Much was made about the venue for the UFC on Fox 10, as they struggled to sell out the United Center in Chicago, and it is something that is a pattern for the UFC. They come to a location for the first time with a big card, such as the UFC on Fox 2 card in Chicago. However, each time the UFC returns the quality of card declines, either through match making or injury, and ticket prices go up, and the result is struggling gates as fans decide to spend their money else where.
While it is true the $250 dollar floor seats appear to be a bargain compared with the $1000 plus price of rink side seats for tonight's Blackhawks game in the very same venue, there is a big difference between seeing the defending Stanley Cup champions and seeing a fight card with only one fight between serious contenders at this point. And yes there was supposed to be a title fight on this card, but the rest of the card was rather shallow, and ticket sales reflected the consequences of that.
On to thoughts about the fights:
- Benson Henderson and Josh Thomson had a somewhat unsatisfying fight as they managed to negate each other's offensive output, and the fight came down to small details. Henderson was able to land a lot of strikes in the clinch , and that seemed to be the deciding factor in the judges' eyes. However, Sal D'Amto's 49-46 scorecard for Henderson was absolutely terrible.
- Clearly the broken hand hampered Thomson quite a bit, but he made quite a go of it in spite of it. While his offense was mostly expressed as control, the number of times he caught Henderson's back and was able to control him caused me to score the fight for him, but I take no issue with a 48-47 card going Henderson's way.
- Gabriel Gonzaga and Stipe Miocic had a competitive heavyweight bout as Gonzaga showed off his solid striking on the feet. It appears that Miocic's striking prowess might have been a bit of a mirage created by Roy Nelson's total lack of defense. Miocic had to outlast Gonzaga, who slowed down badly partway through the second round.
- In hindsight, this fight was a good showing for Miocic as he showed off good cardio, excellent scrambling, and nice ground striking against a very, very good gatekeeper in Gonzaga and overall it was a very fun fight. I look forward to Miocic getting a chance to step his level of competition up.
- Adriano Martins had just enough time to show off some excellent scrambling skills before Donald Cerrone nearly decapitated him with a head kick. Good win for Cerrone, who needed a check.
- Jeremy Stephens put on a powerhouse performance against Darren Elkins as he stuffed every takedown Elkins attempted and beat him up on the feet. Elkins looked awful as his footwork was very poor and his shots very weak, and he was unable to get anything on his strikes. This was one of the most one-sided fights on the card.
- Alex Caceres and Sergio Pettis put on a fantastic fight in which both of their stocks increased in my eyes. Pettis' striking looks fantastic, a bit more measuring and deception in his game as opposed to the raw speed of his older brother. Caceres continues to be wild but effective as he really found a home for his left hand and still has a nose for transitional grappling.
- While Pettis looked very good, it seems like his grappling still has some holes it appears. While this loss is a setback, he appears to be an excellent prospect that could very well develop into a championship level fighter.
- Eddie Wineland and Yves Jabouin engaged in some tactical striking exchanges until Wineland landed a big right hand. There's not much else to say about this fight as it was a pretty lopsided match up that Jabouin kept competitive for about a round.
- The middle of the under card was fairly unremarkable. Hugo Viana put a two round beating on Ramiro Hernandez and then ran out the clock in the third round. Chico Camus showed off some excellent flow as he firmly out grappled Yaotzin Meza.
- Daron Cruickshank looked excellent against Mike Rio, but he was supposed to as this was a match tailor made for him to look good. While many focus on Cruickshank's striking, he also wrestled and is a strong, powerful grappler and a grappler like Rio, with weak striking and attempts to just walk into the clinch, is going to be a feast for Cruickshank. The kick Cruickshank landed was outstanding and established him as one of the UFC's best action fighters.
- The card opened with a pair of surprising upsets as Nikita Krylov landed a great Brazilian kick to take out Walt Harris, and George Sullivan was able to outwork Mike Rhodes in a decision that could have very well gone the other way. Krylov was only in the cage a few seconds, but he got more of a chance to show of his striking skills, but he still has long way to go before he is even a mid-level Heavyweight in the UFC.