It’s time to step into the Octagon once again as we take a look at Dana White’s quest to find out who the third best light heavyweight in the world is with the latest UFC on Fox show, shown in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.
The broadcast began with action from the welterweight division as Mike Swick took on Darmaques Johnson.
This was a great way to start the show. Swick began his night’s work quickly, connecting with a big right that rocked Johnson. It was the same punch he’d go to again later in the round, with the self-same result.
In between Johnson took control on the ground. He almost took Swick’s back completely a few times, delivering some solid ground and pound shots while always looking to get into a position so he could apply a choke. He went for the d’arce variety a couple of times but nothing came of it.
So what looked an interesting fight became an explosive one early in the second. Swick caught Johnson’s kick attempt and pushed him down to the mat. One big right hand later and Johnson was out of it, the referee quickly stepping in to give Swick the knockout win.
Then it was down to lightweight as Joe Lauzon faced Jamie Varner.
This was a tremendous contest. Varner put on a great striking display, but as the fight went on, particularly in the first round, he began to visibly tire.
Lauzon, for his part, put in an excellent showing on the ground. There were times when Varner seemed powerless, unable to prevent Lauzon from going to the back to the mount and back to the back again.
It was the same story throughout the rest of the fight, and the end proved to be just as exciting. Varner went for a takedown, which Lauzon defended. Lauzon then showed tremendous skill as he moved into a position where he could apply a leg triangle for the highly impressive submission win.
The first of the light heavyweight battles saw Lyoto Machida taking on Ryan Bader.
Machida went into this fight with the perfect game plan, his unique stance making it difficult for Bader to gauge the distance a Machida connected with a couple of hard kicks to the body. We also saw a couple of clinches in the middle of the cage but nothing really came of these.
Bader finally decided to go for broke in the second as he attempted to get near his opponent. Big mistake. As soon as he got within range Machida connected with a big right that sent him crashing. It wasn’t long before the referee stepped in as Machida took the knockout win.
The main event featured the second light heavyweight battle as Shogun Rua went up against Brandon Vera.
This was a veritable war of attrition. For nearly four complete rounds these two put on a fight where the guts and determination of both men were apparent for all to see.
Both men put on fine performances in all aspects of the MMA game. It was brutal at times, but also quite compelling.
Vera did an excellent job in the striking department as he put Shogun on the defensive on numerous occasions. It was by the best performance I’ve ever seen from him, and it showed that he could hang with the best.
Shogun’s striking was more than a match for his man, and the Brazilian managed to ally this with some sound grappling, and although Vera showed some nice defensive skills at times as the fight went on Shogun began to win the war on the ground.
The end came late in round four. With both fighters running on empty Shogun connected with a big left that rocked his man. As Vera tried to put his mouthpiece back into place Shogun connected with a combination that sent Vera down to the mat, with the referee quickly stepping in to give Rua the TKO win.
Neither man did enough to get the big title shot though as Dana White announced that Lyoto Machida’s performance had earned him another crack at Jon Jones.
In conclusion - after the disappointment of UFC 149 this was just what the doctor ordered.
Every fight delivered, and then some. There were some tremendous performances here, and none of them can be faulted. This made my fight of the night decision somewhat difficult, but eventually I decided on the Shogun/Vera battle.
So with that being said let’s wrap this thing up by giving UFC’s latest show on Fox the big thumbs up.