The UFC 164 Fox Sports 1 card closed with a lightweight battle between longtime divisional standouts Gleison Tibau and Jamie Varner. Both fighters were looking to capitalize on a recent run of success as Tibau entered the fight fresh off a submission win over John Cholish back in May. Varner, for his part entered off a split decision victory over Melvin Guillard at UFC 155. This was a great showcase fight for two men at a similar position in their careers looking to remain relevant on the fringes of the top ten.
If Gleison Tibau has a method to his fighting this displayed it perfectly. He came out early and traded a few strong hooks with Varner. Once he'd established range and timing he got in under Varner's strikes, took him down and spent the remainder of the round grinding and submission hunting. The second round followed much of the same tactic. Varner attempted to get aggressive with his striking, but paid the price as he was taken down and spent the majority of the round fighting off his back. In the third, Tibau's reserves depleated somewhat, and Varner realizing that he needed to create space and stuff shots first and strike second, Varner mounted something of a comeback. Stuffing Tibau's takedowns and even landing one of his own. He did enough damage to take the round, but was unable to get a stoppage for the come from behind victory. The result: Gleison Tibau defeated Jamie Varner by Split Decision (29-28, 27-29, 29-28).
What was the high point?
Nothing. It wasn't a bad fight, but there wasn't any particular moment that stood out as must see. Tibau fought his fight and Varner didn't/couldn't adjust quickly enough.
What was the low point?
Nothing. Varner's inability to beat the predictable Tibau is a little disappointing, but Tibau is a behemoth. Neither fighter did anything to deminish themselves terribly in this one.
Where do they go from here?
For Tibau he stays right in top 15-20 territory. He probably will never be top ten, but he always seems to hang around at the top of the incredibly deep lightweight division, fighters on the rise to or fall from the top ten are usually his matchups so I'd give him a bout against Danny Castillo who's on a nice two win streak.
Varner takes a small step back. He's a solid middle of the pack fighter who can give a lot of guys fits and is a great gatekeeper, but this was a fight he needed to win if he wanted to get close to top ten status. A fight with Evan Dunham makes a ton of sense right now.
Watch it now, later, or never?
Watch it later, possibly never. There just wasn't a lot to see. It wasn't boring, and it was competitive, so I wouldn't dismiss it outright, but it's nothing to go out of your way for either.
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