Rundown of UFC on FX 1 post-fight news and notes…
— 7,728 UFC fans attended UFC on FX 1 in Nashville for a $334,860 live gate
— Nick Denis picked up the $45,000 KO of the Night bonus for pounding Jospeh Sandoval into unconsciousness with a series of short standing elbows. Jim Miller earned the submission bonus for choking out Melvin Guillard. And Pat Barry and Christian Morecraft were awarded the Fight of the Night bonus for their brief but thrilling match.
— Jim Miller had to weather one hell of a storm before he was able to choke out Melvin Guillard for the win Friday night. Miller said the finish came purely on instinct.
“I really don’t remember much of it, to be honest,” said Miller, who earned a first-round submission victory at Bridgestone Arena after surviving some hard shots. “It just kind of went into work mode and doing what I’m comfortable doing at that point. Those punches, you don’t feel them.
“That first overhand, I’m pretty sure he had to break his hand on my head. My head still hurts. With the one he dropped me with, I didn’t really feel.”
“I don’t know how I took his back,” Miller said with a shrug. “I just knew I wanted to squeeze as hard as I could once I had it.”
The comeback win puts Miller back “in the mix” at lightweight, according to UFC president Dana White. Some have suggested Miller fight Nate Diaz next. The fight makes sense, but it would be a tough one for Miller stylistically with Diaz’s reach and BJJ.
— It was certainly a disappointing loss for Melvin Guillard, but not as crushing as the loss to Joe Lauzon, explained Guillard at the post-fight press conference.
“To lose to a guy like Jim, I wasn’t emotional about this loss like I was for the Lauzon fight because I really feel in my heart the Lauzon fight was a fluke,” he said. “I had Jim hurt, and my thing was I wanted to be patient. I just backed off when I probably could have swung. It could have been a different result.
“But I don’t regret anything I did tonight. I think I went in and implemented my game. I fought one of the best guys in this division, and I think I sent a message to a lot of guys. But I also understand now everyone’s going to want to take my back. Two fights in a row, two good guys took my back.”
Despite losing back-to-back fights after being one win away from a title shot, Guillard is still optimistic about the future, especially in regards to his ground game.
Now I have to go home, back to Florida, and grind it out with the Blackzillions, man. I have ‘JZ’ Cavalcante, I have Jorge Santiago, I have a lot of great jiu-jitsu partners now that I didn’t have before. Give me about a year, man. Just be patient with me, I’ll submit someone.”
Melvin has had some setbacks recently, yes, but it’s clear that he is maturing as a person and a fighter. If Guillard ever shores up his ground game, he’s going to be one tough guy to beat.
— Pat Barry showed marked improvement in his ground game last night when he escaped two submission attempts before knocking out Christian Morecraft. Barry credited Team DeathClutch for the evolution of his ground game.
“I think that was the first time I was the smallest guy in the room, when I was rolling around with the big guys at Death Clutch. Wrestling is the most tiring thing in the world,” said Barry. “I never knew I was claustrophobic until I had these guys lying on top of me. Now it’s becoming a little more second nature, being on the ground and [reacting] to being in trouble instead of just panicking.”
“It’s the evolution of the sport. I’m not as bad as people think. I just haven’t done it a lot. This is like third or fourth time I’ve done live groundwork [in a fight],” Barry said. “I’m going to throw heat at anybody, no matter who it is. I fought [Mirko] ‘Cro Cop’ [Filipovic], [Cheick] Kongo and Stefan Struve. Morecraft was a bigger fight to me than all of those, because every fight is the next big fight.”
Barry still has a ways to go before he’s ready to take on the top tier of the heavyweight division, but last night was an important first step in getting there.
— Like Jim Miller, Josh Neer faced a little adversity before eventually pulling off the submission victory against Duane “Bang” Ludwig last night. Neer explained at the post-fight press conference that his back-up plan was to take Ludwig down and submit him if he couldn’t keep up with Bang’s kickboxing.
“He hurt me with a couple of shots,” Neer said at the evening’s post-fight press conference, which took place at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. “I went in with a gameplan that if he started winning the exchanges, I was going to take it to the ground and try and submit him, try and beat him up there. That’s what I did.”
Neer hopes to get back in the cage sooner than later.
— Jorge Rivera didn’t change his mind about retirement after picking up the final victory of his career against Eric Schafer last night. Rivera told reporters he made up his mind when he started camp.
“It was the start of the camp,” he said of his decision. “I had a school opening up, and I was cutting time between training and the school. I saw the future and what I wanted to do and how I wanted to go about it, and I had had enough.”
“It wasn’t hard a decision at all,” he said. “I see some of these guys like (UFC on FX 1 headliners) Melvin (Guillard) and Jim (Miller), and they’re young, man. They’re no joke. My reflexes are slowing down. I’ve got a family to take care of, and I don’t want to suffer a serious injury that might complicate that.
“I’m very happy with what I’ve done here, and I’m very happy with what it gave back to me, and it’s time to go. I’m happy to be going with a W.”
Rivera isn’t walking away from the sport a millionaire like Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture or Brock Lesnar, but that’s okay. Rivera says he’s “content” with the way things worked out.
— I saw some mixed reactions to Jon Anik and Kenny Florian’s UFC commentary debuts last night. I thought they actually did a pretty damn good job, but I’m not the type that nitpicks at every little thing a commentator does wrong. As long they’re not so bad it becomes distracting, you won’t hear me complain.