June 20, 2009
It's been a tough run lately for Joe Stevenson in the UFC's lightweight division. but you couldn't ignore the level of competition in losses to B.J. Penn, Diego Sanchez and Kenny Florian. When it was time to drop down and face a guy at the bottom of the top 10, Stevenson ran right through Nate Diaz. "Joe Daddy" transitioned well throughout the fight and had Diaz in several submission predicaments rolling to a unanimous decision (29-28 on all scorecards) win to kick off the televised portion of The Ultimate Fighter 9.
After his loss to Sanchez at UFC 95, Stevenson made a dramatic change and joined Greg Jackson's training camp down in Albuquerque. As a result, Stevenson looked a little leaner and was fresh throughout the fight. But the biggest difference was strategy. The only way Diaz was going to beat Stevenson was on the feet. The 5-foot-6 Stevenson, is a wrestler and submission artist by trade, but he seemed to fall in love with his boxing during the rough run of three losses in four fights. When he shot for a takedown in the opening takedown, it was clear that he was going grapple and wrestle the entire way. Diaz is great on the ground but Stevenson is on another level. Anytime Diaz improved his position, Stevenson transitioned to regain control of the fight.
According to the Las Vegas sportsbooks, Stevenson was a huge underdog at +150.
GUILLARD REWARDED FOR ACTION ON THE FEET IN SPLIT DECISION WIN
Too much credit goes to takedown artists. It's long been the complaint from fighters and fans, who feel like the takedown alone without dominance on the ground, is often scored incorrectly. Gleison Tibau took down Melvin Guillard throughout their fight but didn't score enough in the judges' eyes to grab the pivotal first round. Guillard won a split decision (29-28, 28-29 on two scorecards). Cagewriter gave the fight to Tibau based on aggressiveness and Octagon control 29-28. Even when Guillard did keep it on the feet, he was tentative. He landed one big shot with a good body kick in the second but it didn't appear to be enough to win the fight.
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