UFC on FOX 18 was filled with mixed results for the Brain and the Heart. The Brain only managed to predict the main event correctly and the Heart did slightly better with a 2-2 record. The over standings are now the Brain with a 7-6 record and the Heart with a 6-7 record. Not a great start to 2016 so far, but there have been some entertaining fights either way. Here are the top 5 moments of UFC on FOX 18:
Ellenberger Continues Fall from Contention
Tarec seemed to be much quicker than Ellenberger all night, yet Ellenberger managed to land a few power shots throughout the fight. Saffiedine and Ellenberger had a very competitive fight, but in the end, Ellenberger lost another one. Ellenberger has gone from almost getting a title shot to now losing five of his last six fights. Those five losses were all against top 15 fighters (two of those being the current champion and current #1 ranked welterweight). It will be incredibly interesting to see what the UFC does with Ellenberger now. As talented as Ellenberger is, I could easily see him getting cut here, which is a pretty big fall considering where he looked to be headed at this time three years ago.
Rivera Climbs Bantamweight Ladder
Not a lot of people were familiar with Rivera heading into this fight. They should be now. The 26 year old was able to defeat top 15 fighter Iuri Alcantara. Rivera used his aggression and power to take the decision on the scorecards 29-28. That was definitely the biggest win of his career to date and he looks to be improving each time out. The fight was exciting from start to finish and even won Fight of the Night. The bantamweight division has become full of young, extremely talented fighters and could become one of the most stacked and action packed division in the next coming years. Five of the current top ten fighters are 30 or younger and several other fighters under 30 are knocking on the door of the top 10. There are a lot of possibilities for Rivera’s next opponent, but it should be a top 15 fighter for sure.
Rothwell Taps Barnett
The first round of this fight was pretty conservative from both fighters. There were some solid strikes landed by both, but nothing too fight altering. The first was close, but I gave it to Barnett. The second round saw Barnett try to clinch with Rothwell, but Rothwell was able to get free. A takedown attempt from Barnett proved to be a vital mistake. Rothwell was able to grab Barnett’s throat and squeeze until Barnett had no choice but to tap. There weren’t a ton of people that were picking Rothwell to win, and no one expected it to end with a Rothwell submission. With that guillotine choke, Rothwell became the first fighter to submit Barnett with a submission (Barnett’s other two submissions were submission due to punches and because of injury). Rothwell has now won four in a row all by finish. I think a fight with Travis Browne could be on the horizon for Rothwell.
Barberena Crashes the Hype Train
The fight started out well for Northcutt, as he looked solid in the first round. He landed several solid shots and managed to take Barberena to the ground as well. Barberena made sure the second round didn’t go as planned for the youngster. He was able to get Northcutt to the ground and land some hard elbows. From there, Barberena was able to lock up an arm-triangle from half guard and surprisingly forced the tap from Northcutt almost immediately. Less than four months after it began, the Northcutt hype train has been derailed (or at least slowed to a slow crawl). Barberena picks up a high profile win that will almost assuredly gain him some fans. The reactions from fans and fighters after this fight showed that there were many out there that were happy to see Northcutt lose. I personally think a lot of their dislike is misplaced, but that’s a story for another time. Next up for Northcutt will likely be a winnable fight on a stage not quite as big. It will be interesting to see how the UFC chooses to promote Northcutt now that he has lost. Barberena will likely get a decent push thanks to his victory over Sage, but he’s still got a long ways to go.
Johnson Smashes Bader
The big question heading into this fight would be if Bader could tire Johnson out and drag the fight into deep water. The short answer to that? No! Bader immediately shot for a takedown and immediately regretted it. Johnson was able to stuff the takedown and move to Bader’s back. Rumble then pounded away until Bader lost consciousness. The win puts Johnson immediately back into title contention. Johnson said he is fine with waiting for the winner of the Cormier/Jones fight, and I think that’s probably his best option. He’s capable of finishing anyone in the division and that includes Cormier and Jones, so a fight with either fighter will be exciting.
Be sure to check back Friday for the event formally known as UFC 196 and now known as UFC Fight Night 82 which will feature a welterweight bout between Johny Hendricks and Stephen Thompson. The main card will now be six fights, but the prelims have some nice matchups as well.
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