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UFC on FOX 17: 'dos Anjos vs. Cerrone 2,' The Report Card

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The final UFC card of 2015 is in the books and as far as televised freebies go UFC on Fox 17 in Orlando, Florida, wasn't at all a bad way to end the year.

Of the 13 fights, more than half resulted in finishes, with several dramatic and exciting conclusions, including the main event to determine the undisputed UFC lightweight championship.

It's been a hell of past eight days, featuring four fight cards to close out December that saw changes to both the middleweight and featherweight titleholders. It was almost too much to take all in, which is why it's good we here at are ready to break it all down for you into easily digestable bites.

So, who got top marks and who failed to make the grade this week? Find out below:

Photo: Esther Lin,

Lightweight: Rafael dos Anjos (c) def. Donald Cerrone TKO (body kick and punches) R1 1:06

What can one even say about such a one-sided mismatch? Much like when Jose Aldo was knocked out by Conor McGregor in seconds last week, this one had little to nothing good going for Donald Cerrone. Those who may have considered Rafael dos Anjos' victory over Anthony Pettis a case of favorable matchmaking will need to think again after he picked apart and finished "Cowboy" in 66 seconds.

For reference, Cerrone has just seven losses in 36 professional MMA fights, and among those seven losses only two were remotely close to being as fast: Anthony Pettis by TKO body kick in 2:35 and Benson Henderson via guillotine in 1:57. As blindingly fast as those fights were, they were comparatively slow to dos Anjos' destruction of one of most fearsome strikers in UFC lightweight history.

Highlights! Watch Rafael dos Anjos stop Donald Cerrone at UFC on FOX 17

Although Cerrone only has five knockouts on his resume, it needs to be said that his devastating kickboxing often sets up the submission finish, as it did against Edson Barboza in April of 2014. Those who have tried standing and trading with him have usually ended up getting battered or finished violently, as was the case with John Makdessi and Adriano Martins.

But dos Anjos is clearly an entirely new breed of fighter, as amazing as it is to say for a fighter who has been toiling in this division, hidden in plain sight, since his debut in 2008. Under the tutelage of Rafael Cordeiro, dos Anjos uses powerful knees and kicks to punish his opponents from range, his head leaning well back and safe from retaliatory punches.

Once he lands, dos Anjos has vicious followup punches, the kind that put Benson Henderson away, and now Cerrone. It's not just his striking that has improved, but his accuracy as well. The champion landed four of four to the body, one of one to the leg, and 21 of 39 to the head, all within about 66 seconds.

If Conor McGregor is true to his word about wanting to battle dos Anjos for the belt, he's going to be dealing with a man who right now looks to be his equal in terms of doling out punishment on the feet. It could be an incredible fight.

Photo: Esther Lin,

Heavyweight: Alistair Overeem def. Junior dos Santos TKO (punches) R2 4:43

There's no two ways about it. This is a disaster for the career of Junior dos Santos, a former UFC champion who was once the future of the division and now looks to be quickly sliding into the history books. Nobody could quite explain why the Brazilian was off last night, but it may have something to do with having fought just five times in the past three years.

It might also be his conditioning. Whether a lack of "supplements" or something else less sinister, dos Santos looked considerably diminished from his previous size, and it certainly showed in the lack of snap on his punches and bounce in his step. This was a Junior uno Santos, not dos.

Knockout! Watch Alistair Overeem vs Junior dos Santos full fight video highlights from UFC on FOX 17

There could be many reasons for the former champ's deterioration, but my personal belief is that the miles on Al Bundy's Dodge have likely rolled over a million at this point. After two five-round bloodbath beatdowns courtesy Cain Velasquez, and another five round war with Stipe Miocic last December, there's only so many brain cells still firing on all cylinders.

"Cigano" has taken a heap of abuse in the past three years, and despite earning an impressive spinning hook kick knockout against Mark Hunt, "The Super Samoan" added his own contribution to the cumulative damage. Short of some kind of dramatic change in his training or health, I only see things getting worse following a convincing knockout.

As for Alistair Overeem, all that preamble wasn't meant to take away his incredible accomplishment. I gave the fighter almost no chance heading into what I considered to be a complete mismatch between a former champion and a punch drunk Dutchman with delusions of grandeur. But "Ubereem's" striking was on point, he fought carefully and intelligently and connected with precision when it counted.

Although the fight itself was lackluster and tentative for both fighters, the former Pride fighter showed he's every bit as dangerous as he was during his reign in Strikeforce and as a K-1 kickboxing world champion.

Photo: Esther Lin,

Lightweight: Nate Diaz def. Michael Johnson Decision (unanimous) (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Let's face it. The Diaz brothers are two crazy sons of bitches with a delusional sense of self-importance and entitlement. But the dudes know how to throw down like nobody else. And if you come to a Diaz fight with little more than rage and a will to win, you're going to get fucking destroyed.

The guys who demonstrated how to beat Nate Diaz, Rafael dos Anjos and Benson Henderson, utilized aggressive leg kicks followed by takedowns and ground and pound. Both of the aforementioned fighters dominated Diaz by taking out his lead leg and then pounding him on the mat. Michael Johnson did not follow that gameplan.

Highlights! Watch Nate Diaz vs Michael Johnson UFC on FOX 17 'Fight of the Night'

The "Menace" started out well, punishing the lead leg of Diaz and aggressively pushing the pace. But it was clear from the outset that the fighter was far too emotionally invested in the fight and the mind games of the younger Diaz, abandoning the leg kicks when he began getting lit up on the feet in favor of sheer aggression and hard punches.

The problem with trying to punch a Diaz as hard as you can is demonstrated in the above photograph. They don't give a fuck. They just literally don't care. You can wail away on a Diaz until your arms grow weak and feeble and you need a break on your stool, but by that point you're getting your face rearranged by the Stockton slap. It happened to Johnson and it'll happen again to somebody else before Nate is done fighting for a living.

Johnson is a talented fighter and can beat a Nate Diaz on his best day, but playing into the mental games of the 209 and abandoning the gameplan will never make that happen. Which makes the ludicrous callout of Conor McGregor so interesting. How would McGregor react to the unmitigated chutzpah of the Diaz meanmugging? We don't know because nobody has ever tried to troll him back.

Photo: Esther Lin,

Women's Strawweight: Karolina Kowalkiewicz def. Randa Markos Decision (unanimous) (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

To tell you the truth the last thing I needed was another Polish fighter I needed to Google for proper spelling prior to writing about her. But what can I say? The country produces some top notch fighters. Women's strawweight fighter Karolina Kowalkiewicz rolled into Orlando riding a perfect professional mixed martial arts (MMA) record, similar to that which the current champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, debuted with a short 17 months ago.

In the same fashion, the relative unknown fighter surprised the oddsmakers by upsetting ranked strawweight Randa Markos with technical striking and solid takedown defense. Kowalkiewicz wasn't, and shouldn't be, a complete unknown to fight fans, defeating renowned Japanese kickboxer Mizuki Inoue in Invicta and appearing on several of Poland's premiere fight cards alongside such mainstream fighters as Mamed Khalidov and Kendall Grove.

But the truth is that the average fan would likely have expected Markos to run away with this fight, given her solid run on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Season 20 reality TV show and previous performances against Aisling Daly and Jessica Penne. Like most fighters promoted by UFC, you kind of expect them to win. But hype doesn't win fights, skill does. Just ask Ronda Rousey.

And while we're on the subject of Rousey, Markos spent most of this fight leading with her face en route to getting picked apart by the counterstriking of Kowalkiewicz. It was a painful lesson for Markos, but one she should have already learned against Penne in her split decision loss. In her hurry to try for takedowns or get to the clinch Markos throws a blind flurry of punches that simply won't cut it against elite fighters, or even mediocre ones for that matter.

Kowalkiewicz showed skill in putting together combinations as well, punishing her opponent for sloppy engagements on the feet. The Polish fighter spent most of the first two rounds throwing heavy volume to keep Markos at bay, despite landing at a somewhat low percentage. But in the third round Kowalkiewicz really started finding the mark matching the combined total of the previous two rounds and putting an exclamation point on her UFC debut.

As far as entertainment goes it wasn't the most enjoyable thing to watch, but as UFC feeds her stiffer competition we may get to see how well she rises to the occasion against a formidable opponent.

Quick Hits From The Undercard

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)

  • Charles Oliveira gets a (C) for missing weight but otherwise destroyed Myles Jury (F) in his featherweight debut. Jury showed up naming Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu after himself and got choked out in three minutes.
  • Nate Marquart (A) lives to get knocked out another day with a very impressive finish of C.B. Dollaway (F) who proved you can't simply rush in hands down and chin up just because Nate's chin is shot. That's how Chuckie got KTFO by Rich Franklin.
  • Judge Barry Luxenberg (F) should be banned from ever judging another sport after handing two rounds to Sarah Kaufman (D) in a fight where the first two rounds were so clearly Valentina Shevchenko's (A) that an infant could have scored it.
  • Josh Samman (F) not only ignored his corner, he ignored common sense by choosing to employ a gameplan that was clearly losing against the veteran Tamdan McCrory (B-). Samman even reversed the position in the third round and still managed to sink himself in a choke. This is a fight he'll have nightmares about for decades.
  • Nik Lentz (C) brought about five minutes of cardio to sloppy bout with Danny Castillo (D). Fortunately for him, Danny brought two minutes of cardio. Amazingly, Barry Luxenberg, who should be fired and banned from MMA, handed two rounds to Castillo.
  • I keep imagining that one day Cole Miller (F) will wake up and realize he's a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter and vault himself into the top 10 in the featherfight divsion. Instead of playing pattycake with Jim Alers (C) for two rounds and gets eye poked. Well, maybe you should have gone for even one takedown? Miller has three knockouts, two of those happening in 2005 and the last one in 2007. You aren't a fucking striker, you're a grappler. Wake. Up.

Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)

  • I was very impressed with Kamaru Usman (B), who continued to pressure Leon Edwards (C-) in all three rounds until he broke the Englishman and dominated him in the third. His wrestling and striking are a good combination for this weight class.
  • Hayder Hassan (F) was just utterly outclassed everywhere this fight went, getting stalked, dropped and choked out by Vicente Luque (A+) in a rematch that must have felt extremely satisfying.
  • Francis Ngannou (A-) hit Luis Henrique (C-) with a nuclear bomb to the chin that I'm pretty sure will force sanctions by the IEAA and United Nations. That was sick.

That is a wrap for 2015. I'll see you guys in 2016 bright and bushytailed for UFC 195: Lawler vs. Condit. There will be blood.

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