The Sunday Fighter – A Leisurely Look Back at UFC on Fox 21

For the first time in two years, the UFC returned to Vansterdam for UFC on Fox 21, where fans witnessed an entertaining card that saw jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia submit former interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit in the first round of the main event.

The event drew a reported 10,533 fans and banked $995,624 Canadian dollars, or about $765,000 U.S. dollars.

Join me as I take a leisurely look back at UFC Vancouver, specifically the main card, which continued the tradition of ending earlier than typical PPV’s, allowing us old men and women the chance to down a glass of Metamucil and turn in early.

Another Fight, Another Submission Win for Demian Maia

Casual fans of the sport may find Demian Maia about as appealing as spoiled sushi, but man, how can you not be impressed by the 38-year-old jiu-jitsu legend? His latest string of wins includes victories over Neil Magny, Gunnar Nelson, Matt Brown, and now Carlos Condit. Just…wow.

Trying to get Demian Maia off of your back is kind of like escaping a briar patch – no matter which way you turn or how much you struggle, you’re going to get stuck, or in this case submitted.

One has to assume that Condit and his team at Jackson-Wink spent plenty of time finding ways to avoid the situation that “The Natural Born Killer” found himself in. It’s also safe to assume that they trained how to escape from that position, but as we’ve learned over Maia’s last few fights, training that escape in camp and doing it in a fight with him are two different stories.

Maia’s submission victory earned him $50,000 for a Performance of the Night award and puts him one step closer to a title shot against the winner of Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson.

He’ll run into some difficulty with both opponents, but if he’s able to get the fight to the ground, it’s anybody’s contest to win.

It’s “Showtime” For Anthony Pettis at Featherweight

Before his fight with Oliveira, I questioned Pettis’ decision to move down to the 145-pound division to reignite his career. Will the weight cut drain Pettis and play a part in his fight against Oliveira? Is a drop in weight really the best solution for the former 155-pound champion? Will Pettis be hesitant and overcautious, or will he be as confident as he was when we saw him grace the cover of a Wheaties box?

My questions were answered last night, as Pettis returned to form and put on a great performance against a very game Charles Oliveira, who was submitted by Pettis in the third round with a slick guillotine choke.

Pettis showed some good takedown defense early in the fight, as Oliveira tried his best to get “Showtime” to the ground. As the fight wore on, however, it seemed that Pettis was OK with going to the ground with the Brazilian, and used some really nice sweeps, rotations and reversals to either stand up or secure top position, allowing him to score points and damage his opponent.

The win for Pettis is reassuring in my eyes, and while I was a bit skeptical about his drop to 145 before the fight, I’m excited to see where Pettis goes from here in a weight division ruled by an absent champion.

Sometimes “That Spinning S*%!#” Works

“Paige VanZant looks like a bubbly cheerleader,” a buddy of mine texted me before “12 Gauge” stepped inside the Octagon to fight Bec Rawlings at UFC Vancouver.

He’s right, to a certain extent; when you look at PVZ she doesn’t really look like someone who can knock you out, much less like someone who fights inside of a cage. Nonetheless, VanZant earned a jumping head kick KO victory over Rawlings, who has been putting together a decent standup game with the help of her team over at Alliance Training Center.

VanZant threw several flashy techniques that, while pretty, weren’t exactly effective – until one of them landed, of course. The kick earned the 22-year-old a Performance of the Night Bonus and matchup with another 115-pound challenger in the future.

VanZant has an uphill battle ahead of her in the 115-pound division, but the former Dancing with the Stars competitor garners attention from mainstream outlets, so here’s hoping that she gets another fight sooner rather than later.

Miller, Lauzon All Class

How can you not love Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon? The two veterans put on a great back-and-forth fight that saw Miller come away with the (somewhat questionable) win.

As enjoyable as the fight was, the pair’s respect and admiration for one another may have outshined their battle.

I love the fact that mainstream viewers had a chance to witness how these men handled themselves after the fight, and hope that they come away knowing that the days of “human cockfighting” are long gone.

This sport can be brutal, but let’s not forget that it is made up of many men and women that embody professionalism and hold true to the spirit of martial arts.

Ray Higginbotham is a professional writer and avid fan of MMA. For more MMA content and fighter interviews, give his Facebook page a like and follow him on Twitter @_MMARAY.

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