Many weren’t giving Michelle Waterson a chance to beat Paige VanZant. She hadn’t fought in 17 months and VanZant had become a household name rather quickly in the UFC. People were pegging her as a future star and the potential face of women’s MMA.
Waterson put those thoughts to rest, submitting VanZant by rear-naked choke at 3:21 of the first round Saturday night.
“I’m not dreaming,” Waterson told Brian Stann in her postfight interview. “I’m wide awake.”
The bout was even as both fighters were exchanging shots in the middle of the Octagon. That changed in the blink of an eye as they were in a clinch and Waterson tossed “12 Gauge” to the mat with a head-and-arm takedown.
“The Karate Hottie” went to work and transitioned to VanZant’s back and locked in the rear-naked choke. To the Team Alpha Male fighter’s credit, she fought tooth and nail to get out of the choke. VanZant ended up passing out and referee John McCarthy had no choice but to stop the fight.
Waterson runs her record to 14-4 and 2-0 in the UFC. VanZant goes to 7-3 and has lost two of her last three fights.
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Here’s how UFC on Fox 22 unfolded:
10:54 p.m. ET: In the main event of UFC on Fox 22, Paige VanZant takes on Michelle Waterson in women’s strawweight action. After a runner-up finish on “Dancing With The Stars,” VanZant returned to knock out Bec Rawlings in the second round. Waterson, the former Invicta FC atomweight champion, made her UFC debut in July 2015, submitting Angela Magana. Give a slight edge to VanZant due to her constant pressure, which should tire out Waterson as the fight goes into the later rounds.
9:47 p.m. ET: Gall defeated Northcutt by submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:40 of the second round. Gall controlled the first round using his wrestling and Northcutt had his moments on the feet. In the second round, it was more of the same, but this time Gall landed a right hand that reeled Northcutt, who tried for a takedown and quickly got choked out. Love the jiu-jitsu of Gall, who goes to 4-0. Don’t get the game plan of Northcutt. After he got knocked down, he had time to get up and compose himself. Instead he panicked, went for a takedown and got choked out. Can tell Northcutt still has a lot to work on as his ground game is pretty bad, evidenced by the fact he didn’t try to get out of the choke by Gall. After the fight, Gall stated his intentions to go to lightweight and called out former welterweight title challenger Dan Hardy. I like the move: Gall seems a little light for 170 pounds. Looking forward to seeing what he can do there. He predicted he will be the lightweight champion in a few years.
9:27 p.m. ET: Coming up next at UFC on Fox 22, in welterweight action, Mickey Gall fights Sage Northcutt. Gall challenged Northcutt after he made quick work of CM Punk at UFC 203. The last time Northcutt fought at 170 pounds, he lost Bryan Barberena. Have to really question the positioning of this fight. The only reason there are in this position is because they were on the Dana White reality show, “Looking for a Fight” and the UFC wants to get a return on their investments.
9:20 p.m. ET: Jon Anik talks to bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt who will be in the co-main event of UFC 207 on Dec. 30. This was pretty epic. Trash talk back-and-forth and cuss words flying. The smile on Anik’s face was priceless. Great way to sell the fight and definitely sold some pay-per-views.
9:15 p.m. ET: Faber defeats Pickett by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26). That was vintage Faber. He used his powerful left hand to drop Pickett and the fight should have been stopped then. I don’t know what referee John McCarthy was thinking in letting Pickett taking that much punishment. Faber went to back to his bread and butter, his wrestling to control the rest of the fight. There’s nothing better than going out on top and getting to do it in his hometown. What a career. Former WEC featherweight champion, made five consecutive title defenses and put the lower weight classes on the map. Congratulations to Urijah Faber on a great career!
8:46 p.m. ET: Urijah Faber makes the final walk of his career. A thunderous ovation for the “California Kid.” Very classy of the UFC to show Faber’s entrance and give him the lights out treatment which is usually reserved for title fights or main events. And on Fox, which only shows the entrances of the main event fights. Still baffled on why this isn’t the main event of the show.
8:44 p.m. ET: Coming up at UFC on Fox 22, in bantamweight action, Urijah Faber goes up against Brad Pickett. It is the final fight in Faber’s illustrious career. Both fighters have lost three of their last four fights. Expect them to go for broke and leave it all inside the octagon.
8:40 p.m. ET: Jouban defeats Perry by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28). It was all Jouban. He was able to keep Perry on the outside and set up his strikes with his left hand including knoc downs of Perry in the first and second rounds. I don’t know what Perry was doing in the third round. He seemed dejected and had conceded the fight. In a fight you are losing, you need to go for it all and Perry was content watching Jouban punch and kick him to defeat.
8:09 p.m. ET: To kickoff the main card of UFC on Fox 22, in welterweight action, Mike Perry takes on Alan Jouban. Perry has burst onto the scene in the UFC. Two fights, two knockouts and is 9-0 overall. Jouban will be his toughest test as he’s 14-4 and 5-2 in the UFC. An exciting fight to kickoff the main card.
8:05 p.m. ET: Watching the opening montage and thoughts of the pre-game desk, the main and co-main event are based on looks. Urijah Faber should be main eventing this show as he was the focus of the last ten minutes of the prelims and was the topic of discussion to open the main card.
7:50 p.m. ET: Fight night is finally upon us, as UFC on Fox 22 commences from Sacramento with the main event that features Paige VanZant against Michelle Waterson, Mickey Gall vs. Sage Northcutt and the final fight in the career of Urijah Faber as he battles Brad Pickett.
Steven Muehlhausen is an MMA and boxing writer and contributor for Sporting News. You can find his podcast, “The Fight Club Chicago,” and subscribe on iTunes . You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and can find him on Twitter @SMuehlhausenMMA .