The Five Count: Top Storylines from UFC on Fox 14 Fallout

lyoto-machidaJay Primetown takes a look at the five biggest storylines to develop from UFC on Fox 14 from Stockholm, Sweden. #1 More than a Rumble – Heading into Saturday night, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson wasn’t considered a huge threat to Jon Jones’ light heavyweight title reign, but after his knockout win over Alexander Gustafsson, he is likely the only threat to his title run. Johnson did what no one else had done before; knock out Gustafsson. Shortly after a quick break in the action due to an eye poke, Johnson landed a strike that stunned the Swede. After staggering him on the feet, Johnson pummeled him on the ground until the referee was forced to stop the action. It was a jaw-dropping stunner that left a crowd of 30,000 Swedish fans silent. The impressive victory sets up a marquee main event with Jon Jones. Johnson is perhaps the biggest puncher that Jones has ever seen. Most certainly, the fighter with the biggest power he has fought since Rampage Jackson. As opposed to Jackson, Rumble is still at his peak which makes this, in my opinion, a compelling matchup. If Jones can get by Johnson, it might be time for him to make the move to heavyweight to see if he can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s the best ever. #2 No More Time for Hendo –At 44 years old, Dan Henderson is the oldest fighter still competing at the highest levels of MMA. After his first round technical knockout loss to Gegard Mousasi, it’s clear that Henderson will never be able to get close to challenging for a UFC title again. Henderson was a fighter that was known for big knockout power and an iron chin during his career. Looking back however, he was staggered, submitted or knocked out in each of his last four fights. The great chin that Henderson once had is no longer an asset that he can count on. Without that protection, Henderson has been exposed. At his advanced age, he simply doesn’t have the striking technique or athleticism to compete against top 10 talent in the middleweight division anymore. It’s time for Henderson to truly evaluate whether it’s worth it to continue fighting. I think the UFC should give Henderson one more fight and let him pick the opponent, so he can go out on his terms. Let him headline a fight night card and build a great tribute for him. A great fighter like Dan Henderson is fitting of that kind of ending. #3 The Curious Case of Phil Davis – A former NCAA Division I Champion in wrestling, the expectations for “Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis were extremely high as he entered the UFC. Rarely does a NCAA champion wrestler grace the Octagon, so the expectations were championship level for “Mr. Wonderful.” The wins on Davis’ resume are nearly as good as anyone in the division: Lyoto Machida, Glover Teixeira, and the aforementioned Gustafsson. However, his losses seem to be a lot more alarming. His striking is well below average. In his losses to Rashad Evans and Anthony Johnson, Davis’ wrestling simply wasn’t effective. When he’s forced to stand and compete with his opponent, he simply doesn’t have the technique, ability, or output to win fights. That was the case again when he faced Ryan Bader in Sweden. Bader, an accomplished wrestler in his own right, forced Davis to stand and strike. It was here where Bader was doing more damage. In a close contest, Bader got the nod from the judges. The cat is now out of the bag on Davis. Force him to strike and a matchup is very winnable against him. If he’s able to force the fight to the ground, he’s very difficult to beat. #4 The Look of a Future Champ – 23-year old Mirsad Bektic is one of the top prospects in MMA and already on the verge of being a factor in the UFC’s featherweight division. The Bosnian-American is a powerful wrestler with a relentless pace. In his UFC debut, he out-fought a talented grappler in Chas Skelly. In his second bout, he faced newcomer Paul Redmond. The newcomer only landed two strikes the entire contest. A remarkably low number considering the fight went the distance. At his age, Bektic really does seem like the next big thing in the division. His ability to control fights with his power grappling is something to behold at such a young age. Of all the sub-25 year old fighters to debut in the past couple years, it’s very possible that Bektic is the best of the lot. #5 The Rise of the Eastern Bloc –In recent years, there has been a real increase in the number of Eastern European fighters to make their way into the UFC.  On Saturday, UFC fans were greeted with a great night from the Eastern European fighters. In all, four Eastern European fighters aged 26 and under fought on the Fox 14 card. At the end of the fight, all four of them had their hand raised. To start it off, the Czech Republic’s Viktor Pesta fought highly regarded prospect Konstantin Erokhin in a heavyweight clash. After surviving Erokhin’s initial onslaught, Pesta easily outworked Erokhin earning a deserved unanimous decision. At only 24 years old, Pesta appears to be a bright spot in an otherwise very old heavyweight division. On the televised prelims, Chechen lightweight Mairbek Taisumov lit up debutant Anthony Christodoulou, earning a highlight reel finish. Taisumov is a well-rounded fighter with a rapidly improving striking prowess. With this win, he appears set to face a real step up in competition his next time out. Ukraine’s Nikita “Al Capone” Krylov made it two first round finishes in a row with a quick submission victory over Stanislav Nedkov. He rattled Nedkov early before cinching in a choke to get the win. At just 22 years of age, Krylov is one of the youngest fighters in the UFC. He has the size and stature to really make waves in the division at some point in the next few years. To round out the unbeaten run, Albert Tumenov took a big step in the right direction with a win over veteran and hometown fighter Nico Musoke. The 23 year old Tumenov is on the cusp of making the step from prospect to legitimate threat in the welterweight division. Tumenov’s underrated takedown defense combined with his accurate striking make him someone to watch in 2015. Expect him to get a feature fight on a main card in his next bout.

Written by Jay Primetown

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