HANSEN’S TAKE: UFC on Fox “Johnson vs. Bader” Post-Mortem

By Rich Hansen, MMA Torch Columnist

If Ryan Bader fought Anthony Johnson 100 times in a row, he’d be in the hospital 100 times, and some of the beatings might be severe enough where I wouldn’t be able to call this write-up a Post-Mortem without being accused of bad taste. Bader did the best he could do in his five fight winning streak, having knocked off everyone in the fifth tier of the LHW division (Tier 1, Jon Jones. Tier 2, Daniel Cormier. Tier 3, Anthony Johnson. Tier 4,  Glover Teixeira, Alexander Gustafsson. Tier 5, the aforementioned Rashad Evans, Phil Davis, Ovince St. Preux, and Bader). But eventually the hammer finds the nail. Or, in this instance, the nail (Bader) found the hammer (Johnson). Bader will have to be happy collecting five figures per fight, some Reebok money, and owning his gym. Bader has done a good job making the most of what he has and should be proud of how far up the ladder he manage to climb.

As for Johnson, It was obvious to all observers that he was going to beat Bader worse than a belligerent yoga mat. All we learned tonight is that sometimes schadenfreude doesn’t matter. Sometimes good things happen to bad people, and this is yet another example of one of the UFC’s bad people being enabled by generous bookings. Who’s next, Joe Silva? Patrick Cummins?

Ben Rothwell beat Josh Barnett at his own game, becoming the first fighter to submit the catch-wrestler with a submission hold. Barnett had previously submitted once to strikes, once to injury, both at the hands of Mirko CroCop. Rothwell has paid his dues, is on a four fight win streak (all finishes), and has finishes in his last five victories. Rothwell is, at worst, equally as deserving of a title shot as Stipe Miocic. Pair Rothwell with Stipe Miocic once again, and let the winner get the shot at the winner of Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez. And if Velasquez pulls out or can’t accept the booking in time, I’m giving Rothwell the shot over Miocic. Compare the resumes; the case is clear.

The future is less clear for Josh Barnett. While he made it clear tonight that he isn’t retiring, one has to question his motivation at this point in his career. With as many outside pursuits as the man has, is and considering the amount of work it takes at his age, are we ever going to see Barnett be able to beat the best in the world any more? And if not, how hot can his furnace burn? Getting submitted with a front choke by Ben Rothwell is going to mess with him for quite some time.

Jimmie Rivera and Iuri Alcantara was the third fight from the top on tonight’s card, but it certainly didn’t get as much hype as the curtain-jerker between Sage Northcutt and Bryan Barberena. Rivera controlled the pace of the fight, and his aggression confused and stymied Alcantara for long stretches of the fight. Rivera called out Bryan Caraway after the fight, and that could be a good fight for Rivera. Alcantara’s getting up there in age, and it’s hard to say what his future is anymore. He’s never managed to look truly impressive against top competition during his UFC run, and he’s probably going to be relegated to low-level gatekeeper status for the next year or so.

As for Mr. Northcutt, it was a hell of a run, and enjoy your retirement, Sir. But seriously, if Jason von Flue can have a shoulder choke named after him, then I think Northcutt can have an arm-triangle-on-the-wrong-side-while-in-half-guard named a Northcutt choke. Both named for the cutting off of blood as well as the performance as a whole. There’s no way to sugarcoat this. Northcutt freaked out and he quit. No shame in that. But now he’s going to have to prove to his colleagues, the toughest peanut gallery in the entire world, that he has the stones to be a fighter. He certainly has the athleticism to be the next Rory MacDonald, but you saw how long MacDonald hung in there with Robbie Lawler, and you saw how fast Northcutt wanted out of that soon to be named Northcutt choke. Does he have it in him? We’ll know in a few months.

To his nemesis now, Bryan Barberena. He just beat the 238th best lightweight in the world (give or take) in a welterweight fight. Other than the fact that the fight was on Fox and not on Fight Pass, there’s nothing to take away from this performance. His next fight may as well be between the loser of next week’s Michael Jackson vs. Mickey Gall fight. If Barberena can win 4 or 5 more in a row, then call me, we’ll talk.

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