By Jaime C. Feal
An exciting night of fights on network TV is exactly what the doctor ordered for the UFC. Easily the best overall presentation the UFC has put on Fox yet, the third time was indeed the charm. The undercard was tremendous, with heavyweight Lavar “Big” Johnson impressively stopping his opponent with his second straight 1st round KO inside the Octagon. Alan Belcher upset Rousimar “Touqinho” Palhares with a TKO via ground and pound, and Johny Hendricks elevated himself into the upper tier of welterweights by winning a split decision over Josh Koscheck. The main event was spectacular, with the trash-talking Nate Diaz choking out Jim Miller to earn a shot at the lightweight belt.
Heavyweight Division (265 lbs.):
Pat “HD” Barry (7-4, 4-4 UFC) vs. Lavar “Big” Johnson (16-5, 1-0 UFC)
Lavar starts with a jab and Barry lands one of his patented leg kicks. Johnson clinches Barry and presses him to the cage, lands a couple knees. Barry separates and partially lands a head kick on his taller opponent. Another leg kick from Barry. Jonson back to his clinch strategy on the cage, working knees to Barry’s head. Johnson now starting to throw haymakers and rock Barry. Johnson is beasting Barry against the cage, and Barry desperately shoots for a takedown, which Johnson sprawls on nicely. Johnson now working for a front choke, but Barry escapes and flips Johnson over to transition in to mount. Barry decides to move to side control, not doing much but holding Johnson down. Barry going for an Americana from side control, Johnson is grimacing. Johnson escapes, Barry still in side control. Johnson now elbowing from the bottom. “HD” landing some strikes from side, controlling the fight. Johnson gets to his knees and stands back up. Barry lands a big leg kick. Johnson comes forward and lands some big knees. Big head kick by Johnson. Now big uppercuts and Barry looks to be in big trouble. Barry against the cage not moving, Johnson throwing haymakers, looking for the finish. Barry standing right in front of him, shot after shot landing, big hooks and uppercuts. Finally a big left hook crumples Barry against the cage, and Johnson struts away with another 1st round KO.
Lavar “Big” Johnson wins by Knockout at 4:38 of Round 1.
Middleweight Division (185 lbs.):
Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares (14-3, 7-2 UFC) vs. Alan “The Talent” Belcher (17-6, 8-4 UFC)
Belcher pawing with the jab to start the fight, moving forward. “Toquinho” misses with a front kick. Palhares shoots for a single and takes Belcher down with the quickness. The fighters are grappling on the ground. Belcher is attempting Joe Rogan’s favorite submission, Eddie Bravo’s “twister,” and Rogan is going nuts at the possibility of the twister being pulled off. Palhares promptly escapes the position and begins locking in a deep leg hold. Belcher grimaces but manages to escape for the time being. The black belts are still rolling in a high level submission chess match. “Toquinho” now trying for a heel hook, but Belcher escapes nicely and winds up on top. Belcher lands some big elbows from the top, Palhares is in huge trouble, not moving, ref Dan Mirgliaotta taking a close look, more unanswered shots from Belcher and the fight is stopped.
Alan “The Talent” Belcher wins by TKO at 4:18 of Round 1.
Welterweight Division (170 lbs.):
Josh “Kos” Koscheck (17-5, 15-5 UFC) vs. Johny Hendricks (12-1, 7-1 UFC)
Kos opens up with a push kick that lands. Southpaw Johny Hendricks backing up, using feints. Hendricks misses with a big left and appears to get poked in the eye. He motions towards the ref who doesn’t give him time to break, and Koscheck jumps all over Hendricks. Kos is throwing big right hands, some are getting through, and Hendricks looks in trouble. Finally Johny answers back with a left to back Kos off him. Koscheck misses with a big right hook, and Hendrick is able to take him down against the cage. Kos uses the cage to stand back up, but Hendricks has his back standing and is working knees to the thighs. Ref breaks the fighters for inactivity. Hendricks vision appears to be fine now. Hendricks misses with a left head kick and Kos clips him with an overhand right. Hendricks presses Kos against the cage but gets tossed off. Koscheck lands a nice flurry against the cage. Both fighters looking to load up on the right power hand. Good body kick by Koscheck. 10-9 round for Koscheck.
Hendricks moves in with three lead left hands but misses them all. Koscheck now eats an uppercut Hendricks presses forward and tries a takedown, but Kos stuffs it. Koscheck explodes and begins to take Hendricks’ back. Awkward position because Hendricks is crouched against the cage. Hendricks gets up. Hendricks gets a takedown against the cage, working hard to keep Kos from scooting back up. Kos eventually gets back up. Hendricks again begins kneeing the thigh. Ref separates for inactivity. Nice combo from Hendricks. Now he tags Koscheck with a left and is swelling his eye. Nice knee from the clinch by Hendricks, but Koshceck unloads with two elbows and they break. Another lead left lands for Hendricks. Koscheck stuffs a takedown attempt at the end of the round. Tough round to call. 10-9 round for Hendricks.
Hendricks is a little more active than Kos to start the round. Koscheck grabs a single leg but Hendricks hops back to the cage and defends. Ref breaks the fighters due a stall on the fence. The fighters begin standing a nd trading, both connecting with power shots. Koscheck gets wobbled, but comes right back and cracks Hendricks. What a war. Big knee by Hendricks, Kos able to take him down though. Koscheck working in half guard, trying to pass. Good knees to the body by Kos. Good ground and pound by Koscheck from the half guard as the fight ends. Definitely did enough to win the round. 10-9 round for Koscheck.
The judges score the fight 29-28, 28-29, and 29-28 for the winner by split decision, Johny Hendricks.
Lightweight Division (155 lbs.):
Nate Diaz (15-7, 10-5 UFC) vs. Jim Miller (21-3, 10-2 UFC)
Good leg kick by Miller. Diaz coming forward, gets a clinch. Miller muscles Diaz to the cage, and the fighters grapple for position. Diaz lands a knee. Miller slips and Diaz lands a body kick. Good jab by Diaz. Miller clinches and lands some uppercuts. Good right hook by Diaz. Diaz starting to find the mark with the jab, lands an inside leg kick. The fighters trade punches and again clinch on the cage. Miller looking for a single leg but Diaz defends. Nice knee by Diaz. Diaz goes to the body and then lands a short elbow on the break. Good body kick by Miller. Unbelievable one-two by Diaz drops Miller and has him in desperation wrestling mode. Diaz is in north south, now Miller reverses the position and tries for the back. Great technical battle as Diaz reverses that and finishes with some good shots, then a knee as they stand. 10-9 round for Diaz.
Another nice leg kick by Miller to start the round. Diaz clinches and pushes Miller to the cage. Diaz landing body shots and knees in the clinch. Good knee from Miller. Nice elbow on the break from Miller. Diaz clinches again. Holding Miller against the cage, Diaz is landing small shots. Diaz lands a nice short right hook, starting to drop his hands. Diaz lands a solid left, now talking more. Good knee from Diaz. Nice slapping right hook from Diaz, who then taunts Miller by slapping his own face as if to mock him. Miller takes exception and attempts a flying knee, Diaz dodges it. Diaz talking tons of smack now, and beating Jim Miller up, looking exactly like his older brother Nick. Hands dropped, taunting, Fox even has to bleep out a cuss word he says while in the clinch doing work. Diaz working a standing guillotine and then lands a powerful knee. Miller drops to one knee to make that move illegal. Miller stands back up and Diaz lands a knee, then goes back to taunting. Diaz begins unloading with shots that stun Miller. Diaz locks onto a one arm guillotine that looks very deep. Miller briefly rolls to escape, but Diaz secures his second arm and rolls back over to mount, and the choke is way too deep. Miller taps for the first time in his MMA career.
Nate Diaz wins by submission (guillotine choke) at 4:09 of Round 2.