“Grading the card” is an article written by Mike James after every major UFC and Bellator event. Every main card fight and the fight card itself is briefly discussed and given a letter grade. This article covers UFC on Fox 18, which took place Saturday night from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Anthony Johnson vs Ryan Bader This one was not much of a fight, as “Rumble” Johnson put Bader to sleep in only 86 seconds via vicious ground and pound from full mount. Bader opened the fight by making a critical mistake, as he shot a desperation takedown from too far out and allowed Johnson to take his back. Bader then attempted to lock in a Kimura, but Johnson countered by stepping over into mount. It only took “Rumble” a few seconds to stop the fight via ground and pound. Johnson almost certainly secured a matchup against the winner of the upcoming light heavyweight title fight between champion Daniel Cormier and former champion Jon Jones. Bader, meanwhile, has to be disappointed after such a poor performance. His five fight winning streak came to an end in violent fashion. Johnson Performance Grade: A+ Josh Barnett vs Ben Rothwell In perhaps the most surprising result of the night, Ben Rothwell submitted former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett via second round gogo choke. The fact that Rothwell won is not very surprising. However, Rothwell winning by submission was perhaps the least likely outcome of the fight. Barnett is the far more accomplished grappler and he had never been submitted in his entire career. Additionally, Rothwell had been outgrappled in the past by far lesser grapplers. The fight was pretty even until Barnett shot in for a takedown and Rothwell sunk in the choke. Rothwell has now won four straight fights including wins over Barnett, Alistair Overeem, and Matt Mitrione. He has a strong case to receive the next shot at UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum, although Stipe Miocic probably has something to say about that. Fight Grade: B Jimmie Rivera vs Yuri Alcantara In a solid bantamweight contest, New Jersey’s own Jimmie Rivera defeated veteran Yuri Alcantara via unanimous decision. The fight was relatively competitive, but Rivera clearly edged out a decision. Rivera’s superior combination punching and takedowns were ultimately the deciding factors. Alcantara landed some heavy shots on the feet, particularly a few straight lefts that stunned Rivera. However, he did not have the volume to defeat the much more active Rivera. The 26-year old has now won his first three UFC fights in impressive fashion. He will likely be ranked in the top 15 in the UFC’s bantamweight division when the new rankings are updated. Alcantara, on the other hand, has to be disappointed with the loss and has now lost two of his last three fights. This loss will likely move him out of the UFC’s top 15 rankings. Fight Grade: B- Sage Northcutt vs Bryan Barberena Streaking 19-year old Sage Northcutt came into this fight with a ton of hype behind him. He was heavily favored entering the matchup, even though Barberena was more experienced and the fight was taking place at welterweight and not lightweight. Northcutt dominated much of the action in the first round, as he landed several hard punching combinations and even scored a few takedowns. However, he clearly started to tire as the round ended. A key turning point in the fight was when Northcutt attempted a cartwheel kick early in the second round that caused him to wind up on his back with Barberena on top of him. From there Barberena was able to land hard elbows that clearly damaged Northcutt. The end of the fight came when Barberena locked in an arm-triangle choke from half-guard that forced Northcutt to tap. The ending was somewhat questionable because the choke did not look like it was really tight, as it is not a choke that is usually finished from half-guard. The 26-year old Barberena moves back into the win column after a decision loss to Chad Laprise in April. Northcutt, meanwhile, loses for the first time in his brief UFC as well as his professional career. He is obviously still very young and has a lot of things to learn and experience. Northcutt should be matched up carefully so he is allowed to gain the experience that he needs while not being thrown into deep water. Fight Grade: B- Thoughts: This was not the most anticipated card by any means, but it did produce a pretty entertaining four-fight main card. There were impressive finishes in three out of the four fights, while the other fight ended up winning “Fight of the Night” honors. Additionally, the card perhaps produced the next title challengers in two divisions, as Anthony Johnson and Ben Rothwell are in a good position to challenge for the title in their next fight. The preliminary card also featured impressive performances by a number of fighters, including Alexander Yakovlev, Wilson Reis, Tony Martin, Carlos Diego Ferreira and Rafael Natal. Final UFC on Fox 18 Grade: B-
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