Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to Sacramento, California last night (Dec. 14, 2013) with UFC on Fox 9: "Johnson vs. Benavidez 2" live from the Sleep Train Arena on Fox. The event was headlined by a rematch between Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez for Johnson's UFC Flyweight title.
The night featured some great action from the best lighterweight fighters on the roster. While there were some weird moments such as Cody McKenzie fighting in basketball shorts, there were also some spectacular finishes, including one from Johnson to cap off the night.
So without wasting any more time, let's talk about last night...
Mighty Mouse is the "Fighter of the Year"...
Demetrious Johnson is everything that the UFC could hope for in a champion. He's eloquent in interviews and a superior athlete that continues to improve in between fights. His fast paced style and high striking volume should be enough to garner the attention of fans.
The one hiccup has always been the very real criticism that he lacked knockout power. He'd defeat his opponents by out striking them, not be landing a devastating bomb to their jaw. That all changed last night in one of the most shocking knockouts of 2013.
Johnson became the first man to finish a very durable Joseph Benavidez and he did it in spectacular fashion. I don't know what made me cringe more: the initial punch or those five punches on the ground that came in ridiculously rapid fashion.
All I know is that by defending the flyweight title three times in 2013 and beating the very best fighters that the division has to offer, Johnson has made a very strong case for "Fighter of the Year." The only way he doesn't win that award is if Chris Weidman defeats Anderson Silva at UFC 168 to close out the calendar year.
Urijah Faber is getting better with age...
Urijah Faber is without a doubt one of the best lighterweight fighters of all time. His career has seen him compete against the absolute best and outside of a handful of losses, win every fight by dominating opponents on the mat and on the feet.
His performance against Michael McDonald was damn near perfect. I figured that he would try and use his superior wrestling to get McDonald to the mat, but the "California Kid" was able to beat the young bantamweight up on the feet. The win also earned him another shot at the bantamweight title.
I don't know if Faber will ever capture UFC gold. He may just have to settle for being the second best fighter in the division. But I do know that at 34 years old, he continues to show improvement in every facet of the game.
WEC Chad Mendes made a comeback appearance..
Yes, I've seen the reports that Chad Mendes had the flu or was sick or a sinus infection. I get that. I also know that leading into the fight with Nik Lentz, Mendes finished four fights in a row by either knockout or TKO. Hell, Joe Rogan let everyone know that Chad Mendes is a destroyer and not a guy who lays and prays.
But if you watched his career before the UFC merged with World Extreme Cage Fighting (WEC), you'd know that Mendes very well was the guy who took opponents down and then just grappled them without doing much damage to win decisions.
This isn't a criticism either. Winning is the most important aspect of mixed martial arts (MMA) and Mendes was able to rack up another win against a very scrappy Nik Lentz. I just wanted to point out that before he was the guy with knockout power, he was the guy who lay and prayed his way to the top of the WEC.
UFC on Fox 9 or WEC 54?
For those that enjoyed watching the WEC on Versus, UFC on Fox 9 was a real treat. The WEC was the home of the lighterweight classes, the divisions that we were told weren't exciting enough or important enough to draw in the casual fan.
Last night was a real victory for those fighters that toiled away inside the blue cage. On network television, they proved that no only do they belong, but they can be just as exciting and just as interesting as the bigger guys on the UFC's roster.
- Not for sale? Mac Danzig better be looking in the classifieds for a new job after a performance like that. Yeah it sucks he couldn't find sponsors for the fight but maybe those potential sponsors are pretty happy they passed on him?
- On the flip side, Joe Lauzon continues to be one of the most exciting and violent fighters on the roster. Those elbows from mount were disgusting. I would have liked to have seen some better fight IQ than going for an armbar, but whatever, right?
- Bobby Green...top 10 lightweight? Hey, it could happen.
- Zack Makovsky could very well be the next challenger for Demetrious Johnson. He made a very tough Scott Jorgensen look like an amateur and he did it on extremely short notice. I want to see what he can do when he's got the time to put a full fight camp together.
- Sam Stout needs a new nickname. How he's allowed to get away with calling himself "Hands of Stone" is the biggest sham in MMA. That said, he's still got some of the best boxing in the division.
- Man, does Cody McKenzie suck or what? He doesn't look like he cares about being a professional fighter. I'm not even talking about the fact that he entered the cage wearing off the rack basketball shorts. I'm talking about the fact that his waistline was an embarrassment to professionalism.