Welcome to FightLine’s live coverage of UFC on FOX 18.
Tonight’s card comes to us from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, with fights airing on FOX, FOX Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass.
In the main event, light heavyweight title hopefuls Anthony Johnson and Ryan Bader square off in a five-round battle.
Johnson (20-5) is coming off a knockout of Jimi Manuwa that got him back on track following an early 2015 submission loss to Daniel Cormier for the vacant UFC title. “Rumble” has 10 of his last 11 fights overall.
Bader (20-4), a winner on Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter, has not lost in over two years. He is on a five-fight win streak that includes victories over former champion Rashad Evans, Bellator title contender Phil Davis and Ovince Saint Preux.
In the co-main event, heavyweights Josh Barnett and Ben Rothwell throw down. Barnett, a former UFC champion himself, is 3-1 over his last four, while Rothwell has won three straight via finish over Matt Mitrione, ex-Strikeforce titleholder Alistair Overeem and Brandon Vera.
The other two FOX main card bouts feature Iuri Alcantara vs. Jimmie Rivera and “Super” Sage Northcutt moving up to welterweight to take on Bryan Barberena.
In early prelim action:
Tony Martin def. Felipe Olivieri via technical submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:02 of Round 3
Damon Jackson vs. Levan Makashvili ruled a majority draw (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)
Randy Brown def. Matt Dwyer via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Alex Caceres def. Masio Fullen via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Alexander Yakovlev def. George Sullivan via KO (strike) at 3:59 of Round 1
Wilson Reis def. Dustin Ortiz via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Rafael Natal def. Kevin Casey via TKO (strikes) at 3:37 of Round 3
Carlos Diego Ferreira def. Olivier Aubin-Mercier via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Tarec Saffiedine def. Jake Ellenberger via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Sage Northcutt vs. Bryan Barberena
We’ll begin the FOX main card with a welterweight showdown, as “Super” Sage Northcutt (7-0) bumps up to 170 pounds to take on Bryan Barberena (10-3). Northcutt, one of the top prospects in MMA, was originally scheduled to face Andrew Holbrook before an injury scrapped the lightweight contest.
Round 1: All smiles from Northcutt as he is introduced. This marks his third fight in four months, and Northcutt comes right out strong with a right. Huge flurry from Northcutt forces Barberena to tie things up. Combo lands and drops Barberena, forcing another clinch against the fence. Takedown for Northcutt and he immediately jumps on the back, looking for a rear-naked choke. Northcutt is showing all of his tools here early, but Barberena is remaining calm and showing his own power. Nice takedown for Barberena near the end of the round.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Northcutt
Round 2: Barberena on top early in the round, peppering Northcutt with elbows. The veteran is imposing his will from the top position, connecting with short elbows and forcing Northcutt to fight off his back. Barberena has opened up a cut on the face of Northcutt with one of those many elbows that found a home. Barberena slips on an arm-triangle, and while he wasn’t in tight, he got Northcutt to tap quickly.
Bryan Barberena def. Sage Northcutt via submission (arm-triangle choke) at 3:06 of Round 2