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117: Fitch, Dos Santos Earn Title Shots

Jon Fitch, Matt Hughes, Clay Guida, and Junior Dos Santos were all big winners on the UFC 117 main card.

OAKLAND, CA, August 7 - Jon Fitch earned a second shot at the welterweight title Saturday night at Oracle Arena with a shutout three round unanimous decision win in his long-awaited rematch with Brazilian powerhouse Thiago “Pitbull” Alves.

Fitch vs. Alves
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Fitch, who stopped Alves in their first bout in 2006. He will face the winner of the late-2010 bout between Georges St-Pierre and Josh Koscheck. In 2008, Fitch lost a five round unanimous decision to St-Pierre in his first crack at the 170-pound belt.

Fitch opened the bout with some solid standup before closing the gap on Alves and dumping him on the mat. After a few moments, Alves got back to his feet twice, only to be put back on the seat of his trunks both times. In an ensuing scramble, Alves was able to reverse position on his foe and get on top, but he used the opportunity to get the fight standing again. Fitch had no problem with this turn of events, as he mixed up his strikes and kept Alves guessing before taking him down just before the end of the round.

Showing more urgency, Alves came out fast for round two, only to get taken down. Alves tried to use the opportunity to sink in a guillotine choke, but Fitch fought his way out and into a dominant position. With less than two minutes left, Alves briefly found daylight, but he was unable to do anything with it as Fitch continued to dominate the action. Finally, with under a minute to go, Alves sprung into action and got back to his feet, but again, he couldn’t get his offense in gear.

Down 2-0 in rounds, Alves’ job in the third round was simple – finish the fight. And while not completely throwing caution to the wind, he was more aggressive with his striking though never really landing anything of significance. As the round entered its third minute, Fitch grounded his foe and looked to finish as he got Alves’ back. And though the finish didn’t come, the winner was evident just by the looks on the combatants’ faces.

With the win, Fitch improves to 26-3 with 1 NC; Alves falls to 22-6.

Hughes vs. Almeida
In his first bout since being in the UFC Hall of Fame in May, Matt Hughes notched his third straight win in spectacular fashion, submitting Ricardo Almeida in the first round of their welterweight contest.

Almeida was in control in the early going, using movement, quick strikes and solid takedown defense to keep Hughes at bay. But the 36-year old former two-time welterweight champ didn’t get frustrated. Instead, he kept moving forward, eventually clipping and dropping Almeida with a left hook. Hughes immediately moved in for the finish and got it, putting the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace to sleep at the 3:15 mark with a choke that Hughes simply described as “an old wrestling move.”

But whatever you want to call it, consider it another one of Hughes’ landmark victories.

With the win, Hughes ups his record to 46-7; Almeida falls to 12-4.

Nelson vs. Dos Santos
It was inevitable that heavyweight contender Junior Dos Santos would eventually run into the man he couldn’t finish in the UFC. Tonight, Roy Nelson was that man, and the result was a grueling three round battle that may have been one-sided on the scorecards, but that was anything but in reality, as Dos Santos drilled out an impressive three round unanimous decision over the courageous Nelson.

Scores were 30-27 twice, and 30-26 for Dos Santos, who will face the winner of the upcoming UFC heavyweight title bout between champion Brock Lesnar and challenger Cain Velasquez.

“Man this guy is tough,” said Dos Santos, who had finished his previous five Octagon opponents. “Incredible.”

At the bell, Nelson came forward behind a high guard, with Dos Santos disregarding his foe’s defense as he swung for the fences. Nelson closed the gap and was able to bull Dos Santos into the fence, but eventually abandoned his takedown. With a little more than three minutes left, an uppercut rocked Nelson. Dos Santos opened fire with both hands, but Nelson was able to weather the storm and survive. A minute later, Dos Santos scored big a second time, but again, Nelson showed off great resilience in remaining upright under the Brazilian’s attack. Eventually, Dos Santos took his foot off the gas to conserve energy, but he ended the round with another blistering barrage.

Barely breathing heavy, Dos Santos continued to drop bombs on Nelson in round two, but “Big Country” wasn’t going anywhere, and he marched forward fearlessly, throwing the occasional looping haymaker to keep his foe honest. Midway through the round, Nelson looked for the takedown, but the defense of Dos Santos, who was bleeding from a cut under his right eye, was solid, and he broke free. With under a minute left, Dos Santos landed with a flurry and then took his first deep breath when Nelson wouldn’t go down, but by the end of the round, “Cigano” had put another one in the bank.

Fatigue was going to be the enemy of both men in the third and final round, but neither stopped pushing forward. Dos Santos even hit a brief takedown to add to his scoring tally, but Nelson’s continued presence in front of him made it clear that he was still there and still dangerous, as evidenced by a looping right hand that would have finished matters had it landed. But it didn’t, and Dos Santos continued to pound away as Nelson refused to give in, earning both fighters a well-deserved ovation at the end of the bout.

With the win, Dos Santos improved to 12-1; Nelson falls to 16-5.

Guida vs. Dos Anjos
Clay Guida made it two wins in a row in lightweight action, forcing Rafael Dos Anjos to submit in the third round due to an injured jaw.

Not surprisingly, the bout got off to a fast start, with Guida scoring early with a hard kick to the head that produced a ‘so what’ gesture from Dos Anjos. After failed takedown attempts from both men, the fighters decided to keep it upright, and they each scored with hard blows that drew oohs and aahs from the crowd. With 40 seconds left, Dos Anjos got the first takedown of the match, but Guida’s solid defense allowed him to get back to his feet before the end of the round.

Crowd favorite Guida gave his fans something to cheer about in round two, as his movement, quick 1-2s, and solid takedown defense kept Dos Anjos from getting into a rhythm. By the second half of the round, Guida was bleeding from the nose as Dos Anjos began getting closer with his strikes, and “The Carpenter” responded with a takedown that allowed him to stay in control on the mat for the rest of the round.

After some quick striking attacks to begin the final stanza, Guida emphatically slammed Dos Anjos and smothered him against the fence. In the process, Guida placed his shoulder against Dos Anjos’ jaw, and with no place to go, the Brazilian tapped out at the 1:51 mark, with a jaw injury suffered in the first round from a Guida punch believed to be the culprit.

Guida improves to 27-8 with the win; Dos Anjos falls to 14-5. At the time of the stoppage, Dos Anjos led 20-18 on one scorecard and was even 19-19 on the other two.