In the opening bout, Hawaiian prospect Dan Ige wasted no time against Mike Santiago. Ige took the fight to the ground in the opening seconds, advanced to the back and earned the technical knockout in under a minute. Unfortunately, most onlookers wanted to see more of Ige, as he is one of the top prospects to come out of the first season of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, but with the quick finish, expect to see him back in the cage soon.
Twelve-year UFC veteran Clay Guida took on rangy submission specialist Charles Oliveira on the undercard. Guida enjoyed some success on the feet but foolishly shot for a takedown with his neck open, and Oliveira grabbed the guillotine to earn his 15th submission victory. Oliveira finished the choke with the arm in. Some fighters prefer the arm-in guillotine, but for most, it is much more difficult to secure. Oliveria had no problems with the arm in, arched his back to get a better grip and completed the choke.
Sergio Pettis locked horns with Joe Benavidez in a preliminary flyweight affair with title-shot implications. Early in the first round, Pettis nearly finished the fight with a beautiful step-back counter right straight. Benavidez survived but ran into similar issues the rest of the way. When he came forward with a quick combo, Pettis saw it coming, stepped back and fired off a counter right. Rinse and repeat. Pettis was awarded a split decision and moved one step closer to a crack at flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. At just 24 and already near the top of the division, Pettis has plenty of time to round out his game and perhaps take over when “Mighty Mouse” is gone.
In the featured UFC Fight Pass prelim, Anthony Smith squared off with future hall-of-famer “Suga” Rashad Evans. A former light heavyweight champion, Evans looked to return to his wrestling roots early in the fight and clinched against the cage in search of a takedown. However, the much larger Smith had other plans and lined up a perfectly placed knee to net the highlight-reel knockout. Smith used an overhook on one arm and pushed Evans’ head down with the other to set up the knee.
Chris de la Rocha duked it out with Rashad Coulter in one of the more memorable heavyweight fights of the year. In the first round, Coulter was successful in the standup exchanges and picked apart de la Rocha for most of the round. However, de la Rocha ate his punches -- “like a tic tac,” as commentator Joe Rogan put it -- and made an epic comeback in the middle stanza.
De la Rocha moved the fight to the ground in the second round and unloaded with ground-and-pound to secure a late finish. He showed a ridiculous ability to absorb strikes and looks like a potential sleeper in a division starved for new blood.
Curtis Blaydes toed the line against of the greatest heavyweights of all-time in Alistair Overeem in the featured Fox Sports 1 prelim. The first two rounds were fairly close and inactive, but Blaydes turned it up in the third and finished the fight with brutal elbows from full guard. Before the finishing sequence, Blaydes rocked Overeem with a knee and a flurry of uppercuts against the cage before executing a takedown.
After the takedown, Blaydes busted up Overeem with elbows and earned the TKO finish. The exact shot that opened up Overeem was followed by more elbows, with blood squirting all over the mat. Heavyweight is desperate for new contenders, and Blaydes is certainly one to watch.