Super Bowl weekend has become an unofficial mainstay for UFC pay per views. Last year we got the infamous Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz clash, and this year we were to witness a rematch between heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum and former champ Cain Velasquez.
Velasquez pulled out in the weeks leading up to the fight citing injury. He was quickly replaced by number one contender Stipe Miocic, but Werdum similarly pulled out citing injuries of his own. This left UFC officials in a tough spot. They had the option of going forward with the pay-per-view featuring former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks competing against rising star Stephen Thompson, the second of two South Carolina fighters to walk away with big wins, or negotiate with Fox to have the event broadcast as a free event via Fox Sports One.
The lack of depth on a showcase card such as this was apparent from top to bottom. The Fight Pass prelims featured a 1-0 fighter in Mickey Gall competing against 0-0 Mike Jackson. The stakes? A match against fellow 0-0 professional fighter Phil “CM Punk” Brooks.
The entire freak show ended in only 45 seconds when Gall, who made his debut on UFC reality show Looking’ for a Fight, sank a match-ending rear-naked choke. He’s now being targeted to face Brooks at UFC 199.
Despite being one of the more mediocre shows in recent memory, there were a few interesting moments. The undercard featured featherweight Diego Rivas extending his undefeated streak with a crushing flying knee KO over Noad Lahat, as well as technical striking clinic by Justin Scoggins that should finally catapult the young flyweight into the top fifteen.
Roy Nelson snapped a three fight losing skid with a win over Jared Rosholt. Ovince Saint Preux and Joseph Benavidez, both favorites for their respective fights, defeated their opponents in hard fought yet empty-feeling bouts, and Mike Pyle and Sean Spencer put on a Fight of the Night performance.
Stephen Thompson Has Arrived
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson continued his six fight winning streak with his second consecutive knockout win, this time over a former champion in Johny Hendricks. It was the best performance of his career as he quickly and decisively dismantled Hendricks at range with precision striking.
The shorter Hendricks never had an opportunity to get inside and do much damage. Though known for his resilient chin, he tested the waters too much and too early, often wading straight forward and eating several hard shots. Thompson finally worked his opponent back against the cage with a stiff overheard right, several kicks, and another flurry of punches to put Hendricks on Bambi legs. He finished the fight moments later and added the biggest feather to his cap thus far.
He may not get the next title shot, but he definitely deserves another top five fighter. Carlos Condit, the last person to challenge Robbie Lawler for the belt, seems the obvious choice.
What did you think of the event? Would you have paid $60 for this one? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.