Ultimate Fighting Championships got things off to a very strong start yesterday (April 14, 2012) in the opening bout of the UFC on Fuel TV 2 main card with an absolute barnburner between bantamweights Brad Pickett and Damacio Page.
Both Pickett and Page have had experience against some of the best in the 135 pound division, but injuries have kept them from being active since the WEC merger and both had previously lost their UFC debuts against elite competition.
They were both healthy, and when it was all said and done, both men went home $50,000 richer having earned the "Fight of the Night" post-fight bonus, although it was Pickett who also captured his win bonus.
So what helped Pickett take command as the fight wore on? And what's next for both exciting 135-ers?
Follow me after the jump for our Brad Picket vs. Damacio Page UFC on Fuel TV 2 fight review and analysis
In typical Page and Pickett fashion, the first round got off to an incredible start with both men trading a high volume of heavy strikes and connecting solidly. The key difference was when Pickett got clipped, he resorted to his ground game, scoring a pair of nice first round takedowns to halt any of Page's momentum.
Page did a nice job threatening with submissions from bottom which forced Pickett to back off but after a few minutes at such a hectic pace, he wasn't able to keep up.
In the second round, Pickett took over with his strong boxing skills and repeatedly connected with some strong combinations. His left hook in particular was very effective and he was able to drop Page midway through the frame.
After Page got back to his feet, "One-Punch" landed another beautiful combination which hurt him and this time, Pickett didn't let "The Angel of Death" off the hook. Once on the ground, Pickett opened up with punches which softened Page up and once Page turned away, he locked in a fight-ending rear naked choke.
Both fighters received a rousing ovation from the thoroughly entertained fans afterwards.
For Damacio Page, he did what he usually does which is start strong and showcase some serious power but he couldn't keep up with Pickett as the fight wore on. He clipped Pickett a few times and scored some very nice knees on the inside but was unable follow up because his British foe would put him on his back whenever he was in any sort of trouble. The only thing honestly that could help Page right now would be for him to use his $50,000 bonus so he didn't have to work part-time while training at Greg Jackson's.
Page is still a very fun fighter to watch but if is to be kept around, they can't keep throwing him in against top 10 bantamweights. All of his losses in the past few years have been to the best of the best in the division. It's time he caught a break. I'd like to see him take on someone who's equally had a rough time like Kid Yamamoto, Walel Watson or Reuban Duran.
For Brad Pickett, this was an incredibly strong performance. He held his own with Page even when "The Angel of Death" was at his most dangerous in the opening few minutes and he wisely used his full skill-set to keep himself safe when put in any sort of danger. Pickett looked great in terms of cardio, striking, wrestling and lastly his submission skills. This was an all-around performance that proved Pickett, at 33 years old, is still here to stay in the division.
I'd like to see him step up and take on Brian Bowles, perhaps the loser of the Miguel Torres - Michael McDonald fight or possibly Yves Jabouin if he gets past Jeff Hougland next month. Pickett is a top 10 bantamweight in the world and he should continue to face strong opposition. He always puts on great fights and can be counted on to be a contender to take home a bonus every time he steps into the cage.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Was there any doubt that this fight deserved "Fight of the Night" honors? Who would you like to see Pickett and Page square off against in their next bouts?
For complete UFC on Fuel TV 2 results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.