When the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced its new television deal with Fox Network back in August 2011, fight fans were provided the options of news, rebroadcasts and live action, pertaining to the sport they cherish. Fox, Fuel TV and FX are the three host networks that have been assigned the task of airing non-Pay-Per-View, UFC programming.
As big of a deal as the Fox Sports-UFC merger is, the marquee network of the aforementioned outfit has struggled to meet the hype of this blockbusterannouncement. With now two cards under its belt, both of which carried a combination of top-tier fighters, a title fight and two bouts with title implications, the UFC on Fox has not been much to brag on. Meanwhile, UFC on the debut of UFC on FX (January 20th, 2012) can stake claim to a “Fight of the Year” candidate (Mike “The Hulk” Easton unanimous decision over Jared Papizian) and a “Knockout of the Year” contender (Pat “HD” Barry victory over Christian Morecraft). If UFC on Fuel TV’s forthcoming debut, featuring the main event of Diego Sanchez vs. Jake Ellenberger follows suit of its sister station and outperforms UFC on Fox, the flagship channel could find itself in a place where its digging deep to reel in viewers for its third installment.
On to the fights from this past weekend!
The most memorable highlight of this pairing was Weidman’s ability to cut 30 pounds to take this fight on 10-day’s notice. The fight in itself, thanks largely to Maia’s conditioning, or lack thereof, rendered me to insomnia.
Many analysts called for this one to be a squash match in favor of Sonnen. Clearly, they overlooked Bisping’s ability to scrap with the best of them, which is exactly what the Englishman did. Yes, Sonnen did what he knows best, throwing hammers and forcing his opponent to the mat, but his efforts did not go without being met by some fluent shots from The Count. In fact, Bisping did so well, there should be no hesitation in noting that he did a better job landing strikes on Sonnen than Anderson Silva. Knees, elbows, punches, you name it. Bisping was able to find home with just about every strike he threw. He even defended displayed an ability to defend Sonnen’s takedowns, again, something Silva couldn’t do against the mouthy Middleweight. But alas, just like Sonnen’s performance against the Middleweight king, almost doesn’t count. In the striking department, Sonnen met Bisping’s attack with an onslaught of shots. Yes, The Count showed he can defend the takedown, but the majority of his attempts were all for not. Sonnen, with his uncanny ability to push the pace and his matchless motor (endurance), he was able to drive his foe to the mat at almost any given point. Although some feel that Bisping took the first two rounds, the judges felt otherwise, awarding the fight to Sonnen. While opinions differ about how this one panned out, the consensus abroad is that these bitter rivals came together to give a stellar performance.
“Suga” Rashad Evans defeats Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis via Unanimous Decision- Light Heavyweight Title Contention Bout
One can only guess what contributed to Davis’ lackluster performance, but whatever the culprit was, it projected an image of him that said he was thrown onto the main stage too soon. The strikes he threw didn’t have much precision. They were wild and inaccurate, which left him in compromising situations. Mentally, Evans was on his A-game. He had an answer for everything Davis threw at him. Davis threw kicks, Evans would take a hold of his leg, land some shots and force Davis to the mat. Davis threw punches, Evans would respond with counter punches. Suga was the better man of the two, but this wasn’t his sweetest performance. Evans has been more accurate with his strikes. Even with his motor wasn’t quite up to par. Maybe he wasn’t himself because this is his first five-round fight. Whatever the case is, a win is a win.
Despite the paths taken, both Evans and Sonnen get what they want…their long awaited title shots. It’s been said that a fighter is as good as his last fight. With that said…I’ll wait until we’re closer to these contenders’ respective title fights before I give you my take on them. What I will share with you is the lesson that MMA Nation is being taught this early in the new year. Don’t base your viewership of fights on names alone.
By Antoine Hoffman