Anthony “Rumble” Johnson made short, violent statement in the main event on UFC on Fox Saturday night in Newark, New Jersey.
Rumble immediately stuffs a Ryan Bader takedown and grabs his opponent’s back. Bader uses the position to his advantage by maneuvering a kimura that puts Johnson in a precarious spot. When Johnson escapes, he unleashes looping hands on a face-down Bader from the mount. The light heavyweight contender loses consciousness as referee Keith Peterson intervenes at 1:26 of the first round.
“He was either going to play it safe or come right after me and he came right after me,” Johnson noted in the postfight interview. “How do you like my jiu-jitsu now? People can say whatever they want about me. I always come out here and try to perform to the best of my ability.”
In the co-feature, Josh Barnett reverts to a southpaw stance in the first-round of his heavyweight bout with Ben Rothwell, who also switches from orthodox to lefty. Both man occasionally land, with Barnett drawing blood around Big Ben’s nose.
Rothwell pushes the action in the second. His jabs score, with strikes cutting the Warmaster above and beneath the right eye. When Barnett goes for the takedown, Rothwell secures a modified guillotine choke that quickly elicits a tap at 3:48 of the second round.
Rothwell, the first man earn a tap on the experienced wrestler through a submission attempt, calls the win “one of the greatest victories of my career.”
“That’s a warning sign to Stipe [Miocic] and [Alistair] Overeem,” Rothwell declared after the fight. “I’m the number one contender, soon to be champion in the UFC. Josh Barnett just made me a better fighter than I could ever be. This is message to the entire heavyweight division. Not only will I win the belt, but I will defend it.”
The opening bout of the main card provided a shocker. Sage Northcutt, the 19-year-old UFC phenom, tapped from a Bryan Barberena arm-triangle choke in the second-round of their welterweight bout. Jimmie Rivera won a unanimous decision on identical scores over Iuri Alcantara. On the undercard, Tarec Saffiedine scored a unanimous decision victory over veteran welterweight Jake Ellenberger on identical 29-28 scores.