UFC on Fuel 6 Results: The Real Winners and Losers from Le vs. Franklin
The UFC continued on the path to being a true worldwide sport, journeying for the first time to China. Although Macau is a long way from mainland China culturally, it's a great start in bringing MMA to more than a billion potential fans in Asia.
Broadcast live on Facebook and Fuel TV, the fight card started bright and early at around 7:30 AM on the east coast.
Was it worth setting the alarm clock for?
When is it ever not worth the time to watch a bunch of savages slug it out in the cage?
Although this wasn't the most exciting card and none of the fights carried championship implications, there were enough sublime moments to make it worth a hardcore fan's time. There were nine fights on the card, leading to nine winners and nine losers. But, sometimes, the actual result doesn't tell the whole story.
Sometimes a fighter can lose a bout and still win, whether it's respect from the fans or a post-fight bonus from the UFC brass. Other times, a winner in the cage can cost himself dearly with a bad or boring performance.
So, who were the real winners and losers at UFC on Fuel 6? Let's have a look.
Winner: Cung Le
Cung Le must be a method actor, because he's taking this "Man with the Iron Fists" thing pretty seriously. The fighter turned actor turned fighter put Rich Franklin to sleep with a crisp right hand right to the button. It was a startling finish, providing some much needed fireworks for a show that was lacking anything that could be described as "jaw dropping."
For the 40 year-old Le, it was the biggest fight of his MMA career. Although he claimed to be just 80 percent thanks to a foot injury, he looked pretty good, both in the fight and afterwards doing a gymnastics routine that would put Gabby Douglas to shame.
Loser: Rich Franklin
Cung Le was supposed to be a stepping stone for Rich Franklin, just one stop on a route leading to Anderson Silva and a shot at the middleweight title.
Instead, Franklin looked every one of his 38 years.
Even before the right hand that sent him plummeting face first to the mat, Franklin seemed to be moving in quicksand. What's next for the former champion? For the sake of his remaining brain cells, we can all hope it's a well earned retirement.
Winners: Thiago Silva and Stanislav Nedkov
After seven consecutive decisions, the crowd in Macau needed a bit of a pick me up. Thiago Silva and Stanislav Nedkov delivered.
It was a fight that promised to be an exciting slugfest, so good that I refused to get up and go to the bathroom for fear of missing the telling blow. The two threw some heavy leather, but eventually it came down to, as it so often does, the grappling game.
Silva eventually finished his opponent Nedkov with an arm triangle and then sauntered up to the camera and delivered a nice chain taunt, combining a neck slash, a "shh" finger, and the classic "time to go to sleep" taunt. That was some fine taunting.
Winner: The Slap
You don't see a lot of slaps in modern MMA. Once a staple of the sport, in the old days when some promotions didn't allow closed fist punches, the slap has gone the way of the dodo.
It survives, almost entirely, thanks to the efforts of Thiago Silva. The angriest Brazilian in the world tends to throw them out in all of his fights. I'm not sure if it's a legitimate offensive technique or just an attempt to emasculate his opponent.
Either way, awesome.
Winner: Dong Hyun Kim
I thought this was going to be the most competitive fight on the whole card. Instead, Kim dominated Paulo Thiago from bell to bell.
Rather than his normal timid lay and pray attack, Kim went after Thiago from the start, looking for submission after submission. Thiago could offer nothing in return.
The highlight for a very partisan Kim crowd came in the last minute of the fight. Kim, perhaps channeling Kazushi Sakuraba, started throwing some ridiculous double punches, just hammering down with both fists over and over again, straight up Donkey Kong style.
If that didn't make you smile, it's time to reevaluate your life.
Winner: Takanori Gomi
The legendary "Fireball Kid" Takanori Gomi, finally, showed signs of the heart and machismo that made him a star in Japan. Against a game with Mac Danzig, Gomi mixed his techniques well, combining superior boxing and solid grappling to score the upset win.
It was the Gomi that fans of Japan's Pride Fighting Championships had been waiting for in five previous UFC appearances.
At the end of the fight, Gomi dropped his hands and taunted Danzig to come forward and trade. It was the first sign of life from Gomi in ages, perhaps an indication that this old lightweight warhorse has one more championship run left in his battered body.
Winners: Jon Tuck and Tiequan Zhang
Let's get something out of the way early—these two guys are not great fighters. In fact, objectively speaking, they are probably among a handful of the very worst competitors on the UFC roster.
But that's part of what makes this sport so amazing to watch. Two bad fighters are just as likely, if not more likely, to have a great fight as two of the world's best.
Tuck won a decision, but there were no losers here. The pace was quick and both men were giving their all. You can't ask for much more than that. Fun fight.
Losers: Grappling Lovers
Referees Marc Goddard and Steve Perceval are obviously not fans of the ground game.
Perceval constantly threatened to stand up Takeya Mizugaki and Jeff Hougland, even when action was fast and furious on the ground. In one sequence, Mizugaki landed multiple punches while Hougland threatened a triangle from the bottom—and Perceval still suggested they needed to "work." If that wasn't work, nothing is, short of video game style action.
Goddard did him one better, standing up Motonobu Tezuka when he was threatening a submission against Alex Caceres.
I'm not sure what was said to them backstage, if anything, but the UFC does have a bit of insecurity about how new fans will respond to grappling based fights. It's unfortunate, because it's the action on the ground, the science of grappling, that really makes this sport more than human cockfighting.
Winner: John Lineker
I'm not sure how many people were watching, but to channel Jon Gruden for a minute, "This guy Lineker, this guy is going to be a great fighter in the UFC."
Lineker had destruction on his mind, charging forward for 15 minutes in a valiant effort to part Yasuhiro Urushitani's head from his shoulders.
Poor Urushitani. The veteran tried to get on his bicycle, but Lineker slashed his tires and stole his lunch money while he was at it, cutting him off and working to the body to set up his head hunting.
Will this strategy work against a grappling oriented fighter? Time will tell. But I'll be there to see it. Lineker, if nothing else, has earned my attention.
You know how Doctors recommend eight hours of sleep a night? Well, the UFC and Fuel TV did their level best to make sure none of their viewers even came close.
For me in central time, watching this show meant getting up at 6:30 AM. Friends on the west coast were up at 4:30. How many folks, and be honest, do you think actually spent eight hours in REM land?