Immediately after the event was over, mixed martial arts (MMA) fans and analysts were quick to label UFC on FOX 2 a failure, a dud. Some didn't even wait until the end and began decrying it as such as early as the first fight between Demian Maia and Chris Weidman, a plodding three round affair that saw the American pick up the biggest win of his career.
And who can blame them?
While the FUEL TV "Prelims" included two incredible knockouts (Watch on of them here) courtesy of Lavar Johnson and Cub Swanson, a fancy submission from Charles Oliveira and Nik Lentz's eye swollen up to the size of the moon, the FOX broadcast was 11 rounds of mostly tedious action with a judges' decision following each bout.
Maia continued to prove his only reliable trait in his unreliability, while in the co-main event, both Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping looked nothing like the middleweight freight trains who plowed through Brian Stann and Jason Miller, respectively. The decision, controversially, went to the former -- and now current -- number one contender.
The headlining bout between Rashad Evans and Phil Davis might have been the most egregious offender of the bunch. "Mr. Wonderful," taking the biggest leap in competition of his short career, proved he was nowhere near the level needed to stand side-by-side with the light heavyweight elite. Evans, for his part, did very little to convince anyone he has what it takes to defeat Jon Jones in Atlanta on April 21, 2012, at UFC 145.
Calling last night's (Jan. 28, 2012) event a failure is far off, but it's not wholly correct, either. The ho-hum performances certainly didn't light up any potential fanbase but the event wasn't as big a dud as you would think. Coming out of the event are two huge fights, something the UFC is in dire need for right now.
Think of the four UFC on FOX cards that will air on 2012 as appetizers.
While Rupert Murdoch and company paid a pretty penny for the fight promotion's broadcasting rights, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) still makes most of its money through its pay-per-view (PPV) model. Once a month, fight fans pluck down a handful of Hamiltons to watch a huge fight. This Saturday (Feb. 4, 2012), for example, is an interim welterweight title bout between Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz that headlines UFC 143.
PPV is the UFC's bread and butter and will continue to remain so for the foreseeable future. And while last night's card was lackluster, it did offer up two huge PPV match ups for a company that's been hurting in the star power division ever since Georges St. Pierre went down for 18 months because of an injury and Brock Lesnar retired.
Sonnen defeating Bisping puts him back in the sights of Anderson Silva, the champion who Sonnen nearly unseated way back at UFC 117. The Team Quest fighter talked an inordinate amount of smack leading up to the bout, seemingly making a fool of himself as it was expected that "The Spider" would walk right through him.
Surprisingly, Sonnen lived up to all the trash talk ... at least for 22 minutes or so. An amazing come-from-behind triangle choke submission kept the belt on the Brazilian and helped ignite one of the most talked about rivalries in the sport's history.
Their rematch -- arguably the biggest since UFC 100's bout between Lesnar and Frank Mir -- will take place later in 2012, expected to top the bill of the UFC's third trip to Brazil since making its way back to MMA's birthplace at UFC 134.
UFC on FOX 2 also provided 205-pound champion, Jon Jones, with his next challenge, Rashad Evans. Much like Sonnen and Silva, the feud between the two former teammates has reached a fevered pitch. Jones has looked unstoppable during his UFC career and amazingly, upped his game as his competition got tougher. His last three opponents had been, at one point or another, considered the best light heavyweight in the world and "Bones" dispatched of each with relative ease.
Despite this, Evans has continued to claim an insight to Jones' game thanks to their previous training partnership. When combined with the suspect manner in which the champion handled a hand injury when he was first slated to take on "Suga, it helps to lend credence to Evans' assertions. Their bout at UFC 145 will answer any questions between the two once and for all.
Last night fans saw Rashad Evans and Chael Sonnen fight, but the fights everyone really wants to see them in will have to be purchased. UFC on FOX 2 was just an appetizer.
PPV is the main course.