Overnight ratings are in for the UFC’s ‘greatest night of fights to ever be offered on network television’ and they have to be pleased with the results. Although down from the UFC’s debut on network television, the ratings were a notable increase over the last couple of offerings on Fox. According to reports from TVByTheNumbers.com the show garnered an average of 3.41 million viewers last night. One important note is that the broadcast ran longer than expected, and those numbers do not include the Lightweight title fight between Henderson and Diaz, I would expect that the show experienced an uptick during that bout and the final number might actually push closer to 3.75-4.0 million viewers.
[adinserter name=”366 left”]The fights themselves did come through, as most contests were exciting, entertaining and featured a number of finishes. Although not everything went according to plan. Apparently someone at Fox will be getting fired tomorrow morning, because ads for Bellator MMA (arguably the UFC’s biggest competitor) making it’s switch to Spike TV (the UFC’s former home network.) Luckily, if we ignore what happened outside the cage and focus only on what happened inside the cage, it was a highly entertaining night. Let’s take a look at the main card fights, and examine what’s next for each of the main card fighters.
Matt Brown defeated Mike Swick via KO (Punch) at 2:31 of Round 2
Both men were coming off of big wins and both were looking to keep their momentum going in a suddenly crowded Welterweight division. Neither man has ever been one to back down from a brawl, so many people expected fireworks and these two delivered. Surprisingly the first round featured an impressive amount of mat work from Brown, who is more known as a brawler than a submission artist, but he had Swick in trouble several times, but Swick managed to make the bell. In the second round, there was more striking this time around. After a couple of high pressure exchanges, Brown managed to find an opening and tagged Swick with a beautiful punch that ended his night for good.
What’s next for Brown? He’s now won four fights in a row and he deserves a step up in competition once again. Probably someone in the top 15 or so sounds about right. A name that’s being tossed around on the Internet a lot is Siyar Bahadurzada and that is a match up that I really like. The Afghani slugger loves to throw hands and he’s got a number of highlight reel knockouts to show for it. Brown’s never been stopped in his career by strikes. Let’s see who wins.
What’s next for Swick? I hate to say it, but possibly retirement, or at least a serious look at his career path. He hasn’t looked the same in his last two bouts since dealing with major injuries and illnesses that kept him out of action for two years. If not Thiago Alves is supposed to be off until mid-2013 and has struggled recently. That fight might make some sense.
Rory MacDonald defeated BJ Penn via Unanimous Decision after Round 3
Rory MacDonald basically took the game plan that GSP laid out and turned up the tempo to dominate BJ Penn for three rounds. MacDonald was significantly larger than Penn and imposed his will on Penn over the course of the entire fight. MacDonald’s striking looked sharper than ever. Herb Dean nearly stopped the fight in the second round and after seeing the damage done to Penn’s face at the end of the bout, perhaps he should have. I’ll give Penn credit for hanging around until the final bell, but that’s about all he did.
What’s next for MacDonald? After the fight Rory called out Carlos Condit. That fight makes a whole lot of sense, since both of these guys are top contenders at Welterweight and Condit is the only man to ever defeat MacDonald in his career. If the UFC decides to take a different path the winner of the Jon Fitch-Demian Maia fight might be the best possible option.
What’s next for Penn? Hopefully retirement again, that or a return to 155 pounds. He’s simply too small for Welterweight and several of his last opponents at the weight have exploited that. If he is willing to drop to Lightweight there a number of intriguing bouts for him there. A fight against Nate Diaz might be very entertaining as a way for Penn to get some revenge against the 209.
Alexander Gustafsson defeated Mauricio Rua via Unanimous Decision after Round 3
Although it seemed close at times, this one never really had much doubt. Although I don’t agree with whatever judge gave the final round to Gustafsson by a 10-8 score, I did think he won every round of the contest. Shogun was simply swinging for the fences by the middle of the first round and had a lot of trouble getting through the excellent striking of the much taller Swede. Gustafsson’s takedowns and grappling also looked improved and he nailed a couple of nice trips and slams to control the fight on the mat.
What’s next for Gustafsson? Although Dana White said that the winner of this bout was likely to earn a Light Heavyweight title fight, I don’t think that he’s ready for Jon Jones yet. The other option that was discussed was taking the place of Dan Henderson in a bout with Lyoto Machida, because Henderson isn’t fully healed. The other option of waiting until mid-late 2013 for a title fight might not be the most acceptable option for Gustafsson. If it’s not Jones and it’s not Machida, it should probably be the winner of the Rashad Evans Antonio Rogerio Nogueira fight.
What’s next for Rua? He didn’t look great in this fight, but he didn’t look awful either. He was never really in trouble of being finished and still posed some serious danger to the Swede. James Te Huna or Thiago Silva might be exciting slugfests.
Benson Henderson defeated Nate Diaz via Unanimous Decision after Round 5
One-sided domination. The big question heading into this contest was how is Henderson going to deal with the high-volume boxing attack of Diaz. Very well, was apparently the answer. Henderson used leg kicks to batter the lead leg of Diaz and slow his mobility for the rest of the contest. He also used some creative striking tricks and feints to set up some openings for him to land some big shots of his own. At the end of the contest Henderson had laid the worst beating on Nate Diaz, landing over 100 significant strikes over the course of the bout.
[adinserter name=”366 right”]What’s next for Henderson? The UFC hasn’t spent a whole lot of time building up a new contender for the Lightweight title, which puts them in an awkward position. The best bet is that Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez is coming over to the UFC and he would be a logical choice to face Henderson. If the UFC chooses to stick with a fighter currently on the roster, the best choice is the winner of the Anthony Pettis-Donald Cerrone on the next Fox card.
What’s next for Diaz? The UFC has a long list of Lightweight fighters who could provide entertaining bouts. Although it’s a little bit off the radar I think a bout with Sam Stout would be highly entertaining between two high-volume strikers. Although it probably wouldn’t do a whole lot of good for either fighter’s standing in the division.