The UFC started off its second year on network television with a main card that delivered. There were a lot of questions going into UFC on Fox 6, most of which got answered. Lets take a look at the night's biggest winners and losers.
Biggest Winner: Anthony Pettis
Pettis was the biggest winner on Saturday not just because of his dominant victory itself, but also because of what he left Chicago with. Anthony Pettis is now undeniably the number-one contender in the UFC lightweight division. There were other title eliminators where top-contender status was on the table for the winner, but Pettis was the one who called his shot and got the stamp of approval from Dana White, who tweeted "Pettis =AMAZING!!!! Ok I'm sold". The 155 lbs belt is up for grabs on 4/20 in San Jose, and the winner will have his first defense against Pettis, who although being out of action for almost a year, showed virtually no ring-rust in his quick dispatching of Donald Cerrone. We also got to see another Pettis instant-classic in the 'Showtime Knee', an off-the-cage knee that landed so quickly it was barely visible to the naked eye. Hopefully 2013 will be a more active year for 'Showtime', who is proving himself to be one of the most talented and dynamic strikers in all of mma.
Biggest Loser: Erik Koch
Koch did make it to the second round with Ricardo Lamas, but he didn't make it out. He got opened up by Lamas on the ground, and it wasn't very much longer before he was finished. Not only did Koch lose the fight in the most brutal fashion to-date on a Fox card, he also lost his ticket to a title fight. Had Koch won, he'd most likely be next in line for a featherweight title fight. The manner in which he lost is also why he lost the hardest, as Lamas rained down those elbows like he was trying to dig a hole through to the mat.
Most Likely To Retire: Vladimir Matyushenko
'The Janitor' has been fighting in the octagon since UFC 32, and after losing in the quickest submission in UFC light heavyweight history(depending on who you ask), Matyushenko has won just two of his last five. He is the second-oldest active fighter in the UFC, younger than only Dan Henderson. There isn't much to say about how Vladdy performed, other than to say that he simply didn't. Matyushenko has been in the cage with the very best at 205 lbs from the old guard and the new. There's no shame in hanging them up when you need to, and Matyushenko needs to.
Most Impressive in Defeat: John Dodson
Dodson wasn't accustomed to the championship rounds, and it showed. But aside from his tank approaching empty in the later rounds, he more or less kept up with Mighty Mouse, and he even won the first two rounds on the majority of the scorecards. He showed his unique power at 125 pounds, by dropping the champion on several occasions. Demetrious Johnson has a pace unrivaled by anyone smaller than George St. Pierre, and although Dodson didn't leave with the W, he is still capable of finishing most if not all of his other contemporaries, and shouldn't have too far of a climb to a rematch.
Least likely to take points away from fighters when they break the rules: MMA Referees. Any of them.
In the main event on Saturday, Demetrious Johnson landed a knee to the head of John Dodson, while he was officially considered a grounded opponent. There may be such a thing as 'accidentally illegal', where a fighter intended to land a strike, but didn't understand it's illegality (Alessio Sakara vs Patrick Cote). That does not change the illegality of the strike landed. In this case, the illegal knee did damage, leaving a swelling mass on Dodson's head. John McCarthy, the referee, didn't take a point away from Johnson, and simply gave him a warning. A point being taken away from Johnson would have changed the course of the fight, and was completely warranted because the knee that was landed certainly did. Who knows if Dodson would have slowed that much in the last two rounds had he not eaten that shot. It's up to the ref to make sure these things don't occur, or when they do, take appropriate action. Giving the downed fighter a few seconds to catch his breath isn't equal to taking a point from the fighter who broke the rules. It shouldn't matter how nice the fighter is being while breaking the rules, the point should have been taken.
Least Impressive in Victory: Clay Guida.
Most of us understand that mma judges have a hard time understanding that the fighter in top position isn't winning the fight by default. Clay Guida sure does. Otherwise he would do work to win the fight, as opposed to simply mitigating his offense. Here is a guy who was given the middle finger by a frustrated Gray Maynard during their fight, and Maynard was winning the fight. He's drawn negative criticism from fans, media, his bosses, his bosses in the media, etc. Clay seems like a great guy outside the cage, but at this point, he at least needs to stop being surprised when people are disappointed by his performances.
UFC on Fox 6 delivered some great performances and rose the stock of most of the winners. The elbows of Ricardo Lamas showed that he is ready to step in the cage with either Jose Aldo or Frankie Edgar. The flyweights were cheered, rightfully so, as they put on a fantastic back-and-forth fight that could have gone either way. All in all it was a great night for fights, and just gave us that much more to look forward to in 2013.
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