Three More Rounds: Bryce's post fight thoughts. UFC Vancouver
1. "12 Gauge" Back with a Bang!
In the main card, Paige VanZant returned to the octagon following her dismantlement at the hands of Rose Namajunas last December. She squared off against Bec Rawlings, an Australian that was known to be a tough fighter with good stand up. Coming into the fight, everyone, likely including Rawlings, expected PVZ to immediately go to the clinch and make it a scrap. This, however, did not happen. Paige kept her distance and threw a plethora of different strikes. She said her game plan was to play it safe and wait to turn it on until the second round, as Bec was notorious for running out of gas. Boy, did she turn it on in the second. She finished Rawlings after landing a highlight reel jumping switch kick that shocked everybody watching. This being her first fight since her stint on Dancing With The Stars, VanZant said she needed to dance a little and got herself a knockout. While many questions remain about how complete of a fighter she is, this is a big step in the right direction for the UFC's sweetheart.
2. It's Showtime.
The co-main event of the evening saw the featherweight debut of Anthony Pettis, former lightweight champion. After losing his last three, changes had to be made, and he decided to finally transition to the 145 weight class. Once this fight was announced, I told everyone that could listen that this was the best move he could make because he has beaten some of the best at 155, so the smaller 145ers should play into his hand very well. He was welcomed to the 145 division by sixth ranked Charles Olivera, a very dangerous BJJ practitioner. Pettis, who had been rightly criticized as being stagnant and afraid to attack in his last few bouts, started on the offensive from the start. He landed good shots, showed how he is skilled on the ground, and eventually submitted Olivera in the third round. This was a breath of fresh air to many fans, as the Wheaties cover boy finally put together a good fight for the first time since 2014. Pettis went on to say that this is now his division and he wants the belt. Time will tell whether or not he has what it takes to tangle with the elite 3 of 145, McGregor, Aldo, and Edgar, but what is for certain is that "Showtime" is back.
3. Demian Maia is Scary Good
The main event was a classic striker versus grappler in Carlos Condit, one of the most creative strikers in MMA, and Demian Maia, quite possibly the best grappler in MMA. Everyone knew that it would be a matter of who could impose their style on the other. Shortly after the bell rang, Maia showed he would be the one to do so. He took down Condit and then proceeded to methodically take his back and submit him via rear naked choke. This fight was not the most interesting, but it did show how great Maia is at what he does. In his post fight interview, he said he believed that he earned a title shot and will wait to face the victor between the newly crowned Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson. After his performance, it will be difficult for anyone to oppose Maia's nearly perfect ground game.