For the very first time ever, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) tour bus stopped in northern Virginia, staging a Spike TV-produced show from the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax.
UFC Fight Night 20: "Maynard vs. Diaz" from the Patriot Center featured a rematch from The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5 between surging lightweight contender, Gray Maynard, and dangerous submission specialist, Nate Diaz.
Maynard was out to avenge an unofficial submission loss to Diaz on the reality series, and in the process, cement himself as the clear-cut number one contender in the cloudy 155-pound title picture.
Well, let's just say he accomplished at least one of those objectives ... for now, anyway.
"Bully" went toe-to-toe with the Stockton scrapper for 15 minutes, avoiding the ground and his fast fight-ending ability. The pair basically slung punches, a few kicks and several audible taunts for 15 minutes in the center of the cage.
It wasn't the relentless wrestling attack and ground and pound that has become Maynard's hallmark -- not by a long shot -- but it was effective tonight. And it possibly silenced a few critics who didn't think he was worthy of getting a crack at BJs belt.
What's more, it might also be a tough sell for the promotion giving Frank Edgar -- the other man under consideration as a possible contender -- an opportunity to fight Penn first because Maynard holds a win over Edgar.
Decisions. Decisions. They ruin everything.
Another TUF winner, Efrain Escudero, from season eight was featured in the co main event of the night, taking on unheralded Evan Dunham in what turned out to be the toughest fight of his previously undefeated professional career.
Escudero came out guns blazing, tagging the X-Treme Couture product early and often to start the action. Dunham appeared to be on his way out, but found momentary refuge when the fight hit the canvas.
It was enough for him to recover and continue deep into round three. And time was apparently all he needed to hand Escudero the first loss of his promising career.
Dunham -- a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt -- was able to isolate Escudero's arm and torqued it horribly in the wrong direction. Escudero thought twice about tapping and that may have been a major mistake.
He eventually submitted, giving Dunham a much-deserved win, but in the process could have sustained serious damage to his right arm.
Joe Rogan speculated that it could be dislocated, or perhaps even broken, which would deal the talented up-and-comer a major blow for several months if not longer. We'll find out more in the days and weeks ahead, but it looked fugly.
Big win for Dunham, who not only kept his perfect record (10-0) intact, but pushed his win streak inside the Octagon to three.
Tom Lawlor and Aaron Simpson hooked 'em in an unassuming middleweight attraction, which, on paper, more than likely didn't appear to be a show stealer.
"Filthy" torched the Arizona State University wrestling standout in the opening frame, hitting him with everything but the kitchen sink. Somehow Simpson managed to tenuously hang on despite several hairy moments that would have rendered most mortals unconscious.
Not "A-Train." He came out steaming in the second stanza, making up for a lopsided match in the early going. Remarkably, he didn't really hit his stride until the final frame.
Lawlor appeared to fade as Simpson turned on the afterburners in the closing minutes, controlling the action with takedowns and top position.
It was enough to earn the nod from two of the three judges sitting ringside ... much to the chagrin of most in attendance.
Lawlor appeared dejected when Bruce Buffer read the official result and rightfully so -- a solid case can be made that he won that fight. But he didn't, making the survival skills and comeback ability of Simpson seem that much more impressive.
Don't be surprised if we see a rematch between these two brawlers sooner rather than later. It was a great back-and-forth battle with a controversial ending.
What more can the matchmakers and promoters ask for?
Amir Sadollah -- less than two months removed from a unanimous decision over veteran Phil Baroni -- was in for another tough test against the experienced Brad Blackburn in the first fight of the televised main card.
"Bad" had quietly racked up three straight wins inside the eight-walled cage (six consecutive) and, with a win over a TUF winner, might have been all he needed to get him over the hump.
Sadollah outworked and outstruck Blackburn for almost the entire 15-minute fight. In fact, he had him hurt "bad" on two separate occasions, but was unable to close the door early. It wasn't for lack of effort -- he kept charging forward, exchanging blows and mixing up his attack with flying knees, front kicks, head kicks, elbows, uppercuts ... you name it.
Blackburn was just too tough to put away.
Nonetheless, it's safe to say that Sadollah's stand up has come quite a long way in a very short amount of time. He's more than likely not quite ready to take on a top division player, but at the rate he seems to improve, the opportunity could be right around the bend.
That's a wrap from the "Mountain State," Maniacs. Now it's time to share your thoughts on everything that went down tonight inside the Octagon.
For complete UFC Fight Night 20: "Maynard vs. Diaz" results and play-by-play coverage of the televised main card click here.