A network-broadcast UFC event showcased heavyweight heavy hitters and a lightweight making a case for a title fight.
Matt Mitrione cut major notch on his belt with a first-round victory over Gabriel Gonzaga Saturday night on the UFC on Fox. A beautiful overhand left dropped Brazilian jiu jitsu ace. Mitrione followed his turtled-up opponent with rights before prematurely walking away a la Mark Hunt. Herb Dean remained an observer, so the heavy-handed heavyweight threw another right that coaxed the laissez-faire referee to finally intervene 1:59 into the fight.
Alistair Overeem returned to the win column with a first-round stoppage of fellow Dutchman Stefan Struve. Overeem scored a takedown that initially allowed his opponent to show off his impressive defense in guard. But Overeem ultimately overwhelmed it with a series of punches that put the seven-foot Struve in a vulnerable position against the cage that resulted in a late first-round stoppage.
A neck injury on a successful takedown of Ben Saunders forced Joe Riggs to tap in the first round and Bryan Barberena stopped Joe Ellenberger on the preliminaries before the Fox broadcast of a main card that witnessed Junior dos Santos decision Stipe Miocic in a classic and close standup battle (see main event article here).
In the co-feature Rafael dos Anjos kicked his way to a dominant victory over Nate Diaz. Brutal leg kicks to Diaz’s lead right leg left the Stockton fighter throwing arm punches, unable to stop the takedown, and, perhaps most importantly, a sitting duck standing for subsequent kicks. Diaz, in a manner akin to the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, talked trash and slapped dos Anjos in the face from guard. That offense, like his failure to make weight and appear at a media event, merely offended his opponent.
“I watched his previous fights,” dos Anjos confessed after the fight. “He does not block leg kicks at all.”
The Brazilian, who now boasts 12 UFC victories, wants a title fight with Anthony Pettis. “Six years, I have seventeen fights,” he said of his UFC tenure. “I want my title shot, please.”