First, it's a cliche, but the fans won Saturday night. Attendance was 7,241 for a gate of $970,000, with an as yet unknown number watching on FUEL TV and the Internet.
In a sport where anything can happen, boring fights happen, too, and the 11 fight card, with the undercard streaming free on YouTube, and the main event on cable's FUEL TV, went 10-1 for excitement.
As UFC President Dana White put it at the post fight press conference, you could choose the Fight of the Night by throwing a dart at a board.
$40,000 'OTN' Bonus winners were:
Knockout of the Night: Brad Pickett over Yves Jabouin
Submission of the Night: Matt Wiman over Paul Sass
Fight of the Night: Stefan Struve and Stipe Miocic
Stefan Struve Stops Stipe Miocic - UFC on Fuel TV 5" src="http://www.mma-core.com/gifs/10002471/knockouts_Stefan_Struve_Stops_Stipe_Miocic_UFC_on_Fuel_TV_5.gif" />
"We rolled back in here (to the UK) and these guys delivered," said White. "What a card. What a night of fights. I couldn't be happier. I hate to say I'm proud of grown men, but seriously – from the first fight to the heavyweight fight at the end, it was an unbelievable card tonight."
For once, White didn't hold his feelings back, and simply said what he thought.
"It was just a s-----y fight," said White.
"That was the only bad fight on the card tonight. I was so excited about that fight, too. I thought that fight was going to be really good. They didn't fight. They just stayed in half-guard, and Maguire didn't wake up until the third round."
Even in winning, Hathaway acknowledged the fights shortcomings.
"I feel a bit bad for the fans that they didn't get to enjoy a brawl," said Hathaway.
Ten years ago, at the UFC first show ever in the UK, UFC 38, the hottest up and coming heavyweight in the UFC, Frank Mir, got bombed out in the first by the heavy hands of Ian Freeman. Afterwards, a highly placed UFC official was asked "God, I thought Frank Mir was the hottest up and coming fighter in the UFC?"
The reply? "He still is."
Half of all fighters lose every fight, so simply losing does always mean much. But sometimes it does.
Damarques Johnson, a late-notice replacement for an injured Pascal Krauss vs. Gunnar Nelson, was 210 pounds a week ago. At the weigh in he missed a catchweight of 175 by eight pounds. Then he got tapped out in the first. Losing by submission to a submission machine like Gunnar is not necessarily the end of a UFC career, but Johnson is now 2-5 in his last seven fights, and 0-3 his last three. When Joe Silva looks at his welterweight roster, it is likely to be short at least one.
Another fighter who recently looked in danger of being cut due to losses, but left Saturday looking like a huge winner is Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy.
One year ago, Hardy was 0-4 his last four fights, in a league where fighters have been cut after a single fight, and a three fight losing streak is generally a guarantee to be back fighting in the alphabet soup of promotions that fan can never quite remember the exact letter combinations of.
A win over Duane Ludwig in May turned it around, but "Bang" himself was 2-3 his last five fights at that point. Amir Sadollah on the other hand was 5-2 his last seven fights (albeit one loss was to Ludwig), is technical, is tough, and got beaten by Hardy in every department, the face especially.
Dan Hardy, in front of his hometown Nottingham fans, had a great, great night.
Another big, big winner was Jimi Manuwa. The "Poster Boy" twice turned down offers to fight in the UFC, explaining he wouldn't step Octagon until he was ready. He was ready. After being taken down and getting caught in a submission, Manuwa scrambled up, and delivered a beating that literally broke Kingsbury's recently shorn face. At the weigh ins Kingsbury sported a training beard so epic that fans speculated it might offer protection from Manuwa's shots. It wouldn't have. A motorcyle helmet probably wouldn't have.
Struve is 9-3 in the UFC, and now boasts a four fight win streak. He has finished his opponent in 24 of 25 career victories. He is behind only Frank Mir and Cheick Kongo for number of appearances in the heavyweight division. He just knocked out the formerly undefeated Miocic. He is almost seven feet tall. And in a division where fighters peak late, he is only 24 years old.
“I heard some complaints about my power in the past,” said a smiling Struve after the fight. “I think they might change their opinion right now.”
“I always want to finish. I got him rocked. I’m going in for the kill.”
White said the post-fight press conference that Struve might now be a top-5, or top-6 heavyweight. Struve could be just one more big win away from a title shot, and the multi-millions that go along with it.
In the mean time, Struve is heading back to Holland to visit his father, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.
"My dad found out he had cancer two months ago," said Struve. "He's in therapy. He's doing well, but, still. Yeah, I've been wanting to go home. It will be good to go home and see him again."
Struve's next fight could well be the winner of Antonio Silva vs. Travis Browne at UFC on FX 5, October 5.
Catch the highlights below from the two biggest winners from a night full of win.
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