UFC's return to Nashville featured plenty of fast finishes

Sunday, January 22, 2012 at 10:57pm
By Matt Erickson

They weren't playing any long, drawn-out slow country jams on Friday in Music City. It was all about smashmouth, quick-hitting rockers when the Ultimate Fighting Championship returned to Nashville.

The first three fights all ended with first-round finishes, including a 22-second knockout in the opening encounter, and eight of the 10 fights ended with knockouts or submissions — something of a dream for most mixed martial arts fans.

Though the event was not as successful as the UFC's last visit to Bridgestone Arena (April, 2009) from an attendance and gate standpoint, the 7,228 on hand were treated to some history.

Not only was the card the UFC's first live show on the FX cable station, it was also the last event in the career of longtime UFC middleweight Jorge Rivera.

The main event, a contenders fight between a pair of lightweights who recently had long winning streaks snapped in upset losses, put a perfect wrap on a night filled with stoppages.

Jim Miller (21-3, 10-2 UFC) survived three flying knees from Melvin Guillard (29-10-2, 1 NC, 10-6 UFC), then perfectly timed a takedown when Guillard threw a fourth.

On the ground, Miller was in his element and had Guillard right where he wanted him going into the fight — away from the power in his opponent's hands, looking to take advantage of his often problematic submission defense. Guillard had to tap to a rear naked choke just 2:04 into the first round.

"I don't get knocked down often, and he knocked me down," Miller said of Guillard's early offense. "There are a lot of guys in this weight class and the one above us that don't want to fight that kid.

“I just found a way to the back. It's something I've always been able to do. From there, it was just securing position. I'm pretty confident I'm the most dangerous lightweight in the world, and I'm willing to make you guys believe that."

Frankie Edgar will defend the UFC's lightweight title in a month in Japan, and it could be that Miller will be the next to challenge for it after his victory, his eighth in his last nine fights. His only loss came in August while he was suffering from mononucleosis.

Miller was given the UFC's Submission of the Night bonus award for his win, which netted him an additional $45,000 on a card with five of the 10 fights ending by submission.

The Knockout of the Night went to Canadian bantamweight Nick Denis, who made his UFC debut. Denis clinched with Joseph Sandoval just 15 seconds into their fight, then leveled four heavy right elbows to Sandoval's head — and just missing with a fifth as Sandoval fell backward.

And the Fight of the Night, in what fans on social media instantly decried as a bad call, went to heavyweights Pat Barry and Christian Morecraft for their main card-opening fight. Barry won by knockout at 3:38 of the first after fighting off a couple of Morecraft submission attempts. The knockout was a scary one, certainly worthy of the KO bonus, and Morecraft remained on the canvas for several minutes after going down.

Click here for a recap of all Friday's UFC on FX fights.