Opening Round: What’s Next? (UFC on FX Edition)

The UFC’s debut on FX came with all the action and drama typically associated with one of the network’s numerous critically acclaimed shows, resulting in a card featuring finishes in eight of ten bouts including six in the first round. Even better, three of four main card clashes resulted in a stoppage and the lone exception was highly competitive from start to finish.

In What’s Next I’ll be looking at how all of the featured fights went while also offering up commentary on how I see things unfolding for each of the involved athletes down the road.

Pat Barry def. Christian Morecraft via Knockout Round 1

Say what you will about Barry’s “improved” submission-wrestling defense but don’t forget he was in two terrible positions to begin with against a mid-tier opponent at best. If Barry had been facing someone with more than barely serviceable grappling he would have been pounded out when in mount or submitted during the Armbar attempt. For Morecraft the loss left him without legs to stand on, literally and figuratively. Any belief that he’s decent on the ground has been completely washed away and he was out-struck by a guy giving up a significant amount of height/reach.

What’s Next for Barry: More training with the beasts at Deathclutch and a summer date with Gabriel Gonzaga
What’s Next for Morecraft: An extended vacation while he recovers from having his face blasted through the canvas followed up by a regional event in Massachusetts, i.e. “free agency”

Mike Easton def. Jared Papazian via Majority Decision

This was Fight of the Night in my opinion. I also have to show some love for Easton’s decision to go with plain purple trunks and do the power-slap before his fight a la “The Hulk” (also his nickname). The 27-year old Easton definitely has star potential and could quickly become a fan-favorite with another win or two. I was also impressed by Papazian who I didn’t expect much from based on a middle-of-the-road record. Loss or not he definitely deserves another shot in the Octagon.

What’s Next for Easton: He needs a step up in competition but nothing too major so an opponent like Yves Jabouin
What’s Next for Papazian: A fight with Nick Denis who is obviously a tough draw but one where Papazian could come away with an upset win against if he shows up fight like he did against Easton

Josh Neer def. Duane Ludwig via Technical Submission Round 1

Unfortunately Neer-Ludwig went about eight minutes shorten than I was hoping since I wanted to see an all-out war between the two tested veterans. While they delivered such to an extent it obviously was over before it really got going sort of like Desert Storm. Neer doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves as someone who has fought all-comers and finished 29 of 33 opponents he’s beaten. Comparably, it’s been a little over two years since Ludwig has scored a stoppage and with his loss to Neer I can’t help but wonder if we might be looking at the final act of his career in 2012.

What’s Next for Neer: Neer has won his last six fights and deserves a bigger name for his next fight, plus main card slot on a PPV, so let’s go with Dong Hyun Kim
What’s Next for Ludwig: He can shake this loss off to an extent because he was doing well before getting caught in a slick submission; a striker would be perfect for his next fight and Dan Hardy fits the bill

Jim Miller def. Melvin Guillard via Submission Round 1

I’m fairly certain I wasn’t the only one who saw this pairing playing out exactly like it did. Guillard has power and athleticism but that’s it. He’s as lost on the ground now as he was a few years ago and in my opinion it indicates an issue going beyond training technique. He simply does not understand the intricacies of submission-grappling. The reality is not every fighter is going to pick up on boxing or BJJ as easily as another might. Miller was solid as always and very few aspects of his performance are open to criticism as far as I’m concerned.

What’s Next for Miller: He should be given another “Top 10”-type foe such as Clay Guida
What’s Next for Guillard: A lot of “takedown defense” training instead of dealing with submissions and some smart booking from the folks upstairs at UFC headquarters to avoid a three-fight losing streak; he needs someone who isn’t a threat on the ground so Anthony Njokuani makes sense

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

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