10 Thoughts on UFC on FOX 7
1. Benson Henderson took a huge step back from his last performance. After beating Diaz, there was no question who was the better fighter, and probably the best lightweight in the UFC (besides Anthony Pettis). That is faaar from being true after last night’s fight. A whole lot of people thought Melendez won that fight, even outside of San Jose. Henderson has to be the most questionable champion in the UFC, aside from the long-injured Dominic Cruz. There’s just no other guy who has had such close matches in championship fights. His Diaz performance shut a lot of critics up, but now the door that Frankie Edgar opened slightly has been thrown wide open thanks to Melendez. Henderson looked unsure in the first round and at many other points in the fight, a night and day difference from his fight against Diaz (and many others). I gave Bendo a close nod, but I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Melendez win a decision. There’s just no way to say who is the better fighter after last night’s main event.
2. Gilbert Milendez is gonna be just fine, ladies and gents. Gil is going to be fighting for a title again sooner rather than later. Edgar got an immediate rematch after his close contest with Henderson and Gil’s fight with Henderson didn’t really settle anything. Gil Melendez showed a lot of skill and heart against the champ and he’s just too good to fall too far down the ladder. He essentially backed up his words and looked like the best lightweight fighter on the planet at some points. Look for him to bounce back and bounce back with a vengeance. That fight last night seemed like it’s going to be the first of a few between what could be two budding rivals. Whatever the case, they still have unfinished business in the eyes of many, until one of them wins decisively.
3. Daniel Cormier won. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t particularly impressive or spectacular and it definitely didn’t live up to the great expectations Cormier had coming in to the UFC. People were expecting a KO a la Cormier vs. Bigfoot Silva. But there’s no debating Cormier soundly defeated a very game and motivated Frank Mir. DC showed he belongs with the big boys and can hang with the best of him, and let’s not forget he did KO the current challenger for the heavyweight championship in Antonio Silva. But DC attempting to drop down to Light Heavyweight to challenge Jon Jones doesn’t seem like the certainty it was before the fight anymore.
4. How impressive was Josh Thomson’s return to the Octagon? That to me was the biggest moment of the night. I was literally shouting at home. Knocking out Nate Diaz? Benson Henderson couldn’t do that in five rounds, hell, no one could do it. In fact, Thomson’s performance against Melendez was more convincing than Benson Henderson’s last night. But back to Diaz, that was the third head kick Thomson had landed and it was a beauty. It looked like for a moment Diaz would be able to stall and recover, but Thomson wasn’t having any of it. What a perfect way to return to the UFC for Josh Thomson, who put the LW division on notice. Thomson just skyrocketed up the rankings and put himself in prime position to challenge for the title at some point in the future.
5. Matt Brown may really be immortal. He illustrated the definition of true toughness and proved how dangerous he can be yet again. The first round between Brown and Mein had fight of the year potential in the making, if the other two rounds were going to be anything like it. There was more action in that one round than some fights that go the distance. Brown bounced back from big body shots that Mein was able to deliver after he shook off Brown’s initial flurries and found his rhythm. It was beginning to look like Mein’s previous victory: Mein staying patient, picking his shots and then pouncing. Brown went down and it looked like we were headed for a stoppage. But Brown didn’t get the memo. He hung in and eventually got back to his feet where he began punishing Mein to end the round. He picked up right where he left off in Round 2 and made quick work of Mein, demolishing him and earning a hard fought victory. Brown needs a top 10 guy now, to see what he can really do.
6. Chad Mendes is hungry. Another opponent and yet another first round KO. Elkins looked very impressive in his previous fights, but he didn’t look like he belonged in the same cage with Mendes. “Money” walked right through him and didn’t look back. Mendes called out Jose Aldo while celebrating his win and he just may get his wish at some point in the future. There’s a logjam at featherweight now, with Pettis dropping down to challenge Aldo and Ricardo Lamas, Chan Sung Jung and Cub Swanson all vying for a shot as well. But when it does happen, we’re likely to see a very different fight from their first matchup, where Mendes had a face to face with Jose Aldo’s knee in Brazil.
7. Myles Jury impressed, but…I had to wonder whether he had a little luck with his KO of Nijem. Granted he did what he should have, which was keep his chin down and counter on a charging Nijem, who rushed in with his head up and ate a huge hook. But it seems like Jury threw blindly and just happened to perfectly connect with Nijem’s face. The scrambling in the first round highlighted both fighters and their impressive ground skills, but in the stand up…it’s hard to tell if Jury won this fight because he has elite striking or Nijem lost because he was too reckless. Jury’s next matchup should tell a lot.
8. Team Alpha Male had a big night. Mendes, Joseph Benavidez and T.J. Dillashaw all scored KO victories. New coach Duane Ludwig was prominently mentioned throughout the show and a lot of credit went to him for the performances of the TAM fighters. For how good the TAM guys are already, it’s scary to think they could become even better with the right head coach.
9. Speaking of KO victories….The results of this card look something like this: KO, KO, KO, decision, KO, KO, KO, etc. This card may have set the UFC record for KO finishes. What an epic card, one of the most entertaining and memorable of the year by far. All the way from the Main Event down to the FB prelims. And speaking of the prelims…
10. Prelims deliver. Both Facebook fights delivered knockout finishes. Anthony Njokuani and newcomer Yoel Romero added to their highlight reels, especially Romero with an insanely athletic and accurate flying knee to the face. The seats may be empty at the arena during that time, but the Facebook prelims are not to be missed. The fights were entertaining before the knockouts and all of the guys are quality fighters.