By Eddie Graveline, FullContactWriter.com
Friday night marked the start of a new era in the UFC, as they shift a large portion of their programming from Spike TV to FX and Fox. The first live fight on FX was Friday and it brought a pretty solid line-up, considering the fact that it was free to anyone who subscribes to FX on their cable or satellite system. Follow along for a full report on the action.
Pat Barry KO'd Christian Morecraft in the first round. Barry is nothing if not resilient. The knock has always been that he's a one-trick pony, a kickboxer and nothing else. He's suffered greatly at the hands of more well-rounded heavyweights, but he's been working on it. No one is going to confuse Morecraft's take downs with those of Cain Velasquez, but Barry's defense got tested early and often in the first round. He sprawled away from a few attempts, but even on the two occasions where he ended up on his back and Morecraft was going for submissions, Barry knew exactly what to do and escaped in admirable fashion. Then, back on his feet, he threw a bomb of a left hook that folded Morecraft up. A couple more strikes to the grille once he was down was all it took. I'm not trying to convince anyone that Barry is a heavyweight title contender, but he's a lot of fun to watch when the match-up is right. If he continues to improve his take down and submission defense, he's going to make a lot more fights a lot more interesting.
Mike Easton defeated Jared Papazian by unanimous decision. Neither of these guys are household names among UFC fans yet, but they put on a pretty good show. All three rounds were close and generally fast-paced. There were a few prolonged sequences of clinching against the cage, but for the most part, they walked around the cage and punched each other. I had Easton ahead on my imaginary score card. He landed the most power strikes, had a successful take down and stalked Papazian the entire time. Papazian is a pretty good counter striker, but when you circle away for 15 minutes, it tends to go against you in the judges' minds.
Josh Neer submitted Duane Ludwig by guillotine in the first round. This was another good, but quick fight. The pace was strong and Ludwig was dominating in the striking. It looked like he had Neer rattled a couple of times, but he hung in there. After avoiding a few take downs, Ludwig eventually found himself on his back. Neer started with some ground and pound from the guard, then grabbed onto Ludwig's neck was he leaned forward and that was all she wrote. He got it in there deep and Ludwig was asleep before he could even tap.
Jim Miller submitted Melvin Guillard via rear naked choke in the first round. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this was another fight that really intrigued me. In Miller, you have a very solid wrestler with excellent submission skills and passable striking. In Guillard, you have a very good wrestler, very good striker, pretty good submission skills and some of the best pure athleticism in the sport. Miller has fought more high level opponents, in my opinion, but Guillard is scary fast, so I was really looking forward to seeing how it played out. It looked like Guillard was showing Miller more respect than he has a lot of opponents early in the first round. That is to say that he didn't run straight across the ring and go for a flying knee right off the bat. He got off plenty, though, including a bunch of knees that landed cleanly. Miller is a cockroach, though, and I mean that in the most flattering sense possible. The guy is just so hard to finish off. He hung around, hung around and just as Guillard might have started feeling confident, he ate a flying knee, but grabbed a double leg and put him on his back. Miller's an ace on the ground, and Guillard unwisely gave his back up while trying to escape. Miller locked a body triangle up immediately and stayed on the rear naked choke until he had it deep enough and Guillard was forced to tap. Miller definitely has to be considered one of the top contenders in the lightweight division and showed that he can take a lot of punishment and still deliver a great finish.