The MMA Notebook: UFC On FOX Aftermath, Friday Night Fights On FX and the TUF 16 Finale
UFC On FOX a ratings success
The UFC pulled out all the stops for this past Saturday’s FOX card and it apparently paid off. The card, headlined by UFC Lightweight champion Benson Henderson’s successful defense against Nate Diaz, averaged 4.4 million – a remarkable 83% increase over their last event on FOX in August. The end of the college football regular season paired with high profile fights featuring rising stars like Alexander Gustafsson and Rory MacDonald alongside MMA legends such B.J. Penn and “Shogun” Rua clearly brought in viewership that had been lacking on the past two FOX events. The UFC hopes to repeat this success next month with their sixth card airing on FOX scheduled for January 26th.
Gustafsson unlikely to fight for Light Heavyweight title
Although Saturday’s bout between Alexander Gustafsson and Maurico “Shogun” Rua was billed as number one contender’s bout, it appears Gustafsson’s impressive victory will not result in a title shot. With current Jon Jones tied up in the next season of The Ultimate Fighter and a ridiculous matchup against Chael Sonnen, the Swede is looking to get right back in the cage as soon as possible. UFC President Dana White has openly thrown his name out as potential opponent for Lyoto Machida, who already has a bout scheduled with Dan Henderson. White has claimed that Henderson’s knee injury may not allow him to compete in February, though “Hendo” has refuted this and stated his knee is fine. Regardless of who his next opponent actually ends up being, it’s become clear that Gustafsson’s next fight will not be against Jon Jones.
Friday’s UFC On FX features TUF: The Smashes finalists
The first day of the UFC’s double-dose of MMA this weekend will serve as de-facto finale to The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes, which featuredBritish and Australian fighters exclusively. Coaches Ross Pearson and George Sotiropoulos will face off in the main event while finalists Brad Scott and Robert Whittaker are set to clash in the co-main event of the night to decide the winner of this TUF spinoff. The event also features Hector Lombard, who came into the UFC with much hype yet disappointed in his debut losing to Tim Boetsch. The former Bellator champion will have the opportunity to redeem himself against submission specialist Rousimar Palhares, who is coming off his own loss to Alan Belcher back in May.
TUF 16 Finale littered with intriguing fights
While general malaise towards The Ultimate Fighter has resulted in a lack of fanfare behind this Saturday’s season 16 finale, the UFC put together a lineup of fights that you would be foolish to skip. The coaches, Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin, were meant to lock horns at this event but an injury to Carwin derailed that bout. Now, Nelson will face fellow TUF 10 alumnus Matt Mitrione. A bout between welterweights Mike Ricci and Colton Smith will crown the winner of this season’s TUF crown and serve as the co-main event. The rest of the card may be of more interest dedicated MMA fans with matchups like Dustin Poirier vs. Jonathan Brooks, Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner, Pat Barry vs. Shane del Rosario and Mike Pyle vs. James Head. Fans have plenty of free, quality fights to hold them over until December 29th’s UFC 155 pay-per-view.