The holidays delivered a special treat for mixed martial arts fans with three exciting fight cards this week. Kicking things off was the UFC Fight Pass event Paige VanZant vs Rose Namajunas. In the main event Rose took to Paige to task by securing a fifth round rear naked choke. The co main was a war between Jim Miller and Michael Chiesa that saw Chiesa come out on top. It was a great card for UFC Fight Pass and one that sets the tone for the weekend to come.
The main event for UFC Fight Night 80 did not disappoint. Rose Namajunas(4-2) put on a clinic in the first four rounds against the gritty and durable Paige VanZant(6-2). It had to be truly frustrating for Namajunas who is one of the most gifted submission fighters in the division. Still VanZant pushed her to the fifth round fighting off submission after submission attempts. Rose went for armbars, kimura attempts and rear naked chokes which Paige was able to scramble out of. VanZant was unable to mount any good offense and the range that Rose setup kept off her pressure. VanZant’s clinch was also neutralized by Rose who was the aggressor landing the take downs into side control even though she was unable to finish the submissions early. She rained elbows downed on VanZant which cut her open in the second. Still the team Alpha Male fighter would not give up and looked to turn this into a dogfight in the championships rounds. Deep into the fifth Rose once again was able to secure her arm underneath the chin of VanZant and pull off the last round rear naked choke. You have to give credit to the resiliency of VanZant but this was a clinic by Rose. This is the fighter we knew coming from Invicta that stormed through the tough house submitting all her foes. If she continued to stay this focused she just may have the tools to unseat the current strawweight champion.
We knew the fight between Michael Chiesa(13-2) and Jim Miller(25-7) would be a war and that’s what we got. The first round found Jim Miller getting the best of the grappling which was mixed in with a sneaky left jab that came in bunches. Miller went for a heel hook but abandoned it, still he did just enough to take the opening round. In the second round Miller once again had success with the left jab but the elusive trip takedowns of Chiesa sent him to the canvas for the second time. Jim went for the heel hook again and almost secured it but a good sweep placed Michael on top again where he laid down some heavy hands on Miller. That allowed him to take the back of Jim and that was all she wrote. Chiesa sunk the hooks in and pulled off a clean rear naked choke over the black belt jiu jitsu fighter. It was a great win for Michael against one of the most dangerous fighters in the division. He is looking to move up and main event a card and with a performance like that he may do so.
The hype train for Sage Northcutt (7-0) won’t be extinguished anytime soon. After winning with an impressive victory for his first UFC bout he puts on another great performance. The young fighter battled the tenacious Cody Pfister(12-5) who went for his game plan early but could not pull it off. Cody landed a takedown at the start of the fight which lead to him grinding out the first half of the round. It was a terrible stand up from the referee as Cody had decent top control. When the fighters were put back on their feet Sage shot and landed a successful takedown. From there he hit elbows and more to end out the round. In the second Sage was taken down by Cody again but Sage locked on a strong and deep guillotine to pull off the submission.
The main card for UFC Fight Night 80 was a middleweight battle between Elias Theodorou(11-1) and Thiago Santos(12-3). The self proclaimed “cardio king” started off the fight fleet of foot with a bevy of kicks to keep santos off balance. Santos withstood the tide and let the Canadian wear himself out. Heading into the second round Thiago found his distance and started to go to work on the body of Elias. He all but stole the second round if it wasn’t for a few takedowns late by Santos. In the third it was all Thiago with perfectly timed shots that devastated the exhausted Elias. The late leg kicks to the body put a toll on Theodorou and helped secure the victory for Thiago. Elias is no longer undefeated but showed great grit in this fight. We are sure he will come back stronger than ever. For Santos it’s a step in the right direction in the middleweight division.
The prelims saw great wins for Tim Means, Aljamain Sterling and Kailin Curran notching her first UFC victory. Up next for the UFC is The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale which takes place tomorrow on Fox Sports 1. The full results for UFC Fight Night 80 is listed below.
Rose Namajunas def. Paige VanZant via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 5, 2:25
Michael Chiesa def. Jim Miller via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 2:57
Sage Northcutt def. Cody Pfister via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 2, 0:41
Thiago “Marreta” Santos def. Elias Theodorou via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)
Tim Means def. John Howard via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 0:21
Sergio Moraes def. Omari Akhmedov via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 2:18
Kevin Casey vs. Antonio Carlos Junior – no-contest (unintentional eye poke) – Round 1, 0:11
Aljamain Sterling def. Johnny Eduardo via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 2, 4:18
Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Andreas Stahl via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:25
Danny Roberts def. Nathan Coy via technical submission (triangle choke) – Round 1, 2:46
Zubaira Tukhugov def. Phillipe Nover via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27)
Kailin Curran def. Emily Kagan via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 4:13