THE AFTERMATH – UFC on FOX: Recap, breakdown, and analysis of Maia-Condit, Pettis-Oliveira, VanZant-Rawlings, plus Punk-Gall forecast

By Bryan Kern, MMATorch contributor

Paige VanZant (photo credit Anne-Marie Sorvin © USA Today Sports)

This is “The Aftermath,” a recap, breakdown, and analysis of the top MMA events. Ill be writing these following each event with what happened, who it happened to, and what to expect next. These breakdowns will be a review as well as my breakdown and analysis of what is to come following the fights. Keep in mind, I will include post fight happenings and news from the first couple of days following the fights to ensure I’m providing enough detail regarding the topics.

UFC Fight Night: Maia v. Condit

Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller

When I heard these two were playing it back again, I nearly lost my mind. The two originally squared off in December of 2012 and gave us the fight of the year. Miller walked away victorious.

Saturday night saw the two men enter the 6th, 7th, and 8th round of their bloody war. The pace of the fight was fast and technical from the opening bell. The first round saw a lot of back and forth combinations that found their home for both fighters. They also exchanged some on point ground work. I wanted to give the first round to Lauzon, but it was so hard to tell with the volume these guys put on. It’s insane. Not only that, Jim Miller has looked like a different beast in his last couple fights. Brian Stann mentioned during the broadcast that he changed up his Strength and Conditioning program a few fights back. Whatever it is, it’s clearly working. With Lauzon taking an easy round 2, I thought for sure we’d see him with his hand raised and an inevitable trilogy fight to end this saga. That wasn’t the case. Miller took a split decision and walks away with the “w” in this battle. The crowd wasn’t pleased. After a replay of it, I still feel that Lauzon should have won, but it is what it is. The fight overall didn’t surpass the original, but it was a competitive back and forth affair that fans wouldn’t mind seeing again I’m sure.

-Miller gave praise to Lauzon after the fight that got the crowd back behind him. He and Lauzon are amazing to watch and, regardless of the outcome, I enjoyed the fight

-It’s really a toss up on what’s next for either of theses guys. There shouldn’t be too much of a rankings move for either of them and their next fights could be against anyone in the division.

Paige Van Zant vs. Bec Rawlings

VanZant is fresh off her stint of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” She has claimed that her heart was in the fight game and even turned down a role in the upcoming “Kickboxer” remake because it conflicted with her training schedule for this fight. Coming into the fight she seemed relaxed and ready to go. As for Rawlings, it almost seemed as she thought she would walk through VanZant, which was far from the case. The fight had its moments throughout the first round, but was more so tentative, I gave it to VanZant. In comes the second round. Seventeen seconds in and BAM!! Lights out!!! 12 Gauge unloads a mean switch kick to Rawlings’ dome that earns her another TKO victory.

– In her post-fight interview, VanZant said she had a rough camp and even thought about pulling out of the fight but was able to pull through. She said she had no plans of slowing down and wanted on the Sacramento card later this year.

– I have to admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of VanZant going into her scrap with Rose. Her toughness won me over a little, but it wasn’t enough. I, like many others, thought that once she had her taste of the TV life, fighting would be in her rear-view. This fight proved that to be false. She came out poised and ready to kick ass and succeeded in spectacular fashion. She said at the analysts booth after the show that this was the first time she actually listened and followed through on a game plan her coaches had for her. If that is indeed the case and she continues to follow orders, she can truly be a force in the division.

Anthony Pettis vs. Charles Oliveira

Anthony Pettis was in a very scary position coming into this fight. He lost the belt to Rafael Dos Anjos a little over a year ago, then suffered back-to-back decision losses to newly crowned king Eddie Alvarez and lightweight standout Edson Barboza. This fight saw him dropping down a weight class as well as spend a portion of his training camp in Albuquerque at Jackson/Wink. With a loss to Oliveira he could have very well received his walking papers. Luckily for him, Showtime was able to pull off the finish. Realistically, he was probably winning on the score cards heading into the final frame, but Oliveira had a strong start to the third round, and leaving it to the judges hasn’t worked in Pettis’s favor as of late. Pettis was wise enough to reverse the dangerous position he was in, sink in the choke, and get a well-deserved and well-needed win via Guillotine.

– Brian Stann kept commenting on the fact that Pettis seemed more focused and determined than ever before. I feel that his time spent in New Mexico only benefited his mental game, which is probably the area he needed most work on (aside from his wrestling defense). Hopefully he can maintain this newly found focus and continue to climb back up the ranks in a new division. I expect Pettis to get someone a little tougher in his next outing but don’t expect him to get the top end just yet. If all parties involved (Pettis, Pettis’s team, and the UFC) are smart, they’ll let him adjust to the new landscape with another opponent on the lower end of the top 15. Best case scenario is he’s given Hacran Dias, Brian Ortega, or Darren Elkins. Worst case scenario, he’s given Dennis Bermudez, Jeremy Stephens, Cub Swanson, Ricardo Lamas, or Frankie Edgar. Honestly, I’d be happy with anyone of them.

Carlos Condit vs. Damien Maia

This fight had me all sorts of hyped. Condit’s unorthodox striking style and never say die attitude paired with arguably the best Jiu Jitsu Practitioner in the UFC, if not all of MMA today. It’s a fight fan’s dream. Both competitors are at the top end of the division and in very unique spots.

The fight started off with both men checking ranges and exchanging faints, but once Maia got Condit on the ground, it was only a matter of time. He got Condit down, straddled his back, and sinked in a rear naked choke that got the finish all in under two minutes. It wasn’t even fully locked in and he still got the tap. What Damien Maia does in the cage is a thing of beauty. There is no one and I repeat, NO ONE, who can stop his Jiu Jitsu. He executed a perfect strategy in this fight and deserves nothing less than a title shot in his next fight out.

After the fight, Maia said he would sit out and await the winner of Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson for his title shot. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets overlooked or forced to fight one more time before he gets his shot. In fact, I’m predicting there will be little bit of drama in the Welterweight Division coming up here soon (more on that later). As for Condit, I can see him calling it quits here. He’s always talking about how much he loves fighting, but to already bring the topic of retirement up once after a loss, only to decide to take another fight and then lose in the fashion that he did, it’s got to be tough for him to keep going. If he does decide to stay, the only real option is to offer him a rematch at Robbie Lawler. The winner staying relevant and the loser hopefully taking it easy afterward

Other Notes and Tidbits

– I really enjoyed the combination of Brian Stann and Mike Goldberg on commentary. With Rogan taking a lighter load over the next year, expect Stann to be heard on a lot more broadcasts. His breakdown and analysis of the fight game is like no other. He has an eye for detail and translates it to the audience in a way that anyone can understand. A welcomed change among the more hardcore fans, I’m sure.

– They must have hit the C.M. Punk story from three different angles on fight night and none of them made it any more appealing. Listen, I respect Phil Brooks for what he is doing, but to get the opportunity that he’s getting on the stage he is getting it on, is no more than a poorly thought up publicity stunt. It may work for Bellator, but not in the UFC. Fighters should be outraged at the money being thrown at Punk all for the sake of views. As far as the fight itself, Mickey Gall already has the experience. Yes, this is a much bigger stage than his pro debut, even bigger than his UFC debut, but this is a guy that has an actual fight record. Though it is small, he has at least experienced it for what it is. I feel that will give him a slight edge over the more inexperienced Punk. It would, however, be quite a sight to see Punk, a 37 year old former pro wrestler in his first MMA fight ever (!!!) come in and make a statement when the whole world is betting against him. We shall find out soon enough.

– Karen Bryant spoke with Joseph Benavidez about the upcoming TUF season. He went over the experience overall and how he felt about coaching fighters who he feels were taking his title shot. I’m not sure what to expect from this season. I highly doubt that its going to produce the man that dethrones D.J., but never say never, right? It’s going to add a little more depth to the division that’s for sure. Whether or not that’s a good thing is only something time will tell. Hopefully once the fight happens and if and when D.J. comes out victorious, we can start talking super-fights.

– All in all, this card was pretty entertaining. It does, however, add to the already blurry picture at the top end of the Welterweight division. The boss man says that Woodley is to face Stephen Thompson, yet Woodley wants the money fights (which doesn’t include Thompson, sadly). Then, there is what seems to be this dark cloud looming over the UFC. That is of course, the return of GSP. If he does decide to come back and not just for the sake of taking big fights (Anderson Silva, anyone?) he is most definitely taking a title shot to reclaim his throne. That puts Thompson in line after him, pushing Maia’s chance at a title shot not happening until next year.

Does Maia wait out that long? Not likely. So who does he face next? Robbie Lawler? Rory MacDonald’s gone. It’s a very unclear picture up at the top and I don’t see many options immediately benefiting Maia. I wouldn’t be mad if he waited his shot out. I believe he has earned it and I feel he could very easily take the title from whomever holds it when he finally does get his shot.

Coming up next

•Next Saturday we have Andrei Arlovski vs. Josh Barnett. The event can be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass.

The Main event sees two devastating heavyweights face off – Andrei Arlovski (25-12-0) and Josh Barnett (34-8-0) – in a match that shouldn’t go the distance. It also marks the return of Alexander Gustafsson (16-4-0). It will be nice to see the big man back in action as he faces fellow light heavyweight Jac Blachowizc ( 19-5-0). Gustafsson is another star that has recently discussed hanging the gloves up. It’ll be interesting to see where he is at after another loss in a title fight to D.C. last year. I’m pulling for him in this one. If he is at the top of his game, we could see a real clinic displayed.

•Sept. 10 we have UFC 203 with Stipe Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem live on pay-per-view.

First, in the co-main event we have Fabricio Werdum (20-6-1) vs. Travis Browne (18-4-1). Werdum was originally slated to face Ben Rothwell. Rothwell, unfortunately, had to pull out of the fight due to injury. In steps Browne fresh off a loss at UFC 200. If Werdum wins, it puts him in a likely number one contender fight. A win for Browne could potentially earn him the same thing since Werdum is the former champion. Expect this one to end in exciting fashion.

 Second we have the Main Event. UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic (15-2-0) vs. veteran Alistair Overeem (41-14-0). This is one of the most interesting Heavyweight Title fights in recent memory. Miocic essentially came in and captured the belt out of nowhere when he defeated Werdum at UFC 198. Overeem has completely revamped his training and approach to the fight game. If he can bring all of his efforts with him to the cage in two weeks, we could be seeing a new Champ. Don’t get me wrong, Miocic absolutely has the ability to defeat Alistair. In fact, the line is closer than many imagined with Miocic coming in at a -135 favorite (I feel it’s this way because his win over Werdum was some what of an upset and it’s still sits so fresh in our minds). However, Overeem is a legend. He has essentially reached every pinnacle in this sport aside from the UFC gold. His game as of late has been nearly flawless. He knocked out Dos Santos, then laid waste to Arlovski. He’s playing smart in his defense and being methodical is his attacks. I feel those two things will be his advantage and overall key to victory in this one.

Sprinkled in on the rest of the main card we have Jessica Andrade (14-5-0) vs. Joanne Calderwood (11-5-0) in a strawweight affair, Urijah Faber (33-9-0) vs. Jimmie Rivera (19-1-0) in the bantamweight bout, as well as the highly anticipated debut of C.M. Punk (0-0-0) as he takes on Mickey Gall (2-0-0). For my thoughts on that one simply re-read my rant from above.

Alright folks. I want to thank you for reading my piece. Ill be back for another edition of this article following this Saturdays Fight Pass card. Enjoy the fights.

(Bryan Kern writes “The Aftermath” for reviewing and analyzing the biggest stories coming out of each weekend’s big events with a look ahead to what’s next. He fell in love with MMA during the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. He then went head-first into the sport following Pride, King of the Cage, and anything else he could discover out there. He has been training in jiu jitsu and various strikings disciplines for the past five years. He is in the process of becoming a PT certified through the NSCA (National Strength of Conditioning Association). He also cohosts the podcast and is starting his own clothling line.)

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