too long.
Fox Sports 1 - As stated earlier, the fledgling sports network could not have asked for a better event from the UFC. In addition to the high quality and exciting bouts, the production level was top notch. The typical preliminary fight replays were replaced by studio analysis from Kenny Florian, Brian Stann, and Jay Glazier. The team managed to fill down time between fights without losing the momentum provided by the action. The ratings haven't come out yet, but the new station did everything it could on it's part to make sure viewers stayed engaged.
Shogun Rua - Without a doubt, Shogun used to be one of the very best at 205 lbs, but after three knee surgeries it's clear that he's lost a step and no longer competitive against the best in the Light Heavyweight division. Sonnen was always a bad match for him at this point in his career, but no one expected him to be submitted in the first round. It's more than disappointing for those that remember his glory days in Pride in the mid-2000's but Rua probably lost his position in the top 10 and is unlikely to reclaim his former greatness.
Alistair Overeem - The Reem was brought in from Strikeforce to become a contender in the ever-thin Heavyweight division. The UFC did everything they could to get him a shot at the title, but failed drug tests and now two disappointing performances have left him as far from contendership as he could possibly be. Overeem has now given up KO losses in his last two fights against competition he was clearly being set up to beat. Instead of fighting for the Heavyweight crown, he's making an argument for the becoming one of the biggest busts in the UFC.
Uriah Hall - Much like Overeem, Hall is an impeccable example of a UFC hype machine failure. Dana White talked him up as one of the most fearsome fighters to step foot in the cage throughout the TUF 17 season, but Hall has never delivered outside the show. He's now given up consecutive decision losses in lackluster fights and will be lucky to get another shot in the Octagon.
Brad Pickett - "One Punch" is quickly becoming the Michael Bisping of the Bantamweight division. The UFC has tried hard to push him as a British contender, but every time he's had a chance against the top tier of the division he's fallen short. Last night was no different as Michael McDonald dominated him through the first round and finished him in the second and it will be a long time before he gets another shot to reach the top.
Mike Brown - It's been a long fall for the man who twice upset poster boy Urijah Faber in the WEC. Brown has never been able to put it all together in his 2-3 UFC run. Now, at 37 and having given up a 50 second KO to Steven Siler of all people, it's time for him to stay retired.