The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday brought UFC on Fox 31 to the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, where Kevin Lee squared off with Al Iaquinta in the five-round lightweight headliner. The 12-fight event also featured a beatdown of epic proportions, the return of the most prolific fighter in UFC history and a number of pivotal battles at various weights. These were the most memorable moves from UFC on Fox 31:
Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series alum Juan Adams defeated Chris de la Rocha via technical knockout at the beginning of the third round. Adams controlled the fight from the start, but both men slowed down tremendously over the final 10 minutes. Even with nothing left in the gas tank, Adams managed to pressure de la Rocha to the fence in the third round and unload a flurry of strikes to earn the finish.
Mike Rodriguez took care of Adam Milstead via first-round TKO in their light heavyweight prelim. After dropping his UFC debut, Rodriguez looked better than ever against Milstead and ended the fight with a beautiful left straight to the body into left knee to the sternum combination. The Lauzon MMA product is now 10-3, with all 10 of those wins coming by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
Dan Ige won his second UFC fight in a row when he defeated promotional newcomer Jordan Griffin via unanimous decision. The fight was closer than expected, but Ige’s grappling and ability to defend off of his back was too much for Griffin to handle, even when he had top position on the ground. Griffin did come close to finishing a few submissions early, but Ige managed to defend, reverse to top position and grind out the rest of the round on top.
Jack Hermansson made quick work of Gerald Meerschaert and submitted him with a guillotine late in the first round. The most surprising part of this bout was Hermansson initiating the grappling exchanges and being able to pass Meerschaert’s guard with ease.
After spending most of the first round on his back, Meerschaert managed to get back to his feet late in the round but then foolishly went for a lateral drop and ended up with Hermansson on top again. Shortly after, Hermansson locked up the guillotine to earn his fifth win in the UFC.
One of the best fights of the year -- a back-and-forth war between Joaquim Silva and Jared Gordon -- ended with one of the craziest knockouts you will ever see. Late in the third round, Silva rocked Gordon with a left hook to overhand right combination and then finished the fight with a flurry of hooks against the cage. Gordon was slumped against the cage and took around 30 seconds to finally drop to the ground despite being knocked out cold. Silva is now 4-1 in the UFC, with two of those wins coming by knockout.
Drakkar Klose put on one of the better performances of his career, as he defeated Bobby Green via unanimous decision. Green enjoyed more success than the Vegas oddsmakers anticipated and even outlanded Klose 92-58 in significant strikes. However, Klose controlled the pace and range of the fight while landing cleaner shots in the pocket. Although Green often initiated the clinch, Klose delivered the more damaging blows, with vicious knees to the body and hand-trapping elbows to the head.
Charles Oliveria continued to add to his UFC record for submission victories when he locked up a rear-naked choke on Jim Miller early in the first round. The fight was only on the feet for a few seconds before Miller attempted a leg kick, only to have Oliveira catch it and transition to a body-lock slam. Once they hit the ground, it was all but over, as Oliveria quickly locked up the choke to win his 13th UFC fight via submission.
Rob Font did not greet Sergio Pettis’ return to the bantamweight division warmly, as he picked him apart from bell to bell to take home a unanimous decision. Pettis had some of the best distance management and counterstriking in the flyweight division, but a move back to 135 pounds saw him struggle to find his range on offense and defense. Font put on a jabbing clinic and snapped Pettis’s head back anytime he moved forward, using the punch to set up his leading attacks. Font is now 6-3 in the UFC.
The co-main event saw Edson Barboza put on a stellar performance against Dan Hooker, who proved himself as one of the toughest fighters in the lightweight division. The first round was close until Barboza dropped Hooker with a right straight, but the real beatdown began in the second.
Although Barboza’s spinning kicks to the body will be the story of this fight, they were able to land because of the damaging leg kicks he delivered early in the second round. Hooker’s striking is based on footwork and movement, and the low kicks severely limited his mobility. He was forced to change his game plan to walk forward with combos and pressure through the kicks from Barboza.
Once Hooker was slowed by the leg kicks, Barboza began throwing his signature wheel kicks and turning sidekicks to the body. Hooker ate around seven of these sidekicks to the body and kept moving forward with combos, but by then, he had taken an incredible amount of damage and his strikes had nothing behind them. After taking one of the worst beatings of the year, Hooker was dropped with a left hook to the body and the fight was stopped.
The main event was one to remember, and saw Iaquinta defeat Lee for the second time while making his case for another shot at the lightweight title. Early in the fight, it was apparent that Iaquinta wanted to fake a single-leg and come back with punches to catch Lee off-guard. Less than a minute into the fight, Iaquinta faked the takedown and came back with a beautiful spinning elbow that landed clean.
Many people thought Lee was going to run away with the rematch, but instead, Iaquinta shocked onlookers and picked apart Lee in multiple rounds. Even when Lee managed to take the fight to the ground, Iaquinta denied his choke attempts and moved back to his feet, where he was getting the better of the striking exchanges.