It was a rough night for the Brits in Austin, Texas this weekend. Brad Pickett and Luke Barnatt both dropped hard fought decisions but showed grit and courage with their performances. The main event bout between Frankie 'The Answer' Edgar and Cub Swanson, however, made up for my disappointment.
Edgar often flies under the radar when we are talking about the greatest fighters around. Unassuming and humble, he goes about his job like any blue-collar New Jersey native. He works hard, diligently preparing for each bout, doesn't trash talk or boast about his ability, and keeps collecting win bonuses.
Going into the fight with Swanson I must admit, even I was counting him out a little. Not that I didn't think he would win necessarily, but the confidence of Cub is infectious. Coming into the fight riding a six-fight win streak over opponents I regard highly, he looked like a shoe-in for the next title shot.
Frankie, however, had other ideas. His footwork, wrestling and ground and pound allowed him to control the bout almost bell to bell. Not content with a decision though, he chased the submission right until the end. Stealing the finish with a nasty face bar from the rear naked choke position with just four seconds left, he landed the latest finish ever in UFC history. After a performance like that, he is surely worthy of another crack at the featherweight champion, Jose Aldo.
The other stand out showing from the night came in the flyweight division as Joe Benavidez put on a clinic, beating Dustin Ortiz soundly over three rounds to pick up the unanimous decision. The unorthodox footwork of Team Alpha Male was on display again as Benavidez dipped in and out of range, landing clean shots and taking little damage.
From one show to another we are now seeing exciting developments, not only in each division but in the sport in general. The athletes are becoming more dynamic, more well-rounded and versatile. The margin for error is becoming narrower each time the UFC put on a show. With a packed schedule of events for next year I can't even begin to imagine where we will be at the end of 2015.
For now we have plenty to look forward to though. Within the next six weeks we could see several belts adorning new waistlines and the emergence of some exciting number one contenders. Coming up on December 6th we have a double title fight card with Hendricks rematching his toughest test so far in 'Ruthless' Robbie Lawler. A fight that was razor thin, Lawler will be champing at the bit to get back in and correct past mistakes to finally become the UFC champion.
The co-main event of that card will pit The Ultimate Fighter season 20 coaches against each other as Anthony 'Showtime' Pettis will put his belt on the line against Gilbert Melendez. Pettis, known for his powerful kicking ability as demonstrated in his wins over Joe Lauzon and Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone, took the belt from Ben Henderson with a beautiful arm bar from guard. Melendez is the long time Strikeforce lightweight champion and has considered himself the best in the world for some time. This is his opportunity to prove it and take that title home.
January kicks off with a huge grudge match as Jon Jones faces his bitter rival, Daniel Cormier. Gustafsson will take on Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson in an historic stadium event at Stockholm’s Tele2 arena – this will be the UFC’s second ever stadium event and the first to take place in Europe. Gustafsson will be looking for a win in front of a massive 30,000 strong home crowd to get a second shot at the title. That is going to be a night to remember for sure.
Then we have 'The Notorious' Conor McGregor up against Dennis Siver later in the month and, if that's not enough to look forward to, we have a superfight between fan favourite Nick Diaz and the returning legend, Anderson Silva – a fight which has me beside myself with joy at the very idea of it!
Tickets for the historic UFC FIGHT NIGHT: GUSTAFSSON vs. JOHNSON event will be available to the general public on Friday Nov. 28 via AXS.com/UFC.Reuse content