Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) last night (Jan. 20, 2012) tied a ribbon around its television debut on the FX channel, staging an entertaining mixed martial arts (MMA) event from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
It didn't have the same feel and flavor as the "Fight Night" specials that aired on Spike TV due in large part to the production, as well as the the two men in the broadcast booth, Jon Anik and Kenny Florian, taking over the traditional duties for Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.
Nonetheless, several fighters who competed on the televised main card, as well as several more who participated on the FUEL TV "Prelims" under card, turned in exciting performances. Naturally, some of them also disappointed in a major way, chief among them, was none other than Melvin Guillard.
What's left to say about the "Young Assassin" other than he still has yet to learn that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. That's a valuable lesson in a sport so unforgiving: If you don't plug up the holes in your game, good fighters will continue to exploit them.
Jim Miller did just that in the main event, following in the footsteps of Joe Lauzon, Nate Diaz, Rich Clementi, Joe Stevenson and Josh Neer, among others, choking Guillard into submission in little more than two minutes of the opening round.
As usual, Guillard was explosive, landing powerful punches and looking to land flying knees to the face of the wrestling-minded New Jersey workhorse. He actually caught Miller with a punch that sent him to the floor, which is a rare sight inside the Octagon. He even showed restraint, refusing to turn up the heat and go for the swarming finish.
That's a lesson he likely learned from the loss to Lauzon; however, it could have also cost him this fight, too.
Miller -- knocked down, but not out -- eventually recovered, took Guillard to the ground and sunk in a fight-ending rear naked choke. It has really become that academic: Get Guillard down, work for submissions, win.
It's also become quite pathetic.
Guillard has had the same problem for years. He's been with one of the best gyms in MMA, Jackson-WinkleJohn, and trained with several of the best fighters in the business. He even relocated his camp to South Florida to train alongside the "Blackzilians."
He simply doesn't get Brazilian jiu-jitsu. And as a result, Guillard simply will never be the champion that he promises to one day become. Those opportunities are saved for guys like Miller, who probably doesn't have an ounce of the athleticism and power of a talent like Guillard.
On the contrary, he's got heart, toughness and an unparalleled work ethic to be as well rounded as possible. As a result, he's probably one big win away from challenging for a lightweight championship.
Nate Diaz next, please.
Duane Ludwig was eager to demonstrate that his superior technical striking could outshine the in your face, scrappy kind of fight for which Josh Neer is known to deliver. For two minutes, he was well on his way toward achieving that objective, peppering "The Dentist" with wicked body shots and clean punches to the face.
However, Neer was undeterred -- he just kept coming forward. He soon realized though that slugging it out with "Bang" -- a Muay Thai fighter -- just wasn't a bright idea and quickly switched up the gameplan. He landed a takedown and began to test Ludwig's submission game.
It failed. Terribly and quickly.
Neer slid in a guillotine choke and seconds later Ludwig was asleep on the mat.
That's now two straight wins for Neer inside the Octagon and six straight since Aug. 2010. Perhaps more impressive is that he's finished every one of those fights in two rounds or less. Believe it or not, the Miletich-trained fighter isn't even 30 years old yet despite seemingly being around forever.
Perhaps he's finally arrived.
"The Hulk" and "The Jackhammer" duked it out rock 'em, sock 'em robot style for much of their 15-minute bantamweight brawl. The pair set a blistering pace from the outset and didn't really stray from it for all that long, if at all, during three rounds of non stop action.
Papazian, on paper, had the edge on the feet, while Easton -- a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt -- was the fighter with the better ground game. For whatever reason, Easton was content to stand and trade rather than leverage his biggest strength.
He got the win, which is most important, but he certainly didn't make it easy on himself. Easton is certainly a 135-pound fighter to watch in 2012. However, even if he squirts to the top of the division, he'd be forced to fight his training partner, Dominick Cruz, for the division championship.
That's putting the cart way before the horse, but certainly an interesting storyline worth monitoring as 2012 plays out.
Submission defense -- Pat Barry has it!
Coming off back-to-back losses, "HD" had to turn in a high definition performance against Christian Morecraft
if he wanted to keep his job. He did it, but it was certainly not without another, "Here we go again" kind of moment.
Barry, a former K-1 kickboxer, has had his fair share of big guys exploiting his green ground game. Morecraft, who was eight inches taller, unsurprisingly, tried to do the same, taking the fight to the ground and attempting a rear naked choke, which he then transitioned into an armbar.
It looked like, once again, Barry was toast. But then it happened: He turned out of the submission and escaped, showing a much better understanding of how to survive when horizontal. Shortly thereafter, he landed a huge left hook, which he followed up with three head bouncers on his fallen opponent, to go home with a monstrous knockout win.
Hope you took some notes, Melvin.
That's enough from us. Now it's your turn to discuss UFC on FX 1: "Guillard vs. Miller" in the comments section below.
Is Jim Miller the next 155-pound number one contender? Is Melvin Guillard ever going to get it right? Is Pat Barry heavyweight material? Is Josh Neer well-rounded enough to make a run to the top of the welterweight division in 2012?
Let's hear it, Maniacs.
Be sure to also check out our complete UFC on FX 1 blow-by-blow coverage of the entire "Guillard vs. Miller" event right here.
While you're at it, check out our fight-by-fight recaps and immediate reactions for the UFC on FX 1 action:
Last, and certainly not least, check out our complete UFC on FX 1 results recap of the FUEL TV "Prelims" right here.