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UFC on FOX 10: Henderson vs. Thomson — The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

(Adriano Martins’s kick-face: Ugly, but fantastic. / Screen-shot via CP reader 5knuckleshuffle)

By Mark Dorsey

It’s starting to become a tradition to bring the UFC to Chicago in January, and this time it was particularly cold in the Windy City for UFC on FOX 10. While the preliminary fights provided a lot of excitement, the main card was dragged down by some dull moments. Nevertheless, there’s still quite a lot of stuff to talk about so join us for a final look back at the event with a Clint Eastwood-esque squinty-eyed glare.

The Good

UFC on FOX Production. At this point, the production of the UFC on FOX series is crisp, well-paced, and truly hitting its stride. The broadcast-introduction they’ve been doing with Ving Rhames narrating the story of the main event fighters while suspenseful music plays in the background was intense, as always. (It kicks the ass of the nu-metal “Bring the Pain” intro from the UFC pay-per-views, at least). Hopefully they keep Marsellus Wallace around.

The Fox analyst crew also did a great job, adding even more professionalism to the proceedings. The enthusiastic Daniel Cormier sounded like a seasoned pro joking about gumbo and jambalaya next to old staples Brian Stann and Curt Menefee. The only drawback about the analysts was that they weren’t used enough. The more time they spend breaking down the fights and analyzing the fighters’ skill-sets, the better. In fact, I’d love to see the broadcast kick back to the desk in between every fight, which would help new fans get more familiar with the fighters and wrap their heads around what they just saw.

Cowboy. Donald Cerrone‘s performance was one of the few highlights in an otherwise lackluster main card. Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg were doing their best to hype Adriano Martins as a worthy opponent, but despite the fact that Martins looked pretty good for a guy Cowboy had never heard of, Cerrone completely out-classed him. Cerrone was patient, picking his shots in the first round until he finally caught Martins with his hands down and landed a knockout shin kick to the head.

After the KO, Cerrone could have landed another shot to his unconscious opponent but to his credit he held back and didn’t follow up with an unnecessary punch. In fact, his calmness after the fight was chilling. The old adage in football when you score a touchdown is to act like you’ve been there before; that’s exactly what Cerrone did, looking like a stone-cold killer.

The performance earned Cowboy the Knockout of the Night bonus — his third such award in the UFC — and put Cerrone ahead of Anderson Silva and Joe Lauzon for the most amount of fight bonuses in Zuffa promotions: 13, when you count his WEC bumps. It was a clear highlight in a card that did not have a lot of them. Next up? Give Cowboy a top-five opponent and let’s see if he can work his way into title contention.

The Bad

Missing Corner Commentary. In an earlier column, I criticized Fox for failing to provide a translation for Edson Barbosa’s corner in between rounds at UFC on Fox 9. The Fox crew blundered again this time around during Jeremy Stephens vs. Darren Elkins when they failed to provide audio for Stephens’s corner in between the first and second round. It’s a small quibble, but as somebody who really enjoys hearing the advice given by the corners during the fight, it was annoying. There’s absolutely no point in even showing the corners if we’re just going to look at the fighters and their trainers. In between rounds is one of the few times we get to hear actual strategy in the midst of the battle, and I wish we’d get to actually hear it.

No title shot for Henderson. After a questionable split-decision win was announced for Benson Henderson, Dana White told the media that a title shot was not likely for Bendo. While I’m certainly not dying to see a third fight between Anthony Pettis and Ben Henderson, the UFC has developed a ranking system [Ed. note: LOL] and guess who the number one lightweight contender is? That’s right, it’s Mr. Smooth himself. Regardless, of whether you like his fighting style or not, Henderson is next in line.

Dana White has said many times that he wants the UFC to be like the NFL and other major league sports. Well let me ask you this: if the Denver Broncos had barely beaten the New England Patriots in a rather boring game do you think they would be prevented from competing in the Super Bowl because Roger Goodell didn’t think it was an impressive performance? Of course not. A win is a win and Bendo earned his title shot. If the UFC wants to match guys up completely subjectively than they should be a bit more honest about it and get rid of the ranking system. Otherwise the rankings are entirely illegitimate. Regardless, it’s clear that one of the biggest stories coming out of Saturday night’s fights is that the UFC has a Benson Henderson problem.

The Ugly

Fox Robots. As mentioned above, the UFC on Fox was really tight and professional from a production standpoint. However, there was an element of production that was just horrible: those damn robots. They’re like something out of that horrible kids’ movie starting Hugh Jackman. The robots have become a staple of Fox Sports programming and as MMA fans we should be getting used to them. However, no matter how many times I see them, I just can’t get over how stupid they are. At UFC on Fox 10, they were out in full force, shadowboxing with the UFC ring girls. Thanks to Mike Goldberg, we learned that the boxing robot has a name: Beatus. Wow. Even company-man Joe Rogan couldn’t hold back his feelings on the robots, lamenting on-air that they should “throw that thing in the garbage.” And that’s one of the reasons people love Joe Rogan so much. He’s not afraid to call it like it is, whether it’s bad refereeing, horrible judging or stupid robots.

Safety issue. With about 40 seconds left in his fight against Darren Elkins, Jeremy Stephens got his foot caught in the gap between the cage and the mat. Rogan and Goldberg were talking about how it appeared that Stephens hurt his leg, and my guess is he was hurt because he briefly caught his foot in the gap. This isn’t the first time fighters have slipped into the crack, and it’s something the UFC really needs to address. If they don’t, somebody’s going to break an ankle, twist their knee, or otherwise get seriously hurt.

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