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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
UFC ON FOX 3: DIAZ VS. MILLER
MAY 5, 2012
LIVE FROM EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY
-After Curt Menefee welcomed the audience to the event, we got a short opening video on "what will it take to become a champion" narrated by Ving Rhames.
-Back to Menefee, who is joined by Randy Couture and Brian Stann in the network broadcast booth in the arena. Menefee talked Stann up with a short video package before introducing him. They're not wasting time tonight getting to the fights, as the Pat Barry-Lavar Johnson bout will come up after the first break.
FIGHT ONE: PAT BARRY VS. LAVAR JOHNSON (HEAVYWEIGHT)
-A short pre-fight video gives the back story of Johnson suffering a gunshot wound at a family reunion back in 2009. Barry talked up Johnson's UFC debut win, and said as soon as he saw that he knew this was the type of fight the UFC would give to him.
ROUND ONE: Johnson landed a jab and Barry countered with a right. Barry landed a hard leg kick. Johnson clinched and pressed Barry to the cage. He tried to back off with a flurry and Barry went high with a head kick to back him off. They exchanged strikes and clinched again. Johnson got in a few big knees against the cage. Barry covered up and they started trading strikes. Johnson connected on the better strikes there. Barry shot in for a takedown and Johnson sprawled. Barry then turned him over and mounted him. He moved to side control. He tried to trap Johnson's arm in the mounted crucifix. He attacked the arm of Johnson for an Americana. Johnson was in pain but Barry lost the hold. Barry continued to work from side control. Johnson scrambled to his knees and got to his feet. Barry hit him with a hard leg kick. Barry landed a hard right as Johnson tried to rush him. Johnson got in a knee to the body. He landed a hard high kick to the body. Barry covered up on the cage as Johnson teed off. Johnson continued the assault on the cage. Barry dropped down and the fight was done.
WINNER: Johnson via TKO at 4:38 of the first round
STAR RATING: (**) That was ugly as all hell, but almost exactly what the UFC was looking for out of these two. Barry actually did nearly pull off his first submission win, but then he lost the hold, and did not fight very smart on his feet. He let Johnson tee off on him for an extended period of time, and it just wasn't his best performance. Johnson's power is ridiculous, but Barry wasn't doing anything to avoid them in that final stretch.
FIGHT TWO: ROUSIMAR PALHARES VS. ALAN BELCHER (MIDDLEWEIGHT)
-Belcher called this the most important fight of his life. A confident Palhares expressed that he's not looking past Belcher, but he's going to win this fight. Belcher said he's out to prove he's the number one contender.
ROUND ONE: Both fighters tested the range early, throwing out some light strikes that didn't get in. Palhares then shot in for a leg. Belcher tried to set up for a twister. He didn't get it initially, but continued to try for it. Palhares rolled through and went after his leg. Belcher tried to roll out. Palhares continued going for his right leg as Belcher defended. Good battle here. Belcher landed a couple of strikes and continued trying to break free. Palhares grabbed for a heel hook. Belcher then exploded out and got into Palhares' guard. Belcher postured up and landed a huge elbow. He stood up and started raining down strikes. Palhares covered up but was eating a ton of shots and the ref had to stop it! Unbelievably impressive work by Alan Belcher.
WINNER: Belcher via TKO at 4:18 of the first round
STAR RATING: (****) That was just incredible. Not only did Belcher play right into Palhares' game, he nearly beat him at it by going for that twister early, then surviving the leg locks and staying on the ground. He then implemented his own game with that ground and pound, and turned it right around with a series of vicious elbows. That was a statement win by Belcher, and he has to be seen as a very serious contender. One or two more top ten wins and he'll get a title shot.
-A preview for UFC 146's Junior dos Santos vs. Frank Mir event is aired, then UFC President Dana White is brought in to hype up the fight with Joe Rogan in their pre-pay-per-view "yell-at-the-audience" voices.
FIGHT THREE: JOSH KOSCHECK VS. JOHNY HENDRICKS (WELTERWEIGHT)
-Koscheck is shown flying his private plane and talking about the good place he's at in his life. Hendricks' behind the scenes sees him bow-fishing before getting into training. Koscheck said he's got a lot to prove in this fight, while Hendricks said he never enters any fight doubting that he can win.
ROUND ONE: The fight started tentatively, until Hendricks got poked in the eye. Weird, a Koscheck and his opponent gets poked in the eye. Koscheck took the opportunity to press in and he landed some good strikes as he had Hendricks backing up. Referee Kevin Mulhall missed the eye poke. Hendricks then fought back with an uppercut and a nice right behind it. He then shot in and looked for a takedown. He grabbed a body lock as Koscheck stayed on his feet. Hendricks landed several knees to the leg. Mulhall then separated them. Hendricks pressed in with a nice left. Koscheck through a high kick. He landed a big right hand. Hendricks shot in. Koscheck went for a kimura. He landed a flurry of strikes against the cage but Hendricks countered and backed him off. Hendricks threw a left. Koscheck threw a kick to the body. Hendricks landed an overhand right. Hendricks landed a couple of punches. Koscheck avoided another flurry. Koscheck went for a spinning back kick. Hendricks pressed in with a couple strikes as the round ended.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Hendricks. Close round, with both doing damage, but Hendricks was throwing and landing more overall, and was getting tagged only after the eye poke.
ROUND TWO: Hendricks pressed in early but Koscheck avoided the attack. Hendricks missed a wide looping punch. Hendricks connected on an uppercut. He pressed Koscheck to the cage. Koscheck attacked for a choke, then quickly transitioned to Hendricks' back. Hendricks got back to his feet and separated without suffering any damage. Hendricks pressed in and scored a brief takedown but Koscheck got to his knees. Hendricks stayed on the attempt. Hendricks started throwing knees to the thighs. The crowd boos as the action stalled a bit. Hendricks continued throwing the knees to the thighs until they were separated again. Hendricks connected on a nice two punch combination. He landed a couple more. Koscheck tried to close the distance and grabbed a clinch. Hendricks landed a knee. Koscheck got in a good elbow. Hendricks then landed a couple of strikes. Koscheck threw a high kick but it was blocked. Hendricks landed an uppercut. Hendricks landed a couple more hard left hand strikes. They exchanged strikes. Hendricks landed a leg kick. He landed another hard left, then shot for a single leg but was stuffed at the horn.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Hendricks. Really solid, if unspectacular round for Hendricks. He's staying very busy and landing a lot of punches right now.
ROUND THREE: Koscheck tried to press forward early. Hendricks landed a couple of punches to back him off briefly. Hendricks connected on a nice jab. Hendricks barely missed a left and Koscheck drove him back with a double leg attempt. Hendricks stuffed it. They were separated quickly. Hendricks landed a hard uppercut. Koscheck pressed in and missed a few strikes in an exchange. Hendricks landed the uppercut. They traded strikes. Hendricks hurt Koscheck with a couple and Koscheck connected back. Hendricks landed a few short uppercuts as Koscheck clinched. Hendricks landed some knees to the thighs until they were separated. Koscheck landed a kick and Hendricks connected on a big strike. He landed a big knee and Koscheck finally scored a takedown. Koscheck tried to pass out of half guard by landing a couple of knees to the body. He almost got to mount, but Hendricks kept him in half guard. Koscheck landed some body punches and rode out the round on top. This is going to be an interesting decision.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Koscheck. He was getting out-struck, but he did do some damage on the feet, and spent almost two minutes in top control. Hendricks may have cost himself the fight in the final half of the round, and it depends how the first was scored.
WINNER: Hendricks via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
STAR RATING: (***) That was a really solid back and forth fight, and there was an argument for a 29-28 card either way here. Two very similar fighters fighting a very similar fight led to a close fight. Strange how that works, right?
-Hendricks gave Koscheck nothing but credit as he hit him with everything he had and Koscheck took it all. He wants a title shot now.
MAIN EVENT FIGHT FOUR: NATE DIAZ VS. JIM MILLER (LIGHTWEIGHT)
-We get the behind-the-scenes clip for both they aired at the weigh-in on Friday.
ROUND ONE: Miller landed a couple of hard leg kicks to start the bout off. They exchanged punches. Miller threw a kick high. They got in a clinch and Miller pressed Diaz to the cage. Diaz held off a takedown attempt. Miller landed a nice elbow in the clinch, then a good knee. Diaz landed a few knees. Miller landed another elbow to the head and kept pressure on in the clinch. They exchanged knees. Miller slipped but popped back up. He landed a leg kick and backed out. Miller landed another hard leg kick and clinched. He landed an uppercut, then let go. Diaz landed a punch and Miller landed a leg kick. Diaz landed a good right. He landed a couple more strikes. He landed an inside leg kick and tried to walk Miller down. Miller missed the big overhand a couple of times. They clinched after an exchange again, this time with Diaz pressing the action. Miller turned him around. They exchanged knees. Miller grabbed a single leg. He landed a hard left, but Diaz stuffed the attempt. He landed a nice knee. He got in a few shots to the body. Miller landed a left. He landed a good kick to the body. Miller landed a few nice strikes in close. Diaz landed a few more punches. Diaz dropped Miller with a big punch, but Miller grabbed for a leg. Diaz sprawled it, and Miller scrambled and took his back. They got back to their feet and Miller drove through with a takedown. Diaz swept and then landed a knee as they stood at the end of the round.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Diaz. Miller was winning many of the exchanges, but Diaz dropping him turned the tide in his favor in what was a close round.
ROUND TWO: Miller landed a hard right to start the round. He got in a good leg kick and they traded punches. They clinched, and Miller landed a good knee to the body. Diaz pressed him to the cage and landed some good body punches and knees. Miller landed a hard elbow to gain separation. He landed an inside leg kick and missed a punch as Diaz grabbed another clinch. Miller landed a good left but missed the follow up. Miller got in with a good uppercut. Diaz landed a few good strikes, then got in a nice knee. Diaz put his hands down and tried to goad Miller. Miller jumped in with a knee, then a straight kick to the face. Diaz clinched and pressed Miller to the cage. They exchanged strikes, then went back to the clinch. Diaz grabbed a head lock and landed a couple of knees. Diaz landed more strikes but Miller got back up. Diaz landed another knee. Diaz tried to trip Miller up. Miller landed a nice left. Diaz then landed a few strikes. Miller shot in and Diaz grabbed for a choke. He rolled through and Miller was stuck. Diaz locked it on tighter and forced Miller to tap. Wow. That was impressive.
WINNER: Diaz via submission (guillotine choke) at 4:09 of the second round
-Diaz was very respectful towards Miller in his post-fight interview, and said it was hard finding motivation for this fight because he had nothing bad to say about Miller. Miller said Diaz had his number in this one. He said the gameplan was to pressure him and not let him use his range, but Diaz found it and took over. He said Diaz should get the title shot after that.
STAR RATING: (***+) That was an immensely impressive performance by Diaz, and he's continuing to show drastic improvement on some of the things that plagued him in his last lightweight run. I don't think the timing is going to work out for him to get the immediate title shot, but I can't be the only one who wants to see him take on Anthony Pettis next to determine that next challenger.
-Thanks for joining us here tonight for the third UFC on Fox event. We'll have reaction to tonight's results throughout the next week and more. Next up is the UFC on Fuel 3 event in Virginia, followed by UFC 146 to close out the month on pay-per-view.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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