UFC Fight Night 68 rocked our worlds, with another night of exciting action on a free card, highlighting how PPV (pay-per-view) star power isn’t everything when it comes to putting on a thriller. The Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana was treated to seven first round finishes, tying the all-time record for the most opening round endings in a single UFC event. It was almost fitting that the man who scored that seventh win, was none other than the legendary ‘Dangerous’ Dan Henderson.
There’s no escaping the fact that the ageing Henderson has looked sloppy since the ban on TRT (testosterone replacement therapy), and many were calling for his retirement after punishing losses to Vitor Belfort, Daniel Cormier and Gegard Mousasi. Yours truly believed that ‘Hendo’ would be sent in to the Zuffa history books by Tim Boetsch in New Orleans, but the ex-two-weight Pride FC champion is made of tougher stuff. His crushing first round knockout over ‘The Barbarian’ was vintage Henderson, but what’s next for the American legend? The fight that would make sense the most right now is a rematch with Michael Bisping, although there are other options, ‘The Count’ was spectacularly knocked out by ‘Hendo’ at UFC 100 following a huge TUF rivalry, and there aren’t many that wouldn’t love to see a second fight.
Matt Mitrione and Ben Rothwell stood opposite eachother in the co-main event for the evening, and it was yet another example of how ‘Meathead’ is still not quite there as a fighter. That’s not to take credit away from ‘Big’ Ben, who once again proved he is a beast of a fighter with his beast-like power, but a sloppy takedown attempt from Mitrione basically gave his neck up for Rothwell’s gorilla-like grip. That’s three straight and all with finishes by ‘Big’ Ben, so maybe one more win and we’re looking at the title mix. For ‘Meathead’, the loss snaps a three fight streak.
‘Diamond’ Dustin Poirier was on form on the main card, dispatching a flabby but very tough Yancy Medeiros with a body kick TKO. Poirier puts to rest the ugly demons of his battering at the hands of featherweight sensation Conor McGregor, and makes a huge statement with his 155-pound win. Lightweight is his playing field now, and a high pedigree fighter like ‘Diamond’ may well capitalize on the lack of talent between #10 and #6 in the official rankings, but it’s killer’s row from there on out.
A hook kick TKO in the heavyweight division? Get outta here Shawn Jordan! Many expected Derrick Lewis to storm through this fight with his monstrous power, but technique prevailed as the athletic ‘Savage’ wobbled the bigger man with a sweet kick to the jaw, and followed up with a brutal series of punches to make it three on the bounce, all by knockout. Rothwell vs Jordan anyone? Yeah, now that’s a fight that makes sense.
How about Francisco Rivera? After a disappointing submission loss to Urijah Faber, in a fight that many thought Rivera was winning, he plays a perfect game at UFC Fight Night 68. Timing Alex Cacares’ jab perfectly, Rivera clocked the taller man with a perfect right hand, it was over as soon as that crisp strike connected, as ‘Bruce Leroy’ flailed to the canvas for some ‘finish him’ style punishment. Faber rematch please.
Anthony Birchak and Brian Ortega also put in stand out perfomances against Joe Soto and Thiago Tavares respectively, making New Orleans the place to be this past Saturday (June 6th, 2015). Now bring on UFC 188!1010