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Stipe Miocic emerges in defeat on strange night in Phoenix

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

However the UFC on FOX 13 card goes down in history, the number 13 will stand out as its lingering omen. There was Jamie Varner knocking himself out on a takedown (and subsequent retirement), Ryan Jimmo bitching about his comp seats (nose bleeds), Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino reveling in her cageside seats (f*ck you, Ryan Jimmo!), Charles Barkley mixing company with Sensei Steven Seagal (who’s up for another round of jalapeño poppers?) and Stipe Miocic and Junior dos Santos just straight going to war, boy, ransacking each other’s faces and looting each other’s bodily premises’ for 25 straight minutes. Which I’ll get to in a minute.

Back in the day, people openly wondered how the UFC would play out on a vast platform like that of "Big FOX," where "casuals" might happen upon the sport casually. There were little things we noticed up front. Things like production people painting over prelim blood spills on the canvas before the main card telecast. For us who’ve long followed the UFC, this was like mom running the vacuum over the rug real quick before the dinner party.

Don’t want the company to think we’re slobs.

These days we think about the fights themselves as much as we do the prudes who might stumble on them. On Saturday night there were some good ones. Compelling ones. Fights that could potentially upset a random viewer, or draw them in towards the purple heart of the bug zapper. Things like Nate Diaz, who doesn’t give a damn about no national television nor any of your FCCs. He’s the reason for the five-second delay, you know. Remember when he got Kurt Pellegrino in a triangle, and as he cinched it he flew the double birds? Diaz got pummeled by Rafael Dos Anjos after a lengthy layoff, and the camera didn’t catch his double-bird action this time (not that he didn’t let them fly).

Now RDA is in line for a title shot, and Diaz’s title chances are once again up in smoke.

The heavyweight fight at the top was a classic between JDS and Miocic, an exhibition of chin, heart and Adam’s apple -- just a couple of guys swinging meat tenderizers until each other’s noses were mashed back as far as they could go into their skulls. Which I’ll hit on momentarily.

Did you notice, though, the sheer amount of comebacks going on? Alistair Overeem was literally teetering on the brink of big-bust obscurity coming into his fight with Stefan Struve (who was returning from his own slate of setbacks). Overeem did what he needed to do by eliminating the range, taking the 7-foot Struve down, and scoring a knockout with a ruthless right hand. He might need to fight Matt Mitrione next, because Mitrione dusted Gabriel Gonzaga in under two minutes just before he went on. 

Three heavyweight fights on the main card for UFC on FOX 13. One KO, one TKO, one bloody saga of a main event.

Not all that long ago it was mostly Benson Henderson or Demetrious Johnson headlining the FOX cards -- which was met with enthusiastic consternation by the press. If there was any fear of a potential bloodfest hitting the airwaves in earlier FOX bookings, it all went away when the UFC put Matt Brown in a cage with Robbie Lawler as the main event for UFC on FOX 12. That was Middle Ages matchmaking right there.

And people forget that the FOX pioneer was none other than Dos Santos, who knocked out Cain Velasquez to win the heavyweight belt in the "bonus" show back in November 2011. Those were the halcyon days of Dos Santos, back when he starched everybody.

Since then he’s been in four features-distorting wars. Two with Velasquez, which comes out to 48 cage minutes of battery against that robo-bull, one with Mark Hunt, and now this fight with Miocic that brought Phoenix to its feet. More on that in a second.

UFC on FOX 13 was like something that blew in off the Superstition Mountains. There was Claudia Galdelha cracking Joanna Jedrzejczyk well after the final bell (Paul Daley revisited), John Moraga taking a totally legal sucker punch from Willie Gates (dude), Joe Riggs injuring himself on a takedown (the same Riggs who came back from injuring himself with a gun) and Joe Rogan turning Mike Goldberg’s face red with a joke during Gadelha-Jedrzejczyk (he was getting all the gash jokes out of his system before the main card on FOX).

Speaking of gashes, the one that David Michaud had on his head in his fight against Garett Whiteley colored the canvas good with blood. Extra work for the Octagon canvas painters for sure. That blood was harder to cover up than the truth, and it was still visible when Dos Santos and Miocic took the cage.

And man, that main event. What?

A fight is always best when it tells a story. This one did. It was Miocic, the lesser-known underdog, bringing the fight to JDS. It was him rocking Dos Santos, hurting him early, snatching at the baton, making his name. It was Dos Santos’ recovering, retaliating, taking the fight over. It was Miocic gassing late in the third, and Dos Santos headhunting with overhand rights. Miocic in for takedowns, Dos Santos in for uppercuts. Dos Santos bled first and bled most, Miocic bled on the judge’s scorecards. What a fight. There wasn’t a loser, there were only questions. How much more can Dos Santos take?

And how long until Miocic fights for a title? He didn’t get lucky win No. 13 at UFC on FOX 13 on Dec. 13, but he got a $50,000 bonus. Better yet, on a night when wacky things were rampant, he got a name.