New Contenders Come to Light in Phoenix (UFC on FOX 13 Review)

MMA: UFC Fight Night-dos Santos vs MiocicThe heavyweights got back to work on Saturday when UFC on FOX 13 featured three main card fights between some of the top heavyweights in the division. With Cain Velasquez on the sidelines for the time being after injuries have derailed his hopes of defending his belt. I the meantime the rest of the division is trying to figure themselves out. It has been a strange weight class in the last few years as the UFC has gone away from the usual recipe for combat sports. The heavyweights are always the top fighters in every combat sport promotion as they are the ones that provide the biggest knockouts the most frequently. Recently though the UFC has moved away from using their heavyweights to draw and instead have been focusing on their lighter weight classes. These lighter weight classes are the newer weight divisions and the weight divisions that seem to be provided the greatest spark in every card. The lightweights themselves are considered the best division in the UFC with the most talent from top to bottom. The heavyweights, on the other hand, are not held in as high regard as they used to be. Much of that has been due to inactivity of their champions but there is also the fact that there are not that many big stars in the heavyweight division. In terms of star power the heavyweights are nowhere near the level they were at when Brock Lesnar ruled the division. In terms of talent there are only a handful of fighters that have put together enough impressive wins to truly get the attention of anyone in the UFC. They have remained an afterthought for the majority of 2014 but as the year closes out the UFC looked to their final main network show to feature the best of the best in the division. With three of the four main card fights featuring the best heavyweights in the UFC fans were reminded of just how entertaining the heavyweight division can be. It was all capped off with the main even featuring two of the top five heavyweights in the division. As big as the fights before were this was the fight of the night as two heavyweights were looking to find their way to the title with a win on FOX. Neither Junior dos Santos nor Stipe Miocic were promised a title fight if they won but with dos Santos ranked #2 and Miocic ranked #4 the winner of this fight could be the next in line for the title. As Fabricio Werdum holds the interim belt and awaits a fight with Cain Velasquez to unify the belt Miocic and dos Santos looked to be the one waiting to get that next shot at the title. The only way to do that was to win their main event fight at UFC on FOX 13 and win impressively. That is what both fighters are good at as they are two knockout specialists that love to stay standing. Dos Santos is a BJJ practitioner that has evolved into one of the most feared fighters in the heavyweight division. He has knocked out the best of the best in the division, including the heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. He does it with heavy hands and wild striking that pushes his opponents to the point of making the one mistake and opening a spot for dos Santos to end the fight. Miocic is a wrestler who has shown that he has the power and the hand speed to compete with anyone on the feet. He also loves to push the pace and throw as many punches as possible. He is the more technical of the two fighters and can find ways into the range of his opponents while pushing them to the point of breaking. As the two faced off it was clear that they were going to stay standing and exchange trying to finish the fight as early as possible in order to prove that they belong in the title conversation in the heavyweight division. Neither one could achieve that goal but for the fans that was perfect as both heavyweights took on a war in the octagon. From the start it seemed as though Miocic was going to be in control through the entire fight. He immediately came out as a more aggressive fighter landing more significant strikes. As dos Santos came out for the second round he seemed out of it and looked too tired to find his way back. Then in the third dos Santos landed a big shot that sent Miocic to the mat and gave dos Santos a second wind. He took the confidence earned from that shot and began to climb his way back into the fight. Throwing big shots for the rest of the fight dos Santos was fighting his way back while Miocic began to run out of gas. In the end it was his last three rounds that gave him the win just as he seemed to be out of it from the start. With the unanimous decision win do Santos is sure to be the next in line for the title once Werdum and Velasquez face-off to unify the title. The loss was a setback for Miocic but the heart he showed in the fight will ensure that he remains one of the top fights in the division.

The heavyweights took the focus at UFC on FOX 13 there was some time for the most talented division to take the spotlight. The lightweights continue to have big fights on every card and this was no different. In one corner was a potential title challenger in Rafael dos Anjos who had won seven of his last eight fights. In the other corner was Nate Diaz who had been out of the UFC for a year but left as one of the most exciting fighters in the division. After beating Gray Maynard last year he seemed to be on his way up the ranks and close to a title shot. These two fighters would face off with the winner entering the title conversation with Anthony Pettis recently defending his belt and ready to go for his second title defence. It is never and easy thing to get a title shot in the lightweight division but both dos Anjos and Diaz were looking to do just that with a win at UFC on FOX 13. Despite their abilities on the mat it seemed that heading into the fight the plan for both fighters was to stay standing. Both fighters had made their way through the rankings with their BJJ but in their most recent fights had shown the ability to stand and trade and earn the knockout. They would try to do the same when they faced off in the co-main event. That is exactly what took place for most of the fight as they remained standing more often than not. As Diaz looked to swing away and get into a brawl, dos Anjos took a much more calculated approach. Instead of coming in and risking a knockout dos Anjos decided to take the legs away from Diaz and ensure that he could not load up on punches. He continued to kick his lead right leg and quickly put damage on the leg to the point where Diaz was forced to switch stances in an attempt to try to lessen the damage. The strategy continued throughout the fight as dos Anjos continued to unload on the leg and started to take advantage of the limited mobility of Diaz. With his leg essentially useless, Diaz had no power behind his shots and no way to get away from dos Anjos. He had very little to challenge dos Anjos and the Brazilian took full advantage winning the striking battle and the wrestling battle when he needed to. It was a dominant performance and one that was born out of strategy for dos Anjos. He took the unanimous decision win and spoiled the return of Diaz while taking another step towards the top of the division and a title fight although he may be one fight away from a match with Pettis. Diaz, on the other hand will likely drop out of the rankings after a lack luster return and will need to figure things out before returning to his usual dominant and exciting self if he hopes to make another run at the title. It was one fight involving the great lightweight division among a night of heavyweights that showcased the best of the light and heavy weight classes in the UFC.


Fight Bonuses

Performance of the Night
It wasn’t long before the impressive finishes started at UFC on FOX 13 as Ian Entwistle started off the night with a great submission win beating Anthony Birchak with a heel hook and earning a Performance of the Night Bonus

Performance of the Night
As the heavyweights took over the night in the main card they all impressed but only one could earn the bonus and Matt Mitrione did just that as he picked up an extra pay day with a knockout of Gabriel Gonzaga

Fight of the Night
There was no question on this bonus as Junior dos Santos and Stipe Miocic earned the fight of the Night bonus after a five round war that saw both fighters give everything they had in the octagon although dos Santos came out with the win


Fight Results

Main Event:
Junior “Cigano” dos Santos def. Stipe Miocic
(Unanimous Decision)

Main Card:
Rafael dos Anjos def. Nate Diaz
(Unanimous Decision)

Alistair “The Reem” Overeem def. Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve
(TKO; Rd. 1)

Matt “Meathead” Mitrione def. Gabriel “Napão” Gonzaga
(TKO; Rd. 1)

Joanna Jędrzejczyk def. Cláudia “Claudinha” Gadelha
(Split Decision)

John Moraga def. Willie Gates
(Submission; Rear Naked Choke, Rd. 3)

Ben “Killa B” Saunders def. Joe “Diesel” Riggs
(Submission; Neck injury, Rd. 1)

Drew Dober def. Jamie “C-4” Varner
(Submission; Rear Naked Choke, Rd. 1)

Bryan Barberena def. Joe “Excalibur” Ellenberger
(TKO; Rd. 3)

David “Bulldawg” Michaud def. Garett “Goodnight” Whiteley
(Unanimous Decision)

Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo def. Dustin “The Diamond” Kimura
(Unanimous Decision)

Ian “Enty” Entwistle def. Anthony Birchak
(Submission; Heel Hook, Rd. 1)


Upcoming Events

UFC Fight Night 58: Machida vs. Dollaway (Saturday December 20th; 10:00 pm ET)
Barueri, Sao Paulo, Brazil (Jose Correa Gymnasium)
Main Event: Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida vs. C.B. “The Doberman” Dollaway
Notable: Renan “The Baron” Barão vs. Mitch “The Machine” Gagnon
Notable: Patrick “Durkin” Cummins vs. Antônio Carlos “Cara de Sapato” Júnior

UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier (Saturday January 3rd; 10:00 pm ET)
Las Vegas, Nevada (MGM Grand Garden Arena)
Main Event: Jon “Bones” Jones vs. Daniel “DC” Cormier [Light Heavyweight Title]
Notable: Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs. Myles “The Fury” Jury
Notable: “Lightning” Hector Lombard vs. Josh “The People’s Warrior” Burkman

UFC Fight Night 59: McGregor vs. Siver (Sunday January 18th; 8:00 pm ET)
Boston, Massachusetts (TD Garden)
Main Event: “The Notorious” Conor McGregor vs. Dennis Siver
Notable: Benson “Smooth” Henderson vs. Eddie “The Silent Assassin” Alvarez
Notable: Uriah “Prime Time” Hall vs. Costas Philippou

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