By George Shunick
When the UFC first began its relationship with Fox, the results were mixed. The first show had only a 64 second fight, and the next two shows – while solid – didn’t do so well in the ratings. Even as the cards themselves picked up on UFC on Fox 4 and 5, the production of the show was excessively drawn out and was tedious to watch at times. But UFC on Fox 6 showed just how good these cards can be. Packed with excellent, violent fights, and backed with the full might of the Fox marketing machine, this card was the first that fulfilled the potential of MMA on network television.
But let’s talk fights, shall we? I know the flyweights aren’t nearly as respected as they should be in some parts of the fight community, but if you’re still in those parts after last night’s performance, do us all a favor, stop reading and get the fuck out. Because what you just witnessed was one of the best, if not the best 5-round title fights in the promotion’s history.
In an extraordinarily competitive fight, John Dodson took an early lead off the strength of his…well, strength. He landed a number of monster lefts that were able to knock Demetrious Johnson down, and showed how he is arguably the most exciting fighter in the entire division. But it was for naught, because what Dodson has in excitement, Johnson has in sheer stamina, will and technique. He roared back in the latter rounds, particularly the championship rounds, delivering innumerable knees to the head, body and legs, mixing in takedowns, and consistently pushing forward.
Dodson was unable to keep Johnson’s pace, and in the final round, Johnson unleashed vicious flurries as Dodson backed up. Though he never wilted, Dodson was defeated. Demetrious Johnson remained champion, and was able to deliver one of the better post-fight shout outs you’ll hear. While Benson Henderson may believe all things are possible through Christ (excuse me, “through CHRIST!!!”), Johnson appears to have sided with a more contemporary deity – the Xbox 360.
In the co-main event, Glover Teixeira showed why the hype behind him isn’t a joke. “Rampage” Jackson came out motivated, and despite the snark put forth his way of late, he put up a fight. He mixed in hooks, low kicks, jabs, and had excellent head movement and defense throughout. Was he in the best shape of his life, as he claimed? No. But he presented a serious challenge to Teixeira, who throws mostly hooks, which Jackson excels in defending. And through the first few minutes of the first round, you could make the argument Jackson was winning the fight.
Then Glover decided it was time to use some world class grappling. Jackson’s takedown defense isn’t what it was, but then again, the wrestling in MMA isn’t what it was either. Teixeira transitioned beautifully between single legs, double legs and body locks during his takedowns, and that’s how he was able to drag Quentin down. And when he had him down, that’s where “Rampage” was helpless. He was able to return to his feet each time, save the last, but not before suffering ground and pound and fending off submission attempts.
On the feet, the fight remained competitive, though Glover was able to hurt Jackson at least twice. The best moment of the fight came in the second round, where Jackson and Teixeira engaged in a type of call-and-response boxing exchange, each man trading combinations and daring the other to fell him. It was a surreal test of skill and display of braggadocio from both men, and when Teixeira came on top after landing a serious body shot, you knew that the fight was over.
Jackson’s career in the UFC might be done now, but even in defeat he helped build a challenger – who realized he had to develop a jab against a an opponent with excellent boxing defense – in a division that he helped define for the better part of the past decade. Hopefully, he won’t end up as the next Gary Goodridge, but only time will tell.
I have mixed feelings about the bout between Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone. On one hand, I thought this was going to be the most exciting, competitive, back-and-forth fight of the night. (In other words, I thought it was going to be Fight of the Night.) That did not happen. But what did happen… what did happen was Pettis made Cerrone – who possesses arguably the best Muay Thai in the division – look like a nobody. He utterly annihilated him with superior boxing, footwork, a spinning wheel kick (that missed), a knee off the wall and finally a brutal liver kick that probably gave Bas Rutten a spontaneous erection, even if he wasn’t watching the fights. There’s not much to say here – Anthony Pettis deserves, and is getting, the next lightweight title shot after Melendez. He’s also the most exciting striker not named Anderson Silva.
On the first fight of the main card, Ricardo Lamas continued his tear in the featherweight division by brutally dispatching Erik Koch in the second round. After Koch attempted to capitalize on a Lamas slip, only to be taken down, Lamas rained devastation from above, smashing Kock with elbows and punches that opened up a brutal cut, squirting blood of its own accord. Koch, someone who was supposed to challenge Jose Aldo for the featherweight crown, was left with nothing but shattered dreams and blood. Lots and lots of blood. Lamas, on the other hand, might take his place as the next man in line for a shot.
Two notes from the undercard; one, Clay Guida did not deserve to win that fight. Hatsu Hioki, although he was on the bottom for most of the fight, controlled the entire fight with his guard and through submission attempts. He even did more damage than Guida on the feet. Judges continue to overrate takedowns that accomplish little to nothing for the fighter in top position. If it was Minotauro Nogueira on bottom, he’d have won. Because he’s Asian and relatively unknown, he lost. It’s unacceptable. On the bright side, T.J. Grant brought the pain to Matt Wiman. Grant dominated with brilliant Muay Thai before putting Wiman out of his misery with two beautiful standing elbows. Sadly, he didn’t manage to get KO of the Night because of Pettis’ liver kick, but he should get a fight with Jim Miller to find out who truly has the best ginger beard in the division.
Main Card Results
Demetrious Johnson def. John Dodson via UD (48-47 x2, 49-46)
Glover Teixeira def. Quentin “Rampage” Jackson via UD (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Anthony Pettis def. Donald Cerrone via TKO (2:35, Round 1)
Ricardo Lamas def. Erik Koch via TKO (2:32, Round 2)
Preliminary Card Results
T.J. Grant def. Matt Wiman via KO (4:51, Round 1)
Clay Guida def. Hatsu Hioki via SD (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
Pascal Krauss def. Mike Stumpf via UD (30-27 x3)
Ryan Bader def. Vladimir Matyushenko via SUB (0:50, Round 1)
Shawn Jordan def. Mike Russow via TKO (3:48, Round 2)
Rafael Natal def. Shane Spencer via SUB (2:13, Round 3)
David Mitchell def. Simeon Thoreson via UD (30-27 x3)