Twenty-four year old Mexican prospect Daniel Zellhuber took on UFC veteran Christos Giagos at Noche UFC on Mexican Independence Day.
Both men had a .500 record in the UFC to start the night, but the difference in experience was wide given that this would be Zellhuber’s third fight with the promotion and Giagos’ thirteenth. Both men also came into this fight off of the biggest win of their careers; Zellhuber beat another veteran in Lando Vannata while Giagos got his first UFC knockout, sleeping Ricky Glenn with a left hook in the first round. However, in this fight it was Daniel Zellhuber who got the finish— the first of his UFC career.
When the fight started Zellhuber pressed forward right away but was quite low-volume with his attacks. Giagos would burst in with big punches. Only ninety seconds into the first round one of his left hooks caught Zellhuber and almost dropped him. Daniel had to put a hand on the mat to keep himself up and stumbled backwards for ten seconds or so but recovered relatively quickly, considering how badly hurt he seemed. After that he got right back on the forward movement and stuffed a takedown from Giagos, but still had low output with mostly non-committal strikes from outside the pocket. Whenever Christos got into the pocket he landed and Zellhuber looked uncomfortable. Giagos failed one more takedown but when the round ended he was clearly ahead by a score of 10-9.
Zellhuber came out for round two looking more motivated as he threw a high kick which off-balanced Giagos. He was more active with his lower half in general in the middle round, throwing knees and leg kicks more often. He was also more aggressive and really stepped into the pocket to throw big combinations on several occasions. Ninety seconds into the round Giagos got in on the hips and chased a takedown for a long time but Zellhuber’s balance and takedown defense were impeccable.
Giagos’ bursts of offense were more sparse and less effective as he began to tire and Zellhuber’s offense grew more determined. With two minutes left Zellhuber seemed to stun Giagos with a right hand, causing Christos to shoot a desperate, telegraphed takedown. Zellhuber defended well but this time went to the ground with him as he locked up an anaconda choke with lightning speed. His long arms helped him here as Giagos was trapped, saw no way out, and had to tap quickly to avoid going to sleep.
In his first fight in front of a full stadium of fans, on Mexican Independence Day no less, Daniel Zellhuber overcame adversity to finish a man whose first UFC fight was ten years ago. The first finish of his UFC career came at a perfect time, getting him to a winning record with the promotion. At such a young age this Mexican prospect clearly has the potential to go all the way to the top, and the crowd in T-Mobile Arena got fully behind him with his post-fight interview as he gave his appreciation to them for their support.
Official Result: Daniel Zellhuber def. Christos Giagos by submission (Anaconda Choke) Round 2, 3:26