The “buzz” surrounding UFC on FX 5 was probably more about the fights that didn’t happen than the fights that actually took place. Dennis Hallman vs. Thiago Tavares was yanked following Hallman missing weight, but sadly it’s since been revealed by Hallman that he’s been dealing with personal issues pertaining to his wife’s drug problem and he was not in fighting shape mentally or physically. Jeremy Stephens was arrested in Minnesota the morning of the card, and his fight with Yves Edwards was cancelled according to everyone except Dana White, who seemed to be in a state of panic over a bout between two unranked lightweights with zero Minnesota ties on the FUEL prelims.
Nevertheless, fights actually did go on, and it was a night ranging from unexpected barnburners and disappointing snoozers. Let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers from Friday’s show.
– Antonio Silva. That was a win Bigfoot desperately needed and he did it with a fantastic KO over one of the few real “prospects” the heavyweight division has. Is he capable of competing for a title? Probably not. Two guys ahead of him in the title picture already knocked him out and Junior dos Santos would almost certainly make it a trifecta, but he’s still a top 10 guy who is a valuable addition to the UFC’s HW roster. As I mentioned yesterday, a fight with Stefan Struve is a great one to make for early 2013.
– John Dodson. The fight was boring, but Dodson got the W and showed off his power once more. From a technical standpoint he’s arguably superior to Joseph Benavidez with an equal amount of power. He might be an irritant to listen to during the post-fight interviews, but he’s a great fighter and a formidable challenge for Demetrious Johnson. It’s also good from the standpoint of The Ultimate Fighter that one of their champions is actually a top-10 level guy for the first time since Ryan Bader.
– Michael Johnson and Mike Pierce. What a way to cap off the prelims! Consecutive comeback KOs early in the 2nd round from two very underrated fighters. Michael Johnson is not only excellent in the 200 and 400 meters, but he’s now pulled off a third straight upset. There were questions about Johnson’s gas tank when he failed to finish a hurt Jonathan Brookins in the TUF 12 final, but he’s noticeably improved there and he’s been able to overcome adversity to get victories. Mike Pierce is criticized for his grinding style, but his fight with Aaron Simpson was anything but a bore. Pierce had never really come close to being finished in the UFC but Simpson nearly did so in round 1, but Mike returned fire in the 2nd and shut Simpson’s lights off. His only losses are to Johny Hendricks, Jon Fitch, and Josh Koscheck, with two of those by split decision. He’s not the most exciting guy you’ll see, but he’s a quality talent who is more than capable of giving top-level guys rough fights.
– Justin Edwards. Edwards really hadn’t shown much in his 3 previous UFC fights and he was a significant underdog against Josh Neer for a reason. But he really took it to Neer early and that tight guillotine choke took away the SOTN bonus from Jacob Volkmann. Good win for Edwards to effectively save his UFC career and in some style.
– Darren Uyenoyama. I’d really like to see him fight Louis Gaudinot as originally planned. He easily dispatched Phil Harris and has looked outstanding in his two UFC fights. Granted, we don’t know how shot Kid Yamamoto is/was or Harris’ abilities in the UFC, but Uyenoyama looks like a contender and at flyweight he shouldn’t be too far away from a title shot.
– Travis Browne. Untimely injury moments into the fight, but a very weird fight plan. There was no need to be flashy against Bigfoot and he was throwing far too many wild strikes and getting countered in the process. He absolutely should’ve had a point deducted for the fence grab, regardless of “first offense” but that’s another argument. Not only will Browne presumably be out for a long time with his knee injury, but he’ll need another decent run to crack the top 10.
– Jussier Formiga. Horrible horrible showing, as has been nearly the customary thing to do for non-Zuffa guys signing with the UFC recently. At no point was he able to take the fight to the ground and he definitely wasn’t the better striker coming in. He’s already lost to Ian McCall outside of the UFC so he surely has to be put back in the (admittedly short) pecking order.
– Josh Neer. If we ignored his new contract, Neer should probably be (for the 3rd time) out of the UFC. His record stands just 6-8 and it’s not like he’s historically lost to exclusively top talent. Justin Edwards was probably on his way out with another loss and instead became the latest person to literally send Neer into unconsciousness. He’ll be kept around because his fights are normally entertaining, but I think Neer’s career has definitely plateaued.
– Shane Roller. Not to completely discredit the submission game of Jacob Volkmann, but Shane Roller looks like he doesn’t belong in the UFC. He’s lost 3 out of his last 4 and is just 2-4 overall. The former WEC man and Oklahoma State wrestler has been finished in all but 1 of his losses (Michael Johnson) and really has not put together a complete performance in his UFC career. At 33 I highly doubt he gets any better, so it’s off to regionals I’m afraid.
– Team Alpha Male. That looked familiar, didn’t it? Two weeks ago it was Joseph Benavidez scoring a 4th round knockdown against Demetrious Johnson, gaining full mount and failing to finish a submission. On Friday, it was Danny Castillo flooring Michael Johnson in the 1st round, gaining full mount and failing to finish an arm-triangle. Unfortunately for Castillo, he was knocked out cold early in the 2nd, putting an end to his 3-fight win streak. It’s been a rough last few months for that camp in UFC fights, so I guess it’s up to T.J. Dillashaw to escape 2012 without a defeat.
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