Joe Stevenson entered his UFC 86 fight against Gleison Tibau as a 2-1 favorite. From the way the fight started to unravel, you would have thought that it was the other way around as he was dominated for much of the fight. However, Stevenson somehow managed to find a way to leave the Octagon victorious.
Not only did Tibau dominate Stevenson for much of the fight, he also had a considerable size advantage. Tibau trains out of the Brazilian Top Team camp, which also houses UFC Welterweight contender Thiago Silva. Silva has come out in his last couple of fights seeming to tower over his opponents, most recently former UFC Champion Matt Hughes, who used to be considered a “big” welterweight.
Whatever is in the water at the BTT Camp seems to be working. Tibau’s size advantage was not only blatantly obvious, but it was causing much havoc for Stevenson. Normally an exceptional wrestler and ground fighter, Stevenson had difficulty taking down Tibau, who in fact had Stevenson on his back for much of the 1stRound.
“I just wanted to cruise. I know that he had a problem keeping with the pace and I just wanted to cruise and (then) turn it on,” Stevenson stated about his game plan in his post-fight interview. “Evidently I was coming short, so I should have just turned it on the whole time.”
Perhaps he should have kept “it on” the entire fight, as the 2ndRound didn’t fare much differently for Stevenson with Tibau able to take him down relatively easily. After the fight went to the ground, Tibau was able to catch Stevenson off guard…no pun intended.
“I was thinking cage tactics. I wasn’t expecting him to go to side mount,” Stevenson said. “All the fights (previous), they let him pass and he goes right back into the guard. I didn’t think he was gonna pass.”
And pass he did, as Tibau easily moved out of Stevenson’s full guard into a dominant side mount position.
“…when he went to side mount, I decided to defend the bicep strangle, which he is really good at,” Stevenson added. “Doing that, I let him transition into the mount, then I scooted next to the cage to drive him off and I was able to get back to my feet.”
Stevenson seemed to be in a world of trouble for a second, but once he was able to get the fight back up standing, he was able to extend the fight. Stevenson has been in this business too long and knows that the longer a fight goes on the better chance you have to capitalize on an opponent’s mistakes.
And capitalize he did, as later in the fight Tibau aggressively and wildly shot head first into Stevenson in an attempt to score another takedown. Unfortunately for him, Stevenson had tasted that before and was prepared for a counter this time.
“Honestly, he just put his head down and I took it,” referring to Tibau’s sloppy takedown attempt. “There was nothing fancy. I didn’t set it up an, ‘omoplata to the guillotine, oh I got it.’“
Stevenson survived, and he knows it. Should he have lost? Maybe. Did he lose? No.