Putting on a rare Friday night show has a few benefits for the UFC: Dana White gets to slap his dong on Bjorn Rebney’s cheek after they crush Bellator, they get a nice lead in for The Ultimate Fighter – which has been tanking in ratings, and they save me such undesirable choices as going to the movies alone – desperately trying not to look like a complete loser, or staying in, drawing a nice bath, popping the cork on a subtle, buttery Chardonnay, and relaxing to Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. Now it’s fight night, and that’s just that.
So what’s at stake with this card? At first glance it doesn’t look like much. One half of the main event is a guy 98% of fans have never heard of, and the other half is that dude with the big-ass foot tattoo on his back who always gets smashed. Antonio Silva vs Travis Browne is not a main event that is going to draw in casual viewers, but it’s a quality scrap nonetheless, and it does have meaning in the divisional landscape. So do a few of the other fights. Unfortunately, the under card looks better than the main card, and it’s on FUEL, which my disdain for is thoroughly documented. However, I will not allow my inability to “figure that shit out” compromise my duty to objectively shit on FUEL and everything it stands for. Ok, maybe just a little. But anyway, let’s take an in-depth look at this bitch and pick apart what actually matters.
Antonio Silva vs Travis Browne – This fight is very important for both guys, just for completely different reasons. Silva had a tough run in his Octagon appearance, drawing Cain Velasquez, who fucked him up so bad the fight actually renewed the debate about making elbows illegal. Thankfully that was short lived and went nowhere. Silva needs a win here. You do not want to start your UFC tenure at 0-2. It’s just bad. Browne, on the other hand, is a very comfortable 4-1 in the UFC, with two first round KO finishes and a submission to boot. Silva may have been supremely overrated after his win over Fedor, but he still represents a step up in competition for Browne, who can catapult himself into the Top 10 here. Luckily for him, despite the fact that Silva’s head looks like a cinderblock, his jaw is susceptible to be concussed. On the flip side, Travis does need to keep it upright, because he DOES NOT want Bigfoot on top of him raining down hurt and anguish.
Jake Ellenberger vs Jay Hieron – His awesome six fight win streak was derailed by Martin Kampmann’s despotic knees, so Jake needs this fight to get back on track to a title shot. Luckily for him, Hieron, while tough, is a very beatable opponent. They actually faced each other before, back in 2006, but the thing about the old days is they the old days. Jake is in his prime now, while Hieron has graduated from talented fighter to great training partner.
Jon Dodson vs Jussier Formiga – This one will decide the next flyweight title contender. Jussier is a former Shooto champion who has won his last four by submission. Only problem is just one of those opponents has a Wikipedia page, and everyone knows that’s the true measure of a successful fighter. Dodson got himself known on The Ultimate Fighter, where he gained a reputation as somewhat of a rat, but a rat who’s a superb athlete and has formidable finishing power for the lower weight divisions. Look for Dodson to announce his candidacy for the crown in spectacular fashion, and breathe some life into a brand new division already suffering the stigma of “decision syndrome.”
Josh Neer vs Justin Edwards – With fights like Jeremy Stephens vs Yves Edwards and Bart Palaszewski vs Diego Nunes on the under card, it makes one wonder what these guys did to get their main card slot. Perhaps one of them has incriminating photos of Dana White tied up with a ball gag in his mouth reenacting the most disturbing scene in cinematic history , who knows, but it is curious. Don’t get me wrong, against the right opponent, Neer is gold. He fights with little regard for life and limb. But, he could be the worst defender of takedowns in the history of MMA. Bold statement, I know, but if you’ve ever seen him fight you know it to be true. Neer is in the midst of his fourth UFC run, and despite being only 29 years old, he has 45 professional fights to his credit. He’s fighting for pure survival, relevance is secondary. Edwards, at 1-2 – all unceremonious decisions, is fighting for his job.
On the under card, on FUEL…UGH, Bart Palaszewski and Diego Nunes are desperate to get back into the mix before even MORE top 155’ers drop down and push them into obscurity. Jeremy Stephens is looking to live up to his potential against crafty veteran Yves Edwards after back-to-back losses. Edwards is 36, has about a billion fights, and is still fighting top competition so he’s just glad to be making paper tossing knuckles rather than being chained to a cubicle like the rest of the proletariat. And Jacob Volkmann intends to out-wrestle Shane Roller in a nail-biter that will not only prove, once and for all, that mundane grappling technique counts as much as thrilling knockouts and creative submissions, but also shut up the “fat turds” who are just too stupid and uninformed to recognize the excitement of the dump and hump strategy.