UFC on Fuel TV 6 Superlatives: The Best and Worst from the Entire Fight Card
The UFC made its way to China for the first time ever on Saturday, bringing with it a solid night of fights dubbed UFC on Fuel TV 6. Though the event started slow, with no finishes in the bouts leading up to the main event and co-main events, it finished strong with a Thiago Silva submission and jaw-dropping Cung Le knockout of Rich Franklin.
Breaking into a new market won't be easy. However, if the UFC can cause an MMA explosion in China, the sport may be well on its way to becoming one of the most popular on a worldwide level.
This first event in China gave competitors a chance to broaden their fan bases. Let's take a look at which fighters took advantage of that opportunity and which squandered it in the latest installment of our Best and Worst series.
Best Performance: Cung Le
At 40-years-old, Cung Le's MMA career is coming to a close, but the former Strikeforce champion showed he still has some left in the tank by blasting Rich Franklin with an overhand right in the opening round of their bout at UFC on Fuel TV 6.
Le was the only fighter to finish his fight inside of the third round at the event, and he did so in brutal fashion. The Vietnamese middleweight isn't considered a serious title contender at the moment, but he's shown that he can be one of the more dangerous fighters in the division when he remains active and keeps his focus on fighting.
Worst Performance: Paulo Thiago
Paul Thiago may not have been stopped or dominated as badly as Jeff Hougland was in his bout with Takeya Mizugaki, but the Brazilian was also expected to be much more competitive than he was against Dong Hyun Kim.
It wasn't so much a surprise that Thiago came up short in the grappling department against Kim, but it was disappointing that he had nothing to offer the Korean once the fighters went to the ground.
At this point, Thiago is in danger of fading out of relevance in the 170-pound division.
Best Fight: John Lineker vs. Yasuhiro Urushitani
Takanori Gomi and Mac Danzig were awarded Fight of the Night for their efforts at UFC on Fuel TV 6, but there were a number of three-round fights that could have been granted the honor.
Conventionally, a closely contested bout with a high number of significant strikes landed is usually worthy of consideration for the award. At UFC on Fuel TV 6, no matchup resulted in a higher number of significant strikes landed than the one between John Lineker and Yasuhiro Urushitani.
The pair traded constantly on their feet for 15 minutes, with Lineker gaining an advantage on the scorecards in the end. If I was doling out the bonus checks for Saturday night's fights, my money would have gone to the flyweights for Fight of the Night.
Worst Fight: Takeya Mizugaki vs. Jeff Hougland
This bout between Takeya Mizugaki and Jeff Hougland is being pegged the worst of UFC on Fuel TV 6 but not because it was overly boring. The matchup is in this position because it was the result of some questionable matchmaking.
Mizugaki has been competing at a high level for years now and probably should have been coming off of back-to-back wins were it not for some controversial judging in his bout with Chris Cariaso. Hougland, meanwhile, had just lost in a lopsided bout against Yves Jabouin in his second appearance under the Zuffa banner.
This bout hurt Hougland's progression as a fighter and did little for Mizugaki as well.
Best Striking: Cung Le
Cung Le was the only fighter to record a knockout at UFC on Fuel TV 6, and he did so in the opening round, so this one is a no-brainer.
A taekwondo black belt, Le possesses one of the more dynamic kicking arsenals in the sport. Though he didn't put it on display against Rich Franklin, the fighter-actor was still able to land a highlight-reel knockout blow.
Worst Striking: Rich Franklin
When you're the only fighter on an entire card to get knocked out, it shouldn't come as a surprise when your striking comes into question.
A one-punch knockout isn't always indicative of a fighter's striking technique, but there's little arguing that Franklin left an opening in his defense when he was hit by the overhand right counter that knocked him unconscious in the UFC on Fuel TV 6 main event.
It is that punch that could possibly lead to the former middleweight champion's retirement.
Best Grappling: Dong Hyun Kim
In order to remain within a win or two of becoming a contender in the welterweight division, Dong Hyun Kim needed a win over Paulo Thiago at UFC on Fuel TV 6.
Kim did more than earn victory on Saturday, though. The Korean scored takedown after takedown and took Thiago's back repeatedly in a dominant three-round performance.
With his win over Thiago, Kim proved he's still one of the better grapplers in the 170-pound division. If he can continue to progress as a striker, he may someday find himself a contender for a title.
Worst Grappling: Paulo Thiago
When the bout between judo black belts Dong Hyun Kim and Paulo Thiago was announced, a highly competitive grappling match was anticipated. Instead, Thiago found himself on the defensive for the entire three-round fight.
Thiago was taken down in each stanza and landed only four strikes throughout the whole 15 minutes that he spent in the cage with Kim. The only other fighter to take Thiago down more than twice in a fight was Jon Fitch in July 2009.
With his disappointing showing on Saturday, Thiago has now lost four of his past five fights. The Brazilian will need to turn things around quickly in order to keep his spot on the UFC roster.
Best Moment: Thiago Silva
Seven fights into the UFC on Fuel TV 6 fight card, fans were treated to some exciting fights. However, none of those seven bouts were finished before the judges were able to have their say.
Even after two rounds of co-main event action between Thiago Silva and Stanislav Nedkov, the audience remained thirsty for a stoppage.
Finally, Silva gave them a submission shortly after taking Nedkov to the ground in the third round. From the opposite side of the planet, you could almost hear Dana White breath a sigh of relief.
Worst Moment: Steve Perceval
Marc Goddard barely escaped this one, but only because fellow referee Steve Perceval was even more horrible at his job.
Both men called for premature stand-ups at UFC on Fuel TV 6 after telling fighters who were doing damage from the top position to start working.
Additionally, Perceval repeatedly told fighters not to leave their fights in the hands of the judges.
Obviously, this is not a part of an MMA referee's job, and it is akin to a police officer telling someone not to trust the judicial system. It might be true, but that doesn't mean it's something that should be said by a person in Perceval's position.
Statistics via FightMetric.