Sometimes, a fight card delivers everywhere except where people are most expecting it to shine, and that is exactly what happened on UFC on Fox 8.
In the lead up to Saturday night's event, the majority of the buzz surrounding the UFC's return to Seattle was focused on the co-main event tilt between Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald. The two surging welterweights had been trading barbs through social media and interviews in the weeks leading up to the match, and with potential title implications on the line, their collision at UFC on Fox 8 promised nothing short of fireworks.
Unfortunately for all parties involved, the fight failed to deliver on any measure, and the card's biggest draw became its biggest disappointment.
That being said, there was still plenty of great action that took place in the Key Arena on Saturday night. Reigning flyweight champion and new father Demetrious Johnson took another step to solidify himself as "the man" at 125 pounds as he put on a dominant performance against contender John Moraga. "Mighty Mouse" had one of the best showings of his career as he worked "Chicano John" for four straight rounds before finishing him in the fifth via armbar.
In addition to Johnson defending his flyweight strap, there were a handful of other fighters who put on fantastic showings as well. Nevertheless, on every card there are going to be a few dismal showings, and it wouldn't be a fight night on the biggest stage in MMA without a bit of the curious and unexpected as well.
Let's take a look at the good, bad and strange from UFC on Fox 8
With the flyweight division being one of the newest weight classes under the UFC banner, the task of gaining traction with the UFC fanbase falls largely on champion Demetrious Johnson. And if that scenario creates any added pressure, the 26-year-old Washington native certainly isn't showing it.
On Saturday night, Johnson made his second consecutive main event showing on the Fox platform. His first came back in January when he defeated John Dodson at UFC on Fox 6 in Chicago, and this weekend in Seattle, the AMC-trained fighter added another successful chapter to his growing career.
While MMA fans have been slow to support the lighter weight classes in the UFC, Johnson is certainly doing his part to change that mentality with the work he is doing inside the cage. He not only put on a great performance against Moraga, but also displayed killer instinct by going for and getting the finish late in the fifth round. In the process, Johnson picked up his second defense of a title that could prove to be his for a very long time.
There aren't too many welterweights right now who want any piece of Robbie Lawler. The heavy-handed veteran has looked like an absolute monster since returning to the UFC, and the destruction he laid upon Bobby Voelker at UFC on Fox 8 will only serve to stoke that fear in his fellow fighters. The Strikeforce vet and former Elite XC champion battered the short notice replacement at will throughout the opening round before violently separating him from his conscious in the second.
The victory makes it back-to-back knockouts for the Iowa native and will take him one step closer to the championship tier of the division. While the current welterweight picture will take a bit to clear up, one thing that is absolutely clear right now is that both of Lawler's previously scheduled opponents Tarec Saffiedine and Siyar Bahadurzada should be thankful injury forced them out of the fight with "Ruthless."
One fighter who absolutely needed a strong showing inside the Octagon was Melvin Guillard. "The Young Assassin" had lost three of his last four outings coming into his bout with Mac Danzig on Saturday night and was facing the possibility of being unemployed if he were to pick up another notch in the loss column.
The 30-year-old Louisiana native's back was firmly against the wall going into the fight and he responded with ferocity. After a dominant first round, Guillard scored a brutal knockout over the former TUF winner. A powerful left hand put Danzig on the canvas and a series of unanswered hammer fists sealed the deal for the Team Grudge fighter.
The victory will not only keep Guillard on the UFC roster but relevant in the highly competitive world of the lightweight division.
The final entry into this category belongs to the face-punching ruckus created by Ed Herman and Trevor Smith. While there isn't anything to applaud them for on the technical side of things, sometimes it is fantastic to watch two men throw caution to the wind and turn up the crazy.
One of the most difficult aspects of the mixed martial arts game is when a fight looks dynamite on paper, but fails to deliver inside the cage.
In my humble opinion it doesn't get much worse than when a fight that has everything to offer and should be a stylistic fire fight then turns into the exact opposite of what it should be. If that sounds too emotionally invested on my part, I'm still not over Jeremy Stephens vs. Melvin Guillard at UFC 119 back in September of 2011.
While those incidents are fortunately on the slim side, they certainly do happen, and Saturday night's bout between Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald became a glaring example of this phenomenon.
With the respective skill sets both men brought to the cage, and the opportunity to catapult to the front of the welterweight title race on the line, it was easy to believe Ellenberger vs. MacDonald would be the fight to watch at UFC on Fox 8.
But rather than a three-round back-and-forth, the two top welterweights put on a showing that left UFC President Dana White baffled and put his blood pressure up. Throughout the 15-minute affair, MacDonald jabbed, Ellenberger reset and then they would do it all over again.
Where the collision between two of the best welterweights in mixed martial arts was expected to bring the noise in Seattle and crank up the intensity in an already competitive title race at 170 pounds, Ellenberger vs. MacDonald failed to deliver on any front.
Was it a technical chess match between two highly skilled fighters? Sure was. But in the big moments, where there are title hopes and bigger opportunities riding on the line, there is an expectation for a fighter to give everything he has to seize the moment.
MacDonald did just enough to win and Ellenberger didn't do enough of anything.
Complaining about MMA judging is the equivalent of running your head into a wall repetitively but there can't be a "Bad" section of this article without giving the cageside judges a nod. While their decisions at the end of Herman vs. Smith and Edwards vs. Cruickshank weren't all too controversial, the fact two judges watching the same fight would score the bout completely different is enough to cause concern.
My mother always told me not to complain unless I had a useful solution to offer. While I've honored this idea for the majority of my life, I'm going to have to go rogue on this one. I'm not sure there is one great solution to resolve the gaping holes in MMA judging but it is absolutely something that needs repaired on a massive scale.
UFC on Fox 8 may have went off without a hitch for the most part, there were still a few strange occurrences to be documented on the evening.
While Guillard is a fighter heralded for his knockout abilities, his sleep inducing flurry at Danzig's expense was his first since steamrolling Shane Roller at UFC 132 back in 2011. That means two full years have passed since Guillard put those beautifully violent skills on display, and a closer look at his record over that stretch tells the tale.
Make no mistake about it, Guillard's failure to perform at a consistent level has haunted him throughout his 65-fight career. His knockout victory over Roller was his fourth straight win on a run that boosted him close to a shot at the lightweight title. But a loss to Joe Lauzon in his next showing and then a brutal slump where he lost three of his next four outings pushed Guillard to the outer limits of the 155-pound fold.
Where it is easy to get excited about how Guillard looked at UFC on Fox 8, his track record in the UFC is a good indicator that it will take more than one knockout for the veteran to establish any real footing in the division.
Staying in the 155-pound weight class, a bit of strangeness was provided on Saturday night courtesy of TUF winner Michael Chiesa. The bearded brawler got off to a hot start against former Strikeforce title challenger Jorge Masvidal but wilted in the second round and fell victim to a D'arce choke late in the frame. While it is strange Chiesa tapped out with one second left in the round, it is understandable. Masvidal had the choke locked tight, and with his air and blood being cut off, Chiesa can't be expected to have a firm grasp on time and space.
But where a 4:59 tap is forgivable, storming out of the cage is unacceptable. While it is a sport of face-punching and kicking, it is still a sport and should be treated as such. After the loss, Chiesa ran out the cage like a Little League pitcher who just gave up a walk-off dinger in the city tournament.
I understand it was his first professional loss, and it came in front of a hometown crowd against a legitimate rival, but you are better than that Mr. Chiesa.
Finally, in an unbelievable turn, Ellenberger vs. MacDonald turned out to be an awful fight. Still difficult to believe this is reality.