John Dodson pounding out the win. (Tracy Lee)
Free MMA on TV is always good, and the three opening main card fights on UFC on FX: "Browne vs. Bigfoot" made something "good" into something "awesome". A young buck took on a salty veteran, a flyweight established himself as the number one contender, and a pair of welterweight scrapped in a rematch that was six years in the making. Here's how the bouts went down:
- Justin Edwards seemed to want to make a statement in his bout against Josh Neer, and that statement was, "Goodnight, sleep tight!" Rushing forward with both guns blazing, he forced the veteran fighter to duck his head and seek a takedown — a move that enabled the Jorge Gurgel-trained fighter to jump into an arm-in guillotine attempt. Neer took the fight to the mat, but before he could truly defend, he was asleep, and Edwards was awarded the win via technical submission at :45 of Round 1.
- What happens when you pit a pair of the best flyweights in the world against each other with top contender status on the line? Caution mixed with sudden violence. In the opening round of John Dodson versus Jussier Formiga, tentativeness ruled the day, with both men wary of the other and circling, circling, circling long after the crowd began showering them with boos. But they went at it in Round 2, with the TUF winner catching the Shooto Brasil champ with a left that put him on his butt, and then dropping him again with a body blow/left to the grill combo. Formiga rolled to his stomach and covered up, and his defenselessness in the face of Dodson's fistic barrage forced the referee stoppage at 4:35 of Round 2.
With the win, the personable Dodson earned first crack at champ Demetrious Johnson.
- They met years before in the International Fight League, and back then, it was Jay Hieron who took the decision over the relatively inexperienced Jake Ellenberger. This time, however, the shoe was on the foot. Was it the most exciting bout ever? No, not really, but there were enough flashes of action to make it interesting. In the opening round, both men appeared cognizant of the other's ability to land counters, so what followed was a lot of dancing, with Hieron constantly firing off a variety of long-range kicks and punches, and Ellenberger trying to land one of those deadly bungalows he's been known to wield. Though neither truly established dominance in the first, the second saw Ellenberger nailing the takedown, and the minute of ground and pound he was able to get in opened a cut near Hieron's eye. Not much happened in Round 2, although Ellenberger did seem to catch his foe at the bell. The end result: a unanimous decision for Ellenberger.
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