UFC on Fox 12 Results: Grades for Every Main Card Fighter
With the ghosts of Strikeforce still shuffling through the rafters, the UFC returned to the SAP Center (formerly known as the HP Pavilion) on Saturday night in an effort to fill the needs of Bay Area MMA fans.
Offering up an explosive main event that unsurprisingly delivered on its promise of entertainment, as well as a co-main event that might well have created a fresh contender for the light heavyweight title, the promotion's 12th show on Fox was mostly a success.
Here are the grades for those who entered the cage.
Speaking of the ghosts of Strikeforce...
Josh Thomson returned to the scene of many of his greatest wars on Saturday but was unable to provide another in his second showing on Fox in 2014. He was one-half of a bizarre, tepid pairing that was as much engaged in a footwork showcase as it was in a fight.
At the end of the bout, Thompson was deemed the loser, and it's hard to argue against that with any particular fervor. He posed as a counterattacker, and did so reasonably, but he did little to prove he outclassed his foe, Bobby Green, to the extent that the rankings suggested coming in.
Definitely nothing memorable for Thomson or his boosters in this one.
Green collected undeniably the most prominent scalp of his MMA career in San Jose, California, but he did so without any particular bombast. His win over Thomson was a focused and measured one, but not the type that will have people clamoring to see him again as soon as possible.
He was in and out for much of the bout, never in serious trouble even if he was touched up a few times by Thomson's counters. After 15 minutes, though, it was Thomson who looked like he'd been in a fight and Green who looked like he'd competed in headgear, so he must have done something right.
It's hard to envision Green will be in title contention after one major win, but you can bank on him getting another name opponent the next time he makes the walk to the Octagon.
Dennis Bermudez took the step that anyone with an interest in seeing new contenders wanted him to take, beating a game veteran in Clay Guida and making it look very, very easy. He was two steps ahead for the whole bout, routing Guida on the feet, outpacing him in the grappling and eventually finishing him with a choke.
There can be no doubt now that Bermudez, with his continued growth, grit and athleticism, has gone from prospect to contender—especially considering not only that he beat Guida, but how he did so as well. It was his seventh straight UFC win.
He should plunge deep into the top 10 after Saturday.
At a time when MMA's first true generation of fighter-athletes is starting to go by the wayside, the day may be coming where Guida is ushered toward the door as a member of that group.
His impact as a relevant contender is behind him, the fans don't pop for him the way they used to and he doesn't seem as prone to a wild brawl as he once was. Though it was over two years ago, his fight against Gray Maynard seemed to damage his reputation irreparably, and he's still working under that weight.
He's also perhaps a little rich for the blood of the UFC these days, who has released guys such as Jon Fitch and Jake Shields as much due to cost as to performance in recent months.
There's no telling where Guida goes from here, as he's UFC-caliber but has no clear path to anything noteworthy in the promotion. UFC on Fox 12 did almost nothing to influence that reality positively.
Mike Goldberg doesn't always get it perfect, but when he does, there's no denying it. Saturday night, he said more than he probably even realized: "[Anthony Johnson] might be the most destructive light heavyweight in the world."
After it took him less than a minute to demolish Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, who could argue? A couple of powerful uppercuts, and it was all over. It wasn't a fight; it was a beating.
It won't take many more wins like that before Johnson is knocking on the door of Jon Jones.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
If there was any doubt that you can't be pushing 40 and miss a year-and-a-half if you want to be a top contender in MMA, this proved it. Via MMA Fighting's Guilherme Cruz, Nogueira was making claims about being top-three in the division coming in despite not seeing cage time since early 2012 and had those claims proved baseless by getting rolled.
Injuries and age might simply be too much for the 38-year-old Brazilian to overcome at this stage, especially after this, likely the most horrendous loss of his career.
It's hard to knock someone as determined as Matt Brown, a man who has risen to the upper crust of the welterweight class on the strength of a win streak well past two years, but his unanimous-decision loss to Robbie Lawler proved he may have hit a ceiling.
For all his gameness and will, the end of the day sees him as a stellar talent with considerable tools to be applied to MMA but one who isn't likely to contend for a title. He's a lovable everyman with a great story, but being the best takes more than that.
Brown is far more likely to see thrilling brawls going forward than he is title eliminators, but there's nothing wrong with that. He's can't-miss television regardless of his opposition.
Lawler looked loose and comfortable in picking up a convincing decision over Brown, one that should set him up for a rematch with Johny Hendricks later in the year. He weathered the patented Brown storms when he had to and returned fire with some enthusiasm of his own, and by the time the night was over, he'd battered his man all over San Jose.
It was another expert showing from Lawler, who has matured and developed into the type of fighter whom every fan loves to watch, but one who can be appreciated for his intelligence and understanding of the stakes of his career.
The next time you see his hand raised, UFC President Dana White could be putting the belt around his waist.
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