Click below for the UFC 136 prelim card report....
HOUSTON, October 8 – Highly-touted heavyweight prospect Stipe Miocic made a successful Octagon debut in UFC 136 prelim action at Toyota Center Saturday night, keeping his unbeaten record intact by delivering a three round unanimous decision win over ultra-tough Joey Beltran. See post-fight interview
Scores were 29-28 twice and 30-27 for Miocic, who improves to 7-0; Beltran falls to 13-6.
Wearing trunks similar to those worn by his fistic hero, Mirko Cro Cop, Miocic had a solid opening round, as he used his reach, a steady diet of leg kicks, and the threat of a takedown (one of which he scored in the first) to keep Beltran at bay and from putting together any offense.
“The Mexicutioner” came out with a single-minded determination to get back in the fight in the second though, even getting Miocic on the mat for a spell before the Ohio native got back to this feet. Beltran continued to press, tagging Miocic with a hard left hook and some body shots, but Miocic took everything well, responding with a ground and round assault that put more points on the board. Beltran fought to get back up, and the two traded thudding shots to the bell.
Entering the third round for the first time in his career, Miocic didn’t self-destruct as the stanza began. In fact, he pressed the action and got Beltran to the mat early on. After the two rose and locked up, it was back to standup exchanges, with both fighters showing the wear of the fight on their faces. With 90 seconds remaining, Beltran stumbled to the mat and Miocic followed, scoring with short strikes from the side control position and then from Beltran’s back, locking up the hard fought win.
MAIA vs. SANTIAGO
More than willing to exchange with the heavy-handed Santiago, Maia took some shots in the early stages of the bout before taking the fight to the mat. Santiago, a jiu-jitsu ace in his own right, was able to use his defense to get the bout standing again, but after a couple more exchanges, Maia got his second takedown. This time, the busy Maia kept him there, but was unable to get his foe in any trouble before the bell.
After the second opened with some sloppy standup work from both fighters, Maia tried his luck on the mat, yet again, Santiago’s airtight defense wouldn’t allow Maia to improve his position, and the stalemate on the ground brought boos from the Toyota Center crowd.
The war of attrition turned into just attrition in round three, with Maia getting Santiago to mat, but the defense of “The Sandman” nullifying everything the former title challenger did. As for Santiago, there was little to no offense from his end of things, making the end result a mere formality.
PETTIS vs. STEPHENS
The fireworks between lightweight Anthony Pettis and Jeremy Stephens never materialized, but “Showtime” did do enough to pull off a razor-thin split decision victory over Iowa native Stephens. See post-fight interview
Scores were 29-28 twice, and 28-29 for Pettis, who earned his first UFC win in improving to 12-2; Stephens falls to 20-7.
After trading kicks to open the bout, Stephens went on the offensive but Pettis was gone before any of his haymakers landed. In response, Stephens shot for, and got, the takedown, but Pettis quickly got back to his feet. After a brief break for a low blow by Pettis, the two re-engaged, with little of note being landed before the fighters locked up against the fence. With 1:15 left, Stephens took the fight to the canvas again, but it was Pettis who got the most cheers when he tried a flashy kick at the end of the round that came up short, prompting a rebuke from a finger-wagging Stephens.
Pettis got his own takedown early in round two, and “Showtime” did some solid work on the mat before Stephens rose. Once he got upright though, it was only for a moment, as Pettis delivered three more quick takedowns of his now bloodied foe. The third time around, Pettis took Stephens’ back, but was unable to finish, instead getting reversed and caught with a couple hard shots before the bell.
Stephens took the takedown route to start off the final round, putting some more points on the board. The two quickly rose, with Pettis slipping on his own takedown attempt and winding up on his back before he got out of trouble and stood, pinning Stephens to the fence before getting two proper takedowns. And though Stephens ended the bout with his own takedown, it wasn’t enough to sway the judges.
ELKINS vs. ZHANG
Indiana featherweight Darren Elkins handed China’s Tiequan Zhang his first UFC defeat, outgrappling his foe on the mat throughout their bout en route to a three round unanimous decision win. See post-fight interview
Scores were 30-27 twice, and 30-26.
After catching some early heat from Zhang, Elkins shot in for a takedown and almost got caught in his opponent’s trademark guillotine choke. Elkins broke free and fired off ground strikes, staying busy and eventually taking the back of “The Wolf.” Yet even a long stretch in this position didn’t allow Elkins the opportunity to finish, as Zhang’s defense was enough to get him through the round.
The takedown-guillotine attempt scenario kicked off the second round, with Elkins using some slick maneuvering to escape and take Zhang’s back again. With nothing open there, Elkins moved into side control and then rose back to his feet, starting again with another takedown. Zhang had no answers for the top game of Elkins, who put a second round in the bank.
Not one to give up on his best maneuver, Zhang hoped that the third time was the charm with the guillotine in round three, but Elkins was ready for it, easily sliding free and getting back into the dominant top position before taking his opponent’s back and finishing out the 15 minute bout with a series of strikes.
With the win, Elkins improves to 14-2; Zhang falls to 18-2.
SIMPSON vs. SCHAFER
Aaron Simpson earned his third consecutive victory in middleweight action, putting a thorough three round pounding on a game, but overpowered, Eric Schafer, sailing to a shutout win. See post-fight interview
The unanimous decision read 30-27 on all cards.
Schafer almost didn’t survive the opening minute of the bout after getting hurt and dropped by a left hand, but the Milwaukee product made it back to his feet, only to catch a hellacious array of power shots from Simpson, who dented, but couldn’t break, his opponent’s chin.
There was little change to the pattern of the fight in round two, with the only difference being Schafer getting dropped at the end of the round by a right hand instead of by a left at the beginning of the frame. And while Simpson wasn’t able to finish his gutsy foe, he did put another round in the bank in the third, capping off another victory.
With the win, Simpson ups his record to 10-2; Schafer falls to 14-6-2.
MASSENZIO vs. CANTWELL
If you told Steve Cantwell that he would be able to keep the fight standing against wrestler Mike Massenzio for the majority of their middleweight bout, he probably would have welcomed such news. But what he didn’t count on was the improved striking of “The Master of Disaster,” who scored a clear-cut three round unanimous decision win over the former WEC champion, who was making his 185-pound debut. See post-fight interview
Scores were 29-28 twice and 30-27 for Massenzio, who improved to 13-5; Cantwell, who has lost four in a row, falls to 7-5.
Massenzio did an excellent job of striking with the strike in the opening round, tagging Cantwell on a number of occasions with flush shots. Cantwell eventually found his range though, stunning Massenzio with right punches to the head followed by kicks to the same target. The shots prompted Massenzio to go back to old reliable tactically, as he sought a takedown, but the defense of ‘The Robot’ was solid, and he was able to keep the fight standing.
Cantwell got off to a slow start in round two, and while his takedown defense remained strong, he ate enough of Massenzio’s shots on the way in to again cause a dilemma on the scorecards, and as the round went on, the New Jersey middleweight seemed to get stronger and more confident with his hands, bloodying Cantwell in the process.
In the third, Massenzio finally got Cantwell to the mat, albeit briefly, which actually turned out to be a good thing for him, as he was able to continue drilling Cantwell with hard shots straight down the middle. And while Cantwell remained game and kept throwing, he was outmatched throughout the bout by the surprising standup attack of Massenzio.