UFC on Fuel 6 Results: Questions Answered and Lessons Learned
The UFC's first venture into China is in the history books. Cung Le scored an unbelievable knockout against former middleweight champ Rich Franklin and, in the co-main event, Thiago Silva choked out Bulgarian prospect Stanislav Nedkov.
In terms of title implications and entertainment value, this card was, in truth, a bit banal.
However, that doesn't mean that lingering questions weren't answers and lessons about certain fighters weren't learned.
The Jury Is Still out on Alex Caceres
Alex Caceres defeated Motonobu Tezuka by split decision in one of the event's preliminary bouts.
Caceres, since his time on The Ultimate Fighter, has incessantly been considered a prospect, yet he's never done quite enough to justify those thoughts.
Sure, he's had flashes of brilliance in certain fights, but his record currently stands at an unimpressive 8-5, with the two most recent wins before defeating Tezuka coming over "done" fighters who were on losing streaks.
"Bruce Leeroy" will have to win a few more fights to really drive the point that he's a true prospect and eventual contender home.
Japanese MMA Isn't Virile, but It Isn't Dead Either
One of the "truths" in the world of MMA is that Japanese MMA is in trouble, both in regards to Japanese promotions and Japanese fighters.
Concerning the fighters, there has been enough evidence in the past few years to backup the doomists—Japanese fighters have, generally, done horribly in American promotions.
However, of the five Japanese fighters at UFC on Fuel 6, three managed to win their fights (Riki Fukuda, Takeya Mizugaki and Takanori Gomi).
Perhaps it was a friendly timezone that allowed Japan's finest to perform better?
Regardless, Japanese MMA isn't dead yet; Japan's fighters still have something to contribute to high-level MMA.
Chinese MMA on the Other Hand...
Tiequan Zhang was supposed to be the UFC's poster boy in China, emphasis on supposed to be.
He lost fights.
After going 14-0 against nobody particularly notable, save for maybe Pablo Garza, Zhang was heralded as China's "next big thing"—the fighter who would catalyze the sport's and the UFC's growth in China.
This didn't happen. That 14-0 streak succumbed to a terrible 1-4 run against a higher level of competition, and by a higher level of competition, I mean mid-level guys at best—guys Zhang was supposed to beat but, evidently, didn't have the talent to.
Zhang's loss shows just how behind MMA in China really is. It will take years to have a cadre of talented, upper-echelon Chinese fighters to market to fans there.
The Flame Still Burns for "The Fireball Kid"
Takanori Gomi came to the UFC after a storied career in Japan and fell flat on his face, going 1-3 in his first four fights in the organization.
After that unimpressive run, he pulled things together. He defeated another Japanese fighter in Eiji Mitsuoka and, at UFC on Fuel 6, defeated former Ultimate Fighter winner Mac Danzig in a scrap that won "Fight of the Night" accolades.
Many fans and pundits, including myself, thought that Gomi was done and should just retire before embarrassing himself further. But Gomi proved that there's still some fire in him yet, he can stay competitive in the UFC.
Dong Hyun Kim Is Still a Contender
After a brutal KO loss to Carlos Condit and a loss to Demian Maia via a freak injury, clouds of doubt began to form over Dong Hyun Kim.
Those clouds aren't there after UFC on Fuel 6.
Kim squared off against a grizzled veteran in Paulo Thiago, thoroughly outclassing him en route to a unanimous decision. After the fight, Kim announced that he'd like a rematch with Maia. That's a fight that Kim can win, and if he does, he's a legitimate top contender at welterweight.
Thiago Silva Is "Back"
Silva was once viewed as a killer, a force to be reckoned with.
That changed after a particularly unimpressive 1-3 (1 NC) rough patch in his UFC career, with the one no-contest being due to a failed drug test, tarnishing Silva's image.
Silva, with a win over Nedkov, is now in a position to rebuild the credibility that he lost and put some fear back into the light heavyweight division.
Rich Franklin Should Retire, so Should Cung Le
In the UFC on Fuel 6 main event, Franklin was on the wrong end of one of the most gruesome knockouts in recent memory.
He was face-planted on the canvas, unconscious, but with his eyes wide open. The prevalent joke on twitter was that Le was living up to the movie he recently took part in, The Man With the Iron Fists.
Despite winning in such a decisive manor, Le should retire. He's 40 years old and is unlikely to ever win in such dramatic fashion again. After all, he was the subject of a TKO loss to a depleted Wanderlei Silva only last year.
Retirement is also the most beneficial route for Franklin. Even before getting knocked out, he looked slow. Also, he's 3-4 in his last seven and hasn't managed to win two fights in a row since 2008 (and those wins were hardly against elite competition). There's nothing left for Franklin in the sport besides further injury.