Spike TV aired two preliminary bouts live on the UFC 136 card in Houston and Anthony Pettis and Demian Maia emerged victorious.
Pettis would nab a hard fought split decision, and as for Maia, he would secure a convincing unanimous decision victory over former Sengoku middleweight champion Jorge Santiago.
Stephens and Pettis opened up round one briefly exchanging strikes, and then Stephens secured a takedown early. Pettis would move around very well off his back and Stephens would break away and stand back up. The fight restarts on the feet and Pettis seems to get the slight better of the striking but then Stephens gets another takedown but this time against the fence with a minute left into the round. Pettis is able to scramble back against the cage and is met with a right hand from Stephens. At the end of the round Pettis attempts a capoeira kick that excites the Houston crowd.
Round two is underway and this time Pettis takes down Stephens. Stephens tried to scramble to his feet by getting his right underhook in but Pettis was able to stifle his attempt to get up. Around the midway mark, Stephens was able to get back to his feet by wall walking against the cage but he was taken down again and again. Late in the round Stephens attempts a kimura while standing and then Pettis is able to drag Stephens to the mat and take his back and attempt a few rear-naked-choke submissions. In the final seconds of the round, Stephens was able to turn into Pettis but could not land any punches once on top.
The third round saw Stephens immediately push for the takedown on Pettis and get it. Pettis would then go for a triangle, but Stephens would defend and then get out of the guard and wait for Pettis to come back. At the half way mark, Pettis would return the favor by taking down Stephens against the cage twice but Stephens would scramble. On the third attempt of a takedown, Stephens would end up on top, albeit briefly as Pettis was able to sweep and press Stephens against the cage. In the final seconds left in the round, Stephens would push for the hard for the final takedown and couldn’t secure it.
In a very action packed, close fight; the judges would score the fight a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) in favor of Pettis.
With the win over Stephens, the former WEC lightweight champion moved his record to 14-2 and scored his first win in the Octagon.
In a battle of Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelts, the two middleweights Santiago and Maia waste no time in exchanging strikes. Maia then gets the takedown but Santiago is able to use the butterfly guard to push Maia away from him. At just under the two-minute mark Maia is able to catch him with a hook and from there secures a single leg takedown. Santiago utilizes a solid guard and was able to minimize any offense Maia is able to attempt.
Round two gets underway and Santiago opens up with a barrage of kicks. Santiago keeps pushing forward, but cannot land much cleanly and the same with Maia. At the half way mark, Maia is able to put Santiago on his back for the third time in the fight and was able to land some small punches. Maia would attempt a few different types of guard passes but Santiago wasn’t having it and stifled all of the guard pass attempts to the final bell and the Houston crowd would boo the action.
Maia wastes no time in the opening of round three and briefly gets a takedown but this time Santiago scrambled to his feet. From there Maia would attempt a takedown and then Santiago would turn into Maia and end up with a waist locked with Maia on his back. Eventually, Maia would get the takedown around the two-minute mark. Although Maia was on top, not much action would go on and the Houston crowd would boo again and close out the round landing a few small strikes.
After a convincing performance, the judges awarded the former Abu Dhabi gold medalist Demian Maia the fight with a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
The fight wasn’t pretty but Maia was able to get it done and move his mixed martial arts record to 15-3.