The UFC was back on Fox, once again in the Windy City of Chicago where the main event, according to the commercials at least, was Demetrious Johnson taking John Dodson in a flyweight title match. But the next time someone asks "Who is the toughest 125-pound man on the planet" will be the first.
That made Quinton "Rampage" Jackson the main event in truth. The former champion at 205 pounds was the talk of the MMA community beforehand in what is likely his final fight in the UFC. Glover Teixeira, an unknown but uber-dangerous opponent, was selected to send Rampage out with a loss.
Teixeira delivered—but Rampage made him work for it, winging hard punches and surprising many by lasting to the final bell. Does that make Rampage a winner?
In MMA, it isn't as easy as writing down a "W" or an "L" on a piece of paper.
A man can lose a fight after getting his hand raised if he doesn't impress the crowd. A loser, in turn, can walk away with his head held high if he gave it his all. Johnson edged out Dodson in the final bout to retain his title. Who were the other winners and losers on Fox? Click on to find out.
I have made no bones about it—the flyweight class is not always my cup of tea. The fighters don't exude danger and violence quite the way competitors in other divisions do. There is technique and speed to be sure, but it isn't always accompanied by the kind of power that a good number of MMA fans crave. It doesn't quite work for me as a result, at least compared to bouts between some of the bigger fighters.
Despite my admitted bias, Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson impressed me, with their stamina if nothing else. Both men, standing just 5'3", really need a special miniature cage. Just bouncing around and around looked exhausting—surely their poor tiny legs must be tired.
Johnson scored takedowns in each round, a move that sometimes makes a huge difference in a close fight. He pressed forward throughout and clearly won the fourth and fifth rounds by controlling Dodson in the clinch and landing multiple uncontested knees.
When the judges rendered their decision, Johnson ended up retaining his title in a close fight. But the real success or failure of this bout will come with the ratings report. Will UFC fans embrace the smaller guys? We'll know a little more soon enough.
It was the last fight on Quinton Jackson's contract, one he didn't intend to renew. That's a tough place to be for the UFC or any promotion. Rampage still has a name and would be valuable to a competitor like Bellator. If he's going to leave, the UFC would like to see him do so on his back.
Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz was once in a similar situation. His punishment was Lyoto Machida, an up-and-coming star who had floated under the radar—and happened to be one of the best fighters in the world.
For Jackson, the UFC pulled out Glover Teixeira—like Machida, a tough fighter whom few outside the hardcores have heard of yet.
Like Ortiz, Rampage gave the UFC some scares. Ortiz nearly caught Machida with a triangle choke. Jackson nearly took Glover's head off with a left hook. In the end, however, the UFC got its way. Rampage leaves the cage, perhaps for the last time, with his head down.
Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan were attempting to set the stage for what promised to be an epic bout between Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone. Meanwhile, as the two were jibber-jabbering, Pettis was doing some kind of cartwheel kick—a combination of capoeira and tae kwon do—that was absolutely stunning.
The announcers, perhaps shocked by how unorthodox it was, didn't mention the kick at all!
When Anthony Pettis is in the cage, there's no time for your prefabricated narratives. There is no time for his opponent to get set. To feel anything out. To think. To breathe. There is only time to fight. And Pettis simply did it better than Donald Cerrone on this night, winning by TKO (liver kick) at 2:35 of Round 1.
Normally we get one glorious segment with Dana White and Joe Rogan, both with gleaming bald heads, competing against a loud live audience to tell us about the fights coming up. Basically they stand right next to each other and yell until their lungs hurt. It's glorious.
During this card we got to see the two titans of talk together twice. They yacked about the upcoming Fox card after the prelims for what felt like hours, killing time between broadcasts. Then they had an encore on Fox to discuss the upcoming UFC 156 card.
If you're a fan of yelling, bald guys and fights, this was your night.
Before the fight Matt Wiman dropped everything.
He dropped all his sponsors.
He dropped his nickname, "Handsome."
He dropped Twitter.
Then T.J. Grant dropped him with a standing elbow. And that was the drop that mattered most.
Ricardo Lamas kept the elbow theme alive in his fight with Erik Koch, upsetting a man once targeted for a bout with Jose Aldo with some brutal ground and pound elbows. It was ugly, bloody and absolutely fantastic.
Everything was going Clay Guida's way.
The crowd was chanting his name. His mustache was a throwback to the days John Oates ruled the airwaves and Oscar Gamble the diamond. Life was good.
And then the fight started.
Hatsu Hioki figured him out standing right away, landing clean counters throughout the night. On the bottom, he threatened regularly with submissions. Guida was able to take his opponent down, but once there, he was a purely defensive fighter.
Guida won a controversial split decision, but it was a win with little oomph. Hioki hampered him, making it the second contest in a row where Guida was less than scintillating. It will go down as a victory in the record book, but while the fight was won, Guida's reputation as an exciting fighter is slowly being lost.
It's been around for years, a staple of the Asian arts, but it was welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre who made the Superman punch famous in MMA circles. Here's Wikipedia breaking the technique down:
A superman punch is a technique used in Muay Thai, san shou, full contact karate and mixed martial arts fighting. The technique involves bringing the rear leg forward to feign a kick, then snapping the leg back while throwing a cross, resulting in greater power behind the punch.
It's super cool-looking, with the added benefit of being pretty effective. It's spread widely across MMA, but few have thought to change it up the way Pascal Krauss did against Mike Stumpf. Krauss landed the technique, not with a straight cross, but with an uppercut. The super-durable Stumpf survived it, but it was a clear indication of how far ahead Krauss was of his opponent when it came to the stand-up game.
Ryan Bader continues to be a complete enigma.
Sometimes he performs exactly like you'd expect—losing badly to Lyoto Machida by brutal knockout for example, or beating Jason Brilz in the first two minutes of a gimme bout.
Other times, like when he was given a very beatable Tito Ortiz as an early Christmas present in 2011, he defies expectations, somehow getting himself choked out by a fighter who seemed as brittle as an old man's hip bone.
Against Vladimir Matyushenko, it was a little from column A and a little from column B.
Everyone expected Bader to get the win over the 700-year-old* Belarusian. But in 37 seconds? By an arm-only choke, the first submission in his UFC career?
Bader continues to tantalize. Some nights he still seems like the fighter most people expected to compete for UFC gold one day. Others, he seems like a guy on his way to Maximum Fighting. Not yet 30, his future is still to be written.
*Wikipedia claims Matyushenko is just 42. I regret my mistake.
Hometown favorite Mike Russow, a Chicago-area police officer, looked like he was on his way to victory. He dominated the first round against former LSU fullback Shawn Jordan, opening a cut and going all out for the finish.
For the ever-jiggly Russow, the effort proved a little too much. After just five minutes, he suddenly lost all of his get-up-and-go. Jordan ended up on top in the second round and pounded the wrestler out.
Last time the UFC was in Chicago, Russow won his fourth UFC bout in a row and was being seriously considered for a title shot. After two losses in a row, his future prospects couldn't be more different—a title shot seems completely out of the question at this point. Already 36, it seems the clock is ticking on Russow's UFC career.
Demetrious Johnson defeats John Dodson vua unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)
Glover Teixeira defeats Quinton Jackson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Anthony Pettis defeats Donald Cerrone via TKO (liver kick) at 2:35 of Round 1
Ricardo Lamas defeats Erik Koch via TKO (strikes) at 2:32 of Round 2
T.J. Grant defeats Matt Wiman via knockout (elbows) 4:51 of Round 2
Clay Guida defeats Hatsu Hioki via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
Pascal Krauss defeats Mike Stumpf via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)
Ryan Bader defeats Vladimir Matyushenko via submission (guillotine choke) at :0:50 of Round 1
Shawn Jordan defeats Mike Russow via TKO (strikes) at 3:48 of Round 2
Rafael Natal defeats Sean Spencer via submission (arm triangle) at 2:13 of Round 3
David Mitchell defeats Simeon Thoresen via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)