UFC on Fox 2 Concludes Without a ‘Fighter of the Night’ Performance

January 30, 2012

Yes, it comes off a bit harsh to say there was no MMAWeekly.com Fighter of the Night performance at UFC on Fox 2. But it’s tough to award for performance when the performers themselves weren’t happy with their performances.

And that’s exactly how it breaks down when you look back at Saturday night’s fights.

Heck, even the UFC’s own post-fight bonuses for Knockout, Submission, and Fight of the Night all went to preliminary card fighters.

Fact: the UFC on Fox 2 main card winners came away with additions to their win columns. Okay, fine. Fact: according to the record books a win is a win, no matter the method in which said win was gained. Okay, fine. One more fact: people are talking about how little excitement there was from the fights on Fox.

Rashad Evans warded off Phil Davis as the former Penn State wrestler did all he could to showcase his improved stand-up. It lasted for close to two-thirds of a round before Evans turned the tides. But once things started working in Evans’ favor, he did little to finish the fight in a way that made him stand out over the rest of the main card winners.

Initially, Evans said he was pleased with how he did against Davis, saying, “I felt good about the performance.” But what he said following that gave the impression he felt the opposite.

“When you have it in your mind (that) you want to finish a certain way and it doesn’t happen, it’s kind of disappointing,” he said.

Evans has always been one to make his point clear in the media, but his demeanor during the post-fight press conference differed from his voiced pleasure. Looking down, hunched over, lack of a smile. It wasn’t convincing that he was happy with how he did in the octagon on Saturday.

While Evans’ win was clear in the judges’ eyes, Chael Sonnen’s win at UFC on FOX 2 sparked debate almost immediately following the reading of scorecards.

Some agreed with the scores, holding Sonnen as the winner with at least two rounds in his favor. Others scored it two rounds to one for Bisping, including our own MMAWeekly.com play-by-play reporter.

As much as Sonnen puts himself on a pedestal following wins, even he wasn’t certain he won the fight. Following the third round and before scores were read, he spoke with Bisping and asked what he thought the outcome might be. He said Bisping told him the British fighter won the first two rounds. Sonnen’s response to that: “I think you’re right.”

Uncharacteristically, Chael P. Sonnen admits he’d have no problem if his opponent’s hand was raised instead of his own.

“If it would’ve gone the other way I don’t know that I’d be complaining,” he said at the post-fight press conference.

Could it be a show of respect by Sonnen for a guy that fought him on short notice? Probably. But being the Fighter of the Night demands confidence in knowing you out-shined opposition better than anyone on the fight card. This, unfortunately, didn’t appear to be the case for Sonnen.

Chris Weidman, to his credit, took a fight on short notice against a guy that’s ranked in the Top 10, Demian Maia. This required the Long Island resident to cut a massive amount of weight before the fight. The middleweight shed 30 pounds in 10 days. A cut like that can lead to exhaustion, which was evident in his fight. But in the Fox broadcast’s opening match, Weidman wasn’t the only one that appeared to be out of gas.

Maia was slow and tired, failing to engage with much more than a single strikes in hopes that it would put down his opposition. The combination of Weidman’s and Maia’s lack of energy as the fight wore on slowed the pace of what could have been an exciting middleweight showdown. Instead, the Chicago crowd jeered the 185-pounders for half the contest.

It may sound odd, but the fact Maia didn’t perform up to par hurt Weidman’s chances to prove he’s a definitive competitor against the top-shelf middleweights. Taking a fight on short notice and beating a well-conditioned opponent would have spoken volumes about Weidman. But he and his foe looked gassed, leaving spectators unimpressed. Fortunately, Weidman’s career is in its early stages, so he’ll get the chance to shine again in the future, and lackluster or not, it was still an important victory.

Being the Fighter of the Night means more than just adding a notch to the win column; it means overcoming great adversity, proving everyone wrong, and confidently putting an exclamation point on a job well-done. The three main card winners at UFC on Fox 2, unfortunately, lacked these key points.

It should be noted, there were some solid performers on the night’s undercard on Fuel TV. Charles Oliveira pulled off a calf-slicer submission, Cub Swanson and Lavar Johnson finished with punishing knockouts, and Evan Dunham and Nik Lentz scored the UFC’s official Fight of the Night honors.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an op-ed commentary article. Fighter of the Night is not an official UFC award.)

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