A review of UFC on FOX 3 featuring four great main card fights and a couple of outstanding performances.

Nate Diaz def. Jim Miller: It’s amazing how far Diaz has come since winning The Ultimate Fighter 5. He’s always been a tough fighter who would make it a scrap against any opponent, but since dropping back down to lightweight, he’s really put everything together. Despite what everyone wanted to say, his striking was never as good as his brothers. Until now. In fact, his striking might be better than his brothers because he seems to have more power in his hands. He doesn’t attack the body quite like Nick does, but his jab-straight combo has been nearly unstoppable in his past three fights. None of this would matter if he didn’t have a deadly ground game to go along with it. Miller actually had Diaz’s back at one point, but Diaz scrambled out and made it look relatively easy. Then when Miller really committed on a takedown, Diaz locked him in a tight guillotine to become the first man ever to finish him. There are still flaws in Diaz’s game, mainly his inability to check leg kicks and his takedown defense, but leg kicks never seem to faze him and being as good as he is on the ground, he’s not afraid to concede the takedown. Plus, like his brother, he has this amazing ability to make opponents fight his fight. Miller was completely taken out of his game in this fight. He got away from the leg kicks very early in the fight after getting picked apart with punches, and when Diaz dropped his hands and went into taunting mode, instead of feinting with punches and going for a takedown, Miller went for a flying knee and willingly engaged in a brawl. Miller is a tough out for anyone in the division, and a guy that future title contenders have to beat, but it doesn’t appear that he’ll be fighting for the lightweight title during his career. According to him, Diaz will now take the rest of the year off and wait for the winner of Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar. Even though I favor both men over Diaz, I’d be shocked if it wasn’t a close and competitive fight with Diaz having plenty of offensive moments.

Johny Hendricks def. Josh Koscheck: This was a close fight, and definitely not a robbery, but I still feel that Koscheck won the decision. The first two rounds were close with both men looking for their power punches on the feet. Koscheck seemed to get the better of things on the feet in the first, landing his right hand a number of times, while Hendricks got the better of things in the second, landing his left hand. Hendricks started out strong in round three, but Koscheck wisely got the takedown and controlled Hendricks for the latter half of the round. Round three was the only decisive round and it went in Koscheck’s favor. Fights aren’t scored as a whole though, and Koscheck was the victim of an imperfect system. Koscheck hasn’t improved as a fighter though. He still relies mainly on his right hand on the feet and only reverts to his wrestling at the end of rounds or the fight. He could be so much more effective if he used his right hand to the body and feinted for takedown attempts before coming over the top with the right. He is who he is though. He’ll beat a lot of fighters because he is one of the best welterweights in the world, but he’ll also make fights a lot closer then they need to be because he’s a predictable fighter who gets hit way too much. Hendricks is now likely one fight away from a title but, but he needs to make some improvements to his game as well. His wrestling still hasn’t translated to MMA and his striking is left hand heavy. He did some good things in the clinch against Koscheck, but I don’t know how effective that’s going to be against guys like Jake Ellenberger, Carlos Condit, Georges St. Pierre, and even Martin Kampmann. Beating Jon Fitch and Koscheck on back-to-back fights is huge, but Hendricks needs another fight before he’s ready to challenge for the title.

Alan Belcher def. Rousimar Palhares: A lot of people laughed at Belcher when he said that he may submit Palhares. While he didn’t submit the leg lock expert, he did play around on the ground for far longer than he needed to before pounding out Palhares with some powerful and accurate ground and pound. Belcher was the Floyd Mayweather of MMA as he played the leg lock and grappling game with Palhares and not only survived, but won in impressive fashion. Palhares is outstanding at the one thing he does, but unless he’s able to finish things in the first couple of minutes, he’s usually done for if he’s facing better than average competition. I’ve always been a big fan of Belcher and it’s good to see him live up to his potential. He’s a very good striker, has power, and has shown some brutal ground and pound in his recent fights. With this win, he’s legitimately one more win away from a potential title shot.

Lavar Johnson def. Pat Barry: Barry had mount and moved to side control. That’s all you need to know about this fight. I know Barry has never been known for his ground game, but to go from mount to side control against anyone, much less a guy who has almost zero ground game himself, is absolutely stupid. It took Johnson awhile to get up, because, again, his ground game really sucks, but once he did he put a beating on Barry with a series of brutal uppercuts. I don’t think Johnson is really any good, but the man hits like a truck, and that’s all you need in some fights. I hate to discredit Johnson because he delivered a spectacular KO, but I put more blame on Barry. Aside from going from mount to side control, he allowed himself to get trapped up against the cage for way too long and his response to getting out was to…try and throw a head kick. He was like the reverse of Cung Le, which is even dumber. Johnson is going to beat guys at heavyweight who are willing to stand in front of him and get smashed, but if anyone with half a ground game can take him down, he’s pretty much screwed. As for Barry, he might be better off trying out for one of those 500 singing shows on network TV.

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