Like every event, UFC Fight Night 26 had its ups and downs, but there were certainly more hits than misses in the promotion’s debut on Fox Sports 1.
The recipe for an incredible fight card typically consists of marquee names, great fights, memorable finishes and an unexpected upset.
UFC Fight Night 26 hit all its marks and even exceeded expectations in certain areas, especially when it came to upsets.
Perennial UFC contender Chael Sonnen led the way with his surprising first round submission win over former light heavyweight champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. While Shogun was the favorite, a plethora of hardcore fans believed Sonnen had the ability to rack up takedowns and grind his way to a unanimous decision.
There weren’t many going out on a limb and predicting Sonnen to actually finish Shogun, who has literally gone to hell and back with some of the most dangerous fighters in MMA history.
Sonnen shocked the world by catching Shogun in a standing guillotine choke, dropping to closed guard and squeezing until he felt the tap.
Another unexpected, yet spectacular ending came in the co-main event bout between heavyweight contenders Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem.
Taking a page out of Anderson Silva’s playbook, Browne rallied after a rough start and won honors for “Knockout of the Night” after landing a vicious front kick knockout on Overeem. The crowd was on its feet throughout a bout many consider a true Rocky moment for Browne, who absorbed massive amounts of punishment standing early in the round.
Perhaps the most impressive performances of the night belong to Matt Brown and Michael Johnson. Brown’s 29-second knockout victory over Mike Pyle was one of the night’s highlights. UFC President Dana White was so impressed that he handed out two “Knockout of the Night” bonuses, one to Browne and the other to Brown.
Johnson showcased his vastly improved striking skills in a surprisingly lopsided unanimous decision win over Joe Lauzon. The lightweight bout could have earned honors for “Fight of the Night,” but the bonus was handed down to scrappy bantamweights Michael McDonald and Brad Pickett.
Along with an exciting main card, UFC Fight Night 26 also delivered a stellar undercard, which included the “Fight of the Night” bout between McDonald and Pickett. There was even time to shut off the lights and give Conor McGregor an entrance worthy of the sport’s “next big thing.”
In closing, UFC Fight Night 26 was one of the UFC’s best shows in recent memory, but more importantly, it was free. An argument can be made that Saturday night’s show surpassed even the excitement level of the vast majority of this year’s pay-per-view cards.
Did UFC Fight Night 26 live up to your expectations?