The UFC returned to Loas Angeles, CA and the Staples Center on Saturday night. The event was the UFC’s 4th special on the FOX network. The main show on FOX featured four fights. Two of the fights featured Light Heavywieghts that would determine who will face the winner of the Jon Jones VS Dan Henderson for the division’s championship. UFC President stated earlier this week that the fighter who looked “Most Impressive” would get the future Light Heavyweight Title shot.
The show started with a Welterweight fight between Damarques Johnson and the returning Mike Swick. Johnson dominated the fight on the ground in the 1st round. When the 2nd round began the fight quickly turned around for Swick who was able to grab Johnson’s leg and take him down. While Swick was taking Johnson down when he delivered a knockout punch to Johnson and was victorious in his return to fighting after a 2 year absence.
The next fight had Joe Lauzon defeat Jamie Varner in a Lightweight contest via submission in the 3rd round. This was an incredible back and forth fight that had both men matched up pretty evenly. Varner seemed to get tired as the fight progressed. Lauzon took advantage of Varner’s fatigue with a triangle choke in the 3rd round that forced Varner to submit. Great showing for both fighters but this fight made Lauzon look like a star.
In the 1st of 2 Light Heavyweight bouts, Lyoto Machida defeated Ryan Bader in the 2nd round via knockout. Both fighters stood up during the 1st round and neither fighter took great risk or damage. Early in the second round Machida counter punched his way to a victory when Bader took a chance at charging at Machida with strikes. Machida looked good in this fight and ended it early like he was expected to do.
The Main event and final Light Heavyweight bout took place between Shogun Rua and Brandon Vera. This fight was won by Rua with a knockout in the 4th round. This fight was mostly dominated by Rua who had Vera on the ground for a lot of the fight and landed more strikes. Vera did looked good in the fight with the amount of punishment he was able to take and still push through. Rua won when he knocked Vera down to the ground with a punch against the cage and was able to finish it by punishing Vera. Rua admitted he was getting tired towards the 2nd round and it showed.
Lyoto Machida gets a future title shot.
(Photo By: Josh Hedges/Getty Images)
Dana White after the show was over announced that he felt Machida was “most impressive” and would recieve the future title shot. White’s decision was the obvious and correct one. Jon Jones is likely to be the Champion who will face Machida later this year or early next year. Jones does have to fight Dan Henderson who is a legend in the sport but probably will not be able to defeat Jones. Jones has previously defeated Machida so the fight will be difficult for the UFC to sell. That is the nature of the beast however and the UFC will just have to find a way to market the fight.
This was a solid show with good fights that did not go to decision. The UFC needs to continue to put good shows on FOX so that they can attract more casual fans. It would be to their advantage to put bigger fights on the FOX shows to expand the audience. The UFC feels their main focus should be PPV and not the network specials. At least this turned out to be a good show but the UFC needs to step up their game on FOX if they want to create new fans.
The rookie phenom that is 19 year old Bryce Harper will continue his whirl wind season by going to the All Star Game. Harper was not originally slated to attend the game which takes place this week in Kansas City. Harper will be taking the spot of injured Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton. Harper will be the 3rd youngest player to play in the MLB All Star Game. While Harper will be playing off of the bench the eyes of all of the fans will be on him for sure.
Harper has had a solid start to his MLB career since his debut in April. He is an excellent outfielder fielder with a rocket arm. His offensive play has been very good for his experience level. Harper has a batting average of .283, hit 8 home runs and had 25 RBI’s and scored 43 runs in just 62 games for the 1st place Washington Nationals.
Harper going deep at Fenway Park earlier this season.
Harper came in with a lot of hype and has been living up to it. He has displayed a maturity on and off the field, the later many thought he would be able to do. He has shown a lot of personality and has a charisma that a lot of players don’t have. He has created great moments already in his young career, like when he hit a home run in the historic Fenway Park during his first game on that field. He is in the right spot now to really display his skills in front of a national audience. Harper is a strong contender for Rookie of the Year in the National League.
Harper will probably get at least 1 at bat and play 2 innings or so. Many players have created unforgettable moments in All Star Games. I have a feeling Bryce Harper will have a chance to make one of those moments. When he gets he will more than likely take advantage of it. If Harper continues to play the way he has been and develop into the player that he has been billed to be than this is just the beginning.
UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva.
On Saturday night Las Vegas was home to what will probably be the biggest fight of the year for the UFC. The defending UFC Middleweight Champion Andson Silva took on his strongest challenger Chael Sonnen in their second fight. Silva was dominated for the majority of their first fight but pulled out a victory in the final minutes of the fight with a submission victory. That was 23 months ago, an immediate rematch was demanded by the fans. Due to several circumstances mostly involving Chael Sonnen that fight was delayed. The MMA World was able to witness one of the most anticipated rematches in the history of the sport on Saturday.
The crowd was really hot before and during the fight. Sonnen as he said he would refused to shake hands with Silva. The 1st round was all Sonnen. He took down Silva in the first minute of the fight and had him on the ground for most of the 1st round. Sonnen worked well on top delivering ear shots and from time to time was able to raise his body up and bring punches down on Silva’s head. I scored the 1st round 10-9 Sonnen, it was as close to a 10-8 round you can get.
The 2nd round started with the crowd chanting USA. Sonnen tried to take Silva down early but was unsuccessful. Sonnen went for a judo take down and lost his balance. Silva took advantage of the misstep and pounded Sonnen while he was up against the cage. Sonnen was rocked and could not defend himself anymore and the fight was called at almost 2 minutes into the 2nd round.
After the fight Silva said the the emotions were running high prior to the fight but its MMA and he respects Sonnen. Sonnen had no choice but to accept the show of respect and shake hands with Silva. Sonnen later said that he had his opportunity and that was all he could ask for, he also said that Silva was a deserving Champion.
Despite the loss this fight was beneficial for Sonnen. He was exposed to a greater audience with all of the hype surrounding the fight. He displayed his excellent promo skills and showed he is a really good fighter to many who may have never seen him before. He could be a big draw for the UFC in the future.
Silva will be a UFC Champion for 6 years in October. He has showed himself to be a true champion. Silva will undoubtedly go down in the history of MMA as one of the best champions not only in his weight division but pound for pound.
It is unknown what will be next for Silva however. He will probably not fight again until the end of the year or early next year. It has been rumored that he was considering retirement last year. While he is approaching the age and career length where fighters usually fall back I don’t see him retiring as champion. I believe Silva will continue to fight until he loses the belt. Silva cemented his legacy as a great champion even further on Saturday night and the MMA World will wait to see how long he can continue on as champion.
RIP "Smart Puck" 1996-1999
The NHL playoffs have been heating up and the first round has almost come to a close. I have been able to watch some of the action in the last couple of weeks, and I have really enjoyed the coverage. But there is something missing from the television coverage, the “Smart Puck”.
It was a brilliant creation of The Fox Network. It was debuted on FOX during their coverage of the 1996 NHL All Star game. It was used by FOX until 1999 when their contract with the league expired. It allowed the fan to keep better track of the hockey puck. The puck had integrated electronics to track its position on screen. During normal play the puck would glow blue, when hit hard the puck would turn red and streak across the screen.
The Smart Puck received mixed reactions. The hard core fans did not like the concept, many believed it took away from the game and hurt its tradition. Almost all of the casual fans loved it. For many of the casual fans up to that point they could not track the puck well and became disinterested. It brought a lot of attention to the FOX broadcasts and made fans feel more involved. It probably even boosted ratings for a while.
Oh how I miss the glowing puck. I say bring the Smart Puck back! I understand that it was a concept developed and owned by FOX, but it should be used still today at whatever the cost to the current broadcasting companies all over the world. Don’t get me wrong I still really like watching hockey, especially the playoffs. The Smart Puck helped me keep better track of what was going on during the game. It is hard at times to track the puck when you are watching on television. You usually have to just watch were the players are looking or where the groups of players go. Not as fun as watching with technology on the ice.
Football still has the digital first down marker after over a decade. No complaints from fans there. There should have been none by this development either. For now and probably forever we will be watching hockey without this awesome glowing object flying around the screen. Rest in peace FOX’s Smart Puck.