The matchmaking for UFC 124 took a lot of heat from a lot of people. When the co-main event is Stefan Struve vs Sean “Corky” McCorkle, that’s bound to happen. And its not like the UFC has been killing it these last few months. UFC 119, 122, and The Ultimate Fighter Finale were legitimate stinkers. 120 and 121 both had their moments, but were also both decision-heavy affairs. So I can definitely see why some people bristled when Dana White and Joe Silva seemed content to rely almost entirely on the main event for drawing power.
Still, this fight card was overly maligned. It proved that when put to the test. It lacked a co-main, but was by no means short on compelling fights. With the exception of Stevenson/Danzig, I was legitimately excited for all of them.
Alves vs Howard was excellent matchmaking. The outcome may have been somewhat predictable, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. I think this fight probably would’ve been co-main if not for Dana White being pissed at Alves for not making weight in the Fitch fight. Regardless, the most exciting striker in the division is back on his feet again. And he got there by beating a very game opponent who wasn’t going to back down, and whose career wouldn’t necessarily be set back by a loss. Like I said, great matchmaking.
Miller vs Oliveira is another fight I’d been looking forward to for a while. Ever since it was announced, really. Oliveira is one of those flashy risers I love so well. I’m definitely on his bandwagon. Still. It may have been early for him to face a seasoned vet like Miller, but then again it may not have been. With prospects, I’m generally of the “only one way to find out” camp. Oliveira wasn’t quite ready for Miller. We know that now. We acquired that knowledge by way of an exciting finish. Is there a better way to acquire knowledge than by watching someone’s knee bent the wrong way?
Miller’s resume gets a bit shinier, Do Bronx gets a hard lesson. If he really has what it takes, he’ll respond well to this loss and learn from it. If not, better to find that out now than after another year or two of fighting marginal TUF castoffs. Personally, I think Oliveira will be back. The kid is only 21. I see a future star in there.
Struve vs McCorkle was another matter entirely. I’m not going to sit here and tell you either of these guys is relevant to their division. Neither will ever so much as fight for UFC gold. But admit it, you wanted to see that fight. You were drawn in by McCorkle’s trash talk. I know its hard to give a guy like that credit, but he does a decent job selling a fight. The 3 minutes of the countdown show devoted to it (co-main!) was very entertaining.
Struve is always in exciting fights. Granted, he doesn’t always win them. I doubt he’ll ever crack the top ten. But the kid has heart and he gets after it. Combine that with his size, and I think its safe to say he’ll be fighting on main cards for years to come. You’ll be watching Stefan Struve fights with your grandkids. On laser-vision.
Danzig vs Stevenson was straight-up undercard material, I’ll admit that. But hey, even that one came through with a sick KO. I loved seeing Stevenson’s face hit the floor. Mac Danzig: vegan, animal rights activist, guy who jacked Joe Daddy’s jaw. All three things I really like. Looks like I’m now a Danzig fan.
I realize this card wasn’t stacked, but the matchmaking was sound. I can do without stars if the fights are either fun or relevant. UFC 124 had plenty of both. And thats without even considering the main event, which, I mean, come on. Face of a thousand jabs, over here: