The preliminary bout did little to disappoint, as Howard bested Bahadurzada in a fight that probably didn't look much like anyone would have predicted going in, but was still a pretty enjoyable tilt overall.
What We'll Remember About This Fight
It was a meeting between born strikers that was won by the guy who remembered the "mixed" part of mixed martial arts. Whenever the chance was presented, Howard showed the diversity of the game, and he secured his second win as an underdog in as many fights since his UFC return.
What We Learned About Siyar Bahadurzada
He proved ring rust is a real thing after spending the bulk of the year on the shelf, and there's now a serious concern that hype just won't be enough for the UFC's first Afghan fighter.
There was plenty to be excited about when he arrived in 2012 and punched Paulo Thiago's head into the front row, but he hasn't kept that momentum. He needs a win next time out or he might be done.
What We Learned About John Howard
The John Howard of today isn't the one who left the UFC in 2011, and that's impressive considering that the 2011 edition was both underrated and a premature roster cut. In 2013, though, he's a man who relies largely on his vaunted striking but has supplemented it with sound wrestling and an improving jiu-jitsu game as well.
Though the UFC seems hell bent on making him into a 170-pound contender, he may be better suited for middleweight—not all guys under 5'10" are arbitrarily too small for 185 pounds. His conditioning was much worse at UFC 168 than it was in his short-notice fight with Uriah Hall in August, and that could be worth considering for both he and promotion in the future.
What's Next for Bahadurzada
A fight with the ultra-durable Court McGee could work. He desperately needs a win, and it has to come against a guy with a name—or his number could be up in the UFC. McGee fits the bill perfectly.
What's Next for John Howard
Rick Story is a good matchup for Howard. The two are in similar spots in their career, guys on the fringe of the top 10 who look great sometimes and forgettable at others. A win for either over the other would land a top-10 opponent, so get it going for the spring.