As the dust settles on this past weekend’s UFC On FOX 2 event we take a look at the evening’s biggest winners and losers.
1. Charles Oliveira
When Oliveira first began his campaign at lightweight he looked a very impressive prospect indeed, but a couple of setbacks against some of the toughest opposition in the division like Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone threatened to derail his hype train.
On Saturday night he debuted at featherweight and made an immediate impression as he dispensed Eric Wisely in short order. The fact that he did so by producing an ultra-rare ‘calf slicer’ submission makes it all the sweeter and signals that Oliveira is the new man to watch at 145lbs.
2. Lavar Johnson
There was absolutely no fanfare surrounding Johnson’s switch from Strikeforce’s heavyweight division recently, particularly since he was in fact coming off a couple of losses for the promotion.
Johnson made sure people noticed his debut however by doing the unthinkable and KO’ing Joey Beltran who’s perhaps best known for his exceptional durability. I don’t see Johnson making a huge impact in the upper reaches of the division from this point forward, but he could find himself in a similar position to the aforementioned Beltran battling it out in the lower reaches of the weight class and would be good foil for the likes of Pat Barry.
3. Michael Johnson
A TUF 12 product, heading into this event Johnson had been struggling to make an impact in the UFC, going 1-2 so far and appearing to have notable holes in his game, particularly with his striking.
He looked much-improved at the weekend though and gave the WEC veteran Shane Roller a surprisingly hard time over three rounds on the way to a unanimous decision victory. At 25 Johnson is showing potential and it’ll be interesting to see how he goes on from here.
Honorable Mention: Michael Bisping
It might seem a big strange to include a fighter who lost here, but I think Bisping surprised a few people with his performance against Chael Sonnen. Not only did he appear to get the better of him in the striking department but he also outmuscled him in the clinch and did well to get back to his feet on multiple occasions.
That’s more than most expected from him and shows that while his resume is still lacking in big wins over top contenders, that doesn’t mean he can’t hang with them.
1. Demain Maia
This was a dreadful performance from Maia. He lacked urgency and venum in his striking in the early rounds, completely forgot about his BJJ game and worst of all gassed terribly in the later rounds. Strange as cardio hasn’t particularly been a problem for him in the past.
This is the second time that Maia has choked on the big stage after also being involved in one of the most critically panned main events in recent memory when he took Anderson Silva to a tedious five round decision at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi. After Saturday’s showing he’s pretty much ruled himself out of ever competing for the title again.
2. Joey Beltran
Beltran’s UFC career to date has pretty much been built on his remarkable durability and toughness, so getting knocked out in the first round by newcomer Lavar Johnson leaves him in a precarious position.
He’s now lost four of his last five fights in the Octagon and the chances that he’ll be receiving his pink slip soon are high.
3. John-Olav Einemo
Einemo’s best weapon is his jiu-jitsu, but he just couldn’t get anything going against fellow heavyweight Mike Russow on Saturday night after repeatedly being pinned on his back in a fight that wasn’t fun to watch.
Einemo has now lost twice in the UFC and hasn’t really shown anything of note along the way. It’s possible that the promotion may keep him around to appear on their upcoming Swedish event given that he’s from nearby in Norway, but he’ll need to show big improvements if he wants to stick around in the longer-term.
Also Worth Considering: Phil Davis
Saturday night showed that Davis still has a ways to go before he’s ready to compete at the very highest level in the 205lb division.
He’s still got a lot of potential though, and he’s young enough to make improvements and come back strong in the future so it’s not all bad news for him.