After a few solid yet not spectacular efforts on network television the UFC finally hit a grand slam last night with UFC on FOX 4, a card full of “feel good” moments, heartbreak, and highlight-reel finishes. Only two fights went to decision and in general the only fly in the otherwise delicious bowl of soup involved an accidental eye-poke ending the bout between Phil Davis-Wagner Prado. However, even that situation had a silver-lining, as fans got an opportunity to see Prado’s personality and will no doubt be rooting for him when the two meet each other in a rematch later this year.

In general, it was the kind of card the UFC needed to deliver on FOX – the sort sucking in casual fans who tuned in to check things out only to find an action-packed show from top to bottom. More specifically…

Undercard Excellence:

John Moraga looked terrific against Ulysses Gomez, establishing himself as a legitimate figure to watch at flyweight with a thorough beatdown of his talented adversary.
Manny Gamburyan is always exciting but will never excel beyond preliminary status based on his diminutive size and reliance on knockouts, while Michihiro Omigawa’s next bout needs to come in ONE FC because he’s simply not UFC material at this point in his career (if he ever was to begin with).
Phil De Fries will never go anywhere in the division and Oli Thompson has run his course in the Octagon. Not much more to say other than…NEXT!
Rani Yahya is a great gatekeeper, nothing more. He’s solid to be sure but not the kind of guy who will ever make a real run at the belt. Speaking of contendership, it’s also unfortunate former #1 challenger Josh Grispi hasn’t panned out in the UFC but let’s not forget he’s only 23 and is coming off some personal issues relating to his family. I think it would be wise for the promotion to let him go to relieve some pressure and let him know he’s got a clear path to return with 2-3 wins outside the organization.
– One final note on the Davis-Prado situation relates to my interest in seeing some sort of penalty instituted when fighters palm at opponents’ faces. The eye-poke was accidental but the technique of gauging range with an open hand was intentional. The sport may not ever be able to end eye-poking but a good start would be addressing the actions often leading to said issue.
– Now that Cole Miller has shown he’s no better at 145 pounds than he was at 155 pounds I’d like to see him go back up in weight. The cut doesn’t seem to be agreeing with him. As far as Nam Phan, what else can be said than the dude shows up to fight and always keeps things entertaining?

Main Card Mayhem:

– It was impressive to see Mike Swick not skip more than maybe a single beat despite his extended layoff (31 months) and health problems. The fact he also won Knockout of the Night simply sweetened the story.
– Sorry Kenny Florian, but Joe Lauzon is the king of finishing fights. 22 in 22 wins? Insane! The bout with Jamie Varner was a blast, filled with lots of adversity for both, and well-deserving of Fight of the Night. Varner’s return to the ring has been impressive and I’d like to see him get a few more chances before the UFC explores other options.
Ryan Bader’s lack of takedown attempts, even in a single round, was somewhat shocking to me since his stand-up clearly had nothing on Lyoto Machida’s precision (as predicted). He should have explored the idea of ground-and-pound instead of going for the singular power punch but alas he didn’t and a good 30 seconds of his life is now little more than a blur in his memory. On the other hand, Machida looked great and was the right man to pick for top contendership considering the number of problems he offers every foe.
– The main event was a war to be sure though Mauricio Rua seemed to be a shell of his former self while Brandon Vera rose to the occasion as he often does. Rua was a bit sluggish and is no longer the dynamic striker he once was. He’s dangerous to be sure but no longer a serious title-threat.