Saturday night, UFC returned to the IZOD Center (formerly Meadlowlands Arena) for the first time in nearly 11 years with the third installment of UFC on FOX. I was in Jersey covering the event for UFC and Getty Images. Fresh off of Sports Shooter Academy IX, I was very eager to work on new things I had learned and try to challenge myself more instead of just going for “safe” shots. I think the end result is one of the better shoots I’ve had since I began shooting the UFC. It always helps to have good fights too.
The main event featured a lightweight contest between New Jersey standout Jim Miller and Stockton, California’s Nate Diaz. This event proved to be UFC’s best FOX broadcast yet with all four main card bouts thrilling the fans. The undercard on FUEL TV was also a really good collection of fights.
Diaz handled Miller in the main event with little trouble. I was quite surprised at how easy Diaz made it look. He ended up submitting Miller with a tight guillotine choke in the second round – the first time in Miller’s 25-fight career he had been finished. Diaz used his length to pepper Miller with punches from the outside. Once he got the opportunity to go for the submission, he jumped on it and sealed the victory quickly. After the bout, Diaz said he found it difficult to get motivated to train for this fight because he had nothing but respect for Miller and no animosity. He also encouraged the fans to buy Miller’s signature TapouT shirt for which a portion of all sales will go towards the medical fund for Miller’s nephew little Danny Miller.
In the co-feature, Johny Hendricks earned himself a shot at the UFC Welterweight Championship with his split-decision victory over former title challenger Josh Koscheck. Hendricks looked a little nervous early on, but it didn’t take long for him to open up and start landing power shots. Koscheck’s eye began to swell early in the second and seemed to bother him. He was never able to find his rhythm. In the end, the judges scored it 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 for Johny Hendricks.
In a middleweight bout, Alan Belcher survived the ground attack of Rousimar Palhares and put him away by TKO in the first round. At one point, Belcher was working for a submission of his own before ending up in the top position and raining down punches and elbows.
The opener on the FOX broadcast featured two heavyweight sluggers going toe-to-toe as Lavar Johnson earned his second UFC victory and second “Knockout of the Night” award, putting away Pat Barry in the first round. It was clear early on that Barry’s size was going to make for a very rough night. Barry is the shortest heayweight in the UFC, and that played right into Johnson’s game allowing him to land heavy shots from a distance where Barry could barely even connect. At one point, Barry got the fight to the ground and was working a submission, but Johnson endured and made it back to his feet where he was able to finally drop Barry and secure the TKO victory.
Several undercard fights were quite good, as well. Fight of the Night honors went to Louis Gaudinot and John Lineker who stood toe-to-toe swinging for the fences for the better part of two rounds. Neither showed a clear advantage until late in the second round, Gaudinot jumped into a guillotine choke and put Lineker to sleep with just seconds remaining in the round.
TUF 13 winner Tony Ferguson had his first stumble in the Octagon as he was out-pointed by TUF 12 finalist Michael Johnson. The fight was contested entirely on the standup. Both fighters had their moments and landed big shots. In the end, it was Johnson’s higher rate of strikes, and having dropped Ferguson twice that earned him the victory.
Below is a gallery of my shots from the night. Please visit my website (www.jhedgesphoto.com) for the complete gallery, as well as UFC.com and Getty Images for their editorial selections from the night.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, and questions.