New light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin wasn't the only "Ultimate Fighter" alumnus looking to improve his stock at this past Saturday's UFC 86 event. Season two winner Joe "Daddy" Stevenson (29-8 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who had previously lost a lightweight title bout to B.J. Penn, defeated Gleison Tibau (15-6 MMA, 3-3 UFC) to get back on the winning track.
"Joe Daddy" was a recent guest on TAGG Radio (www.taggradio.com), the official radio partner of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com), where he discussed his big submission win over the ATT standout.
"I really didn't want to finish this fight with a guillotine," Stevenson said. "I wanted to drop him. It just didn't work out for me this time."
However, Stevenson nearly found himself on the wrong side of a submission attempt, spending much of the first round fighting off an omoplata. Midway through the second round, however, a frustrated Stevenson came back to lock in a deep guillotine choke during a Tibau takedown attempt.
"I think he was really caught off guard," said Stevenson, who's the first fighter ever to submit Tibau. "I don't think he expected my guillotine to be as good as it was."
The Victorville, Calif. native hadn't fought since his January title loss to BJ Penn, and Stevenson said he needed to shake off some ring rust before he could figure out his opponent.
"I guess it was good to get some of the cobwebs off," Stevenson said. "I figured out [Tibau] is incredibly strong. (However), he doesn't want to peter out so he uses it in bursts. If you can catch him when he is trying to rest, that is when you are going to do your big damage."
Looking back now, the 26-year-old feels he should have capitalized more on Tibau's rhythm so he could secure a stoppage earlier in the fight.
"I made the mistake of not just following up when I knocked him down with my right hand," Stevenson said. "(Also), when I took him down, I should have just exploded with forearms on him. I was thinking, 'I've got to be careful. This guy is super strong and (has) a black belt.' Honestly, I think I didn't fight him to my best ability."
So, regardless of the fact that he walked away a victor, the always-modest Stevenson still believes his outing was sub-par.
"I was pretty upset with my performance; I thought I could have done 10 times better," said Stevenson, who's now 6-2 since winning "The Ultimate Fighter" season two. "I am really critical of myself."
One factor that may have hampered Stevenson's performance was an assortment of injuries he sustained prior to the fight.
"I came into that fight not even 100 percent. ... I was really hurt," Stevenson said. "I had a bruised femur and a hurt elbow."
However, the 10-year-veteran joked that he may never fight at full capacity since injuries are a common part of the fight game.
"Honestly, with the right camp, I'm sure you can come in 100 percent," Stevenson joked. "I just haven't done it yet."
Now that he is back in the win column, Stevenson plans to commemorate the official grand opening of his new gym, Joe Stevenson's Cobra Kai, as well as allow his injuries to heal. Stevenson is also looking forward to getting another shot at the UFC lightweight title, a chance that may come sooner rather than later if he continues to win.
"Joe (Silva) was telling me two or three wins," he said.
For the entire interview with Stevenson, download Monday's edition of TAGG Radio, available for free in the TAGG Radio archives.