The UFC made their return to Vancouver, Canada, this past weekend with UFC on Fox 21 card, which took place at the Rogers Arena and was headlined by the top ranked welterweight tussle between submission king Demian Maia vs. striking sensation Carlos Condit. Fighters Only takes a closer look at the card and cherry picks five moments you may have missed.
5. Smilin SamÂ calls forÂ EuropeanÂ test
When âSmilinâ Sam Alvey wins itâs usually by some form of a devastating knockout and that was certainly the case on Saturday night. After a fairly non eventful first round, Alvey was able to connect with a big left hand to the chin of Kevin Casey and followed up with some ground 'n'Â pound before the referee waved if off.
âThe first time I dropped him, I thought, âNow is not the time to swarm in,'â said Alvey. âSo I let him get back up and I could tell he was moving a bit slower. When I dropped him the second time, I knew we were close to the end of the round, so I figured he really couldnât do too much if I threw a bunch of strikes.
"I want on the October 8th card in Manchester at UFC 204, because my mentor and training partner Dan Henderson is fighting there. So Iâm calling out any middleweight or even any 205lb'er on the whole continent of Europe. Letâs light it up at UFC 204.â
4. ControversyÂ taints Fight of the Night
Having already beat him once at UFC 155, Jim Miller got the double over Joe Lauzon after a 'Fight of the Night' cheque-winning effort from both lightweights. After a tough, close fight the judges awarded Miller the winner via split decision through twoÂ scores of 29-28 and one judge scored it for Lauzon 29-28.
According to MMADecisions.com, the majority of the media scored the fight 29-28 for Lauzon. An overwhelming 93% (25 out of 27) of media outlets scored it for J-Lau. Still, post-fight, the two veterans showed each other the ultimate sign of respect as they took to social media.
Joe Lauzon said: âIâm still a huge Jim Miller fan. I thought I had it but I will never cry over judges. Congrats Jim.â
Jim Miller replied: âAlways an honour. There aren't many fighters I'd guide my kids to have as role models, you're at the top of the list.â
3. Highlight reel KO for PVZ
Coming off a fairly long layoff, which included a stint on American reality TV show Dancing with the Stars, Paige VanZant shut down any doubts of her commitment to the sportÂ by producing one of the best switch kick finishes in the women's division. It came in the opening 15 seconds of the second round and landed flush on Bec Rowlingâs chin, dropping her instantly.
PVZ followed up with some ground 'n'Â pound forcing the referee to step in and ended the fight and move her record to 7-2 with this the second TKO of her blossoming career. Speaking in the Fox Sports 1 post show, VanZant revealed itâs something sheâd been working on for some time.
"We call it a âkick the can,' the one I knocked her out with," said VanZant. "I've done that a few times in training camp. I was like, I might as well go out there and use everything in my arsenal. These are things that I've kind of always been capable of, but I never actually used. I heard him say, âleft kick, left kick, left kick,' and he kept telling me it's open and I finally decided it's open and I went for it."
2. Showtime is back â finally!
Talk about pressure. Once rankedÂ as one of the pound-for-pound best in the world, former UFC lightweight champion Anthony âShowtimeâ Pettis headed into Saturday's co-main event with Charles Oliveira with his back against the wall having lost three in a row to Rafael dos Anjos, Eddie Alvarez and Edson Barboza.
Hoping to revitalise his career he opted to drop down to a 145lb in a bid toÂ re-ignite his UFC run. And the gamble paid off. After a back and forth fight where Pettis and Oliveira shared the opening two rounds, âShowtimeâ was able to slap on the guillotine choke forcing the tap from âdo Bronxâ midway through the third.
After the fight Pettis opened up to the media and shared the mental and emotional challenge he went through. "I had a rough patch," he conceded. "I mean [losing] three fights in a row, you know, I wasn't used to that. I had two losses my whole career, and going three back-to-back, I had to do some soul searching.
"I had to figure out what drives me, what makes me want to do this, and I went through a lot of stuff. I have to thank my family, my girlfriend, everyone that was around me that kept me focused and that made me keep pushing. I felt like we pushed through. We got a new division, a new goal: two-division champ. And that's what I'm set out to do."
1. MaiaÂ goes up, Condit goes down
Demian Maia has done it again. How he continues to nullify some of the best strikers in the welterweight division and force his BJJ game on them defies logic, but the 38-year-old Brazilian seemingly gets better with age.
After Condit landed one, thatâs right, one strike to Maia, the Brazilian jitz wizard took 'The Natural Born Killerâ down, took his back flawlessly and was able to sink in the rear naked choke forcing the tap at 1:52 of the first round and in turn giving Condit his first submission loss in a decade.
Has MaiaÂ done enough to skip past Stephen Thompson and get a crack at Tyron Woodleyâs championship? He believesÂ so. "I am just so happy now," MaiaÂ saidÂ in his post-fight interview. "I hope now I can fight for a title shot. If he will fight first, I will wait for the winner of Woodley and 'Wonderboy'."
For Condit, could this be the end of the road? Speaking at the post fight press conference he made comments which have led many to believe he could be calling it a day.
"I don't know if I have any business fighting at this level anymore," Condit conceded. "I've been at this for a really long time, and the pressure of kind of being one of the top guys for almost a decade, it's been awesome. I've loved being involved in this sport for the time that I have, and I've gotten to do what I love for a living for a long period of time. But, I don't know, man. I don't know if I belong here anymore. We'll see."