5 Takeaways (or In This Case, Forgettables) from UFC on FOX 18

February 1, 2016

MMA has had some great nights. Stephan Bonnar vs. Forrest Griffin. Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson. Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler I and II.

UFC on FOX 18, however, was not one of them. It takes an easy formula to book these primetime FOX shows, geared toward a mainstream audience: knockouts, talkers and hype. The UFC got the formula right, but plugged in the wrong variables. From a spectator’s perspective, the night just did not click.

Here are the 5 Takeaways from UFC on FOX 18 (or in this case, 5 Forgettables).

5. Dana White Probably Hates Ryan Bader

Styles make fights and sometimes you just match up poorly with someone. When that happens, the night usually ends bad for you. Anyone could have seen that on paper Ryan Bader would have had a better chance body-slamming Andre The Giant at the Pontiac Silverdome than defeating  Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. Johnson does one thing really well: he knocks people out. Bader does one thing moderately well: he wrestles. There was no way on paper that Bader was going to win that fight. He just wasn’t strong enough. When the two stood next to each other in the cage, Johnson looked twice as thick as Bader.

At one point during the fight, Bader went for an armbar and just didn’t have enough strength to even come close. That was his only hope and seconds later he was getting killed on the ground. Bader will likely never get another title shot after that defeat. Johnson will never be good enough to survive to beat Daniel Cormier, whereas Bader might have a shot against Cormier if he fought a perfect fight.

Bader should never have taken the fight. And the UFC just destroyed a decent mid-card fighter for very little payoff.

4. Don’t Believe the Hype

On Saturday night, Sage Northcutt was all show and no go. He looked like Zack Morris and Dolph Ziggler had a baby, with a 14-year-old’s abdominal muscles. Someday Northcutt might be “the man,” when he improves his jiu-jitsu and his conditioning. But for now, he’s one notch above Ryan Couture — guy with a lot of hope and promise. And we’re still waiting.

3. Another Reminder That the UFC’s Heavyweight Division Blows

As a general rule, I don’t think I should look better without my shirt than any professional MMA fighter. When that happens those guys should at the least not be fighting in primetime on FOX. I think I got Ben Rothwell beat. Not sure about Josh Barnett, but it’s close. And that’s not a good thing. Rothwell and Barnett slumbered through a sloppy fight before Rothwell finally pulled out the submission victory. I don’t think anyone watching this fight was thinking: “Damn, these are the best athletes in the world.”
Barnett continues to be inconsistent. The UFC heavyweight division continues to disappoint. Can Jon Jones just move up to heavyweight already?

2. Speaking of Heavyweights

Rumble Johnson should think about moving up to heavyweight. There are some great fights for him there. When you think about a guy with that kind of knockout power, he needs to be fighting in the sport’s heaviest division. Daniel Cormier has the perfect recipe to defeat Johnson; a heavy hitter and a great wrestler. That’s why there’s nowhere for Johnson to go at light heavyweight. Johnson can potentially knock out anyone in the heavyweight division and that’s a UFC on FOX show we would watch.

1. Ryan Bader Needs to Move to Middleweight

Let’s face it. Bader can’t hang with the upper echelon of the light heavyweight division. Can he hang with the likes of Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold? Probably. Bader needs a new scene and that should either be the middleweight division or Bellator. Although he’s 6 foot 2 inches tall, Bader just lacks the strength and size to continue as a light heavyweight. If he can’t cut weight down to middleweight, he needs to think about something other than the UFC because there’s just no future in the 205-pound division for him as a top guy.

Follow Joshua Molina on Twitter: @JECMolina

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