If I were to have told you before this event that a FUEL TV caliber card will have seven out of nine fights go the distance, it is doubtful that many of you would have watched UFC on FUEL 6. If I were to have reminded you that because the fights were live from Macau, China, you’d have to wake up at 9 a.m. ET to watch said card, I’m willing to bet we would have had a pretty vacant liveblog this morning. It isn’t often that a card with so many decisions is worth waking up early for, but UFC on FUEL 6 proved to be an exception.
Expectations weren’t exactly high for the evening’s main event, a middleweight contest between Rich Franklin and Cung Le. With neither fighter in the title picture – or even near it – and forty year old Cung Le bloodletting his foot just one week before the fight, this fight had a very high bust-potential. Most of us assumed that Ace would exit the cage with his first victory at middleweight since 2008, and that we wouldn’t be missing much if we started our afternoon nap a little early.
Instead, Cung Le gave us a Knockout of the Year candidate, countering a leg kick with a devastating right hand that secured the victory just 2:17 into the fight. Being the only knockout on the card, Le took home the $ 40k Knockout of the Night award, but even if every other fight ended in a knockout it’d be hard not to award such a brutal finish the honor. If you happened to miss it, here it is in all of its animated GIF glory:
Dick. Nailed. Props: @JasonAmadi
As for what this fight means for the UFC middleweight division, I’m still tempted to say ”not too much.” Franklin was certainly a good middleweight champion and a great company man for the UFC, but he hasn’t been a serious title contender in years. As great of a victory as it was for Le, I’d say he’s at least two more victories away from being “in the mix” for a title shot (whatever that even means these days). May I be so bold as to suggest a fight against Brian Stann?
As for Rich Franklin, retirement seems like the most logical option. I know it’s easy to be pessimistic about a fighter’s career after watching him lose – especially the way he lost – but we’re looking at a thirty-eight year old former-champion who hasn’t won back-to-back fights in four years. There’s nothing left for Ace to do except ride his company man status into a vaguely-defined post-retirement corporate career with the UFC.
The co-main event produced a very surprising finish, as Blackzilian Thiago Silva handed Stanislav Nedkov his first career loss with a third round arm-triangle choke. Silva not only picked up his first victory in three years (drug test pending), but also his first submission victory (not counting his submission via punches over Antonio Mendes at UFC 84) since heel-hooking Dave Dalgliesh back in 2006. Being the only submission on the card, the win earned Silva the Submission of the Night bonus.
Although Silva was ahead 20-18 on all three scorecards heading into the third round, Nedkov arguably took the first round and nearly finished the Brazilian late in the second round. Despite barely making it to the third round, Thiago Silva overwhelmed Nedkov with an aggressive striking display before earning the takedown. From there, the BJJ blackbelt wasted little time locking in the fight ending choke.
Silva has never been a pushover, but he’s also never been a serious contender for the light-heavyweight championship, either. At twenty-nine years old, he still has a chance at putting together a run for the title. But if he’s going to make the most of this opportunity, he needs to get back to consistently stringing together victories, and start earning them over the deep end of the UFC’s roster.
Elsewhere on the card:
- Takanori Gomi’s split-decision over Mac Danzig took home Fight of the Night honors. Little surprise here, as this fight was a back-and-forth affair that saw both men come close to earning the stoppage. The PRIDE legend improves to 34-8 (1 NC) overall, and 3-3 in the UFC. Meanwhile, Mac Danzig drops to 21-10-1 – including a not-quite-worthy 5-6 in the UFC - but earns his fourth End of the Night bonus from the promotion.
- Dong Hyun Kim took home a unanimous decision victory over Paulo Thiago in a fight that was never exactly close. After the fight, Kim asked for a rematch against Demian Maia. Considering the fluke nature of their first meeting, I’m not surprised that he wants this fight but I doubt he gets it. Also, Thiago is now 1-4 in his last five fights and 4-5 in the UFC, so expect a Paulo Thiago-themed “And Now he’s Fired” soon.
- Speaking of “1-4 in his last five and probably about to be fired,” Tiequan Zhang actually lost to TUF alumnus Jon Tuck. Yes, the only Chinese fighter on the entire card actually lost to the softball opponent he was matched up against. And not by an indefensibly terrible decision, either: Tuck was controlling the entire fight until the third round, when he made the foolish decision to stand with the guy who desperately needed a knockout. Not to throw salt in the wound here, but Zhang’s lone victory in his last five fights came over Jason Reinhardt at UFC 127. Ouch.
- Takeya Mizugaki wasn’t exactly given a world-beater in Jeff Hougland, but he still managed to look pretty impressive while taking home a unanimous decision victory. Mizugaki ground Hougland’s face into a pulp over the course of three rounds, taking all three rounds on all three scorecards. That being said…30-25?! YOU CANNOT BE FOR SERIOUSLY, BRO!
- Attendance was 8,415, who paid $ 1.3 million USD. This makes UFC on FUEL 6 the second highest FUEL livegate (Only UFC on FUEL 2 was higher).