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UFC On FOX 18: 4 Takeaways From The Card In New Jersey



Saturday night saw the return of UFC to the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The card featured a main event that would cement the next man to possibly see a Light Heavyweight Title shot and the continued rise of a heavyweight in the wide open division.

There are four major plots that were taken away from the UFC on FOX 18 card in New Jersey and we will start with one from the main event.

“Rumble” Johnson Is Ready For His Title Shot

If there were any questions about Anthony Johnson’s focus in his second stint with the UFC, they were answered on Saturday. His first round dismantling of Ryan Bader showed that “Rumble” is on a mission to gain the Light Heavyweight Title from the winner of the rumored Jon “Bones” Jones and Daniel Cormier title rematch which may happen sometime in March or April.

Johnson pretty much baited Bader into going for a takedown early on Saturday and when Bader bit, Johnson took his back and it was academic after that. 86 seconds later and we have a hungry light heavyweight who is ready for his shot at the division throne. While he is focused on the Jones/Cormier winner, Johnson was asked if he would take another fight in the meantime if the UFC offered a bout to him. His response…”Yep, it’s a paycheck.”

Ben Rothwell Picks Up The Biggest Win Of His Career

Not only did Ben Rothwell pick up a major win against an MMA legend in Josh Barnett, Rothwell became the first man to ever make Barnett submit in his 19-year career. Rothwell’s ground game has become more accomplished with this being his second consecutive fight in which he finished his opponent with a guillotine choke and he is only getting better.

Going into the fight, Rothwell was in the top ten of the UFC Heavyweight rankings and a win over Barnett only makes him an appealing title contender for a division that is beat up.

Fabricio Werdum was set to defend the UFC Heavyweight title against Cain Velasquez at UFC 196 in a rematch from their 2015 title unification bout which Werdum won. Velasquez pulled out of the match after suffering a back injury and was replaced in the bout by Stipe Miocic. Just one day later, Werdum pulled out of the bout after an injury. With Werdum out, Rothwell could take on Miocic while the champion recovers and the winner of that match could either take on Velasquez for a title shot or just go straight to Werdum. Or, could Rothwell fight for an interim title while Werdum recovers from his injury? Either way, Rothwell seems to be in the driver seat of the division.

So…Sage Northcutt Huh?

Going into the UFC event, the one fighter I wanted to see in person was Sage Northcutt. At 7-0, the 19-year old was being bred as the next major star in UFC and the company actually put him on a FOX bout to start the buzz for the young man. He even had an opponent in Bryan Barberena who was given the fight on eight days notice after an injury to Andrew Holbrook.

Instead of a coming out party, Northcutt was submitted via arm triangle choke in the second round to end the hype, for now.

Can Northcutt get over this loss to a relatively unknown Barberena? He can but he will have to come back and not begin to believe his own hype as many believed he started doing prior to his loss on Saturday. It is also important for the UFC to not start the hype machine on Northcutt if he wins his next couple of fights. If Ronda Rousey is used as a template, it is best to take the slow and steady route for Sage Northcutt if they want him to be a staple of the company for years to come.

Randy Brown Wins UFC Debut

This was another fight that was being spoken about within the Prudential Center. Randy Brown was a fighter featured on the “Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight” show which has White traveling the country looking for fighters in smaller MMA organizations. Brown was a fighter in Ring of Combat, a MMA organization based out of Atlantic City, and White promised that he would get him to the UFC. Saturday night was fulfillment of that promise as Brown faced off against Matt Dwyer in a preliminary fight on Saturday.

The butterflies for Brown were present as Dwyer caught Brown with three great strikes early in the first round. Once the second round began, Brown became comfortable with his new surroundings and dominated the remaining two rounds as he went on to a unanimous decision victory. Even at the post-fight press conference, you saw a confident fighter who knows that he has work to do but is willing to do what he has to do to move up the ladder. Even though this was his first fight in the UFC, Brown has a bright future in the company in the welterweight division.

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow writer Jason Cordner.
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