What was dubbed as the second- biggest UFC event in history, as well as the promotion's largest endeavor to date in Europe, was an undeniable success. While North American fans were bombarded with the Conor McGregor promotion during the lead-up to UFC Fight Night: Boston, European fans were primed for the big event that took place inside the 30,000+ seat football (soccer) stadium in Stockholm, Sweden. Events rarely get the privilege of such a big stage, and to the UFC's luck, the fights lived up to expectations.
Apart from simply putting on a successful event, UFC on FOX 14 served its purpose and propelled a new title challenger for Jones in emphatic fashion. While it was not the fighter that many expected, the end result was nearly identical.
The card also featured an array of merciless knockouts and surprising upsets that brought with them notable winners and losers, many of whom warrant a spot in our post-event analysis.
Anthony Johnson silenced an entire arena of fans in the main event of the UFC on FOX 14 card with his dominant showing against the country's top star. Johnson, who looked calm and confident in hostile territory, stalked Gustafsson from the get-go and landed numerous sledgehammer shots that wobbled the former title challenger. The shots were so impactful that Johnson had Gustafsson in a fetal position, hanging on for dear life - a sight few expected to see in Stockholm. Johnson's career turnaround has been remarkable to witness, and it will be interesting to see if he can morph into Jones' biggest obstacle to date.
Gegard Mousasi earned one of his most notable wins in recent memory when he stopped former Pride and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson in the opening round of their co-main event contest. While most will dispute the stoppage as an early one, it is best to proceed with caution when the fighter in question is 44-years-old. Henderson clearly looked like he was hurt, which can lead one to assume that he was only about to endure far more damage than necessary. The stoppage should not overshadow Mousasi's performance; he looked crisp, sharp, and was in fantastic shape.
Ryan Bader and Phil Davis took part in arguably the dullest fight of the evening. In fact, it was so uneventful and full of low-level kickboxing that it forced the Swedish crowd to boo them repeatedly throughout the 15-minute duration of the fight. While Bader was awarded the victory, he did little to earn a spot in the win column on that alone. However, since he is now on a four-fight win streak, he deserves some credit for that achievement. A match-up against Daniel Cormier may be in his future.
Sam Sicilia continued the trend of ferocious knockouts when he kicked off the main card with a scary finish of Akira Corassani. The fight was fast paced and full of damaging blows from both men, but it was Sicilia who had the final say in the fight and silenced the local favourite en route to his fourth UFC win.
Albert Tumenov continued his rise through the welterweight ranks with his unanimous decision victory over local favourite Nico Musoke. While many had grown accustomed to witnessing his jaw-dropping KOs, Tumenov displayed his complex striking arsenal and showed off his footwork en route to a clear victory over Musoke. Given his ambition to reach the Top 10 of the welterweight division by the end of the year, he is on the right path to doing just that.
Makwan Amirkhani made just about as big a splash as possible in his UFC debut. He annihilated Ogle with a flying knee in the opening moments of the fight, and then finished the contest off with a barrage of punches that forced a referee stoppage. While the ending may not have been as decisive as some would have liked, it should not overshadow Makwan's stunning debut.
Nikita Krylov picked up back-to-back wins for the first time in his UFC career, and did so with a slick guillotine choke in the opening round of his match-up against the returning Stanislav Nedkov. It was an impressive showing from ‘Al Capone,' and sets him up for more competitive encounters in the future.
Mairbek Taisumov produced another vicious finish in the UFC but it came against an opponent that had absolutely no business fighting in MMA's flagship promotion. This was nothing more than a squash match that would have been better suited for the regional scene in distant lands. Nevertheless, Taisumov looked fantastic in his win - his leg kicks were particularly vicious. While his win does not account for much, he still deserves a step up in competition given his ability and exciting style.
Mirsad Bektic put on a complete performance against a durable opponent in Paul Redmond. He was relentless with his ground game and displayed a technical prowess that is rare of a talent so young in his pro career. He maintained his undefeated record with the unanimous decision win against the Irishman and will have unquestionably earned a step up in competition for his next fight.
Here's what Kid Nate and Zane Simon had to say of the UFC on Fox 14 Fallout, on the 6th Round:
Alexander Gustafsson is undoubtedly the biggest loser of the night in Sweden, as he went from perennial title contender to a fighter who has lost two of his last three fights, and seemingly far away from a possible rematch against Jones. It is a sobering aspect of sports - one can go from nearly upsetting the reigning champion in a ‘Fight of the Year' performance, to losing by knockout in front of 30,000 adoring fans. While it is possible that Gustafsson can rebound from this setback, there is no denying that he has lost out on a significant opportunity in the meantime.
Dan Henderson may have been a part of a questionable stoppage on Saturday night, but there is little doubt that he was about to endure more damage from Mousasi had the referee decided not to intervene when he did. The former Strikeforce champion, who has looked like a shadow of his former self over the past couple of years, has won just one of his last six fights in the UFC and continued to add to the list of reasons why he should retire from professional competition. While he is likely to get another fight in the UFC, he should honestly consider hanging up the gloves for good. I no longer want to see him endure anymore unnecessary brain damage.
Phil Davis continues to prove that he has more bark than bite. After claiming that he could definitely take down Jon Jones, he was subjected to several takedowns at the hands of Ryan Bader in their feature fight in Stockholm. He has now lost two of his last three fights, and has failed to show why he deserves match-ups against any fighter in the upper echelon of the 205-pound division.
Akira Corassani found himself on the wrong side of a knockout in the opening fight on the FOX broadcast - and a particularly vicious one at that. He is now on a three-fight losing streak, all via T/KO, and will definitely be under consideration during the next roster trimming.
Sultan Aliev was another member of the Russian/Caucasus contingency that failed to impress in his UFC debut. Not only was he never given a moment to find his rhythm against Kenny Robertson, he was separated from his consciousness with a vicious left hook in under three minutes of fight time. While Aliev will likely get another shot with the promotion, this was far from the ideal way to begin his tenure.
Andy Ogle came into this fight skating on thin ice and in desperate need of a win to secure his spot on the roster. Sadly for the Briton, he was bludgeoned in a matter of seconds at the hands of the debuting Makwan Amirkhani. While the stoppage may be considered questionable, it is quite possible that this will be Ogle's last fight in the UFC for the foreseeable future.
Konstantin Erokhin was easily one of the biggest disappointments of the night, as he came in with some significant hype - both from fans, as well as pundits like myself. Once hailed as one of the top heavyweight prospects, the Russian may turn out to be entirely overrated. While it was clear that Erokhin's glaring weakness was his ground game, few banked on him having terrible stamina to boot. After he blasted Pesta with several powerful shots in the opening round, he simply had nothing to show in the later rounds and lost a clear unanimous decision.
Joe Rogan has had some recent broadcasting woes but none as bad as his post-fight interview with Makwan Amirkhani, which he turned into a pseudo-interrogation that appeared to discredit the debuting fighter's biggest career win to date. It was an appalling lack of professionalism that left an ugly stain on an otherwise entertaining show.