All of the hype leading into Saturday's UFC on FOX 5 card may have been focused on the fights taking place on the big show, but for the most part the fighters on the prelims came through and delivered in a big way despite the lack of pre-fight attention paid to them. Join me as I take a closer look at the undercard that was...
Scott Jorgensen takes his respect and brings home the bacon
No UFC veteran wants to find himself slotted in a Facebook prelim. Imagine being a fighter and training for three months with the knowledge that only a fraction of the hardcore audience will even know your fight took place, let alone take the time to watch it. Adding pecuniary injury to insult, many sponsors don't pay as well when a fight takes place in front of relatively few eyeballs. What's perhaps most troubling of all is that if you've been around the block a few times in the Octagon, being booked on Facebook likely means you're on a losing streak and potentially fighting for your job.
This was the position Scott Jorgensen found himself as he prepared to take on John Albert in the opening bout of Saturday's show. It wasn't too long ago that the oddly monikered "Young Guns" was considered one of the premiere bantamweights in the world, but after a pair of back to back losses to Eddie Wineland and current interim champ Renan Barao it appeared the three time Pac-10 champion's future was in doubt.
Jorgensen erased any questions about where he stands in the bantamweight pecking order in emphatic fashion thanks to a spectacular first round victory over the game Albert. There were some exciting shifts in momentum early on, with the story of the fight consisting mainly of Jorgensen landing bursts of effective ground and pound only for Albert to rally and tie him up in attempted submissions. In the end it was Jorgensen who got the better of the positional battle; he caught Albert in a rear naked choke and forced him to tap literally as the buzzer sounded to announce the end of the opening round.
It was not just a great victory for a fighter desperately in need of a W, it was also a highly profitable one. The performance netted Young Guns both the Submission of the Night and the Fight of the Night bonuses to the tune of $130,000. What made the victory even sweeter was that a replay of it made the FX broadcast. Not bad for a guy who admittedly went into Saturday "bummed" to be fighting on Facebook.
And the "Best Performance From a Fighter With the Worst Nickname" award goes too...
At first glance it might be tempting to laugh at a guy who gives himself the nickname "The Detroit Superstar." However, after the performance Daron Cruickshank put on against Henry Martinez he could walk to the cage in a dress like Yuichiro Nagashima and call himself "The Michigan Schoolgirl" and I wouldn't have the guts to crack a smile, let alone snicker within earshot of him.
Simply put, Cruickshank is a bad, bad dude.
To tell the truth I wasn't expecting much out of him based on his showing in The Ultimate Fighter: Live tourney last spring, but man did he look incredible here. Not only was he able to get the better of Martinez in some absolutely crazy exchanges, he laid into him with a wide array of kicks that were like something out of an old school Jackie Chan movie. At one point in the first round Cruickshank looked as though he was practicing on sparring partner holding pads as he laid into the hapless Martinez's with a series of brutal rapid fire kicks to the liver. Then in the second he took a page out of the vintage Cro Cop playbook and felled his outgunned opponent with a beautiful head kick KO. As far as making a statement goes, it doesn't get much more emphatic than that.
If you wanted to make the argument Cruickshank was robbed out of both the best knockout of the night and the best fight of the night bonus I certainly wouldn't argue with you. His knockout of Martinez was one of the best of the year - let alone the night - and was a lot more visually impressive than Yves Edwards' elbow that ended Jeremy Stephens' night early and captured the knockout bonus for the Bahamian master of Thug-Jitsu.
In the end it probably won't matter too much. If the Detroit Superstar keeps fighting like this it'll only be a matter of time before he starts stacking more paper than a warehouse assistant at Georgia Pacific.
Dennis Siver puts a hurting on Nam Phan
Nam Phan's record over the past few years may be as checkered as the tablecloth at a cheap Italian restaurant, but I was still impressed with how Dennis Siver was able to completely shut him out in every aspect of their fight. Siver's kickboxing wasn't just on a completely different level than Phan's - it was like they weren't even playing the same game. When it came to the grappling exchanges Siver was also the better man; he took Phan down at will and once on the ground his positioning remained rock solid as he reigned down an unrelenting barrage of punches and elbows.
At 33 years of age the clock is imperceptibly but steadily winding down on Siver's career, so it would be nice to see what his ceiling is at featherweight before Father Time cuts him off at the knees. With that in mind a fight against Chan Sung Jung might not be the worst idea in the world to see if he has what it takes to make a run at Jose Aldo's title.
Back in the 70's the Incredible Hulk was famous for the line, "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." Well, Mike "The Hulk" Easton was plenty angry as opponent Raphael Assuncao outworked him over the course of three rounds on Saturday, but unfortunately there wasn't much to like about how he dealt with it. Easton seemed hesitant to pull the trigger and as a result he failed to get anything going against Assuncao. Leading into Saturday there was talk that an impressive win might put Easton next in line for a title shot against the winner of Renan Barao/Michael McDonald, but any aspirations of title contention the well-built bantamweight may have been harboring were effectively shelved for the time being with his loss to the late replacement Assuncao in a rather lackluster affair. Here's hoping he doesn't deal with the disappointment by jumping around in the desert in a pair of ripped up purple pants and smashing tanks with his bare hands.
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