An absolutely stacked card for the UFC’s 11th appearance on the FOX network, UFC on FOX 11 had a PPV quality card throughout, and produced many entertaining quality fights on Saturday in Orlando. Three fighters stood out the most in my eyes, all winning their bouts impressively.
3rd Star — Thiago Alves
Two years away from the Octagon, suffering injury after injury and a total of 4 surgeries later, The “Pitbull” Thiago Alves returned and it looked as if he hadn’t missed a step. The same ‘Pitbull’ that fans are used to seeing, the one that was a welterweight title contender in 2009, showed up in Orlando tonight. Alves showed off his Muay Thai with devastating leg kicks to his opponent, Seth Baczynski in the first round, that began to show affects right away. The fight did not come as easy as the 30-27 judges’ scorecards made it seem however, as “The Polish Pistola” fought back in the 2nd and 3rd rounds and made it a tough test for the returning Alves to endure. Alves would stuff all 8 of Baczynski’s takedown attempts, on route to his first win since 2011. Alves and Baczynski were awarded an extra $50,000 for their efforts, earning the fight of the night award.
2nd Star — Yoel Romero
The former 2000 Cuban Olympian silver medalist, Yoel Romero had neglected using his wrestling offensively up to this point in his UFC career. But Romero made sure fans and his opponent, Brad Tavares, did not forget that he still possessed the skills. For the first time in 4 UFC fights, Romero landed a takedown, he took down his opponent, Tavares, not just once, but a total of 7 times in the fight, leading to dominant 30-27 unanimous decision. Romero (8-1) won his 4th straight fight in the UFC and continues to climb the ladder, in the process defeating the 13th ranked middleweight, (12-3) Brad Tavares and snapping his 5-fight win streak. Possessing possible the best wrestling credentials in the UFC, and one of the most powerful middleweights in the sport, Romero at 36 years old is primed to make a run at the belt.
1st Star–Fabricio Werdum
A 2-to-1 underdog coming into this #1 contender fight for the UFC heavyweight title shot, Werdum surprised and impressed many watchers as he completely dominated the 16-1-1 Travis Browne. Specifically showcasing his vastly improved stand up, the one aspect that Travis Browne would have had an advantage in. Werdum used head movement, footwork, and cardio to overwhelm the heavyweight that was coming off 3 straight knockout victories. When Werdum wasn’t out striking Browne, he was taking down the fighter that had previously never been taken down in the UFC. It was revealed that Browne may have suffered a broken rib in the first round, resulting in his cardio deficiencies, but take nothing away from Werdum’s performance, who’s game plan coming in was to exploit Travis’ cardio. The most impressive move however, was when the heavyweight performed a kip up in the 3rd round while Travis Browne refused to engage him in the grappling on the mat.
With Werdum’s 4th straight win in the UFC, he now awaits the recovery of UFC heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez. And a potential coaching stint in TUF Latin America awaits the spanish speaking Brazilian.