Tonight’s UFC on Versus: Cruz vs. Johnson event was an excellent appetizer for next week’s UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard event. Some excellent fights were headlined by the UFC Bantamweight championship main event bout between champion Dominick Cruz and challenger Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
We can always go back and look at the official record books to determine who the winners and losers were, but sometimes that doesn’t tell the whole story. There are often times effects that go way deeper than just what the scorecards say. Tonight, we saw a good example of some of that.
So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the real winners from tonight’s fight card.
Paul Sass had been out of the Octagon since UFC 120 when he defeated Mark Holst with a triangle choke. Tonight, he picked up right where he left off by submitting Michael Johnson with a beautiful heel hook off his back.
Sass did look somewhat uncomfortable on his feet, which could be a concern going forward, but his victory is what we will remember. He has now improved his professional record to a spotless 12-0 and could find himself with a nice step up in competition the next time he steps into the cage.
Former The Ultimate Fighter runner-up Michael Johnson suffered his second loss in three UFC fights tonight, losing by submission to Paul Sass.
Johnson has shown signs of greatness including tonight when he was clearly controlling the standup game, but his submission defense continues to be his Achilles’ heel. The heel hook that he tapped to tonight was now the fifth time in 15 professional fights that he has been submitted.
An excellent battle between Matt Wiman and Mac Danzig delighted the fans tonight as these two warriors battled in just an epic slugfest on the feet.
The difference came, though, when the fight went to the ground and Matt Wiman was able to utilize his ground-and-pound moves to control Danzig and keep him on his back while inflicting some nice damage.
The victory puts Wiman back in the win column after a tough loss to Dennis Siver in July, which ended a three-fight winning streak.
He ended up with a “loss” on his record tonight, but the truth is that Mac Danzig has nothing to be ashamed of about his performance against Matt Wiman.
The war between these two fighters was very entertaining and although it dropped Danzig’s UFC record to 4-5, he shouldn’t have anything to worry about when it comes to keeping his job with the organization.
Anthony “Rumble” Johnson spent 16-months outside of the cage before he finally returned earlier this year in triumphant fashion by grinding out a victory over Dan Hardy. Some people questioned if Johnson was still the same guy he was before the knee injury as he seemed a little rusty.
But tonight, Johnson silenced the doubters by completely dominating the red-hot Charlie Brenneman who recently defeated Rick Story in the previous UFC on Versus fight card.
Awesome takedown defense and unbelievably brutal knees to the body softened up Brenneman for when the fight got back on the feet. It only took a couple shots to open up Brenneman, but once he did, a violent kick to the face quickly ended the contest.
Anthony Johnson is back and the UFC welterweight division needs to be on notice.
Charlie Brenneman played the role of David against Goliath earlier this year when he defeated Rick Story, but he was unable to repeat that performance on this night.
Tonight, Brenneman looked like David as his opponent, Anthony Johnson, is likely the largest welterweight in the sport. Brenneman can typically bring his opponents to the ground, but Johnson didn’t even look challenged when he defended the takedowns.
Brenneman had an argument to make that he wasn’t out when Johnson landed the kick to the face, but the fight was well on its way to being over. He just looked outmatched tonight.
A nickname has never been more appropriate than Stefan’s Struve’s nickname, “Skyscraper,” was tonight. The 6’11” giant literally had an entire foot height advantage over his opponent, Pat Barry, who is one of the shortest fighters in the heavyweight division.
Struve didn’t look completely comfortable in the standup despite having over a 10” reach on Barry. It was a close first round, but Struve took over in the second round when the fight went to the ground. The “Skyscraper” slapped on an awesome triangle from his back, utilizing excellent technique while making use of his long limbs to submit the former kickboxer.
Struve’s UFC record has now improved to 6-3.
Former K-1 kickboxer Pat Barry had a tough night tonight as he had a ridiculous size disadvantage to the 6’11” Stefan Struve. Barry came into the fight and was aggressive in attempting to chop down the long legs of his opponent, but it wasn’t quite enough.
He avoided the brutal knockout that he took at the hands of Cheick Kongo earlier this year, but Barry was instead submitted for the third time in his UFC career, dropping his record to 3-4.
Barry has looked great in fights against lower-level opponents, but every time he takes a step up in competition, he seems to struggle mightily.
Does this fight essentially determine that Pat Barry is nothing more than a gatekeeper in the UFC? Perhaps...
The UFC Bantamweight division has officially joined the middleweight and welterweight divisions as ones with a perceived-to-be unbeatable champion. At 135 pounds, there simply is no one better than Dominick Cruz.
Cruz was surprisingly out-paced by the challenger, Demetrious Johnson, but still was able to completely control the bout. Cruz took down Johnson at will throughout the fight, utilizing his strength advantage to hold down his 5’3” opponent and stop him from doing much damage.
The champion nearly tapped Johnson out with a rear naked choke twice in the third round and also achieved a full mount on more than one occasion, but he was unable to finish the fight. That, unfortunately, might be the only thing that the critics have to say about this otherwise extremely impressive performance.
He fell short tonight in his first title shot, but Demetrious Johnson can go home proud that he was able to look about as good tonight as anyone has ever looked against Dominick Cruz at 135 pounds.
Johnson used non-stop, unbelievable pressure throughout the entire fight, but just could not get the takedowns on Cruz. In somewhat a surprising fashion, Cruz was the one who dominated both the wrestling and the standup game.
2011 has been a big win overall for the UFC when it comes to getting their content to their audience, but perhaps the biggest of them all was the addition of the undercard fights streaming live on Facebook.
There have been some great fights on Facebook on just about every undercard, but tonight’s were perhaps the best yet. It was non-stop excitement and some impressive finishes that made the UFC on Versus undercard one that those lucky enough to have watched it will remember for a long, long time.