Two major title contenders made big statements at Saturday night's UFC on Fox 18, with one even making history.
Anthony "Rumble" Johnson needed under 90 seconds to obliterate Ryan Bader via KO, capitalizing on a failed takedown attempt. After being stifled, Bader tried to grab a double wristlock that never really threatened and paid the price, as Johnson took mount and pounded away before the stoppage.
The fight likely puts Johnson in line to face the winner of Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier, whenever that fight may happen. Jones explicitly stated last year that he had unfinished business with Johnson, who lost to Cormier on short notice at UFC 187.
Perhaps even more impressive was Ben Rothwell picking up the first ever non-injury submission victory over former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett. Barnett looked to be in control in the first round before fading in the second. While attempting a takedown, Barnett was locked into a gogo choke, and was forced to submit. This was Rothwell's fourth straight victory, and perhaps the biggest in his career.
Highly touted 19-year old prospect Sage Northcutt submitted to an arm-triangle/Von Flue choke combination from his own half-guard after controlling most of the fight. Northcutt gained some heavy criticism, as arm triangle chokes aren't often finished from that position. However, the shoulder pressure on the choke was enough to get the job done. Nevertheless, Northcutt's ground game looked like it needed some major work.
Anthony Johnson (#2) def. Ryan Bader (#4) via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 1:26
Ben Rothwell (#7) def. Josh Barnett (#8) via submission (gogo choke) – Round 2, 3:48
Jimmie Rivera def. Iuri Alcantara (#14) via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Bryan Barberena def. Sage Northcutt via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 2, 3:06
Tarec Saffiedine (#11) def. Jake Ellenberger via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Diego Ferreira def. Olivier Aubin-Mercier via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Rafael Natal def. Kevin Casey via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 3:37
Wilson Reis (#12) def. Dustin Ortiz (#9) via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Alexander Yakovlev def. George Sullivan via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 3:59
Alex Caceres def. Masio Fullen via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Randy Brown def. Matt Dwyer via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Damon Jackson vs. Levan Makashvili majority draw (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)
Tony Martin def. Filipe Olivieri via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 3:02