The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 42
UFC Fight Night 42 is done, and now we take the standard extra-close look at who really won and lost following Saturday night's fights.
When you sit back and look at the card's results, two distinct events went on.
The first? A sloppy, ugly, regional-level undercard. One mired by slow, boring fights. One where unranked part-timers leaned on each other and has-beens faced off with never-will-bes.
The second? A fun, interesting main card that was filled with elite contenders and exciting prospects. We saw the kind of human chess that is MMA at its finest.
So who were the biggest winners? The fans who showed up late and weren't subjected to the horrors of mid-level MMA.
Real Winner: Patrick Cummins' Legacy
Patrick Cummins defeats Roger Narvaez by TKO in Round 2.
Patrick Cummins' legacy. He entered the UFC on a week's notice to face Daniel Cormier in a pay-per-view co-main event at UFC 170. He lost decisively.
From there, he was just another 0-1 UFC fighter and found himself bumped down to a Fight Night preliminary card to face a UFC newcomer. Against a less amazing opponent, he scored a solid TKO win.
This wasn't an electrifying performance by any means. And Roger Narvaez's reputation doesn't exactly precede him. But man, did Cummins dodge a bullet.
If he had lost to Narvaez and been tossed back into the Midwestern regional MMA scene, he would have been reduced to nothing but a joke—the greatest example of a man who was not ready for the big time.
Somebody who was thrown to the lions and eaten whole—a regular talking point in any discussion about UFC futility.
Now, he is safe from that distinction. He could lose three fights in a row and wind up in a Bellator tournament, but he got a win in the UFC. That still counts for something.
Real Loser: The Librarian
Jon Tuck defeats Jake Lindsey by submission (heel kick) in Round 3.
The Librarian. Jake "The Librarian" Lindsey got fans' attention with his nickname and thick-frame glasses at the weigh-ins. He lost it pretty quickly in the cage, though, when Jon Tuck dominated him in the clinch and on the ground before Lindsey tapped to a heel kick to the ribs when Tuck had a back mount.
So that was a weird one...
Lindsey, despite being the sexiest man in the UFC, had what would have been an incredibly forgettable UFC debut if it weren't for his strange tapout. While Tuck had secure control over Lindsey's back, he landed a subtle kick to the ribs that made Lindsey tap.
Some fans said he simply quit. I don't think so. Regardless, that can't be what Lindsey was hoping for in his UFC debut.
Real Winner: Scott Jorgensen
Scott Jorgensen defeats Danny Martinez by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
Scott Jorgensen. An early Fight of the Night candidate, Scott Jorgensen vs. Danny Martinez was a fun stylistic matchup that saw Martinez repeatedly rock Jorgensen standing and Jorgensen get back to his wrestling roots and land numerous takedowns. Jorgensen's quality top game and scrambles proved to be the difference as he earned a unanimous-decision win.
After going 1-5 in his last six fights and riding a three-fight losing streak, Jorgensen was in a must-win situation at UFC Fight Night 42. The WEC staple has been incredibly unlucky of late, getting fed to Urijah Faber, drawing a tough short-notice matchup against Zach Makovsky and getting headbutted into a submission by Jussier Formiga.
While "Young Guns" isn't fooling anybody into thinking he is going to make a title run, at the very least he gets to keep his job. For somebody who has been with Zuffa for a long time, that has to be a big relief.
Real Loser: Everyone Who Doesn't Train at Altitude
Lance Benoist defeats Bobby Voelker by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
Everyone who doesn't train at altitude. Bobby Voelker and Lance Benoist are two guys whom most UFC fans couldn't pick out of a lineup. They have a combined 1-5 UFC record, so it's unclear why they are even with the UFC at this point. It's also confusing why they would be booked to fight at 5,300 feet above sea level.
The two low-level welterweights huffed, puffed and blew their way to a boring decision.
If you've never been high above sea level, it does make a surprisingly big difference in terms of your cardio and endurance. Voelker and Benoist learned that firsthand. The most entertaining thing about the fight was the wave of sarcastic tweets it brought from the MMA media:
@BR_MMA In no way, shape or form should an exclamation point be used in regards to that fight.— Nathan (@ACCBiggz) June 8, 2014
Low level fighters fighting at altitude makes for what is so far a really bad set of prelims.— Mookie Alexander (@mookiealexander) June 8, 2014
KenFlo sounds like he's getting tired. Not sure if it's because isn't used to commentating at altitude or the fight is just that bad.— Steven Rondina (@srondina) June 8, 2014
OK, that last one was me.
Real Loser: High Expectations
Sergio Pettis defeats Yaotzin Meza by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
High expectations. If you thought it could not get worse than Benoist vs. Voelker, Sergio Pettis vs. Yaotzin Meza proved you wrong. While Benoist and Voelker tired out quickly from actually trying to fight, Pettis and Meza just politely circled around each other for 14 of 15 minutes.
Sergio Pettis entered the UFC with unfairly high expectations from fans and media. That will happen when you walk into the UFC with an older brother who is wearing a belt.
However, saying that he is being unfairly criticized as a result of those expectations is patently false. The guy just hasn't been especially impressive by any standard.
He was electrifying against the random scrubs on the Midwestern regional scene, but even against Meza, quite possibly the worst fighter in the UFC's bantamweight division, he couldn't muster up anything of interest. The hype train has come to a screeching halt for "The Phenom."
Real Loser: UFC's Great Mexican Hope
Bryan Caraway defeats Erik Perez via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:52 of Round 2.
UFC's great Mexican hope. In a deceptively important bout in the bantamweight division, Bryan Caraway got the better of fellow up-and-comer Erik Perez. While Perez is the superior wrestler by a mile, Caraway got the better of him with his jiu-jitsu, threatening submissions from start to finish.
The UFC has high hopes for its upcoming invasion of Mexico. Really high hopes, in fact. While it has a great guy to build around in heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, it never hurts to have a Plan B, and Erik Perez was that Plan B. While he came up short against Takeya Mizugaki, he was still deceptively close to title contention.
To that end, he was given a favorable matchup in Caraway, a guy who some expected to get worked over by Perez's top game. It didn't pan out that way.
With a win over Caraway, Perez would have been a fight or two away from challenging for the bantamweight title. Now he finds himself struggling to maintain any kind of relevance near the top of the division.
Real Loser: Joe Rogan
Piotr Hallmann defeats Yves Edwards via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:31 of Round 3.
Joe Rogan. Piotr Hallman had a very strong performance against the lightweight division's elder statesman, Yves Edwards. The proceedings were mired, however, by an intense series of eye pokes in the first two rounds. Hallman twice jabbed Edwards' eye during exchanges, and Edwards returned the favor once.
Joe Rogan lives for three things. Weed, Alpha Brain and complaining about MMA equipment. One of his biggest pet peeves is the eye poke, and fans have heard hundreds of barely intelligible rants over the years about MMA's dire need to start having combatants wear mittens.
Rogan had the night off, with Kenny Florian taking on color commentary duties. He must be kicking himself, though, for missing so many opportunities to grumble.
Real Winner: Rafael Dos Anjos' Top 10 Status
Rafael dos Anjos defeats Jason High by TKO at 3:36 of Round 2.
Rafael Dos Anjos' Top 10 status. Dos Anjos has some great skills and found himself in a very dangerous fight against the always-threatening Jason High. The Brazilian escaped trouble, though, and reminded fans about his legitimate all-over-the-cage skills with his second-round knockout of the "Kansas City Bandit."
Dos Anjos is one of the winningest lightweights in UFC history, but he had his back to the wall here. His loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov knocked him far away from title contention, and another loss almost certainly would have seen him sent back onto preliminary cards for a couple of years.
While he doesn't regain his status as a title contender, his impressive performance keeps him ranked among the best in the lightweight division. There are plenty of exciting potential opponents for him, and it's possible we'll see him return to the cage very soon.
Real Winner: John Dodson
John Dodson defeats John Moraga by TKO (doctor stoppage) at 5:00 of Round 2.
John Dodson. Dodson is a rising star for the UFC (or at least should be). His explosive style in the cage and bombastic personality make him one of the sport's most exciting characters in and out of the cage, and both of those traits were on display in this fight. He busted John Moraga's face open with a knee, took the mic from Jon Anik and cut a strong promo for a potential title fight.
While the stoppage was kind of odd, the outcome was inevitable. Dodson outclassed Moraga without much trouble and adds another knockout blow to his highlight reel.
With that win, he almost certainly seals up a title shot. Demetrious Johnson faces off with Ali Bagautinov next week at UFC 174. Johnson is a huge favorite and has established himself as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in MMA, but Dodson put on a very strong performance against the champ last year.
A rematch seems inevitable...and that's a good thing for everyone.
Real Winner: The UFC
Diego Sanchez defeats Ross Pearson by split decision (30-27, 27-30, 29-28).
The UFC. Diego Sanchez, the original Ultimate Fighter, lost. For the third time in a row. It possibly marks the end of a storied, incredibly entertaining UFC career defined by...wait, what?
So...yeah. That was quite possibly the single worst decision I've seen in MMA. Ross Pearson made Diego Sanchez look bad, plain and simple. He outlanded him and outwrestled him, and I'm not sure how anybody could say Sanchez won that fight.
Regardless, the UFC is undeniably better off with Sanchez around. The combination of beatability (well, theoretically at least) and excitement makes him great for either building fighters toward title shots (like when he fought Gilbert Melendez) or providing a sure-to-be-fun fight on a needy card (like when he fought Takanori Gomi).
People will pretend this fight never happened, but this win, no matter how egregiously bad the decision was, buys Sanchez a few more fights in the world's biggest MMA promotion.
Real Loser: The UFC
Benson Henderson defeats Rustam Khabilov via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:16 of Round 4.
The UFC. Henderson, a thorn in the UFC's side, got off to one of his signature slow starts. The young, untested Rustam Khabilov was beating him on wrestling. The fight was close, but the judges seemed to be favoring takedowns over strikes on Saturday. It seemed like Bendo might have finally met his match.
Then, Henderson landed a lead uppercut. Khabilov was rocked, and Henderson pounced on his back, sunk in a choke and got the win. It was a solid performance by the former champ.
So...we all agree that Bendo was probably going to get cut with a loss, right?
I mean, the UFC cut Jake Shields specifically because he owned too many wins over contenders the company liked more (Tyron Woodley, Robbie Lawler, Carlos Condit, etc.). Henderson was in the same boat, locking away the more marketable Donald Cerrone, Gilbert Melendez and Nate Diaz from potential title reigns while threatening to drag down the UFC's profit margins by doing so.
Well, the UFC missed its chance to cut free one of its best, least-marketable fighters. The Zuffa boardroom probably saw its table flipped as a result.