The UFC returned to Brazil with a the Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira Fight Night card on FS1. This was the UFC's third fight card since last Wednesday, all of which had a presence on FS1, and was then immediately followed by the debut of the Ultimate Fighter's latest season featuring UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey and her foil Meisha Tate.
While this has brought up concerns of over saturation, and those are perfectly valid concerns, but the fact that every event has had a presence on FS1 is a positive. For all the talk of ratings, by all reports Fox is very pleased with the UFC and the consistence audience it brings to the table. On the Sherdog Rewind writer for the Sports Buisness Journal John Ourand said the TV business views the UFC much like it does Premier League Soccer on NBC Sports. While it is a niche sport that doesn't really pull in a great deal of casual fans, it has a very loyal fan base that is excellent at finding the content and turning in a very reliable number for a TV channel. All those things are huge marks in the UFC's favor.
So these run of events shows FS1's confidence in the UFC to be good, quality programming.
On to thoughts of the fights:
- Glover Teixeira looked like a calm and collected veteran against Ryan Bader. He stayed clam through takedown attempts by Bader, guillotine attempts and being rocked. Bader on the other hand seemed very over anxious as he dropped back for chokes and when he had Teixeira hurt threw any semblance of combination striking out the window as he just winged right hands. And when it turned out Teixeira wasn't as hurt as it appeared, he was easily able to counter Bader.
- It was announced that Teixeira will be given the next shot at the UFC Lightweight title. While Teixeira's UFC wins are hardly seem like the kind that propels a fighter to a title shot, the Light Heavyweight division is quickly drying up into one of the most shallow in the sport. Many of the best fighters of that division are in limbo due to having lost to Jon Jones, have begun to decline, or have already retired and that leaves the door wide open for a fighter like Teixeira. As contenders go Teixieira is entertaining and has the always intriguing and debate building "puncher's chance", and he is a fresh face and name, so the UFC could do much worse.
- Jacare Souza looked like a monster as he demolished Yushin Okami. Jacare continues to make strides in his striking, and yet again we saw a marked difference in Jacare on the feet. He used more head movement, smoother footwork, and his hand speed was off the charts. And then there was the aggression and power, Jacare went right at Okami and landed heavy punches, and rocked him a few times. It was the best Jacare has ever looked in MMA.
- Jacare just jumped to near the to the top of the Middlweight pile and matches up very favorably against the majority of top Middleweights. The real weaknesses of Jacare remain his recovery when he has been hurt, though he has become much tougher to hurt since his early career, and that prolonged wrestling can sap his gas tank. Clearly UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman presents problems for Souza but that would be an entertaining match. When it comes to other middleweights, Luke Rockhold still presents problems for Souza, but Vitor Belfort would likely be a highly entertaining opponent.
- Joseph Benavidez walked through Jussier da Silva with some impressive striking capped off with a nasty lead knee to the body that drop da Silva to the mat. Yet another Team Alpha Male fighter shows off improved, diverse and aggressive striking since the addition of Duane Ludwig. Clearly he cannot be credited with all the success of the undefeated streak of Team Alpha Male fighters, the fact so many of them have won with vastly improved striking speaks to the quality of coaching Ludwig provides.
- The Brazilian magic wasn't really working for this whole card as two Eastern European fighters were able to come into Brazil and finish their opponent's in emphatic fashion. Ali Bagautinov got after his man on the feet a few times, and while he didn't look great off his back, he was certianly an apt enough grappler to survive, and Piotr Hallmann was able to pull out a shocking submission of Fransisco Trinaldo. Eastern Europe's participation in MMA is growing and it is going to produce some quality fighters as the globalization of MMA continues.
- While the undercard of the Fight Night card wasn't really special, there were some quality prospects in action. Lucas Martins looked like a killer in his Bantamweight debut, and it will be very interesting to see how the Chute Boxe fighter progresses at 135 pounds. And UFC new comer Edimilson Souza looked very slick on the feet, with excellent defensive skills on the feet and fairly solid takedown defense, but he looked very raw once put on his back. His taking a fight from Felipe Arantes was impressive, but he'll need to shore up his grappling to make an impact outside of Brazil.
- The Ultimate Fighter was quite entertaining and some of the fights were very intriguing. The inclusion of the families in person went a long way towards making the fighters more relatable and lead to more emotional investment in the outcome of a fight. That was compounded in the women's fights when Roxanne Modafferi and Shayna Baszler, fighters who have been around in high level WMMA for a long time and are very known to fans.