The UFC continued its christening of new U.S. markets with their first foray into Seattle, WA, Ultimate Fight Night 24, and on that night, fans continued to see the rise of a new generation of fighters: tall, lean, muscular wrestler with long limbs that lend to a longer striking reach and grappling abilities.

On the heels of Jon Jones’ historic capture of the UFC light heavyweight title, collegiate wrestling champions Phil ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Davis and Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson executed dominant performances against their respective opponents, demonstrating the adage that striking and submissions are crucial skills to finish an opponent, but wrestling is the key to controlling where the fight takes place.

Fans were also treated to a particular surprise with the rematch of Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung (more popularly known as the ‘Korean Zombie’). Many were expecting a barnburner of fists, as the two demonstrated in their first match, though rematches rarely play out similar to the first encounter (pardoning Brian Bowles vs. Damacio Page). Zombie succeeded in giving us another historic moment, however, winning by submission via Twister, a spinal lock popularized by 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu founder Eddie Bravo, for the first time ever in the UFC.

Unfortunately, Zombie’s Twister finish was likely lost on casual fans who surely didn’t recognize the move, but it also likely reminded those same fans who their favorite Korean fighter is (as if they really know any others), and also gave them something new to like about him.

One undercard match in particular, Michael McDonald x Edwin Figueroa, is absolutely worth going out of your way to watch. This battle of UFC debuts (McDonald has one WEC fight from November last year) was broadcast on the UFC Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/ufc) and was a fantastic display of ground skill on McDonald’s part, defense on Figueroa’s part, and heart and sportsmanship on both men’s part. McDonald really had the advantages on paper, but Figueroa took the bout on a week’s notice and did a fantastic job in surviving (and even transitioning out of) some very close submissions. Announcer Joe Rogan interviewed both men after the fight, with fans cheering Figueroa very audibly. Keep your eye out for these two young guns.

Here’s how my predictions and reality turned out for Ultimate Fight Night 24:

155 lbs. – Nik Lentz x Waylon Lowe:
Prediction: Lowe via TKO (round one)
Result: Lentz via submission (round three)

To watch the match for free, click here: http://www.ufc.tv/ufc/video/ufc-fight-night-nogueira-vs-davis-prelim-waylon-lowe-vs-nik-lentz/375

185 lbs. – Aaron Simpson x Mario Miranda:
Prediction: Miranda via (surprising, out-of-nowhere) submission (round two)
Result: Simpson via unanimous decision (30-27,30-27, 30-26)

170 lbs. – Johny Hendricks x Anthony “TJ” Waldburger:
Prediction: Hendricks via TKO (round one)
Result: Hendricks via TKO (round one)

265 lbs. – Christian Morecraft x Sean McCorkle:
Prediction: Morecraft via TKO (round two)
Result: Morecraft via submission (round two)

135 lbs. – Michael McDonald x Edwin Figueroa:
Prediction: McDonald via TKO or submission (round one)
Result: McDonald via unanimous decision (30-27 across the board)

170 lbs. – John Hathaway x Kris McCray:
Prediction: Hathaway via TKO (round two)
Result: Hathwaway via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

145 lbs. – Alex Caceres x Mackens Semerzier:
Prediction: Caceres via TKO (round one)
Result: Semerzier via submission (round one)

265 lbs. – Mike Russow x Jon Madsen:
Prediction: Madsen via submission (round three)
Result: Russo via TKO / doctor’s stoppage (round two)

145 lbs. – Leonard Garcia x Chan Sung Jung:
Prediction: Jung via unanimous decision
Result: Jung via submission (round two)

170 lbs. – Amir Sadollah x DeMarques Johnson:
Prediction: Sadollah via TKO (round two)
Result: Sadollah via submission due to elbows (round two)

170 lbs. – Dan Hardy x Anthony Johnson:
Prediction: Hardy via submission (round two)
Result: Johnson via unanimous decision (30-27 on all cards)

205 lbs. – Antonio Rogerio Nogueira x Phil Davis:
Davis via decision
Result: Davis via unanimous decision (30-27 across the board)

UFN 24 Winners Press Conference: Davis and Johnson

UFN 24 Winners Press Conference: Sadollah and Jung

The Finish

On TV, the Key Arena audience was one of the more vocal and opinionated televised crowds that I’ve heard in a long time. And to no surprise, as Seattle is continually among the top pay-per-view buy markets for the UFC. Moreover, Washington State has one of the longest histories of MMA in the U.S., having produced early pioneers and veterans of the sport like Matt Hume, Maurice Smith, Dennis Hallman, Ivan Salaverry, and the ever-outspoken Strikeforce heavyweight Josh Barnett.

UFN 24 felt very much like a night of young stars of tomorrow showcasing their continued evolution. Amir Sadollah’s striking was on point against Demarques Johnson. Anthony Johnson and Phil Davis’ grappling control of Dan Hardy and Antonio Rogerio Norgueira, respectively, demonstrated the biggest factor (wrestling) in the UFC’s next big main event, George St-Pierre vs. Jake Shields, as most see the Shields, the self-proclaimed ‘American Jiu Jitsu’ specialist, giving St-Pierre, a wrestling late-starter but fast-learner, a run for his money on the ground.

Kudos to UFC for showing five matches on Facebook, giving fans the chance to see newcomers (like McDonald vs. Figueroa) to the promotion.

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