Before the big boys hit the pay-per-view airwaves for the UFC 143: "Diaz vs. Condit" event tonight (Sat., Feb. 4, 2012) at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, there was a complete undercard available for viewing on both Facebook and FX.
And it featured plenty of compelling action.
The "main event" of the preliminary card featured a featherweight fracas with Dustin Poirier putting his four fight winning streak on the line against the debuting Max Holloway, who only has that many fights total in his career.
In fact, the Hawaiian became the youngest active fighter to compete in the UFC once the bell sounded and they got underway in "Sin City." The matchmakers certainly didn't make it easy on him.
Poirier and Holloway came out banging, throwing shots and trading punches much to the delight of the Las Vegas faithful. Once the fight hit the floor, though, Holloway's inexperience became clear and "The Diamond" took advantage by turning a simple armbar into a triangle into a combination of the two that forced a tap inside the first round.
A valiant effort from the rookie and he's got plenty of room to grow. Thankfully, he's got plenty of time to do it. Oh and can we get that Poirier vs. Erik Koch match booked again please?
They weren't the only ones in action, though, as the UFC offered a complete slate of fights featuring plenty of up-and-down action from all sides. Here's how it all went down.
And by "exchange pleasantries" I mean Caceres viciously kicking Figueroa right in his twig and two berries. Not once, which looked bad enough to make one think that might be the end of the fight, but twice, the second time so bad, referee Herb Dean took two points away from "Bruce Leeroy."
It was also the deciding factor in the fight, as Figueroa took a split decision thanks to scores of the rarely seen 28-27, 27-28 and 28-27.
His nuts may not operate properly for the rest of the month but at least he's getting a win bonus out of the deal.
Now he's 2-4 in his last six.
That's because Brown landed one big punch that had Cope rolling down Rocked Lane, then another that put him on Queer Street then one more that had him sleeping nice and tightly tucked into the mat at the Mandalay Bay.
When he wakes up, a pink slip may very well be waiting for him.
Welterweights Matt Riddle and Henry Martinez got busy in a 170-pound showcase in what was billed as a potential "Fight of the Night" candidate. That's because Riddle was involved and he typically brings the hot fire.
That and his consecutive losses coming in, which would seemingly give him every reason to go all out to keep his job.
His opponent was Henry Martinez, who was stepping in on short notice to make his UFC debut after accumulating an 8-1 record on the regional scene fighting at weights as low as 145-pounds.
The result? A somewhat plodding, somewhat wild slugfest that saw Riddle look mostly terrible against a much smaller opponent. He used kicks (that were mostly timed perfectly and countered beautifully), winging punches (that seemed to miss damn near every time) and a takedown or two to earn a split decision victory.
Job saved, especially considering UFC President Dana White tweeted during the bout that "this is a great fight."
Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Rafael Natal was back in action tonight against Michael Kuiper, a 22-year-old pup with an 11-0 record looking to make a name for himself with the world's largest fight promotion.
If you didn't know better, you would think Kuiper was a world renowned mixed martial artist by listening to Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan on commentary, as they lauded the young man for his various skills and abilities.
Interesting because he was largely getting his ass handed to him.
Not for lack of effort, of course. Kuiper worked hard to stay on his feet (though he couldn't, at least not early) and avoided any and all submission attempts from Natal in the opening round. His gas tank held up far better, too, and that played a factor in the fight as it dragged into deeper waters.
Natal, obviously the more tired of the two heading into the final frame, nearly found himself on the business end of a TKO but battled through it to earn the unanimous decision win.
It wasn't pretty, though.
The night's action opened with the highly-anticipated (by a few) debut of Stephen Thompson. Why? Because this man has accrued a combat sports record of 57-0 before making his way to MMA, mainly via kickboxing. He came in 5-0 for his Octagon debut.
His opponent was the unheralded Dan Stittgen, a submission specialist. That's right, folks. Style clash!
As it were, Stittgen decided to stand and trade with his unorthodox foe and he was viciously knocked out in the first round for his troubles. Vicious might not be the best descriptor. "Oh my f*cking god did you just see that, that kick was crazy insane, I think that dude's dead" might be better.
Thompson snuck a roundhouse head kick around the corner and put it just above Stittgen's shoulder on the sweet spot, resulting in the beloved one hitter quitter.
It was a lovely start to the evening.
Don't forget to check out our complete results and blow-by-blow coverage of all the main card action, which is just about to kick off on pay-per-view right now. Click here for all the coverage you need of the UFC 143 event.