The UFC headed to Canada for its 21st card on FOX. It was a stacked main card with big name talent going head-to-head with the NFL preseason games, and losing in some markets.
The main event was a welterweight fight between top contenders Demian Maia and Carlos Condit. Maia entered the night on a five-fight win streak and Condit’s last bout was a narrow loss to Robbie Lawler in a title bout in January. Fans expected a wonderful battle in a stylistic matchup, but it took Maia just less than two minutes to get Condit’s back and sink in the rear naked choke.
After the bout, Maia was emotional as he called for a title shot against newly crowned champion Tyron Woodley. Condit mentioned retiring if he wasn’t given another shot at the title after losing to Lawler, and fans were expecting the worse when Condit was interviewed after the fight. Fortunately, Condit didn’t make a decision in the moment.
In the co-main event, former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis was making his debut in a deep featherweight division against submission specialist Charles Oliveira. Pettis looked good the first round, with dynamic striking and good movement to afford danger on the ground. In the second round, a beautiful transition allowed Pettis to get Oliveira’s neck and lock in a guillotine choke for the win, his first in nearly two years after three consecutive losses at lightweight.
Pettis said he is targeting a run at the featherweight title, but much like welterweight it is a crowded division.
Paige VanZant fought for the first time since a disappointing loss in December to Rose Namajunas, a bout that really highlighted VanZant’s toughness in defeat. VanZant was able to get a flashy jumping switch-kick TKO against Bec Rawlings in her return from “Dancing with the Stars.” After the bout, VanZant called for a fight on the UFC card in Sacramento.
Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller opened the preliminary card in a rematch of their classic from UFC 155. Miller got the win in the rematch, closing the door on a potential trilogy bout in a controversial manner. According to MMA Decisions, 24 MMA journalists scored the fight in favor of Lauzon and just two gave Miller the win. But the old adage is, never leave it in the hands of the judges.
1. Never leave it in the judges hands
Once again it was proven that MMA judges can be fickle and see the fight differently than those watching it, like the Miller vs. Lauzon bout. The only way to secure the win is to get the finish, because you never know when it goes to the cards.
2. Demian Maia isn’t aging
Maia is 38 and isn’t slowing down at all after his sixth win in a row. It’s partly a result of Maia’s style, which has prevented him from taking damage in his recent fights. According to Mike Bohn, Maia has absorbed just 13 significant strikes in his last four fights. When you’re technical fighting and jiu jitsu allows you to control your opponents and avoid damage, that’s a recipe for success.
3. Featherweight might be a good home for Pettis
A string of losses forced the former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis to drop to featherweight, and he looked good in his debut. He is used to fighting bigger fighters and making the opposition at featherweight a more favorable matchup, but there are former lightweight stars like Frankie Edgar in the division. His timing is right though. There is a logjam at the top of the division, with Max Holloway deserving of a title fight and Jose Aldo holding the interim title awaiting a unification bout with Conor McGregor. It gives Pettis to get a few wins under his belt before getting his title shot.
Stars of the Night
Demian Maia – Got a huge win over Carlos Condit with a rear naked choke, laying claim to a title shot.
Anthony Pettis – Won his debut at featherweight, getting a guillotine choke locked in on a guy known for his grappling.
Paige VanZant – Got the jumping switch kick to KO Bec Rawlings
Felipe Silva – Got a quick first-round knockout in his UFC debut.
Stat of the Night
As Danny Acosta pointed out, Condit hadn’t been submitted in 10 years and never in WEC or UFC competition. It took Maia less than two minutes to choke Condit out on Saturday.
Highlight of the Night
Paige VanZant connected on the jumping switch-kick for the TKO.
Anthony Pettis used some beautiful movement to get the guillotine for the win.
Demian Maia got Carlos Condit’s back and that was it.
The UFC has a mid-day card on Saturday during Labor Day weekend since it’s overseas in Hamburg, Germany. The following Saturday is UFC 203 in Cleveland, when heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic defends his belt against Alistair Overeem in front of his hometown. That card is stacked and also includes the debut of former WWE Superstar CM Punk.
What’s next for the stars of UFC on FOX 21 co-main events is a different story. Maia’s win certainly helps him argue for a welterweight title shot, but it’s a crowded field in the welterweight division. Stephen Thompson is on a seven-fight win streak and has a claim to the shot, and there is the looming return of Georges St-Pierre holding things up too. Maia will likely either wait, or take another fight against a top contender while waiting in line.
Pettis got a win over Oliveira in his featherweight debut and said he is eyeing a run at the title. Aside from welterweight, featherweight is arguably the deepest division in the UFC. A good fight for Pettis could be Edgar at UFC 205 in New York City at Madison Square Garden. Edgar is coming off a loss to Jose Aldo at UFC 200 for the interim featherweight title and is from the New York City area. Pettis is Puerto Rican and New York City has a huge Puerto Rican population.