Saturday night, Demetrious Johnson got the chance to pick up his second title defense at UFC on Fox 8 against John Moraga. Prior to the main card, FX and Facebook broadcast the preliminary fights. The prelims featured some solid action as Ed Herman and Trevor Smith took home $50K Fight of the Night bonuses while Melvin Guillard got the KO award. Check out how the fights played out and what they mean for each fighter.
Chiesa looked to force the action early. After an unsuccessful takedown, the Lightweight TUF 15 winner landed a big punch that dropped Masvidal. He missed the opportunity to finish though, and Masvidal took over in round 2. "Gamebred" punished Chiesa with ground and pound, then locked on a Brabo choke in the closing minute of the round. With only a single second left, Chiesa tapped out.
The submission gave Chiesa his first ever career loss. He's now 2-1 in the UFC. This was Masvidal's second fight in the UFC since transferring over from the now defunct Strikeforce organization. He now holds wins over Chiesa and fellow Fox 8 fighter Tim Means.
Castillo controlled Means throughout the first round after securing an early takedown. Means had more success in the second round landing some good shots in the first half before giving up another takedown and another round on the scorecards. The last round of the fight was Means best. He landed the better shots on the feet and spent some time in top position, but it wasn't enough to make up for two lost rounds and he gave up the unanimous decision.
Castillo is now 6-2 as a UFC Lightweight and has shown continued success against the lower tier of the division. He'll need to finally breakthrough the wall that's had him losing to the next level of competition if he wants to work up the ladder. Means has now fallen to 2-2 in the UFC, having given up losses in his last two fights. If he gets another chance in the Octagon, he should know he's fighting for his spot on the roster.
Danzig came in with a simple gameplan. He wanted to walk Guillard down then hit a takedown to force a ground fight where he'd have the advantage. Unfortunately for him, Guillard's takedown defense was on point and he never got the chance. "The Young Assassin" blasted him in the second round and followed up with some brutal ground shots to earn the KO.
Guillard took the first step in recovering his awful 1-4 run. He's still not out of the woods, but beating Danzig was a good start. As for Mac, he's now lost 3 of his last 4 and holds only a single UFC win over a fight still in the promotion. Chances are this was his last fight in the Octagon.
Despite having the more limited striking arsenal, Edwards chose to keep the fight standing against Cruickshank for the entire 15 minute affair. Edwards found some success with his boxing, but his footwork wasn't good enough to consistently cut off the cage and Cruickshank outpointed him using a variety of kicks and straight punches. One judge inexplicably scored all three rounds for Edwards, but Cruickshank deserved the win and got it on 2 judges' cards.
The split decision improved Cruickshank to 3-1 since coming out of the TUF 15 house. The "Thugjitsu Master" has now lost three of his last five fights, but, as a longtime UFC veteran, he shouldn't be cut after this one.
The fight started a little slow with Smith trying to work in the clinch, but when the two Middleweights let loose they never slowed down. The bout turned into a fun, sloppy brawl with both men landing big blows. Herman was able to consistently hit Smith with a lead left hook and even rocked him a couple times. Smith landed some solid shots of his own, but still gave up the split decision.
Since returning from an almost 2 year hiatus, Herman is now 4-1, 1 NC. It was clear in his last fight against Ronaldo Souza that he's still not ready for the top of the division, but he brings exciting fights to the lower tier. Smith has now lost his last 3 fights in a Zuffa promotion (2 in Strikeforce and now one in the UFC). He may get another chance after such a gutsy performance, but don't be surprised if he's cut.
The FX opener was far from the most exciting fight of the night. De Randamie won the first round with her superior clinch work against the cage. She landed a few solid knees to the body, but still not a great round for action. kedzie responded by winning the second round after a takedown led to her spending 3 minutes on top in half guard. A little more action in the final round, but de Randamie once again pulled it off with clinch control. She got the nod over Kedzie in a split decision.
Both women were making their UFC debut here and Dana White made it clear on Twitter that he was not impressed with their performances. Regardless, they're the newest entrants in a very thing division so both will get another go in the Octagon.
Riley looked to walk Salas down throughout the 3 round fight, but ending up chasing him and eating counters for his efforts. In the final round, it looked like Salas was content to coast to a decision until Riley hit him with a head kick late in the round. After that, both men went for broke in the closing seconds of the fight. Another split decision saw Salas taking the fight.
After 3 fights in the UFC Salas has now won two of them. He's still not ready for a jump in competition. Following the event, Riley announced on Twitter that he was retiring from the sport. Having now lost 3 of his last five, it's unlikely he would have gotten another shot in the UFC.
In the first round, Meza and Albert scrambled back and forth on the ground while trading submission attempts. Neither man was able to get the finish in the first frame. Albert secured a tight triangle early in the second round, but wore himself trying to get the tap. When Meza finally escaped, he immediately took top position before locking on a rear naked choke to force Albert to submit.
Meza was brought in as a late replacement at UFC on FX 6 to fight Chad Mendes. Fighting up a division and well above his skill level, he was quickly finished. With proper time to prepare he was able to get a win in his Bantamweight debut. Albert's now given up 4 consecutive fights and even missed weight for this one. No chance the UFC doesn't cut him now.