Glover Teixeira and Ryan Bader headline the next Fox Sports 1 Fight Night event.
UFC 164 is in the books. It was a downright stacked card that gave us the following results:
- Anthony Pettis def. Benson Henderson via verbal submission (armbar) - Round 1, 4:31, to become new lightweight champion
- Josh Barnett def. Frank Mir via TKO (strikes) - Round 1, 1:56
- Chad Mendes def. Clay Guida TKO (punches) - Round 3, 0:30
- Ben Rothwell def. Brandon Vera via TKO (punches) - Round 3, 1:54
- Dustin Poirier def. Erik Koch via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)
- Gleison Tibau def. Jamie Varner via split decision (29-28, 27-29, 29-28)
- Tim Elliott def. Louis Gaudinot via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
- Hyun Gyu Lim def. Pascal Krauss via TKO (strikes) - Round 1, 3:58
- Chico Camus def. Kyung Ho Kang via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Soa Palelei def. Nikita Krylov via TKO (punches) - Round 3, 1:34
- Al Iaquinta def. Ryan Couture via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Magnus Cedenblad def. Jared Hamman via submission (guillotine choke) - Round 1, 0:57
Now we have the next UFC Fight Night card to look forward to. This card has three major fights on tap, with Glover Teixeira vs. Ryan Bader, Joseph Benavidez vs. Jussier Formiga and Yushin Okami vs. Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza.
The rest, though, are the standard Brazilian vs. somebody-not-from-Brazil fights that have been popping up on cards recently. Either way, this is the most title-relevant UFC Fight Night on Fox Sports 1 card yet.
So what are the biggest questions heading into this card?
The UFC is putting together wimpy-looking cards of late.
The three fights atop this card are absolutely excellent: Teixeira vs. Bader, Okami vs. Souza and Benavidez vs. Formiga are three potential top contender affairs, more or less.
The rest of the card? Not so much.
Ten of the fighters scheduled for bouts don't have Wikipedia pages. While that's by no means a scientific measure of a fighter's quality or success, it says something about how the UFC is structuring their cards these days. The question is why?
Well, there are two possible explanations.
The UFC seems less and less inclined to put together strong cards for events in Brazil. UFC 163, UFC on Fuel TV: Nogueira vs. Werdum, UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Bisping and UFC 147 are some of the thinnest cards in UFC history to date. This is in the same niche, as is the upcoming Fight Night headlined by Demian Maia vs. Jake Shields.
Or is it the fact that this is a Fight Night event? While Sonnen vs. Rua was stacked, Kampmann vs. Condit was a substantial step down, but still had many solid fighters scattered throughout the event. This card doesn't have that.
Time will tell.
Cards in Brazil tend to have at least one or two bouts that end in a controversial decision.
It happens at least once during almost every card in Brazil. Somebody ends up coming out on the wrong end of a confusing split decision.
Sometimes it works in favor of the Brazilians. Sometimes it doesn't. Either way, somebody is going to end up unhappy after doing, most people would think, what should have been enough to win.
There are plenty of candidates, with a card studded with distance-focused fighters. We can hope it doesn't happen or, if it does, hope it doesn't happen in the genuinely important fights near the top of the card.
None the less, brace yourself for some angry tweets.
The UFC is in a very strong position with across-the-board flopping by Fox Sports 1 programming.
If you haven't seen this article yet on the horrible numbers put up by Fox Sports 1 thus far and how it relates to the UFC, check it out right here. Too lazy? The most important bit is right here:
0.0 ratings for some programming is absurd. Regis Philbin’s new show, opposite Around the Horn on ESPN, is drawing 29,000 viewers. That is not a typo. When you have programming drawing less than 50,000 viewers, you are in trouble. Misery loves company and FS1 has plenty of it right now. And that misery is giving UFC a hell of a lot more leverage at the bargaining table for future projects.
By comparison, Sonnen vs. Rua drew 1.78 million viewers. Condit vs. Kampmann drew a much lower 825,000, but that still winds up being almost 30-times better than one of their most heavily-pushed programs.
While Condit vs. Kampmann is a downright tantalizing main event for hardcore fans, neither had anything resembling average fan appeal. Glover Teixeira, at the very least, has been crammed down the throats of fans at every opportunity and owns a big, though truly unimpressive, win over Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
If that translates into some solid ratings, and the UFC can produce more solid numbers, it could mean huge things in the near future for the UFC's relationship with Fox.
I'm a habitual complainer when it comes to the UFC's handling and promotion of its lighter-weight fighters. Well, bringing a smile to my face is a flyweight tilt popping up on the main card. Brazilian finisher Marcos Vinicius will face off with Russian import Ali Bagautinov in what could very well be the most exciting flyweight fight in the UFC to date.
Both these fighters rarely make the judges earn their paycheck. Vinicius has only had three of his 25 career fights go to decision, while Bagautinov has gone to the scorecards four times in 12. They combine for 28 total finishes.
It's certainly a surprise that this fight makes it to the main card, though. Vinicius is 1-1 in his UFC career, and this fight marks his debut at flyweight. Bagautinov, meanwhile, is making his UFC debut after spending his entire combat sports career to this point in Russia.
Here's hoping the UFC is actually starting to make an active effort in building up stars at 125 lbs. It's long overdue.
Back before TUF17 started, some of us here at Bleacher/Report had quite the man-crush on competitor Tor Troeng. He was labeled “TUF Beast” and was speculated to be the guy behind all the Dana White hype revolving around an unstoppable knockout artist.
Then he got knocked out by Josh Samman.
Anyway, Troeng is still a younger fighter, but has faced some truly impressive competition. Northern Europe has been an underrated hotbed in terms of producing top-level talent like Stefan Struve, Alexander Gustafsson and Martin Kampmann. Troeng, though, still needs to show that he is among that lot.
“The Hammer” is a solid, well-rounded fighter for sure. However, at age 30 and with over 12 years of fighting experience under his belt, he is by no means a prospect. Making matters worse is that in both of his bouts against noteworthy fighters—Thales Leites and Mamed Khalidov—he was submitted.
This fight is his shot. He needs to make the most of it.
Jussier Formiga went from "next big thing" to "also ran" in two UFC fights.
When the UFC first announced it was going to start a flyweight division, the must-have prospect was Jussier da Silva. After changing his name (sort of) to Jussier Formiga, the former phenom's mystique was quickly dispelled by a John Dodson knockout.
While he followed that up with a handy decision victory over Chris Cariaso, this is a critical fight for Formiga. That's really bad, too, given the fact he is fighting possibly the best non-champion in the UFC, Joseph Benavidez.
It's unreasonable, even for the UFC, to expect Formiga to win over a talent like Benavidez. Still, a strong showing on his part is a must to preserve his UFC career. If he suffers an early knockout as he did against Dodson, he could very easily be booted back to the Brazilian circuit the same way Yasuhiro Urushitani got shipped back to Asia in spite of the flyweight division's short list of competitors.
He could win, obviously. This is MMA and anything can happen. Still, we all know that this is designed to be yet another squash match for Benavidez. It's on Formiga to still make it a fight, though.
Joseph Benavidez is really, really good at fighting. That's all that needs to be said on him.
Let's run down the facts discussed in the last slide.
Joseph Benavidez is really good. He is the most clear-cut no. 2-rated fighter there is in the UFC. He is a massive favorite over fifth-rated Jussier Formiga.
On top of that, he is riding a two fight winning streak over Ian McCall and Darren Uyenoyama. A third win would tie him with John Lineker for the longest winning streak among flyweight contenders, though Lineker has missed weight twice in four fights at 125 lbs.
While Benavidez has been a sport about his lack of title fights, it's getting harder and harder to reasonably deny him. A win over Formiga may be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza faces the toughest opponent of his MMA career in Yushin Okami.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is a scary dude. He has excellent Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and enough pure physical strength to, essentially, break any limb he can get his hands on. Combine that with some recently-improved wrestling and solid ground-and-pound, and you have a surefire middleweight contender.
Now, though, he is lined up for a fight with Yushin Okami, who is by far the best fighter he has faced in his MMA career.
Okami is a tough matchup for Souza stylistically. Souza's greatest strength, as stated, is his grappling, but Okami's is his clinch-focused wrestling, which he can easily use to bully things to the cage for minutes at a time.
Souza is a rapidly-improving fighter, so it will be interesting if he shows anything new in this fight. If he can't, we could very easily see Dana White sweating over who should have the next 185-lb title shot.
Yushin Okami demonstrated refined standup in his most recent fights.
Speaking of terrible stylistic matchups, Yushin Okami had an awful one back in March against Hector Lombard. An Olympic Judoka with dynamite fists, Okami was supposed to be the trampoline that shot the former Bellator champ into the UFC's top-10.
Then, Okami dominated him across the cage, demonstrating improved striking to compliment his potent wrestling. The improvement was largely in his footwork, as he circled Lombard, peppering him with jabs en route to a handy decision win.
We've seen this kind of thing before, however.
Demian Maia, for example, showed off some strong striking against Mark Munoz at UFC 131, but instantly forgot it it against Jorge Santiago and Chris Weidman. If Okami keeps up the stick-and-move boxing he showed against Lombard, he could very well be a legitimate threat to take the middleweight belt.
Glover Teixeira is staring at a title fight if he can beat Ryan Bader with ease.
Glover Teixeira has built up a remarkably large fanbase, rooted purely in hype. Against Ryan Bader, though, he has a strong chance at establishing himself as a top light heavyweight.
There have been two big knocks against Teixeira to this point.
First, and most importantly, is his wrestling. He has demonstrated some strong chops on the ground, both in his ground-and-pound and BJJ. However, he will likely be spending at least a little time on his back against Bader. It will be interesting to see how his clinch work holds up against a formidable wrestler.
Second is his cardio. Teixeira has finished three of his four UFC fights thus far. The one he didn't, against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, wound up being a wheeze-fest, which soured what was supposed to be his coming out party.
If he wilts against Bader, be it with a loss, or even if he just ends up looking less-than-dominant against a fighter who he is supposed to dominate, it could throw a wrench into his title hopes.