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Cutting Through The Bullsh*t: UFC on FOX 13 Edition

(Photo via Getty Images)

By Alex Giardini

Before the main card action got underway this past Saturday night at UFC on FOX 13, we had seen a pretty eventful weekend already.

The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale saw a new women’s strawweight champion crowned, as Carla Esparza submitted Rose Namajunas in the final, after a string of pretty decent fights.

Then came UFC on FOX 13, headlined by a heavyweight fight featuring Junior dos Santos against Stipe Miocic. The prelims were strange but sufficient, with Henry Cejudo winning his debut, younger-than-he-looks Joe Riggs suffering an injury in his Bellator superfight against Ben Saunders, John Moraga being dropped by Willie Gates after complaining about a low blow to the official, last-minute food poisoning for Derek Brunson, Jamie Varner retiring after a loss with hopes of starting a fighter union, Ryan Jimmo’s terrible seats, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk outpointing Claudia Gadelha (who pulled a Paul Daley in the heat of the moment, but apologized right away) to go on to face Esparza in the near future.

All those happenings revolved around a huge story that broke in the afternoon courtesy of Bloody Elbow, but don’t worry, we’ll get to that in a bit.

The stage was set for the remaining four fights on prime time television, featuring three heavyweight battles and a lightweight battle consisting of one dude that apparently makes heavyweights shit their pants.

Speaking of which, Nate Diaz was buried by the UFC as soon as the show got underway, with footage of the Stockton fighter walking out on his pre-fight interview. And frankly, we can’t blame him, because who wouldn’t get sick of answering how you’re going to topple your foe for the past seven years?

Let’s get the two opening fights out of the way, as Matt Mitrione excelled in somewhat of a crossroads fight, knocking out Gabriel Gonzaga in two minutes. Mitrione’s performance couldn’t have been any better, as he clocked Gonzaga and followed up with fight-ending blows, and even had to deliver the last kiss when referee Herb Dean failed to stop the fight and allowed Gonzaga to take one last brutal shot that clearly knocked him out.

It was great to see a healthy Stefan Struve compete again after his fainting spell at UFC 175, and it’s safe to say nearly everyone that was familiar with that story felt a little nervous about the “Skyscraper” stepping inside the cage again. There were no conditioning issues, but unfortunately, Struve suffered his fifth knockout loss in the UFC at just 26 years old. Alistair Overeem brutalized his fellow Dutchman with ground-and-pound, leaving his younger opponent on the receiving end of a beatdown.

It’s hard to say where this leaves the “Demolition Man,” but at least the K-1 Grand Prix champion isn’t in hot water, and will most likely take on Mark Hunt or the night’s main event winner.

Back to Diaz, he came in nearly five pounds overweight for his lightweight tussle against Rafael dos Anjos, meaning the battle was contested at a catchweight. It was as one-sided as they get, with the Brazilian brutalizing Diaz’s lead leg, forcing the former 155-pound title challenger to limp early. In the end, dos Anjos was better than Diaz everywhere, and even mauled him on the ground for what it’s worth.

At the post-fight presser, UFC President Dana White, who was already not fond of his fighter’s actions, expressed his concerns about Diaz’s future, citing he gets serious or retires. We don’t have crystal balls, but chances are Diaz won’t retire, and that thought is laughable, since White is more or less suggesting the younger Diaz brother — who always “played the game” unlike his older brother — doesn’t have options elsewhere. His manager Mike Kogan is buddies with Bellator boss Scott Coker, not to mention the promotion’s new matchmaker. The case of Diaz will presumably develop in the coming days, yet if there were ever a time for a fighter to lash out after his company tried to put a suit and tie on him, it’s now.

And we freaking love every second of it.

The main event saw Junior dos Santos defeat Stipe Miocic by unanimous decision, although the two 49-46 scorecards were downright terrible. The firefighter clearly won the opening two rounds, clocking the Brazilian with his crisp boxing and had the former heavyweight champion in a bit of trouble. The Brazilian came on strong for the remainder of the fight, dropping his foe, but took the same amount of damage in the five-round slugfest.

It was one of those fights where you can’t have a problem with JDS winning, or losing, for that matter. It was a close fight, and although MMA blowhards are susceptible to call robbery every time they don’t agree with the judges, this was one of those “either/or” cases. The criteria to be a judge must be a high school degree and 48 hours of community service working at a Salvation Army, yet we already knew that. However, the fight wasn’t exactly an instant classic, as some journalists would have called it. It was damn good, and maybe one that needs a rewatch on Monday morning with a few slices of leftover pizza for breakfast. But please, refrain from saying it was “one for the ages” and all that jazz.

Who knows where this leaves JDS, though, if Cain Velasquez beats Fabricio Werdum in the next few months. Werdum has a loss to dos Santos, so that’s compelling, but Velasquez mauled the Brazilian twice, so it’s kind of senseless. It’s a question that will be relevant until his next fight is announced (which could be against a former rival in Overeem), so let’s not dwell on specifics and let the chips fall where they may. Still, there’s a growing concern for how much damage dos Santos takes. Some bust and bleed easy, however, he’s starting look a tad like Miss Piggy.

So, all in all, UFC on FOX 13 proved to be a damn good night of fights, capping off a weekend where the promotion crowned a new champ and Rousimar Palhares held on to Jon Fitch’s leg for too long elsewhere. Credit the UFC for the latter half of 2014 being relatively awesome, as they are currently on a good run of exciting fights these past few months minus a crop of fights being canned due to injuries.

With a new sponsorship deal and controversies like failed drug tests, a rankings overhaul done by “proper” media, and domestic abuse not far away, 2015 can’t come any sooner, with news breaking yesterday about a class action lawsuit against UFC officials, with their own fighters (and managers) challenging them in the court. Apparently, it’s for $100s of millions of dollars, stemming from the promotion “abusing their market power to intentionally and systematically cripple the free market,” and cites the Reebok deal, too.

There have been plenty of game changers in the past, but this one is huge. And it couldn’t have come at a better time, with the UFC inching closer to dominating the whole landscape of fighting, while the fans and observers have to resort to keeping up with over 40 events a year. Just when we thought this carnival sport had stolen our souls (let’s face it, it did), there’s actually hope for the future.

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