Through two events on FOX, it seemed as though the UFC was struggling to find the right mix of entertainment, stellar talent, and high quality performances. The first event saw an hour long broadcast consist of only 1:12 of action. The second card featured three bouts, none of which were particularly entertaining; especially to the “casual” fan we covet so dearly.
It seems as though the UFC may have finally perfected the recipe, and was it ever delicious.
We saw the improved ground game of Pat Barry come up short against a tough Lavar Johnson. Alan Belcher entered deep waters with Paul Harris (or was that Rousimar Palhares? I can never tell), partaking in an entertaining submission exchange which saw both of them in troublesome situations, before Belcher and his awful Johnny Cash tattoo ground and pounded their way to a victory.
Johny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck took part in an entertaining stand-up fight that saw both men rocked multiple times, with Hendricks taking a split decision in the end.
Finally, Nate Diaz proved he’s ready for a world title opportunity by submitting Jim Miller in an entertaining affair.
Now that UFC on FOX 3 is in the books, it’s time to look forward. With that in mind, let’s see what’s next for last night’s winners.
Lavar “Big” Johnson (sorry, but that’s hilarious) proved he has the solid chin it will take to stand with the devastating strikers in the heavyweight division. Whether or not he has the skill set to hang remains to be seen, but we’ll likely find out in the coming months. Although we did not see submission skills from Johnson, we did see him fight out of an awful situation (even it Barry did jump from mount to side control), and avoid getting submitted in what looked to be a potentially fight ending position.
Personally, I’d like to see Johnson take on a submission fighter next. Although he avoided the submission attempts to Pat Barry, he’ll have to do the same against a much better grappler to prove his worth. After all, four of his five losses have come by submission. The UFC tends to put brawlers against opposing strikers, and they may do something similar here.
Verdict: Ben Rothwell or loser of Mark Hunt/Stefan Struve
Alan Belcher claimed going into this fight that fans shouldn’t be surprised if he’s able to submit Rousimar Palhares in the bout, a claim which many gaffed at. Palhares was the leg eating machine and had never been submitted.
Well the critics (myself included) almost ate our words as Belcher came very close to doing the unthinkable. After failed attempts at a banana split and a twister (sounds like a trip to Dairy Queen), Belcher opted to just throw bombs en route to finishing Palhares in the first.
Expect Belcher, now on a three fight, can expect a significant upswing in opponent caliber in his next outing. He’s long proven to be an entertaining fighter to watch and now he is on the cusp of entering the elite.
Verdict: With most of the talent ahead of Belcher tied up at the moment, he will likely have to wait a while for his next bout. I think the loser of Michael Bisping/Tim Boetsch makes sense.
If Johny Hendricks didn’t prove he was in the elite with his win over Jon Fitch last December, he certainly did with his narrow decision of Josh Koscheck at UFC on FOX 3. The Texan used crisp powerful boxing to swell up the eye on Koscheck and make things difficult for him the entire bout.
Verdict: With most of the top welterweights tied up with prior engagements, I think a bout with Rory Macdonald would be entertaining and give us a better idea of who’s next for the eventual champion.
Welcome to the title picture, Nate. After spending years on the fringe and hiding in his brother’s shadow, Diaz stepped up at UFC on FOX 3 and made a statement in finishing Jim Miller. His boxing looked as crisp as ever, and his submission game proved to be too much for the New Jersey native. Rumours circulated that Diaz would be next in line for a title shot, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Verdict: Anthony Pettis. If that fight doesn’t give you goosebumps in anticipation, nothing will.