This Week in MMA (1/24-1/31): Velasquez and Werdum Announce Injuries; Anthony Johnson and Paul Daley Score First-Round Finishes
This week in MMA featured an unusually large amount of action and news—some of it good, some of it bad, and if you’re the UFC brass thinking of the Northcutt fight, some of it devastatingly horrific.
Let’s take a look!
UFC on Fox 18: Anthony Johnson Scores a Quick Finish of Ryan Bader, Ben Rothwell Becomes the First Man to Submit Josh Barnett (with an Actual Technique)
UFC on Fox 18 featured enough high-paced action and finishes to keep everyone interested—everyone except the New Jersey crowd.
Alright, that was a bit of a low blow, but for whatever reason, the crowd didn’t seem too interested in or excited by the fights.
In the main event of the night, Anthony Johnson scored a quick, first-round knockout over perennial-contender Ryan Bader. Bader shot in for a takedown early, only to be stopped by the still-fresh hips of Johnson. From there, Bader was forced to hang onto a less-than-desirable kimura to avoid giving up top position. Once he let go of this, Johnson achieved mount and reigned down some thunderous shots until the fight’s end at just 1:26 of the first round.
This was an important fight for the other 205lb athletes to note; if Ryan Bader can get reversed, mounted, and slammed with ground and pound from Anthony Johnson in that fashion, literally anyone in the world can as well.
Needless to say, this was an ultra-impressive showing from Johnson.
In the co-main event, the surging Ben Rothwell slowly broke down and frustrated the seasoned vet Josh Barnett, before securing a guillotine choke submission late in the second. This is the first time that the submission-ace Barnett—a man who recently submitted one of the greatest grapplers of all-time in Dean Lister—has been legitimately submitted (his other two “submission losses” came against Mirko Cro Cop, first due to a shoulder injury, and next due to punches).
Once again, needless to say, this is a massive victory for Rothwell, and the heavyweight division now has several viable contenders for the belt that aren’t named Junior dos Santos.
In the featured fight of the night, hometown-favorite Jimmie Rivera defeated Iuri Alcantara in an exciting affair. The fight largely took place on the feet and saw Rivera just one step ahead at most points.
Finally, the main card kicked off with a catastrophe of massive proportions: Sage Northcutt was defeated. After a strong first round (in which he was tagged fairly badly towards the end), Northcutt appeared to be fading and ultimately found himself on his back. From there, Barberena eventually found himself in position to finish an arm-triangle choke. And although it didn’t appear to be overly tight, it was enough to elicit the tap at 3:06 of the second round.
The readers who took my relative confidence in Barberena seriously from last week’s recap are undoubtedly enjoying a new TV or video game system (I caught him at +350 before the weigh-ins!).
But alas, the showboating must end. The prelims featured some solid action as well, including:
—Tarec Saffiedine overcoming a notably hard shot from Jake Ellenberger in the first round to secure a unanimous-decision victory
—Carlos Diego Ferreira frustrating Olivier Aubin-Mercier en route to a unanimous-decision win (Tristar fighters had an uncharacteristically difficult night).
—Rafael Natal finishing the notably smaller Kevin Casey via third-round strikes
—Alexander Yakovlev finishing New Jersey’s own George Sullivan via KO
—Wilson Reis spoiling the still-promising Dustin Ortiz’s return in nearly six months via decision
—Alex Caceres showing off his constantly developing stand-up skills against Masio Fullen, nabbing a unanimous decision in the process
And a ton of other prelim action. But Bellator brought some excitement this week as well.
Paul Daley Sets the Rematch Up Against Josh Koscheck at Bellator 148 while Bradley finishes Honeycutt and Patricky Freire Viciously KO’s Couture
It may not have been much of a surprise, but Paul Daley defeated Andy Uhrich via the first-round knockout with a well-timed strike. Despite Josh Koscheck pulling out of the event, there was still a good deal of promotion to be gained from Daley’s post-fight callout—much to the delight of the Bellator executives, certainly.
In the co-main event of the night, Bellator suffered a notable large blow, as the young and skilled prospect Chris Honeycutt was toppled in less than one minute by TUF and UFC-veteran Paul Bradley.
This was an interesting fight that did well to demonstrate the value of veteran experience inside the cage. In their first outing, Bradley wasn’t being dominated but was clearly losing the fight until an inadvertent clash of heads halted, and ultimately stopped the action.
This confidence allowed Honeycutt to assume that he had all of the answers to Bradley’s game this time around, and allowed Bradley to understand that he needed to make some serious adjustments. Honeycutt came forward and got clipped, and after absorbing a ton of shots, the fight was stopped.
Despite the loss, Honeycutt still has a bright future— in Bellator and otherwise. But undeniably, that “0” on his record made him much easier to promote.
In the featured fight of the night, Pitbull proved that he cannot be taken lightly. The vicious striker and promotional staple defeated Ryan Couture via devastating knockout. Couture is as tough as they come, but getting clipped with the shot as he did would put most anyone out.
The main card started with a heavyweight contest between Tony Johnson and Raphael Butler. Johnson, as many expected, utilized his superior wrestling and ground game towards an early third-round stoppage (although, for whatever reason, Butler initiated the clinch as well).
This was a solid overall card that featured some high-level fighters.
Cain Velasquez Pulls-Out of Title Fight, Stipe Miocic Steps Up, and Then Fabricio Werdum Withdraws as Well
In a sequence that is sure to have aggravated the UFC brass, yet another title fight (and the UFC 196 PPV card) has gone down the drain.
The sequence began when Velasquez announced that he was injured yet again, and would require surgery. The high-level contender Stipe Miocic stepped-up to take his spot, and a new title fight between Miocic and Werdum was booked. Then, Werdum pulled out due to injury; the title fight was scrapped altogether, and the card now airs live and free with Hendricks and Thompson serving as the main event.
To top it all off, Werdum announced that he would have fought Velasquez with this injury, but wasn’t interested in competing against Miocic while sporting it.
Not much explanation is needed, and most everyone is seeing the situation for what it is: a mess. An expensive, frustrating, division-halting mess.
At least, we get to enjoy a solid TV card for free, in all seriousness.
UFC light heavyweight Anthony Perosh has called it a career.
The skilled fighter did what most have failed at creating a successful career at an older age (he was 37 when he made his UFC debut), and at the highest level.
Undeniably, one of the most memorable wins of “The Hippo” inside the UFC was his 14-second KO of BJJ world champion Vinny Magalhães, as a massive underdog.
Hopefully, we’ll be able to see Perosh involved in the sport from outside the cage in the future.
The UFC announced a mass of new fights this week as well:
Ross Pearson (sporting a quick turnaround) against Abel Trujillo at UFN 84, in what should be a fun stand-up fight
Matt Brown against Demian Maia in Brazil on March 14th, in an awesome contest that will do well to show just how far the ground game of Brown has developed
Vitor Miranda versus Marcelo Guimaraes at UFC 197
Khabib Nurmagomedov against Tony Ferguson in April, in what should be an interesting title-eliminator bout
Michael Chiesa versus Beneil Dariush at UFC on Fox 19—a great fight between two skilled athletes
Also on UFC on Fox 19, Bethe Correia versus Raquel Pennington—a fight that will frankly decide the career trajectory of each athlete for the rest of their career
Gian Villante against Ilir Latifi at UFC 196, in what should be a fun contest between two powerful light heavyweights
Once again, this week brought a ton for MMA fans to enjoy. Hopefully, though, next week will be even better.
Enjoy the fights!