The UFC has finally touched ground in Arizona as they brought  fight fans around the world UFC on FOX 13 live from the U.S. Airway Center in Downtown Phoenix on Saturday, December 13.

The headlining act of the event was a matchup that had violence written all over it as former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos made his long-awaited return from injury against the surging Stipe Miocic.

Dos Santos (16-3) had not been seen inside the Octagon e since suffering a one-sided beatdown at the hands of current UFC heavyweight champion, and longtime rival, Cain Velasquez in their title fight at UFC 166 last October. He was originally scheduled to face Miocic in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 Finale before a broken hand forced him to withdraw from the bout. He entered this bout with 12 career knockout victories and a UFC record of 10-2.

Miocic (12-1) was coming off a violent first round knockout over dos Santos’ replacement Fabio Maldonado. Prior to this win the the Cleveland based Croatian scored back-to-back decision wins over Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga.  He entered this bout with eight career knockout victories and a UFC record of 6-1.

Also appearing on the card was the return of the polorizing Nate Diaz as he squared off against Rafael Dos Anjos in the co-main event.

Diaz (17-9), winner of the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter, had not stepped inside the octagon since his first round TKO victory over Gray Maynard in the main event of TUF 18 Finale in November 2013, which earned a Knockout of the Night bonus in the process. Since then he had spent the last year in the middle of a contract dispute with the UFC. He entered this bout with 11 career submission victories,  eight of which have come under the UFC banner. Dos Anjos (22-7), who had won of seven of his last eight bouts, was coming off of a the biggest win of his career in the form of a first round knockout over former champion Benson Henderson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 49 in June. Prior to this win, fans saw the Brazilian’s five fight win streak snapped after suffering a unanimous decision loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov. He entered this bout with eight career submission victories.

The rest of the main card featured a pair of heavyweight matchups as former K-1, Dream and Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem looked to get back into the win column against fellow Dutchman Stefan Struve, while TUF 10 alumni Matt Mitrione met former title contender Gabriel Gonzaga on the first bout of the card.

MAIN CARD SUMMARY

Junior dos Santos vs. Stipe Miocic

Both men met in the center of the octagon and Miocic almost immediately looked for the takedown. While Dos Santos did defend well he ate a couple right hooks as the evade his charging opponent. With his opponent circling away from him in order to avoid any more damage, Miocic continue to press the attack. Dos Santos would eventually land a right hook, momentarily staggering his opponent, and before connecting with a right right uppercut. After another quick circle Miocic landed a series of right hooks to Dos Santos face only to eat a left hook just as the round came to an end.

The second frame opened up with Miocic looking for another takedown against the fence, but to no avail. Dos Santos whiffed on what can only be derived as an over hand right from hell, leaving him open to a quick counter attack from his opponent. After struggling against the fence, Miocic would finally secure a takedown right just as the bell signed for the end of the round

Miocic opened the third frame with another failed takedown attempt, allowing to Dos Santos to momentarily secure back control. After a scramble both men are back to their feet and Miocic whiffs with some big hooks followed by Dos Santos missing with an uppercut of his own. Dos Santos would plant a straight right to the face of his bloodied opponent, sending him crashing to the canvas. With the crowd erupting around him Dos Santos swarmed in for the kill but could not finish it as Miocic crawled back to his feet, blood pouring from his mouth and nose.

The first championship round started off with an accidental low blow from Miocic. As both men stalked each other across the cage, Dos Santos landed a very unorthodox standing donkey kong punch to the what appeared to be the chest of his opponent. After a very sloppy exchange Miocic rocked the former champion but, again, could not put him away as Dos Santos shoved him away.

Both men embraced as the final round kicked off, with every single person in the sold out arena on their feet cheering. Dos Santos answered the the ovation with a powerful overhand right. But Miocic responded with a quick combination of his own in the center of the cage.  With both men bleeding profusely, Miocic staggered his opponent with another combo adjacent the cage but Dos Santos responded by clinching up and pushing him to the cage. As crowd continued to roar both men met next to the cage and traded thunderous blows that seemed to echo throughout the arena until the horn signaled the end of a very entertaining fight.

In the end the judges felt Dos Santos did enough and awarded him the fight, much to the dismay of a visibly furious Miocic. Junior dos Santos def. Stipe Miocic by unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46)

Nate Diaz vs. Rafael dos Anjos

No touch of the gloves from these two as they immediately met in the  center of the octagon looking to trade. Diaz managed to duck under a front kick and land a quick one-two to the body of his opponent. Dos Anjos continue to work the legs early but Diaz continued to plod forward before a perfectly timed trip sent him to falling to the canvas. With an opening finally in front of him Dos Anjos began to land some  shots from side control until he was forced to defend a a leg lock from Diaz. Once he broke free it was right back to ground-and-pound until the bell signaled the end of the opening frame.

Diaz manged to open up Round 2 with some more hand combination while Dos Anjos continued to land kicks to the leg and body and will before dropping him to the canvas. A bloodied Diaz would slowly make his way back to his feet right just as the referee called a pause to the action in order for the doctor to take a look at the leaking cut on his forehead. Even with the blood all but wipe away, Diaz had no answer for his opponents leg kicks. Dos Anjos would eventually drop his opponent once again right before the second frame came to an end.

Dos Anjos picked up right where he left off in the last round as he immediately slapped his leg across Diaz’s shin before planting him on his butt where he would remain for the rest of the fight. Dos Anjos would close off the round by dropping some serious donkey kong punches to the skull of the Diaz, sprking in a in a few open hand slaps for good measure. Rafael dos Anjos def. Nate Diaz by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

“I am very happy with my performance. I knew I had to get in there and go for it. I owe a lot to my team, they know how to prepare me. I want to say thank you to them and to Dana White for this opportunity.”

Alistair Overeem vs. Stefan Struve

Overeem immediately circled to the outside before clinching up and reversing his towering opponent into the fence.  From here the ‘Reem’ would secure the takedown into side control but did little damage in this position as the crowd began to voice their displeasure at the performance in front of them. Eventually the former Strikeforce champion found an opening for some vicious blows from the top, forcing the referee to pull him off his bloodied opponent and giving him his first TKO victory since 2011.  Alistair Overeem def. Stefan Struve by TKO (punches). Round 1, 4:13

“I was prepared for everything but he’s such a big guy that I had to work hard for it. He is the tallest guy I have ever fought, so for me, I just had to be a little more strategic. “The Reem” might’ve been gone for a few, but it’s definitely back. It feels great to finish off like this. I can tell you, I worked really hard. I am not sure what’s next, I’m not going to say, but there’s more to come.”

Matt Mitrione vs. Gabriel Gonzaga

Mitrione looked to take the outside of the cage early as the Gonzaga stood his ground in the center looking to counter his opponents punches with his own. After a quick feeling out process, Mitrione dropped his opponent with huge combination and quickly swarmed with ground-and-pound before momentarily pausing, thinking the fight had been stopped. After a quick second of confusion, Mitrione planted one final hook to the hulking Brazilian’s jaw, forcing the referee to call and stop to the fight.  Matt Mitrione def. Gabriel Gonzaga by TKO (punches).  Round 1, 1:59

“I feel so good! I feel like I am finally starting to validate all the hard work and time I have put into this and that everyone else has put in too. That’s a great feeling.”

PRELIMS SUMMARY

Claudia Gadelha vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Gadelha immediately looked to take the fight to the canvas with a trip against the cage. While Jedrzejczyk defended well, Gadelha planted a hard knee to the forehead before finally securing the takedown in order to lock on an arm triable from side control. Jedrzejczyk managed to squirm free but much larger Gadelha kept control as she landed some shorts punches and knees against the cage. Eventually Jedrzejczyk reversed the position, planted a hard elbow between Gadelha’s eyes, broke free and dropped her opponent with a massive uppercut just as the round came to a close.

Immediately out of the gate of the second frame Gadhella secured a takedown and scrambled to Jedrzejczyk’s. Both women eventually rose to their feet as Gadelha planted more knees to the body of her opponent. Gadelha’s looked visibly tired as she slowly backed away from her opponent who continued to look for the uppercut.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Claudia Gadelha by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) 

As the bell for final round rang both fighters continued to jaw at eachother and even took swipes at one another beofre he refereed jumped in between them. The two would eventually shake hands and hug it out.

“I feel very good right now, I wasn’t expecting it to be honest. I knew she was number one and I trained hard for her. It was such a close fight and I knew it would be tough job coming in. At the end, I did my job and she did hers. All I can say is that it feels great to have this win.”

Willie Gates vs. John Moraga

Gates took the center of the cage immediately and began throwing every kick in his arsenal at the much smaller Moraga, who responded with a some vicious body and leg kicks of his own. Moraga got caught with a low blow and as the referee stepped in between them, Gates came in with what appeared to be a cheap shot, sending Moraga tumbling to the canvas. With the crowd booing, Gates worked for the rear naked choke, but to no avail as Moraga worked his way into top control as the round came to an end.

With vicious intent in his eye, Moraga immediately pressed the action into the cage in order to neutralize the reach of Gates. As both men broke apart, Moaraga flung a wild haymaker but could only connect with air. The rounded ended with Moraga controlling Gates against the cage, much to the dismay of the crowd.

Moraga went right back to working against the fence as Gates continued to look for a standing guillotine. Eventually, the diminutive Moaraga brought the fight down to the canvas and began to drop some hard shots from the top before securing back control. With his opponent flattened out, the hometown favorite dropped a barrage of elbows before sinking in the rear-naked choke, forcing Gates to tap as the crowd erupted around him. John Moraga def. Willie Gates by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 3, 4:06 

“I am just glad I got the win. People that follow me know my style and know that I will always go for the win. I wish I could’ve been a bit more open, but his length gave me a little shuffle. I wasn’t able to go in deep the way I wanted to. I do feel I am getting better and better with every fight, and know that I will be able to dominate completely very soon.”

Joe Riggs vs. Ben Saunders

Huge pop for both men as they immediately began flinging leather with vicious intent. Riggs went for a slam but ended up driving his own forehead into the canvas. With his opponent reeling from head shot, Saunders looked to secure a submission from the bottom. However Riggs unexpectedly tapped from the effects of the injury, giving Saunders his second straight submission since returning to the UFC. Ben Saunders def. Joe Riggs by submission (injury). Round 1, 0:57

“The people here are great. They were very welcoming and they know how to get us going. I feel great,” said Saunders. “When I get inside the Octagon, I just focus on the win. Also, 13 is my lucky number, so I knew this was going to be my night and everything about this pointed at a great win. I’m happy to win, I was hoping for good support from the crowd. Riggs and I were in the same boat, as my last fight was my first time back after four years. I know he wanted to make it a good fight. So, it’s really unfortunate for him.”

Drew Dober vs. Jamie Varner

Varner came out with a spring in his step as he immediately landed a powerful one-two combination before clinching up in the center of the cage. He attempeted to dragon his opponent down but Dober reversed, secured full mount, transitioned to the back control and immediately locked on the rear-naked-choke. Varner hung is as long as he could be in the end he was forced to submit, giving him losses in his last four bouts.  Drew Dober def. Jamie Varner by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 1:52

“It’s a huge pleasure to be here. I grew up here the first 10 years of my life, and to be here and being able to fight one of my idols was an amazing experience,” said Dober. “I was expecting the win so that wasn’t too much of a surprise.”

Jamie Varner announced his retirement in his post fight interview, leaving his gloves in the center of cage as the crowd gives him a standing ovation on his way out.

Bryan Barberena  vs. Joe Ellenberger

Ellenberger secured the powerful takedown against the fence early and immediately began to land some short shots to the body and head of Barberena. While he managed to make it back to his, Barberena was sent crashing right back down after eating a stiff shot followed by another Ellenberger takedown as the the opening round came to a close.

Barberena came out like a bat out of hell in the second round, looking to land the flash knockout from the center of the cage. Ellenberger looked completely gassed at the halfway point of the round but still looked to land the right hook to the body even after his opponent landed a series of punches to his unprotected skull. As soon as the round reached the the one minute mark, Ellenberger desperately shot in for a  failed takedown attempt,  leaving him wide open for a vicious counter attack from Barberena just as the second frame came to an end.

An exhausted Ellenberger once against shot in for the takedown in the third frame but Barberena defended beautifully as he connected with some vicious of Travis Browne-esque elbows against the cage. As both men broke free, Barberena dropped Ellenberger with a huge combination and quickly swarmed in for the kill. After what seemed like an eternity, the referee finally jumped in, saving Ellenberger from more damage and giving Barberena his first career UFC victory. Bryan Barberena  def. Joe Ellenberger by TKO (ground-and-pound). Round 3, 3:24

“My game plan was to keep it standing. I knew he would try to wrestle me, so I took my time and picked him apart and waited for openings to come. I feel like I hurt him every shot I got,: said Barberena. “I knew when he took me down that I was going to get right back up. I train with some great people at The LAB, like Benson Henderson. I was definitely ready for this fight. I knew I was going to finish him, I knew I had him hurt and I was going to finish him. It feels great to get the win in front of a hometown crowd. I was supposed to fight on a different card and it didn’t work out, but everything happens for a reason. It was definitely a surreal feeling being in the UFC, and to get a finish in my first fight feels great.”

David Michaud vs. Garett Whiteley

Michaud immediately took the center  of the cage but it’s Whiteley who came out firing as he threw a series of quick jabs and leg kicks. Michaud continued to look for the overhand right but Whitely counters with a looping uppercut that finds its mark. The much lankier Whitely had no answer for Michaud’s head movement late in the first round as continuously whiffed on pretty much everything he threw right up until the end of a very sloppy first round.

The rest of the fight Michaud continued ducked his bloodied opponent and planted him on the canvas. From here he landed vicicious ground-and-pound. Whitely did manage to connect with an elbow, rocking Michaud for a quick minute, but in the end Michaud’s ground and pout  right up until the bell sounded for the end of a very entertaining bout. David Michaud def. Garett Whiteley by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

“It feels good to come here and get the win,” said Michaud. “The plan was to keep moving forward. He was a tough opponent. We gave a great performance I think.”

Henry Cejudo vs. Dustin Kimura

Cejudo opened up with a big pop from the hometown crowd as both men tentatively circled one another early in the first round. After a quick feeling out process, Cejudo planted a perfectly placed shot to the jaw of Kimura, sending him tumbling to the canvas. The former olympian swarmed as reigned down blows atop his opponents skull but could not get the finish as Kimura weathered the storm and made it back to his feet just as the opening frame came to an end.

The second frame started off just as the first one did as both men circled each other looking for an opening to strike. Neither man looked aggressive in the round as they continued to throw pitter patter shots until the sound signaled the end of the round.

Kimura came out aggressive early as he planted several kick to leg of his opponent. But Cejudo continued to plod forward as he flung a series of haymakers, none of which managed to connect with Kimura. A bloodied Kimura did manage to land a stiff flying knee near the end of the round and even fought off takedown but in the end Cejudo was too much and too powerful. Henry Cejudoo def. Dustin Kimura by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

“This feels good. I knew I wanted to fight here all along. I grew up 10 minutes away from here and I used to come to this arena to sell lemonade to raise money,” said Cejudo. “To hear people chanting my name, and to win here, it’s an amazing feeling. I have to give it up for my corner and my team. I regularly fight a lot lighter, so I’m hoping the UFC will give me another chance at fighting at 125-pounds. Otherwise, it felt great.”

Anthony Birchak vs. Ian Entwistle

Birchak secured the body lock early before planting his opponent on his back against the cage. Entwistle immediately went for the leg lock. Birchak defended valiantly for several seconds but in the end was forced to tap as Entwistle threatened to snap his ankle with the torque he was putting on his limb. Ian Entwistle def. Anthony Birchak by submission (heel hook). Round 1, 1:04

“I feel good. It’s amazing. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me,” said Entwistle. “I don’t have much to say about everything else. After this, I’m going to go celebrate around town.”

FULL RESULTS

MAIN CARD- FOX, 8 p.m. ET

Junior dos Santos def. Stipe Miocic by unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46)
Rafael dos Anjos def. Nate Diaz by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Alistair Overeem def. Stefan Struve by TKO (punches). Round 1, 4:13
Matt Mitrione def. Gabriel Gonzaga by TKO (punches). Round 1, 1:59

PRELIMINARY CARD- FOX Sports 1, 5 p.m. ET

Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Claudia Gadelha by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
John Moraga def. Willie Gates by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 3, 4:06
Ben Saunders def. Joe Riggs by submission (injury). Round 1, 0:57
Drew Dober def. Jamie Varner by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 1:52
Derek Brunson vs. Ed Herman – Brunson pulled out due to food poisoning.
Bryan Barberena  def. Joe Ellenberger by TKO (ground-and-pound). Round 3, 3:24

DIGITAL PRELIM CARD- UFC Fight Pass, 3:30 p.m. ET
David Michaud def. Garett Whiteley by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Henry Cejudo def. Dustin Kimura by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Ian Entwistle def. Anthony Birchak by submission (heel hook). Round 1, 1:04