UFC on Fox 9: What We Learned from the Prelims

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2013

December 14, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Abel Trujillo (red gloves) fights Roger Bowling (blue gloves) during the lightweight bout of the UFC on FOX 9 at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The UFC's ninth installment on Fox came to the masses with great anticipation as the card was stacked from top to bottom with talent. From the opening bout to the main event, a number of contenders and future stars took to the Octagon looking to move closer to the title picture.

The card, headlined by flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez, isn't just top heavy on the main card but in the prelims as well. Names such as Pat Healy, Court McGee and Edson Barboza graced the prelims, giving fans a full night of great entertainment. 

Now that the prelims are over, let's take a look at what we learned from the prelim fights.

The UFC has a Good Hand in Alp Ozkilic

On short notice against a high-level grappler, Alp Ozkilic made a lasting impression on UFC fans with a good performance against Darren Uyenoyama.

The Turkish Greco-Roman wrestling champ used sturdy takedown defense, superior striking and great control to outpoint Uyenoyama on the judges' scorecards. In the process, he showed that the flyweight division has a solid hand going forward, as he pads an increasingly crowded division.

What's next for him is unclear. However, he should have some options. Perhaps a showdown with recent winner Justin Scoggins would be a good matchup for him, and it could be in the near future, as both are coming off performances where they didn't take a lot of damage.

Abel Trujillo Is a Beast, and Roger Bowling Is Tough as Nails

The rematch between Abel Trujillo and Roger Bowling was supposed to be an exciting back-and-forth bout like their first fight. It was anything but competitive, though.

Abel Trujillo landed knockout blow after knockout blow, but Bowling's chin did not fail him. What ensued was a one-sided beating that finally saw referee John McCarthy call an end to the bout after a string of punishment by Trujillo.

Bowling's UFC career is likely in jeopardy, but the same can't be said about Trujillo's. A great fight for him to take next would be against fellow power brawler Yancy Medeiros.

Cody McKenzie Bought His Shorts Before the Fight

If you noticed, Cody McKenzie was wearing a pair of basketball shorts that still had the tag on them. That was somewhat interesting.

What was more interesting was that he was moving back up to lightweight for this fight after a decent showing in his last featherweight bout. He took on an all-around superior fighter in Sam Stout, who after some adjustments, completely outstruck McKenzie for the better part of 15 minutes.

McKenzie and Stout represent the lower tier and middle tier, respectively. This was known before the fight, so not much was learned from the fight.

From here, I think McKenzie should take another stab at featherweight. As for Stout, I like a matchup against KJ Noons, who has a similar game to the Canadian. 

Bellator Was Foolish to Let Go of Zach Makovsky

Zach Makovsky was the Bellator bantamweight champion not long ago. After he lost his title and suffered another defeat, he had to look for other employment opportunities. 

That cut has been a blessing in disguise for him and another boneheaded move by Bellator. Makovsky dropped to 125 pounds, won two fights and got a shot to fight with the UFC.

His win over Scott Jorgensen in his UFC debut, especially on short notice, was great. He outwrestled and outstruck the former WEC championship contender, clearly taking the fight on the judges' scorecards.

Like Ozkilic, he adds depth to the flyweight division. A bout against Jussier "Formiga" da Silva or Josh Sampo would be ideal for his next outing.

The Strikeforce Guys Are Still Going Strong

The fight between Bobby Green and Pat Healy was a lot closer than the scorecards let on. In fact, it was a great back-and-forth battle that was close right until the final bell.

Despite fighting for the second month in a row and on short notice, Green took the decision against a former Strikeforce title challenger. He showed remarkable speed, athleticism, grappling and striking in earning the decision.

This win skyrockets his stock. Going forward, I'd love to see the now-undefeated Green take on the winner of Gleison Tibau vs. Michael Johnson, which happens at UFC 168.

The Judges May Have Scored a Draw Incorrectly

I'm not a judge. However, I think I can score fights correctly on a consistent basis, and I believe that the Danny Castillo vs. Edson Barboza fight may have been a draw.

In my eyes, the first round was 10-8 for Castillo. Then, Barboza won 10-9 in the final two rounds. That would put the score at 28-28.

If I had to choose a winner, I would have given it to Barboza. And maybe he was the winner, but I personally think it was a draw.

Barboza showed he can fight a wrestler and is ready for a top-15 opponent. In my eyes, a bout against Nate Diaz could be interesting as well as a Fight of the Night.

Ryan LaFlare Is the Dark Horse at 170

Not long ago, fans were unaware of Ryan LaFlare. Now at 3-0, the New York product is making a run under the radar in the welterweight division.

Not only is he 3-0 in the UFC, but 3-0 against The Ultimate Fighter vets. He dominated Ben Alloway, Santiago Ponzinibbio and Court McGee in his tenure with the company.

He is well-rounded and geared for success in the Octagon. Moving forward, a bout against fellow prospect Brandon Thatch would be a look into the future at 170.


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