While it could be said that Dana White and the UFC did not construct the most interesting of fight cards for Saturday’s live event on FOX, the fighters certainly delivered a night of exciting fights and finishes. More importantly, the FOX audience was finally able to see what mixed martial can be: an entertaining war between two ultra-tough, and ultra-talented athletes, where each bears his soul to the millions of viewers, or a display of technical violence that can be a thing of beauty.
Mike Swick is Back
Mike Swick has been away from the fight game for a long time. After fighting injury and a round of health issues, everyone knew he would enter the Octagon with some ring-rust. And if you watched the first round, the rust showed. Swick was out-grappled by a game Demarques Johnson, nearly being caught in a D’Arce choke. Swick was also mounted, and had his back taken several times. By the end of the round, he looked battered and winded.
Round 2 was a where the rust fell off, though. Swick was able to catch a Johnson kick, and push him to the mat, while simultaneously landing a crushing right hand to Johnson’s face to put him on Queer Street. Two more violent right hands shut the lights for good. Should he stay healthy, Swick will once again be a contender for the belt.
Possible Next Fight for Swick: Thiago Alves
Lauzon Submits Varner
Jamie Varner and Joe Lauzon did exactly what anyone who follows MMA knew they would do – they put on one of the best fights of the year, left their hearts and souls on the mat, and entertained every fan in attendance in watching around the world with guts, technique, toughness, power, and most importantly, mutual respect.
After two grueling rounds of pounding each other, Varner and Lauzon met in the center of the Octagon for a respectful hug before they kicked off the final round of what was a tremendously exciting fight. Some bloggers have stated their distaste and disappointment in this gesture, but I for one supported it whole-heartedly. MMA is a sport, and in the grand scheme of things, sports are not important. Sometimes respect and class is the one glaring thing missing from combat sports like MMA (e.g. Chael Sonnen). It was great PR for the UFC.
Although Varner came away the loser via triangle choke, he has nothing to be ashamed of. He is sure to be invited back by Dana White and Joe Silva in the very near future.
As for Lauzon, he showed once again why people should stop sleeping on him. Although he slipped up recently with losses to Anthony Pettis and George Sotiropolous, he is the real deal, and needs a step-up in competition.
Possible Next Fight for Lauzon: Mark Bocek
Machida Embarrasses Bader
Machida did more of the same last night when he faced yet another wrestler looking to slug and grapple. Much like Randy Couture and Rashad Evans before him, Ryan “Darth” Bader had no clue how to attack the elusive Machida. In a fit of frustration, Bader charged at the karate master, face-first, and ran directly into a short, stiff right hand that jolted him to sleep. Kudos to Machida for showing restraint by following up with only one punch, when he could have landed a couple more violent blows to the downed wrestler.
It looks like a foregone conclusion that “The Dragon” will be recipient of a title rematch with Jon Jones, should he get past Dan Henderson. Lyoto Machida may be one of the only men in the division who can out-strike Jones. Should Machida lose to Jones again or Henderson, it is likely he would move to 185 to vie for the title there.
Next Fight: Jon Jones/ Dan Henderson
Rua Wins, Disappoints
The only prediction from my pre-fight article that did not prove to be true was Mauricio Rua crushing Brandon Vera in the main event of Saturdays FOX event. Instead Vera came to fight, and Rua came into the Octagon looking soft, and gassed very early in the fight. From the outset, Vera was landing heavy kicks and held his ground in each round. Many believed Vera was overmatched based on his terrible string of performances inside the UFC, and Rua’s impressive wins over Machida and Forrest Griffin. This was not the case.
Eventually, in the 4th round, Rua was able to KO Vera. But, the goal for last night’s show was not simply to win, but to win in impressive fashion. This would have secured Rua another shot at the light heavyweight belt. Rua did not look impressive, and did not show anything that would lead one to believe he could beat Jon “Bones” Jones in a rematch.
So where does Rua go from here? It’s hard to say what the UFC plans to do with him. He isn’t going to win the title any time soon, but he is still a top fighter and a big name draw. As for now, he will most likely be happy with fighting other big names for big paydays until retirement.
Possible Next Fight: Ryan Bader