Before the UFC 136: "Edgar vs. Maynard 3" pay-per-view (PPV) began TONIGHT (Oct. 8, 2011) from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, two fantastic match ups were featured live on Spike TV for what has now become the traditional "Prelims" special.
Kicking off this portion of the UFC 136 fight card was a showdown between former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and the always entertaining Jeremy Stephens, locking perhaps the most creative and hardest-hitting, respectively, 155-pound fighters inside the Octagon together.
It was a bout that had "Fight of the Night" written all over it coming into "Space City." And while maybe it didn't play out as good as it looked on paper, it was certainly an exciting back-and-forth, up-and-down battle for 15 minutes. "Lil' Heathen" surprised early with two takedowns in the opening frame, perhaps taking a page out of Clay Guida's book, who recently outpointed Pettis thanks to a takedown-heavy gameplan.
"Showtime," however, readjusted coming out for the second stance, perhaps realizing that he could not make the same mistake twice in back-to-back fights. Almost immediately, Pettis turned the tables and scored a takedown of his own.
And another. And another.
Stephens did a great job of getting back to his feet, but Pettis would manage to get him back to the ground quickly. From there he'd threaten with submissions, including a rear naked choke attempt with more than one minute remaining in the round. Pettis couldn't lock it in, however, because of Stephen's stellar defense on the ground.
Heading into the third, final and decisive round, the fight was up for grabs. Pettis, seemingly the fresher fighter, pushed the pace from the outset and looked to continue right where he left off in the previous round. Stephens, who appeared to suffer a broken nose that was bleeding bad, didn't back down, reversing positions and looking to land that one punch that would end it all.
It never came. And in the end, Pettis was awarded his very first, well-deserved win inside the Octagon, which turned out to be a close split decision win. One that gets him one step closer to the lightweight title shot that was taken away from him earlier this year.
Next up was a battle between Brazilians, one a former number one middleweight contender, Demian Maia, and the other a former Sengoku standout looking for his first win under the UFC banner.
Maia, who has markedly improved his stand up skills since his professional MMA debut, is a decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist, while Santiago is a very effective striker with sound ground skills of his own. Neither fighter was able to leverage their strengths and register a finish, with Maia taking down Santiago and being stymied and Santiago lunging in (and missing with) big punches.
With Santiago unable to connect, Maia was able to use his takedowns to coast to a unanimous decision victory. Maia did attempt several submissions, and even momentarily secured full mount in the final frame, but it was essentially a very bland fight that Maia took via unanimous decision.
And while it wasn't a spectacular "Submission of the Night" performance, it was certainly just as important as any other win. It gets him back in the win column after a close decision loss to Mark Munoz and another inch closer to possibly earning another title shot in the near future.
Having said all of that, perhaps he needs to get back to the basics and start submitting guys once again. His striking is much improved, but it isn't what got him to where he is today.
That's not all for tonight. Not even close.
UFC 136 results from the Facebook online video stream are already in the books -- you can check out our detailed recap from that portion of the card right here. Remember, too, to join MMAmania.com for our LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of the UFC 136 pay-per-view (PPV) broadcast at 9 p.m. ET right here. And to check out everything thing else about UFC 136 results and more feel free to visit our event archive right here.
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