Photo by Donald Miralle courtesy of UFC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) just completed its first-ever network television broadcast as UFC on Fox 1: "Velasquez vs. dos Santos" took center stage at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Sat., Nov. 12, 2011.
A champion was unseated and a new heavyweight king was crowned. A lightweight number one contender was determined in a thrilling three-round, whirlwind affair. There were submissions. There were knockouts. As usual, the UFC delivered a card that was packed with thrills from top to bottom.
Unfortunately, a good deal of viewers missed the majority of this card because it was only offered via streaming Internet. (Hang, tight. We'll get to that.)
We've had a day to critique, analyze statistics and feel all the aftershocks of the earthquake that was UFC on FOX. It wouldn't be a UFC weekend on MMAmania.com without a close look at the events big winners and lowly losers.
Here we go:
Junior dos Santos -- I know, I know. It's too easy to pick the winner of the main event as the main "winner" of the "winners and losers" recap post. However, "JDS" was the underdog by every sense of the definition. "His hands are great, but what about his cardio?" -- "He's got knockout power, but can he stop a Velasquez takedown attempt?" If you tell me today that you expected dos Santos to come out and put Velasquez to sleep in just over a minute, you're probably full of it. On the flipside of the coin, if you're telling the truth, you might be a very rich man. "Cigano" is one of the nicest guys in all of mixed martial arts (MMA). Even if you're a Cain Velasquez fan, it's hard not to feel good for this guy. Well done.
Ben Henderson -- Again, not a lot of drama in this pick, but it is what it is. "Bendo" came in having won his first two UFC fights. Most recently, he absolutely dismantled Jim Miller at UFC on Versus 5 in Milwaukee, Wisc., on Aug. 14, 2011. Guida was on a tear of his own, coming into Saturday night's event with a four-fight win streak. For three thrilling and fast-paced rounds, the two long-haired firecrackers flew back and forth at each other. There were fantastic stand up exchanges. There was a plethora of near finishes by way of deep submission attempts. At the end of the day, Henderson was a little quicker to the spot and just a little better in every area. Though the fight was closely contested (deservingly taking home "Fight of the Night" honors), Henderson was clearly the better man and will get his title shot against Frankie Edgar on Feb. 25 in Saitama, Japan.
Ricardo Lamas -- After an inconsistent run in the lightweight division, Lamas looks like he's really found a home against the 145-pounders. After beating Cub Swanson with a beautiful arm-triangle submission that earned him the "Submission of the Night" bonus, "The Bully" has now won his first two featherweight fights in impressive fashion. Look for Lamas to get a bigger name in his next fight and to be truly tested to see what he's made of.
Alex Caceres -- "Bruce Leroy" was quickly becoming a joke in the eyes of many MMA fans and pundits. During his time on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 12, Caceres was loud and obnoxious, both with his words and his wardrobe. He talked a lot and delivered very little. After losing his first two UFC bouts by way of rear naked choke, it was time for a new look. That look came in the way of a drop down to bantamweight for Caceres. In his debut, he looked great. His upset win over Cole Escovedo was something that no one anticipated.
The UFC -- As an organization, this was a HUGE night. The coverage was sensational. If you have Fuel TV, you were privileged to enjoy insightful and entertaining pre- and post-fight shows, which were unlike anything we've really ever seen before as fans. Anybody who is anybody in Hollywood was in attendance. Many new fans tuned in to see just what the UFC is all about and they were treated to a thrilling heavyweight knockout. By most methods of measurement, this was a massive success for an organization that has come a long way since its inaugural foray just a short 18 years ago.
The UFC -- Confused? How could the UFC be one of the big winners AND be the number one lowly loser? It's simple. Dana White and his organization won big, but they left a lot on the table. By committing to broadcast only one fight, they needlessly painted themselves into a corner. I'm a huge UFC and MMA fan. So are most of you, Maniacs. A good deal of us were not thrown by having to watch the other fights on Facebook or FoxSports.com. We're used to it. But, that's the problem. Uncle Dana wasn't trying to win us over. He's already got us in his corner. Millions of new viewers tuned in at 9 p.m. ET. They didn't see the Facebook fights and they may never do so. All they know is that after a huge build-up and a ton of hype, they saw one minute and four seconds of fighting and a heavyweight put to sleep. The new fans don't care about the pre-fight coverage or the post-fight wrap-up. That's exciting to us, but we're veteran fans. I've had to tell countless friends and family (whom I convinced to tune in) that this isn't what a standard card will look like. The shows usually go longer than this. You'll get to see more fights. Some of them will give it another chance. For others? That was the one opportunity they were going to give the UFC and the jig is up. They're moving on. If the point of UFC on Fox 1 was to put on a great show that was rich in MMA coverage depth, then it was a huge success. If the goal was to win over a bunch of new fans and carve a niche into the mainstream, I'm not sure the goal was achieved. It's okay. They'll get there.
Norifumi Yamamoto -- "Kid" really needed a win in his fight against Darren Uyenoyama. After being dominated in his UFC debut by Demetrious Johnson at UFC 126 on Feb. 5 in Las Vegas, the world was watching to see if he could rebound and live up to the hype that originally drew the UFC to his doorstep in Japan. There aren't many bantamweights that can stand up with Yamamoto. The problem is that they don't have to. This is mixed martial arts. So far, in his two UFC fights, Yamamoto has been pretty much taken down at will and outwrestled very badly. If he gets another chance to prove his merit after this, he'll need to pull out all the stops.
Cole Escovedo -- After essentially acting as a human punching bag for Alex Caceres on Saturday night, Escovedo has now lost five of his last six fights. None of the losses were really that close. There's really not a whole lot more to say. Escovedo will be fortunate if he is allowed to continue to work for the UFC after losing his first three fights for the promotion. Either way, it's time for some introspection and re-invention.
That's all, folks. Certainly there were other winners and losers, but this was our list. What does your list look like? Give us your best shot, but be gentle. It's been a long weekend.
To check out complete UFC on FOX results and detailed blow-by-blow coverage click here.