UFC on Fox 18 Aftermath Report

Johnson Rumbles Forward

"There was either going to be two things -- he was going to play it safe or he was going to go right in and come after me. He did one of the two and he came right after me.”

One highly telegraphed takedown attempt is all that it took for Anthony Johnson to capitalize and bash Bader senseless.  Bader shot in like an angry rocket to mostly empty space, and Johnson was able to quickly move to Bader’s back.  Bader knew what was coming and grabbed Johnson’s arm for a kimura attempt that was equal parts blind dumb hope and desperation.

A minute and 4-5 punches later Bader was flattened out unconscious on his stomach.

Rumble has a few options at this point.  His most likely one will be to face the winner of Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones for the light heavyweight belt.  However, at the post fight presser he claimed he would step in if one of them had to pull out due to injury or would take another fight if offered one in the meantime.

For Bader it was a visibly tough loss.  He’s been with the company for years and has always had difficulty really getting over that hump.  There aren’t many options forward left at light heavyweight as long as Jones, Cormier, Johnson, and Gustafsson stand in the way.  If he wants to continue to face top tier talent, a match against a returning Gustafsson may be inevitable once the Swedish superstar is cleared to return in April.  Otherwise it’s time for Bader to find a home in a new weight class.

Ben Rothwell Submits Josh Barnett

The heavyweight division is a bizarre place full of Rothwells and Arlovskis and Gonzagas.  It’s a place where anything can happen and it often does.  We saw this tonight as Ben Rothwell became the first person in 20 years of competition to submit Josh Barnett.  Barnett was having success on the feet, but Rothwell was able to take down the former champ against the cage and from there he applied some of his newfound jiu-jitsu skills to secure a gogo choke.  Rothwell was ecstatic.  Not quite this ecstatic…

…but still a solid 8 as he called out the entire heavyweight division after the win.  He wants the belt, clearly, but he’s got a few competitors ahead of him.  When pressed for details on if he would be interested in a rematch to avenge one of his losses, he claimed he would most like to fight former champ Cain Velasquez because it would be the quickest way to the top.  However, in a topsy turvy division like the heavyweights it doesn’t matter who’s next.  According to Rothwell, “I’m here to lay waste to the entire division.”

For Barnett, it was a tough loss.  Losing at your specialty is always a tough pill to swallow in any sport, but “The Warmaster” was hoping to push within reach of a title shot with a win.  With a 2013 loss to Travis Browne still fresh, it’s going to be a tough road for the veteran to get back in contention.  If we’re doing dream matches, it may be time to finally book a confrontation with Andrei Arlovski.  

Bryan Barberena: The Lamb that Refused to be Slaughtered

Sage Northcutt enjoyed a mostly successful first round against Bryan “Bam Bam” Barberena, an opponent stepping in on eight days notice to face an undefeated fighter in Northcutt, but after being taken down in the second round he was in a whole new world.  Barberena, one of Benson Henderson’s training partners, embraces a similar philosophy and chin durability.  Once he was able to get Northcutt down and in a gritty ground battle, he was able to move to half guard without too much resistance and secure an arm triangle choke, a move that usually requires side control.  Northcutt quickly tapped and ended his seven fight win streak.  Barberena yelled and did laps around the cage like he just escaped an Aztec sacrifice by winning.  

Both fighters are young and have plenty of room to grow.  Northcutt is only 19 and Barberena 26.  Expect to see them both back in action sooner than later.

Jimmie Rivera Wins One for the Home Team

New Jersey fighter Jimmie Rivera defeated Brazilian Iuri Alcantara in a three round fight of the night performance.  Rivera, undefeated in the UFC, continued his streak in the biggest step up in competition that he has faced yet.  Alcantara, a veteran with decent slips and feints, spent much of the first round leading his opponent into punches.

Rivera wasn’t expected to win on the exchanges on the feet, but he was bold and quick, often catching Alcantara off guard with his aggressiveness.  Rivera took some hard shots, even being dropped once, but Alcantara was unable to capitalize on his quickly recovered opponent.

The unranked Rivera may not be moving up into the top 15 with his win, but Alcantara, the current number 14 ranked bantamweight per ufc.com, is in a tough spot with two close losses over lower ranked fighters.  Another loss or two could be it for Alcantara.

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