Despite the last-minute cancellation of the highly-anticipated Matt Brown vs. Carlos Condit bout, UFC on Fox 9 turned out to be another intensely-entertaining fight card.
As always, some fighters used the opportunity to solidify their positions in their respective weight classes, while others failed to live up to expectations under the bright lights of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Octagon.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from the Dec. 14 UFC on Fox 9 fight card that was held at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif:
1. Demetrious Johnson
The “Mighty Mouse” lived up to his moniker on Saturday, putting his opponent, Joseph Benavidez, to sleep with a vicious right hook, earning the “Knockout of the Night” award. It was DJ’s first knockout in over three years, and it sent a clear message to everyone else in the UFC’s flyweight division.
Johnson is mostly known for his amazing speed and technique, but with his brutal knockout of Benavidez, it’s safe to add serious punching power to his list of attributes.
2. Urijah Faber
Faber proved he’s ready for another crack at UFC gold with his dominant performance against Michael McDonald, winning via guillotine choke during the second round, claiming the “Submission of the Night” award. Faber didn’t just get the better of the grappling exchanges during the fight, he proved to be the superior striker as well, negating McDonald’s power with a diverse attack.
At this point, it’s hard to make a case that anyone else in the UFC’s bantamweight division is more deserving of the Dominick Cruz vs. Renan Barão unification title bout winner.
3. Bobby Green
Green continued his ascent up the lightweight rankings with his unanimous decision victory against Pat Healy at UFC on Fox 9. His boxing looked sharper than ever, and he proved once again that his grappling skills are good enough to keep fights standing. With the win, Bobby should be able to draw a top 10 opponent for his next outing.
4. Zach Makovsky
Two weeks ago, Makovsky wasn’t even on the UFC’s roster. He took the fight against Scott Jorgenson on short notice (as a replacement for John Dodson), and he made the most out of it, pulling off the biggest upset of the night, winning via unanimous decision. That puts him right in the mix of things in the UFC’s flyweight division.
Notable mentions: Abel Trujillo, Joe Lauzon, and Ryan LaFlare.
1. Joseph Benavidez
Benavidez gave Johnson a serious test during their 2012 title tilt, but he wasn’t able to duplicate the performance at UFC on Fox 9. Losing to the champ is one thing, but when you get knocked out during the first half of the first round, that pretty much guarantees you won’t be a part of the title conversation again anytime soon.
It a tough spot for Benavidez to be given the fact he’s arguably the second best flyweight in the UFC.
2. Mac Danzig
Danzig fell short for the third consecutive time at UFC on Fox 9, losing to Lauzon via decision. That’s five wins and eight losses inside the Octagon for “The Ultimate Fighter” season six winner, meaning his days with the UFC might be coming to an end.
3. Danny Castillo
Castillo got off to a good start at UFC on Fox 9, hurting Edson Barboza early in the first round, coming close to stopping the fight. However, Castillo wasn’t able to keep up his intensity during the latter rounds, allowing Barboza to dominate the second and third.
Despite losing the last two rounds, the fight should have been ruled a 28-28 draw given how dominant Castillo was during the opening round. However, two judges saw things differently, scoring the fight 29-28 in Barboza’s favor, and Castillo only has himself to blame for his limited output in the latter rounds.