Three fighters outside the spotlight who stepped up on Saturday night
The UFC’s debut trip to D.C. turned out to be a pretty entertaining night of fights.
Dominick Cruz and Demetrious Johnson teamed up for a terrific main event, and people are sure to be talking about the powerbomb/triangle choke combo finish from the Pat Barry–Stefan Struve scrap as well.
But the main event and co-main event weren’t the only source of entertainment and impressive performances. While all the winners — and even a couple of the losers — from Saturday night’s card looked good, here’s three fighters who had breakthrough performances.
Nearly two years to the day after his last fight, Easton stepped into the Octagon for the first time in front of his hometown crowd and delivered in a big way.
After a somewhat uneventful first round, “The Hulk” came out and smashed Byron Bloodworth in the second, mixing and matching consecutive knees — three to the head, the final two to the body — to put him on the canvas. It was one of the more impressive debuts I’ve seen in a while.
Easton, who is a training partner/hype man for the bantamweight champ, is one to watch in the division. He’s now won six straight, including victories over TUF 14 cast members Josh Ferguson and John Dodson, and looks to be fully healed from the horrible elbow issues that kept him sidelined the last two years.
Another fight, another win, another submission for Sass on Saturday night, bringing his totals to 12 consecutive wins, all but one of them by submission.
His run of success — which now includes back-to-back wins in the UFC — is comparable to when Demian Maia entered the UFC to me. Not that his jiu-jitsu is on the same level as Maia’s, but that he’s able to find a way to win even though the opposition knows exactly what he’s trying to do.
That might make you question Michael Johnson’s decision to get close to Sass while he was on the ground, and that’s understandable, but give the Brit his due too. After all, he still had to work for that heel hook and re-adjust to get the submission.
Very, very interested to see who Joe Silva matches Sass up with next.
Charlie Brenneman may have still had some fight left in him when referee Mario Yamasaki stepped in, but I’m pretty sure that Johnson would have beaten it out of him anyway.
Johnson has always been a physical specimen with raw potential. Now that he’s fully committed to training and working with a very good team at Imperial Athletics, watch out. His win over Dan Hardy back in March showed that he’s got some wrestling skills in his arsenal, and last night’s outing served as a reminder of his explosive striking.
The fact that he could easily fight at middleweight — and maybe even light heavyweight — is frightening, at least it should be to everyone else in the welterweight division.
“Rumble” is for real.