-This was the first show of 2013 to be really hit by an injury issue, as originally the main event would’ve seen Sweden’s top fighter Alexander Gustafsson facing off with StrikeForce import Gegard Mousasi, but unfortunately Gustafsson suffered a deep cut in training and pulled out with a week to go. With little time to find a replacement Zuffa called upon the total unknown – even to hardcore fans – Ilir Latifi, and so the show went from arguably a one-match card to probably the least anticipated UFC show in recent memory.
UFC on Fuel TV: Mousasi vs. Latifi
-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Kenny Florian. Bit weird to see Goldie doing a Fuel card but no complaints from me as I’m not a hater of his and I prefer him to Jon Anik anyway.
Peralta had been slowly creeping up the ranks at 145lbs since his 2011 debut, and was looking for another win here to follow up a nice knockout of Jason Young in September, while TUF 14’s top heel Corrassani was also looking to follow up a win – in his case, a controversial decision over Andy Ogle.
Fight begins and Akira circles on the outside and throws some early leg kicks as Peralta stays in the center of the cage and looks to throw heavy shots. Good counter from Corrassani and he keeps on moving. Announcers mention that Akira’s been working with Frankie Edgar’s camp which is interesting as he’s using an Edgar-type gameplan thus far. Beautiful right hand lands for Akira and he dodges out of the way of a counter. Heavy combo from Peralta but Akira clinches to slow him down. Peralta forces him back into the cage and I never noticed before but he’s HUGE for 145lbs. Akira breaks off and pushes forward with a glancing combination. Body kick from Akira but Peralta catches the leg to deliver a knee to the body. Overhand right lands flush for Corrassani. Another one follows but doesn’t land as heavily. Akira is still moving nicely too. Peralta pushes forward with a combo but Corrassani dodges back and lands a counter. Uppercut glances for Peralta. Leg kick lands for Corrassani. One minute to go in the round and Akira shoots on a single leg. Peralta blocks it and they end up clinched, exchanging some short strikes against the fence. Good knee inside from Peralta as they muscle for position, and with seconds to go they break. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Corrassani for me as he utilized nice movement to land the better strikes.
Into the 2nd and Akira remains on his bike, before catching a low kick and clocking Peralta with a hard right hand. Peralta throws some kicks out that don’t really land and Akira connects on his own leg kick. Fans are chanting something but I can’t work out what it is. Combination lands for Akira and he circles out to avoid a big shot from Peralta. Wild hook to the body from Peralta sets up a takedown, and he gets Corrassani down for a second but the TUF vet pops right back up. Good knee inside the clinch from Akira but Peralta breaks with a right. Clipping right hand from Peralta but Akira answers with a leg kick. Combo glances for Corrassani. Good left hand lands for Peralta to end a combination. Another left wobbles Akira badly and he goes staggering back towards the fence. Big knee puts him down and he’s in trouble. Peralta pounds away looking to finish, but Akira does a tremendous job of surviving and gets to his feet in the clinch. Looks like he’s okay as Peralta knees to the legs and only manages to land some really glancing short punches. They exchange some knees from the clinch and muscle for position and now Akira drops for a takedown. He gets a double leg and takes Peralta down for a second, but Robbie pops right back up using the fence. Good knee inside from Akira. They break off and now Akira lands a HUGE OVERHAND RIGHT that wobbles Peralta! Peralta looks in trouble and tries to clinch, but he takes another right and Corrassani starts to walk him down. Crowd are going crazy now. Right hook and a left hand land for Akira and wobble Peralta again, but the round ends before he can follow it up. 10-9 Corrassani in a really close round. Would’ve gone to Peralta had he not got wobbled at the end there.
Third and final round and Akira lands a glancing combo early to back Peralta up. Brief trade follows before Peralta shrugs off a clinch. Right hand connects for Corrassani. Nice leg kick from Peralta. Overhand right glances for him too. Big combination from Akira backs him up though and he follows with a nice trip takedown into the guard. Peralta immediately rolls for a kimura on the right arm, but he’s in an awkward position pinned into the fence and he can’t get it. Corrassani pulls out and passes to half-guard, but Peralta stands. Akira manages to get his back and brings him back down, but Peralta pops up again. Trip puts him back down in guard this time. Pass into half-guard from Akira but Peralta looks like he’s going to wall-walk to his feet. Corrassani passes again though and looks for the full mount. He gets the back, but can’t get any hooks in and Peralta stands. Corrassani keeps a rear waistlock locked on and tries to trip him back down. Good job from Peralta to turn into the clinch and he lands an elbow inside. Good knees from Peralta in the clinch and he muscles Akira into the cage. Akira breaks off and forces Peralta back, and they continue to muscle for position in the clinch. Looks like Corrassani’s cut on his forehead quite badly. One minute to go and Corrassani lands a solid knee and drops for a takedown, but Peralta defends it. Knee from Peralta but he slips to his back and Corrassani settles on top in half-guard. Round ends with Akira on top. 10-9 Corrassani and I’ve got it 30-27. Good fight.
Judges have it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Akira Corrassani. Really impressive showing for him and evidently the move to Edgar’s camp worked as he looked like a completely different fighter from his TUF run as a crude-ish brawler, showing improved movement, footwork, takedowns, striking and ground game, as well as a smarter fight IQ as he was able to change it up in the third and take Peralta down when he started to lose standing. Guy has a bright future in the UFC if he can continue to improve at this rate for sure.
On paper this looked like a really exciting fight as both men are well-known for finishing opponents early and in violent fashion. Garza was coming off a win over Mark Hominick while Brandao had beaten Joey Gambino in his home country of Brazil. I was favouring Brandao just because I love his super-aggressive tendencies but it was a close one to call.
First round begins and they circle before Brandao glances with a leg kick. Nice leg kick connects clean for the TUF winner. Head kick is blocked by Brandao. Another leg kick lands for Brandao. Brandao is doing a decent job at closing the distance on the taller fighter. Double jab from Garza backs him up slightly. Combo lands for Brandao. Good leg kick from Garza into a right hand. Jumping knee misses though. Right hand into a left hook from Brandao and he tries a flying knee that doesn’t really land. They clinch and Brandao hits a big slam down into half-guard. Garza quickly gets to a full butterfly guard but Brandao postures up to drop some strikes and works to pass in the process. He gets to half-guard and appears to be setting up for an arm triangle. Garza works to defend but Brandao passes into side mount. Garza keeps squirming from the bottom, but Brandao remains in control and then he manages to lock up the arm triangle. Garza manages to survive for a few moments but it’s too tight and in the end he has to tap out.
Super-impressive performance from Diego Brandao who remains arguably the most dangerous one-round fighter in the UFC at 145lbs. Garza isn’t a tomato can by any means but Brandao blew right through him, showing more patience than he’d done in the past and a smarter gameplan to take the fight to the ground rather than stand with the lankier fighter and deal with the reach disadvantage. Probably his best performance in the UFC thus far in fact. Nice finish too.
This was a prelim taped earlier in the night, with the Irishman McGregor – bringing quite a reputation with him from his days on the smaller circuit – making his UFC debut against Brimage, who had pulled off two solid upsets in 2012 by beating both Maximo Blanco and Jimy Hettes. To add to the intrigue, McGregor had basically done his best Nick Diaz impression at the weigh-in, talking loads of trash and trying to headbutt Brimage for no good reason.
Fight begins and Brimage comes out swinging, and they exchange right away. McGregor looks to be doing a nice job of dodging Brimage’s strikes, though. Leg kick does land for Brimage and he connects on a right hand. Left uppercut fires back for McGregor though and snaps Brimage’s head back. Front kick to the jaw follows but Brimage keeps wading forward. Counter left lands for McGregor and then a pair of uppercuts and a combination drop Brimage HARD and McGregor finishes him off with some super-accurate punches on the ground. Wow.
Talk about living up to the hype – whole fight took about a minute as McGregor just used Brimage’s aggression against him by countering with harder, sharper strikes and once he’d got the TUF veteran hurt it was all over. Zuffa seem to be giving this guy the huge superstar push and it’s understandable with his wild personality – I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone not named Chael talk so much trash – and if he can continue to perform like this then he’ll be a main eventer in no time. Tremendous UFC debut.
Like the previous one this was an exciting fight on paper, although both men hadn’t looked great in their last showings if we’re honest, in losses to Eddie Wineland and Ivan Menjivar respectively. As far as a winner went I was leaning towards Pickett as he’s just a little more talented in my opinion, but it was a close one to call for sure.
Round One begins and they clash on a pair of leg kicks to begin. Couple of jabs glance for Pickett as both men show a ton of movement early on. Couple of combinations land for Pickett. Kick from Easton is caught and Pickett gets him down for a second, but Easton reverses right away and forces Pickett into the fence. Pickett manages to turn into a clinch, and the action slows from there as Easton simply forces him back into the cage with a couple of knees. Takedown attempt from Easton but Pickett fights it off brilliantly, popping the crowd. Big elbow lands for the Brit and he follows with another that hurts Easton. Pickett takes the opportunity to switch position and force Easton into the fence. They break off and Pickett lands with a jab. Another jab connects for the Brit and he glances on an uppercut. Head kick misses for Easton. Right hand lands for Pickett. Combo backs Easton up a bit and Pickett shoots. Easton stuffs it and breaks with a knee. Head kick glances for Easton but Pickett lands with a one-two. Combo from Pickett and he avoids a counter from Easton. Right hand lands for Pickett but Easton tackles him to the ground in guard. Pickett kicks him away quickly though and pops back up with a combo. Takedown attempt from Pickett now but Easton defends for a moment before being slammed down. Easton gives his back to try to get up, but Pickett stays on him and tries to drag him back down. Easton blocks but goes down on the buzzer. Tight round but I’d go 10-9 Pickett.
Round Two and Easton lands with a nice overhand right, then follows with a leg kick. Pickett backs him up a bit with some punches and then they trade wildly in the clinch for a second before breaking off. Right hand connects for Pickett. Combo answers for Easton. Takedown attempt from Easton but Pickett blocks it. Good knee from Easton in the clinch but Pickett answers back with a pair of uppercuts. Jab into a left uppercut connects for Pickett. Combinations from both men but Pickett’s slightly getting the better of it. He’s using the jab quite nicely. Knee glances for Easton but he eats an uppercut and a couple of jabs. Takedown from Pickett but Easton pops right back up into the clinch. They exchange some shots inside the clinch and Pickett drops for a takedown and hits another slam. Easton pops right back up but Pickett stays on him like glue. Hard knee lands inside for Easton. Another one follows but Pickett lands with an uppercut. They break off and now Easton hits a takedown into guard. He passes into half-guard and looks to work on a kimura, but Pickett reverses to his feet. One minute to go and Pickett goes for a takedown but Easton stuffs it and backs him up with some punches. Pickett looks tired and Easton clinches and looks for the takedown. Pickett blocks and delivers a knee and a combination on the break. Big uppercut lands and Easton looks hurt, but he fires right back and they trade off wildly until the round ends. 10-9 Easton in another close one.
Round Three begins with a trade of punches and it’s Easton that lands a heavy left hand. Both men have slowed down a lot now and they miss with some strikes. Combination from Pickett as Easton pushes forward. Good knee to the body from Easton. Uppercut from Pickett. Body kick answers for Easton. Combinations connect for both men. Takedown attempt from Easton and he gets Pickett down, but the Brit hits a sick sweep to take top position in guard. That was beautiful. Short elbows land for Pickett and Easton looks a little stuck from his back now probably due to fatigue. Pickett passes into half-guard and he looks to pass that. Easton turns to his side and ends up giving his back, but he stands before Pickett can get the hooks in. German suplex from Pickett puts Easton back down but he pops back up. Pickett trips him down again and then grabs a front headlock in the scramble, looking for a potential guillotine which Easton avoids. One minute to go and they come back up, where they continue to exchange strikes. Right hook lands nicely for Pickett. Easton keeps coming forward but Pickett hits him with a knee to the body to slow him down. Right hook from Pickett but he eats one from Easton on the counter. Good combo from Easton but Pickett fires right back and they continue to exchange until the buzzer. Great fight. 10-9 Pickett and I think the only result is 29-28 for him.
Official scorecards have a split decision; 29-28 Easton, 30-27 Pickett and 30-27 for Brad Pickett to take the win. Well, I really have no idea how you’d have Easton winning that fight but there you go, at least the right guy won in the end. Really fun, closely fought contest with both men giving out punishment and receiving their fair share too. Difference was the third round as Pickett dominated a tired Easton on the ground, but you can’t take much away from Easton either as it was such an exciting fight. Good stuff!
This felt like an odd fight to make as I figured they’d give Mitrione a tougher fight, but I guess they wanted to throw him a bit of a bone after he stepped up to face Roy Nelson on relatively late notice in December. I couldn’t see him losing here as De Fries hadn’t exactly looked stellar to this point in his UFC run and his striking is his big weak point.
Fight begins and they come out swinging before Mitrione stuffs a takedown. Another attempt by De Fries follows but he goes down off….well, something, and Mitrione ENDS HIS NIGHT by bouncing his head off the ground with punches. I legitimately have no idea what put De Fries down there.
Replay appears to show that De Fries tried the takedown but ducked right into some sort of strike – even the slow-motion shot can’t identify it – and before he could recover, Meathead finished him off. Not much of a fight really with a really strange ending, but hey, Mitrione did what he had to do so you can’t knock him. Post-fight Mitrione talks so quickly that he has to use Chris Lytle as a translator, which is beyond ridiculous.
This was another prelim taped earlier in the night, with Sweden’s popular Madadi facing TUF veteran Johnson. The fight also got PERSONAL at the weigh-ins as Madadi flipped out and screamed into Johnson’s face, causing a pull-apart type deal. Always fun.
Round One and they circle before Madadi looks for a clinch. Johnson shrugs him off and they circle out. Leg kick and a right hand connect for Johnson. Right hand answers back for Madadi. Johnson shrugs off another takedown attempt. Couple of left hands connect for Johnson from the outside. Single leg attempt from Madadi but Johnson defends it really well, showing some excellent balance. Madadi manages to switch to a trip though and gets him down into full guard. Short ground-and-pound connects for Madadi and he drops back for a leglock, but Johnson manages to defend it despite a heel hook looking deep at one point. Johnson reverses out and gets into top position in Madadi’s guard, and he begins to land short ground-and-pound of his own. Oma plata attempt from Madadi and he rolls into it but ends up caught against the fence and Johnson manages to escape to get back into top position. Great grappling exchanges here. Madadi attempts a sweep, but Johnson stays on top and lands some punches and as Madadi reverses to his feet, Johnson WAYLAYS HIM WITH A RIGHT HEAD KICK! Madadi CRASHES DOWN and somehow manages to crawl for an ankle as Johnson looks to finish. Johnson lets him up and swarms with strikes, but he can’t finish the wobbled Madadi before the round ends. Wow. 10-9 Johnson.
Round Two begins and Madadi looks recovered pretty much. Johnson surprisingly comes out slowly, but he does brush off a takedown. Couple of glancing strikes connect for Johnson but Madadi gets a rear waistlock and trips him down to take the back and then full mount! Crowd are DEAFENING, really into Madadi. Big elbows and punches from Madadi and Johnson is in trouble. He tries to slip out of the back door, but Madadi remains in control in side mount where he continues to land shots. Johnson manages to escape to his feet somehow and we’re back to standing. Single leg from Madadi and he gets Johnson down into guard again. Elbows land for Madadi from inside the guard as the crowd continue to cheer and chant loudly. Triangle attempt from Johnson is avoided and Madadi passes into side mount. Johnson regains half-guard, but he continues to eat short elbows as the “REZA!” chants are quite loud now. More shots land for Madadi and this is quite the turnaround for him. Crowd seem to be singing Seven Nation Army now which is weird. Round ends with Madadi on top. 10-9 Madadi.
Round Three and Madadi quickly goes for a single leg and forces Johnson into the fence. Trip puts Johnson down but he reverses and almost takes the back before Madadi reverses THAT and gets on top in side mount. Punches land for Madadi and Johnson tries to reverse by going for a leg, but he can’t get out and Madadi continues to land. D’Arce choke attempt from Madadi and he locks it in nicely and rolls into a better position to force the tapout and send the crowd into RAPTURE.
Well, that was a hell of a fight and would’ve been a star-making performance for Madadi, but unfortunately he’s decided to become Sweden’s equivalent to Lee Murray and is now serving time for some sort of robbery involving designer handbags. Sad really. Really good fight, though!
Well, when his father once again bit the hand that fed him so many times and jumped ship from the UFC to Bellator, a lot of people expected Ryan Couture to simply be cut from the roster after StrikeForce closed its doors. Instead he asked Dana White to be kept on and so he was given a super-tough fight to debut in the UFC with, against the dangerous Brit Pearson, who had looked back to his best in his win over George Sotiropoulos. I was taking Pearson to win here as I’d never been overly impressed with Couture during his StrikeForce run.
First round and they circle before Couture shoots for a takedown. Pearson stuffs it, but Couture forces him back into the fence in the clinch. Trip attempt from Couture but he can’t get Ross off his feet and they muscle for position on the fence. Good knees inside from Couture but Pearson breaks with an elbow. Couture clinches again though and continues to force Pearson into the cage. Good elbow inside from Couture and he lands a couple of knees too. Pearson can’t seem to shake him off here. Takedown from Couture but Pearson pops right back up. Pearson breaks off and they finally circle out. Pearson begins to stalk forward as Couture circles around, and a head kick glances for the Brit. Front kick to the body from Couture. Spinning kick from Couture lands to the leg, strangely enough. Pearson can’t seem to find his range. Takedown attempt from Couture off a glancing knee from Pearson, but it’s stuffed and they wind up clinched. Good knees from both men and Pearson breaks with a nasty left hook. Good right to the body follows. Couture uses some kicks to keep distance and that’s the round. 10-9 Couture.
Second round and Pearson opens with a stiff jab. He begins to close Couture down and he seems to have found his range as he lands with a pair of right hands and a combination as he shrugs a takedown attempt off. Left hook wobbles Ryan and forces him to shoot, but he can’t get Pearson down. Clinch follows and Couture forces the Brit into the fence, where they exchange short punches and knees to the body. Good right hand breaks for Couture but doesn’t seem to have much effect. Pearson continues to stalk forward as Couture circles on the outside. Good right hand to the body and a short right hook sends Couture back, and another body shot follows. Leaping left hook from Pearson. Takedown attempt from Couture is blocked easily. Left to the body from Pearson. Spinning back kick and a front kick glance for Couture. Pearson answers with a left hand. Another left hook connects for the Brit. Kick from Couture is caught and Pearson sends him down and drops a right hand over the top. Good punches land on the ground and Pearson follows with a kick to the body as Couture stands. Couture might be in trouble here. BRUTAL COMBINATION has Couture badly wobbled and finally he goes down off a BIG LEFT HAND and Ross closes it out with some shots on the ground.
Couture actually did well in the beginning of the fight as he kept Pearson at bay and used the clinch wisely, but once Ross found his range in the second round it was all one-way traffic and the end felt like only a matter of time really. Fun fight and a good win for Ross Pearson – I think the move back to 155lbs from 145lbs has really helped his career as he just didn’t look right at Featherweight and yet looks back to his best now.
Well, as I mentioned in the introduction this turned out to be a massively anticlimactic main event, as nobody had heard of Latifi before and his record didn’t exactly inspire excitement. Still, a Rocky story is always somewhat fun I guess and on the plus side for me as a fan of his, it was nice to see Mousasi get a likely showcase win to debut in the UFC with. Every man and his dog was taking Gegard to win here and understandably so. Latifi walks out to the theme from Rocky – what else? – and while he’s described as a wrestler he looks more like a powerlifter, just a stocky, thick dude. Mousasi of course looks as chilled as ever.
Round One and Mousasi opens with a leg kick. Stiff jab lands for Mousasi and stops Latifi as he leans in for a takedown. Crowd are red hot for Latifi. He’s coming up short on his punches though and Mousasi continues to land jabs and leg kicks right from the bat. One-two connects for Mousasi. Mousasi throws a lot of feints and continues to land jabs both to the body and head. Takedown attempt from Latifi is stuffed and Mousasi breaks off. Latifi’s face looks marked up already from the jabs. Leg kick again from Mousasi. Beautiful jab and a straight right connect for the former DREAM champion. More jabs back Latifi up but a big right hook that glances for the Swede pops the crowd. Left hook follows but Mousasi just looks ridiculously calm and he lands with another leg kick. Mousasi’s jab is looking brilliant here. Right hand lands again for Gegard and he easily avoids a takedown. Latifi is beginning to wince as the punches are landing. Mousasi is really hanging his hands too. Total disdain for Latifi’s striking. More jabs and a leg kick and he easily avoids a haymaker. Jab snaps Latifi’s head back. More jabs follow and Latifi tells Mousasi to bring it, but he needs to actually land for it to help him. Round ends with another pair of jabs. Clear 10-9 for Mousasi.
Round Two and Mousasi picks up right where he left off, using the jab and his range to beat Latifi to the punch. Right hand connects to the body for Mousasi. Left hook lands for Latifi but Mousasi seems fine and he continues to work the jab. He’s working in the jab to the body now as well. Big right hand connects for Latifi but again Mousasi takes it and continues to push the action. Latifi’s punches for the most part are still coming up way short. Left hook lands hard for Mousasi and a leaping jab follows. Mousasi’s jab is awesome. Right hand from Mousasi and he sprawls to avoid a takedown and almost takes the back, but Latifi avoids and we’re back to standing. More jabs and a left hand and Latifi’s face is beginning to look messy. Mousasi continues to pick him apart and Latifi is beginning to look lost. Seconds remaining in the round and Mousasi isn’t letting up with the jabs. Round ends with more of the same; stiff jabs to the face. 10-9 Mousasi.
Round Three and Latifi’s right eye is near enough swollen shut. Good leg kick lands for Latifi to counter the jabs early on. Mousasi is still doing a tremendous job of dodging Latifi’s punches though and cracking him with the jab. Wheel kick misses for Latifi but it does pop the crowd. Doesn’t stop him from eating more stiff jabs though. Crowd sound a bit pissed off but I mean, it’s only because their hometown guy is being tooled rather than the fight being bad. Right hand connects for Mousasi and backs Latifi up. Latifi’s face looks like he’s been in a car wreck. Mousasi continues to mix up his strikes, landing the right cross to go with the jab now and it’s got Latifi stumbling a little. Outside leg kick connects too. Latifi tries to fire back with a right haymaker but it doesn’t land flush. Pair of jabs back Latifi up and he appears to be using the fence to work out where he is, which is worrying. Just under two minutes to go. Hard leg kick lands for Latifi but he eats a stiff jab for his efforts. Heavy combo from Mousasi. Mousasi is just picking at him now with beautiful punches from range. Seconds to go and Latifi catches a kick and gets a takedown and the crowd EXPLODE. It’s too late though and Mousasi ties him up from the guard. Couple of big punches get through for Latifi but it’s not enough and he eats an upkick as he stands to drop a right hand. Buzzer goes and that’s it. 10-9 Mousasi and it has to be a 30-27 shutout.
Judges have it 30-27 all round for Gegard Mousasi. Post-fight Mousasi reveals he’s carrying a bad knee injury, which would explain his somewhat conservative gameplan, but to be honest can you blame him anyway? It was a no-win situation for him as Latifi was such an unknown and a loss would’ve been devastating to his career, but to win without taking risks like this came off as a bit underwhelming too. From a technical standpoint though this was a masterclass on how to pick apart a shorter, less experienced striker, and I can’t remember the jab being used much better than this in the UFC. I think because of his demeanour Mousasi seems to get a rep as a lazy fighter but I don’t think that’s true at all – he’s such a cold technician that he can fight in that way and still beat the majority of fighters without having to come off as crazy. I was impressed with him here at least. As for Latifi I’m sure he’ll get another go around after bailing the UFC out on short notice, and I guess with an easier opponent he may do well enough to stick around. We shall see.
-Show ends there with Mousasi and his team celebrating.
For what was basically what you’d call a b-show, this was actually a very entertaining card. I mean granted, none of the fights really had much effect on the title pictures or anything, but not all of the shows these days can be stacked and when they’re not, the best you can hope for is a bunch of really exciting fights. Which is what we got here – Pickett/Easton, Corrassani/Peralta and the two aired prelims were really good and Pearson/Couture, Brandao/Garza and Mitrione/De Fries had nice finishes. Main event was a little underwhelming in the end but from a technical standpoint it was really fascinating to watch. Definite thumbs up for this one and it’s worth seeking out if you haven’t seen it yet.
Best Fight: Johnson vs. Madadi
Worst Fight: Mitrione vs. De Fries
Overall Rating: ***1/2
Until next time,