Column: Looking at the UFC 165 undercard

By Steve Borchardt

When Charles Dickens wrote his famous line, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," he could just as easily have been prognosticating the outcome of UFC 165's undercard as setting the stage for one of his most famous novels.

The preliminary portion of this past Saturday's show from Toronto was marked by a pronounced dichotomy between highly entertaining short fights and three rounders so dull watching them felt like monitoring a slug's progress as it attempted to slither its way through a marathon. Join me bellow as I take a closer look at the good, the bad, and the frustratingly incompetent from the UFC 165 prelims.

A win may not always be a win, but is there ever a time when a loss isn't a loss for an undercard fighter?

Sometimes fighting in the UFC can be a real "damned if you do, damned if you don't" kind of job. Fighters are encouraged by the promotion to make a name for themselves with exciting performances, but at the same time there's so much riding on every fight the pressure to win at all costs can be overwhelming.

Not only do the majority of UFC fighters receive only half as much money with a loss as they would with a win, but given that the company's roster is still bursting at the seams like a youth large t-shirt stretched over Alistair Overeem's massive upper body there's no such thing as job security for an undercard fighter unless he keeps stacking up light blue boxes on his Wikipedia page.

Which might be why we keep seeing dull fights like Mike Ricci vs. Myles Jury out of fighters who should know they need to impress fans and UFC brass alike in order to get ahead in the promotion. Both men appeared to respect each others' skills a tad too much and it resulted in a fight that would have had even the most badly afflicted insomniac sawing logs in seconds flat. Jury came away with the split decision, but it was the kind of lackluster affair where even the winner will be booked like a loser in his next bout. Ricci is now 1-2 in the UFC and will be lucky to keep his job after such an uninspired, defensive-minded display.

The flip side of this coin though is the risk of coming out on the losing end of a barn burner only to be rewarded with a pink slip. Earlier on the prelims Mitch Gagnon and Dustin Kimura turned in a thrilling back and forth technical slobber knocker that ended in Gagnon locking a fight-ending guillotine on Kimura. The Hawaiian may have gotten caught in Marie Antoinette's least favorite submission hold, but he's got nothing to be ashamed of. After all, by definition there's got to be a loser in every fight.

Kimura fought with the go for broke abandon UFC decision makers favor, but with the loss he's now 1-1 in the promotion. If he falls short in another gutsy performance in his next fight out, who's to say he still has a spot on the UFC roster?

Both fans and the Zuffa brass want to see fighters laying it all on the line and going for the finish at all times, which is understandable given that the UFC is in the entertainment business. However, considering all that's at stake jumping in a firefight with wild abandon isn't always such an easy choice for those whose livelihoods are at risk.

Judge Brian Beauchamp probably not up for a Lens Crafters sponsorship anytime soon

Saturday night got off to a rough start for debuting judge Brian Beuchamp. First Beuchamp went against the grain and scored the Alex "Bruce Leroy" Caceres vs. Roland Delorme fight 29-28 for Delorme, despite Cacares out landing his opponent by 22% in round two, 28% in round three, and Delorme scoring no takedowns or sub attempts in either round. Beauchamp's scorecard led to the fight being declared a split decision victory for Cacares in a fight the owner of the best hairdo in MMA clearly won. 

Beauchamp's blinders were on once again when Michel Prazeres took on Jesse Ronson. Prazares was roundly declared the winner by the other two judges at ringside and 12 out of 13 members of the media scoring the fight but Beauchamp's apparent contrarian streak reared its near-sighted head once again leading to him to judge the fight in favor of Ronson 29-28.

Luckily in both cases the right man ended up winning the fight, but Beauchamp could probably stand a crash course in MMA scoring before being assigned judging duties by the Toronto commission again.

Improved all around game makes Wonderboy a prospect worth keeping an eye on

Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson looked sharp against Chris Clements. Wonderboy displayed a new wrinkle in his game when he took his Clements down early in the first. The threat of the takedown allowed Thompson to get inside his opponent's head and more effectively get off his strikes, eventually culminating in a devastating right hand that knocked Clements out in the second round. If Thompson can continue making strides in the his overall game he could end up amassing a quiet little win streak like that would see him make his way onto a spot on a FOX show or a PPV main card.

Makdessi impresses in slick knockout of Forte

If you're a fan of sudden knockouts lightweight John Makdessi delivered a beauty against Renee Forte. Makdessi got the better of the very game Forte in a brief all action fight before eventually catching the Brazilian with a counter right hand behind the ear. The punch dropped Forte and allowed Makdessi to swarm him with hard shots for the knockout. With the victory Makdessi has now won three in a row and should find himself booked higher up on an FS1 PPV prelim or a Fight Night card in his next outing.

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