Barry didn’t check on Morecraft, but it’s safe to say he got some fans. Props: UFC.com
Overall, the UFC’s fourth biggest debut on a television network, which showcased two of the best lightweights coming off of losses and the organization’s second best announcing team, was as successful as it could have been. Sure, there were some long pauses in between the fights, but that’s to be expected when you draw out 60 minutes of actual fighting into a five hour television broadcast. The rattling punches and tapping hands that signaled an early end to many of last night’s fights kept a perfect rhythm with a drum we’ve been beating on CagePotato for quite some time now: The key to victory in mixed martial arts is evolution, not regression. If a fighter wants to stay relevant- or even employed- within the UFC, he needs to develop himself into the most complete fighter he can.
For an example of this, look no further than Melvin Guillard. Both fans and pundits were calling his performance “Vintage Melvin” while the dynamic striker aggressively pursued Jim Miller, arguably coming closer to knocking out the submission specialist than anyone else has. However, after one flying knee attempt too many saw Miller putting Guillard on his back, “Vintage Melvin” demonstrated the same ground game that has always been his kryptonite. An impatient Melvin Guillard did everything he could to get back to his feet, which resulted in Jim Miller taking his back and sinking in the fight ending choke. “The Young Assassin” is now 10-6 in the UFC, with all of his losses coming by submission. While permanently relegating Guillard to the undercards may be a bit drastic, it’s obvious that Guillard will never be a contender unless he fixes those holes in his ground game- something far easier said than done at this point in his career.
Jim Miller did exactly what we knew he needed to do to win. He weathered the storm against Guillard’s attack, he was persistent with his takedown attempts and he kept the fight on the ground once it went there. While a quick submission wasn’t exactly unexpected, it was still impressive enough to earn him Submission of the Night honors.
The co-main event of the evening had knockout of the night written all over it, with both men known primarily for their standup games. As expected, Duane Ludwig got the better of Josh Neer on the feet. Yet Neer kept pushing forward against Ludwig’s crisp attack and managed to drag Duane “Bang” to the ground. Once there, Neer did what few anticipated and locked up a fight ending guillotine. “The Dentist” improves to 33-10 in his mixed martial arts career, picking up his twelfth victory by submission.
The evening’s Fight of the Night honors surprisingly did not go to Mike Easton vs. Jared Papazian, but rather Pat Barry vs. Christian Morecraft. Pat Barry may have struggled to stop Morecraft’s takedowns, but “HD” displayed a much improved ground game- a testament to his time training with Team Deathclutch. Never mind that impressive roll out of the armbar attempt- as little as two fights ago, Pay Barry would have been choked out the first time Morecraft mounted him and began to work for the rear-naked choke. Yet Barry’s continued efforts to evolve as a fighter paid off, as he managed both times to get back to his feet and outstrike Morecraft. After dropping Morecraft with a left hook, Barry swarmed in with some vicious ground and pound to end the fight at the 3:38 mark of round one.
If you didn’t get to see Mike Easton vs. Jared Papazian, you missed an excellent fight that has essentially become par for the course whenever the bantamweights step into the octagon. Both men displayed excellent conditioning in a quick paced fight, with Easton getting the better of Papazian in the standup exchanges throughout the fight. But don’t feel bad if you missed it- apparently one of the judges missed the fight as well, scoring it a 28-28 draw. Easton improves to 12-1 with the victory.
On a final note, Knockout of the Night honors went to Canadian prospect Nick “The Ninja of Love” Denis (seriously) for his brutal standing elbows knockout over Joseph “Not Dan Hardy” Sandoval (seriously). The impressive UFC debut for Denis improves his record to 11-2, with ten of those victories coming by knockout. All bonuses from the evening were worth $45k.
-Nick Denis def. Joseph Sandoval via KO (standing elbows) 0:22 of Round 1
-Daniel Pineda def. Pat Schilling via submission (rear-naked choke) 1:37 of Round 1
-Fabricio Camoes def. Tommy Hayden via submission (rear-naked choke) 4:03 of Round 1
-Charlie Brenneman def. Daniel Roberts via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
-Habib “The Nurm” Nurmagomedov def. Kamal Shalorus via submission (rear-naked choke) 2:08 of Round 3
-Jorge Rivera def. Eric Schafer via TKO (punches) 1:31 of Round 2
Main Card Results
- Barry def. Morecraft via KO (punches) at 3:38 of Round 1
- Mike Easton def. Jared Papazian via majority decision
- Josh Neer def. Duane Ludwig via submission (guillotine) at 3:05 of Round 1
- Jim Miller def. Melvin Guillard via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:04 of Round 1