The 7th UFC card to be aired on FOX was a gigantic success for the company. Saturday night’s fights included 8 jaw-shattering knockouts, and 4 exciting battles that went the distance. This card has to rank fairly highly among the UFC’s best cards, and definitely atop of the greatest cards to be shown on Fox.
The card started off with a spectacular KO; UFC newcomer Yoel Romero showed off his skills in the cage against the athletic Clifford Starks who fell to 1-2 in the UFC. Romero took flight in the first round with a well-timed flying knee that dropped Starks, Romero then finished him off with a couple shots on the ground and it was all over. This impressive finish earned Romero a slot to be paired with Josh Thomson as Knockout of the Night.
After that, a technical showcase of striking was on display as a counter left hook ended Roger Bowling’s night. The muay thai styled striker, Anthony Njokuani, took his time developing his rhythm against the ulta-aggressive power hitter Roger Bowling, but when he found his timing, he found his knockout.
These two KO’s started the card off on Facebook, where the action then transitioned to FX for a showdown between bantamweight up n’ comer, TJ Dillashaw, and KO artist Hugo Viana. Ironically, it was TJ who showed he was the heavier hittier. Viana got Dillashaw’s attention early, cracking him with some big shots, but Dillashaw’s hand speed and combinations proved too much. He had Viana hurt with a right hand, and swarmed him for a TKO win late in the first round.
After three straight finishes in a row, we finally got a taste of a 15 minute fight between Tim Means and Jorge Masvidal. This was a great back and forth battle where both fighters showcased their striking. Means battered Masvidal with kicks but it was Jorge who threw the harder punches. Even though a majority of the fight was spent on the ground, the action never took a break. Means displayed a dangerous bottom game, slicing open Masvidal’s skin with sharp elbows and punches off of his back. However, the judges favored the takedowns and top control of Masvidal and gave him the nod at the end of a bloody 3 round war.
Next up was a pair of stoppages with Joseph Benavidez and Myles Jury as the victors. Benavidez vastly out struck his opponent, Darren Uyenoyama, and proved why he is at the top of the flyweight division and staked his claim for a possible title shot. Myles Jury also made a very strong claim, moving to 3-0 in the UFC. He shocked and awed the audience with a thrilling one-punch KO over TUF finalist Ramsey Nijem. He countered the wild striking of Nijem with a perfectly placed right hook that shook the Octagon and left his opponent out cold. To follow these two finishes was another decision, however this one was controversial. Strikeforce standout Lorenz Larkin took on the dangerous grappler Francis Carmont for 15 minutes. Larkin spent the majority of the fight out-striking Carmont and defending takedowns, but it wasn’t enough. The judges favored Carmont’s takedowns and aggressive attempts over Larkin’s defense and striking game and gave the fight to Carmont. This decision was rejected by many fans.
To close the night on FX was an exciting featherweight bout between Chad “Money” Mendes and the up n’ coming fighter Darren Elkins. Both of these guys sported impressive streaks, with Mendes coming off of two back-to-back first round stoppages. Mendes continued that streak in impressive fashion by knocking the formidable challenger, Darren Elkins, out cold with a series of right hands on the feet. This win would put Mendes’s name back into the mix at 145 pounds. Unfortunately, several fighters are also in the exact same spot as him.
Onto the main card on Fox! The main featured bouts started off with a back-and-forth war between two of the most battle-tested veterans of the sport; Jordan Mein, and Matt Brown. These two guys slugged it out for the Fight of the Night bonus, despite only going 6 minutes. While Mein’s dangerously accurate body shots had Brown crippled in the first round, Brown’s tempo, pressure, and volume shifted the momentum of the fight. A series of punches and knees left Mein turtled up on the mat in the second round, to then be finished by strikes to the body. Matt Brown’s impressive performance left a window into the top ten at 170 pounds.
Speaking of windows into the top ten, Josh Thomson glided through an opening last night when he became the first fighter to stop Nate Diaz in his tracks. Thomson came out with a footwork-heavy gameplan, sticking and moving on Diaz, and making him chase him around for the majority of the fight. Thomson looked quick, accurate, and very lethal with his striking, landing a bone-chilling headkick in the second round. Thomson followed up with a barrage of flush right hands before the referee finally stepped in. During the replays, you saw a towel also being thrown in by Diaz’s corner. This stoppage gave Josh Thomson the second Knockout of the Night bonus, and a slot among the top 10 at 155 pounds.
Moving onto the main events of the evening. Daniel Cormier and Frank Mir were pitted in an exciting heavyweight match up to give Cormier a chance to catapult among the top in the heavyweight division. It was unknown whether Mir would be able to utilize his grappling, and that answer was no. Cormier implemented his gameplan and stuck with it for 15 grueling minutes. He stuffed Mir into the corner against the cage, and battered him up with punches for the majority of the fight. He hit Mir with several hard shots, and most importantly defended from any attempts to sway the momentum of the fight. Mir displayed some flashy kicks, but nothing proved effective against the stocky wrestler who out-muscled the UFC veteran and dominated the score board.
The main event of the evening also went to the judges, but was in no-way a dominating performance at all. Lightweight champions Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez fought for 25 minutes in a fast-paced striking match that featured both fighters in impressive ways. While Henderson started out slow in the first round, allowing Melendez to get off with his striking first, he picked it up through-out the next four rounds to squeak a split decision by his opponent. Henderson won the bout based on his footwork and leg kicks that gave him a distinct advantage in volume. According to Fight Metric, Henderson landed 4-times more leg strikes than Melendez, and out-landed him by a fairly moderate margin. Melendez proved tough and durable however, landing good punches of his own and winning 2 rounds (three rounds according to one judge.)
This sums up last night’s card. It was an exciting one and was full of great moments! Thanks for reading, please comment!