UFC 136: Breakthroughs

Stipe Miocic

Spotlighting three fighters who stepped up last night

Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo retained their titles, and Gray Maynard and Kenny Florian fought valiantly in losing efforts in the two marquee bouts at UFC 136.

Outside of the shine of the championship bouts, however, there were three fighters who caught our eye and deserve some recognition today.

Stipe Miocic

Getting a read on unbeaten fighters coming into the UFC is always tough. Miocic entered the Octagon for the first time with an unblemished record and having never gone into the third round.

Joey Beltran was a stern challenge and pushed the newcomer throughout, but Miocic was able to emerge with a unanimous decision victory.

A lot of people have been high on the Cleveland State alum following his success on the regional circuit, and he showed why — for the most part — in this one. Miocic has solid wrestling and boxing credentials, and now that he’s gotten his first fight in the UFC out of the way, he knows what he needs to improve and can keep moving forward.

His conditioning is the only real question mark coming out of last night’s fight, and that is somewhat understandable and expected of UFC neophytes. This is a different level, and the athletes are in prime condition, and Miocic will get there.

He’s one to watch in the heavyweight division in the future.

Joe Lauzon

When you’re a 3-1 underdog and you take home Submission of the Night honors in under a minute, you deserve some time in the spotlight.

Lauzon clipped Melvin Guillard early in the first, capitalizing on his opponent’s cockiness to put him on the canvas. He pounced on Guillard, sunk in his hooks, and cinched in a deep rear naked choke to collect the submission, doing it all in just 47 seconds.

The victory drops Guillard out of the lightweight title picture, and adds Lauzon’s name to the ever-growing list of contenders. It was the best win of his career, though he ranked his 2006 victory over Jens Pulver as his biggest to date at the post-fight press conference.

Lauzon is a proven finisher. He’s finished all eight opponents he’s faced inside the Octagon, and taken home seven bonus in 11 fights, including earning extra take home pay in seven consecutive fights.

Chael Sonnen

While his comments garner the majority of the attention — and rightfully so — Chael Sonnen’s abilities and performance inside the cage Saturday night deserves some recognition.

After an extended layoff, Sonnen came out and took it to a Brian Stann. He put him on his back and gained several dominant positions in the opening round, threatening with a choke in the first. In the second, he caught an early Stann kick to bring the fight to the canvas again, transitioning into side control as he secured the fight ending arm triangle choke.

Like a lot of wrestlers, Sonnen does get enough credit for the well-rounded skill set that he brings into the cage, but he showed those talents last night in Houston. There was no lay-and-pray from Sonnen on Saturday night as he chained together transitions, leaving Stann little room to escape or muster any offense.

Of course, a lot of his outstanding performance is going to fade into the background of the story after his epic post-fight challenge to Anderson Silva. Be prepared for another couple months of verbal uppercuts from Sonnen between now and February; just don’t forget about his outstanding performance from UFC 136 while you’re shaking your head and laughing at what he says.

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