By Jaime C. Feal
Well, it’s a good thing that show was free. Responding to criticism that the first UFC on Fox featured a fight that was too quick, matchmaker Joe Silva selected three bouts which were likely to last longer. What he didn’t anticipate, however, is that all three fights would go the distance. On top of that, some fighters appeared lackluster, and the bouts were simply boring. No fight was ever close to being finished and the night just had a dull feel. Ironically, the highlight of the night was Chael Sonnen’s trash talk before and after his fight with Michael Bisping.
The UFC has a lot to fix here and the solution is rather easy. Instead of showing title fights and title eliminators, which tend to be hit-or-miss type bouts, Zuffa should follow the format they used for their other free TV shows in the past. Their “UFC Fight Night” shows on Spike TV were tremendously popular and entertaining, as were the “UFC on Versus” shows that followed. For these shows, instead of showcasing high-stakes affairs, the UFC chose to feature dynamic, young, up-and-comers, fighting with nothing to lose. Inevitably the shows turned out to be fantastic, with lots of finishes, fast paced action, and combatants looking to make a name for themselves. What follows is simply a recap of what transpired Saturday night, as a round-by-round analysis would be, quite frankly, very boring. Last night was an enormous bust for the UFC, and one can only hope that future shows on Fox revert back to the tried and true format that made the “Fight Night” shows so successful.
Middleweight Division (185 lbs.):
Demian Maia (15-3, 9-3 UFC) vs. Chris “All-American” Weidman (7-0, 3-0 UFC)
This fight was an absolute snoozer, and exemplifies a growing problem in today’s MMA: Fighters getting injured in training before the actual fight. When Mark Munoz had to pull out of his originally scheduled bout with Chael Sonnen due to an elbow injury sustained in training, the UFC scrambled to find a replacement. That replacement was Chris Weidman, who took the fight on just eleven days notice. Despite this, Weidman won a decision, but it was a very lackluster effort. He was lethargic and gassed by the end of Round 1. Further adding to the boredom was Maia’s neophyte standup, and unwillingness to attempt takedowns or pull guard. In the end Weidman won via forward aggression, although neither man really landed any significant strikes.
Result: Chris “All-American” Weidman wins by unanimous decision.
Middleweight Division (185 lbs.):
Chael Sonnen (26-11-1, 5-4 UFC) vs. Michael “The Count” Bisping (22-3, 12-3 UFC)
As is often the case with Bisping, he dominates lesser competition, but fails against the elite. This turned out to be true again, but Chael Sonnen was far from impressive in taking a decision victory in the co-main event of the evening. Sonnen was able to secure several takedowns, but his usually dominant ground and pound was lacking. Bisping was also able to get up rather easily, and Chael normally is very adept at holding his opponents down. The fight was more entertaining than the Maia – Weidman bout, but neither man was close to being finished, and the fighters again appeared unwilling to take big risks.
Result: Chael Sonnen wins by unanimous decision. Sonnen is now in line for a rematch against Anderson “The Spider” Silva for a shot at the middleweight title.
Light Heavyweight Division (205 lbs.):
Rashad “Suga” Evans (16-1-1, 11-1-1 UFC) vs. Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis (9-0, 5-0 UFC)
In what should have been a wildly entertaining affair with both men leaving it all on the line, viewers instead got another snooze fest where Davis and Evans paced themselves to go all five rounds. Evans was able to thwart all but one or two of Davis’ takedowns, and displayed superior striking. Evans dominated the fight, but never capitalized on his this dominance to earn an impressive finish on national television. There were several times where Davis was in a mounted crucifix position, or backpedaling on the feet, where if Evans pressed he likely could have won tens of thousands of new fans with a finish. Instead, he opted to play it safe to earn his title shot, cruising to a decision win and sweeping all scorecards 50-45.
Result: Rashad Evans wins by unanimous decision. Evans is now set to face former teammate Jon “Bones” Jones for the light heavyweight title.