10 Thoughts on the Fox Sports 1 debut of UFN 26

Check out 10 Thoughts on UFN 26, the first UFC event on newly launched Fox Sports 1:

1. The UFC Fight Night debut on Fox Sports 1 was easily a success. The UFC time and again puts on entertaining shows with essentially seamless transitions. Rogan and Anik worked very well together and brought a good combination of color commentary and analysis to the table, with only a minor slip here and there. The fighters put on great fights throughout the event, from top to bottom. You saw exciting finishes ranging from eye-popping knockouts to literally breathtaking submissions. You couldn’t have really asked for a better show as a fan. A great start for MMA on Fox Sports 1.

2. What to do with Chael Sonnen? Sonnen’s impressive performance was just that: very impressive. Most people were probably expecting a drawn-out brawl that see-sawed between Shogun’s striking and Sonnen’s wrestling. We actually saw Shogun take Sonnen down once before Sonnen regained control and what a move to pull guard to lock in that guillotine before the end of the round. But where does he go from here? Back to middleweight? Stay at light heavyweight? He called out Wanderlei Silva after the fight (and boy, Sonnen can talk), and he probably gets him.

3. Travis Browne deserves a ton of credit. The fight was very, very close to being stopped but Browne was nowhere near being finished. He just hung in, hung in and hung in some more, whipping those front kicks to keep Overeem off balance and get some breathing room. Eventually, Overeem slowed down and walked lackadaisically towards Browne and BAM. Browne is a tough guy with a lot of heart; he even threw out some genuine and touching words to the Boston crowd. It looks like there is a lot of potential for him in the future.  And speaking of Browne’s ability to bounce back…

4. This does not bode well for Alistair Overeem. Is Alistair Overeem done? The question sounds ridiculous when you watch him fight. Overeem was rolling in the early part of that fight. Then things took a bad turn for him. Since his failed drug test after running through Brock Lesnar two years ago he is now 0-2, and in both fights he was winning handily in the early moments, then his opponent came back with a vengeance to put Overeem down hard. Browne’s victory looked an awful lot like what Bigfoot Silva did, wait out Overeem’s barrages and survive, let him gas, then turn up the heat and put Overeem down. It just doesn’t seem like Overeem has the same zing in his strikes that he used to. And while he is obviously still very muscular and powerful, he doesn’t quite have that same chiseled physique that he did in his pre-UFC days. When he was hammering at Browne on the ground, it seemed like five years ago that fight would have been stopped. Ditto for some moments in the Bigfoot fight. Overeem may not be finished, but it’s clear that he is no longer elite.

5. Urijah Faber wins yet again.  He  didn’t have the seamless victory he has had in some of his recent fights, but his performance against Alcantara was impressive nonetheless. He was in a dangerous position against a very dangerous opponent and managed to escape. Once he did, it was all Faber from then on. Credit to Alcantara for hanging in and making things interesting, but Faber was totally dominant. His desire to make big fights for the fans was well-founded before this fight, and now it makes even more sense. He’s going to beat anyone they put in front of him until he finds himself in another title fight.

6. Matt Brown cruises to another victory.  He didn’t even need to get rocked before winning this one. He went after Pyle from the opening second and after connecting on various strikes, that was all she wrote. Brown is going to get someone high up the ladder next and it’s going to be a true test to see how far away he truly is from a championship fight. There probably aren’t a lot of guys in the top ten who are eager to take a match-up with Brown, so he might do well to take a page out of the Chael Sonnen handbook and start calling people out by name. By the way, someone please tell the Immortal that Mike Pyle is NOT better than GSP (which Brown stated post-fight).

7. Uriah Hall is not as good as we thought.  Is he a bad fighter? Of course not. But he is 0-2 now after blazing through the competition during TUF 17. He lost the final to Gastelum, a fight many expected him to win, and he lost to Howard, another fight many expected him to win. As mentioned by Rogan and Anik, Howard was the biggest underdog of the card and Rogan didn’t agree with that. Now we know why. Hall was very competitive and the one 30-27 score for Howard had me shaking my head. But it wasn’t enough to beat Howard who gave Hall all he could handle and then some. Hall is a special talent, but he needs to be built up very slowly, similar to a Charles Oliveira or Jordan Mein. These guys are the future of the UFC, but they aren’t quite ready for the deep waters just yet.

8. Speaking of Hall vs. Howard...the guys might have been just a little too friendly and casual throughout their fight. Sportsmanship is awesome and amazing to see in any competitive event, but there is a line between being classy and honorable, to being a little too casual and amused. Hall and Howard walked that fine line in their fight, and it wouldn’t be surprising to hear about their coaches letting them hear about it later on. If I’m a coach, I want my fighter calm and relaxed, but I don’t want him high-fiving his opponent and smiling mid-fight as often as he throws front kicks. At times it looked more like a friendly sparring session than a fight. Not the best sign for your fighter when they desperately need to win.

9. Michael Johnson dazzles…in the first and third rounds. He took a strange, yet effective approach in the second, presumably to save some energy to close out the fight. Johnson looked fantastic in the stand-up and most importantly, he was able to shrug off Lauzon’s take down attempts. That was a huge key to this fight and if Lauzon wanted to keep it standing, that was going to be in Johnson’s favor. Johnson struggled with wrestlers and BJJ guys in the past. Lauzon didn’t really chase those takedowns like a rabid dog, but he did try and Johnson stuffed him. A good sign for MJ and perhaps a glimpse of what is to come.

10. Much like the main card, the prelims deliver. The whole card was entertaining and that was a huge bonus for the debut of FS1. The prelims featured a few finishes, both KO and submission and a whole lot of action. Match-ups like these are only going to help the growth of the sport, especially considering the ever increasing exposure to a wider audience. Credit to the matchmakers and fighters for keeping fans happy and entertained.

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