MMA Review: #682: UFC Fight Night 151

-This was yet another Fight Night from the UFC with a couple of big fights on top but little of substance underneath. Still, Cerrone vs. Iaquinta sounded pretty awesome so there was at least that much to look forward to!

UFC Fight Night 151

Ottawa, Ontario

-Your hosts are Brendan Fitzgerald and Michael Bisping.

Middleweight Fight: Andrew Sanchez vs Marc-Andre Barriault

TUF 23 winner Sanchez hadn’t fought since an August 2018 victory over Markus Perez, and to be honest his wrestling-heavy style hadn’t won him too many fans thus far. Opponent Barriault – a Canadian UFC newcomer – looked like an exciting brawler though, and so I was hoping he’d drag something watchable out of ‘El Dirte’ even if he looked likely to lose.

Round One begins and Sanchez circles on the outside as Barriault looks to walk him down. Single leg from Sanchez puts Barriault down by the fence, and he looks to advance into mount. Barriault turns onto his side and practically gives up his back, taking some punches for good measure. They exchange some elbows from the ground with Sanchez getting the better of it due to his top position. Crowd aren’t enjoying this for obvious reasons. Barriault gets up with two minutes to go but he’s struggling to shake Sanchez off him. They exchange from the clinch and Barriault does get some decent strikes off and then separates. Decent combo lands for Sanchez in an exchange. Takedown from Sanchez follows but Barriault explodes to his feet instantly this time. Body kick from Sanchez. Barriault keeps on firing but can’t land and that’s the round. Clear-cut 10-9 round for Sanchez.

Round Two and Barriault comes out throwing a lot of strikes, backing Sanchez up somewhat without really landing anything too major. Takedown attempt from Sanchez is blocked well by Barriault, and they separate. Neither man is having a lot of success in these exchanges here. Sanchez is probably just edging it. Right hand catches him off balance but he’s okay. Couple of big punches glance for Barriault. More punches force Sanchez backwards and now Barriault is really landing some big shots. Sanchez shows a good chin to absorb it all but he definitely got hit there. He tries a takedown and then opens up with some dirty boxing of his own, but a couple of HUGE uppercuts from Barriault snap his head back. These guys are just trading inside the clinch now. More punches connect for Barriault and suddenly this fight looks good. Action finally slows down a bit and both guys look tired. Combo from Barriault lands again. More punches have Sanchez rocked now. He’s definitely got Sanchez on the run, but can’t finish him off and that’s the round. 10-9 Barriault to even things up.

Round Three and the crowd are now way into this fight. Exchange begins from the off and after some missed strikes Barriault lands with a big left hand. Takedown attempt from Sanchez is blocked well and Barriault narrowly misses with a right hook. Single leg attempt from Sanchez allows him to put Barriault against the fence, but he doesn’t get him down. He is controlling him though. Sanchez finally trips him down with just over two minutes to go but Barriault works back up. Sanchez stays on him and looks to get him down again, and Barriault needs something big here. He can’t get it, though, and the round ends with boos as Sanchez dumps him with another takedown. 10-9 Sanchez, 29-28 overall.

All three judges have it 29-28 for Andrew Sanchez, who is not a popular man in Ottawa. Basically the fight was a clear-cut win for Sanchez, but it was quite telling that whenever Barriault was on offense the fight was entertaining but when Sanchez was on offense it largely wasn’t. Second round was great, then, first and third rounds less so.

Heavyweight Fight: Walt Harris vs Sergey Spivac

This seemed like a bit of odd matchmaking given Harris had beaten Andrei Arlovski in his last fight (prior to a PED bust) while Spivac was a newcomer who basically looked like a can crusher on the regional scene. Despite Spivac clearly having potential I was taking Harris comfortably.

Fight begins and they both throw out some feints before Spivac lands a low kick. Harris backs him up with a combo and then OPENS UP with a flurry that has him covering up. More big punches get through for Harris and he adds in some knees that drop Spivac, and from there he seals the deal with some punches on the ground.

Yeah, didn’t last long at all, 50 seconds to be exact as Harris just overwhelmed Spivac with power and aggression. It didn’t really look like Spivac was knocked out per say, more that he just wilted under the power and the sheer amount of shots Harris threw. Nice win for Harris over questionable opposition.

Bantamweight Fight: Brad Katona vs Merab Dvalishvili

TUF 27 winner Katona was looking to follow up his win over Matthew Lopez in this one, another outing in his home country of Canada, while Dvalishvili was also coming off a win, over Terrion Ware in Russia in September 2018. Due to his technical ability I was taking Katona but it was a close one to call.

First round begins and both men miss some flashy kicks early on while landing a couple of low kicks, and it looks like Katona is slightly the sharper striker. Big overhand right lands for Dvalishvili but Katona takes it really well. Exchange continues before Dvalishvili gets a single leg and mashes Katona to the ground. Katona does a good job to get up, but Dvalishvili is so active that it’s hard to get a handle on him. Takedown attempt now from Katona but he can’t get the Georgian down and they jockey for position with Dvalishvili turning him around. Nice outside trip from Dvalishvili and he puts Katona in half-guard. Katona stays active from his back with elbows, but he can’t get up and eats some heavy punches as the round ends. 10-9 Dvalishvili.

Second round and Dvalishvili catches a kick right away and puts Katona down in guard. Arm-in guillotine attempt from Katona but Dvalishvili seems fine and he punches away at the body. Into half-guard now and Dvalishvili continues to grind on the TUF winner, clearly in firm control. Katona works back to full guard, but he doesn’t appear to have a lot from his back at all. He’s just constantly taking short punches from Dvalishvili. Ref stands them back up with 1:20 to go but Dvalishvili still seems really fresh and he lands a low kick after missing a wheel kick. Clinch from Katona and now he looks for a takedown, landing some knees to the face for good measure. Beautiful trip from Dvalishvili puts him back down though and he ends the round on top. Another one in the books for Dvalishvili, bit dull though.

Third round and you can see the urgency in Katona as he pushes forward right away, but he’s finding Dvalishvili a tricky target to hit. Lead elbow glances for Katona before Dvalishvili drops for a takedown and drives him into the fence. Whizzer from Katona allows him to remain vertical, but he eats an elbow as they break. Kick is caught by Dvalishvili and he almost gets another takedown, but Katona defends well. He needs more on offense, though. Big double leg finally plants Katona down, and Dvalishvili moves right into half-guard. That might be the fight as there’s only two minutes left. Merab postures up to drop some big punches, but he’s also bleeding quite badly over his right eye. One minute to go and Dvalishvili really opens up, just beating Katona up now. Katona is bleeding from his left ear. He keeps trying for stuff from his back but Dvalishvili’s base is just too good. Round ends shortly after. Got to be 30-27 for Dvalishvili really.

Sure enough it’s 30-27 all round for Merab Dvalishvili. Bit of a dull fight as Katona basically didn’t have a lot of offense, and while Dvalishvili’s pace kept it from being a total stinker, he also did little from the top for great swathes of the fight. Dude comes off as a really cool guy post-fight though so it’s all good I guess.

Featherweight Fight: Cub Swanson vs Shane Burgos

This one sounded exciting to me as both Burgos and Swanson usually come out with nothing but aggression and look to trade on the feet. Despite Burgos having far less experience I was picking him due to his heavy-hitting style, as I felt like Swanson was largely past his prime after losing three in a row.

Round One and they circle to begin with Burgos throwing more strikes out as Swanson feints and moves around a bit more. Combination lands for Swanson early on. Quick counter right lands for Burgos. Burgos is notably a massive 145lber. Exchange continues and it’s a very even one. Couple of sneaky right hands land pretty cleanly for Burgos. He’s doing pretty well with the left hook here too. Head kick glances for Swanson but he seems to be struggling to get into range due to the length of Burgos. He appears to be slightly quicker but he’s still taking slightly more punches than he’s landing I’d say. Seconds to go and a hard one-two lands for Swanson. Burgos looks super confident though and keeps on flicking out long punches that are largely landing. Round ends there. Close one to call but I’d go 10-9 Burgos.

Round Two and Burgos comes out with a lot of feints and fakes as he moves forward, rolling his hands and all sorts. Exchange begins and it remains very close though. Heavy right connects for Cub but Burgos takes it well. Exchange continues and a hard combination lands for Burgos with Swanson corralled against the fence. Bit of a flurry answers back for Cub before Burgos forces him back again. Beautifully timed uppercut lands flush for Burgos. Hard right hook answers back for Swanson and these guys are really throwing now. Visually Cub looks much worse, marked up around both eyes and the nose too. Two minutes to go and Burgos continues to slide just out of the way of Swanson’s biggest shots. Nice double jab lands for Cub though. Burgos keeps on catching him with long, flicking punches. Seconds to go and Burgos backs Swanson into the fence for a flurry. Round ends with another exchange. Another close one but again, 10-9 Burgos by a hair for me.

Round Three and both men land some clean shots in the very first exchange. Burgos is bleeding pretty badly from the mouth. Swanson really backs him up with some hard punches and he manages to get inside of the range to deliver some more as Burgos looks to fire back. The leg kicks are taking their toll though as Swanson looks a bit wobbly on his feet when Burgos lands one. Takedown attempt from Swanson and he gets a rear waistlock to land some knees to the legs, but he can’t actually get Burgos down. He continues to land some really heavy knees though, controlling Burgos well. Back elbows reply for Burgos and land quite cleanly, and with two minutes to go he muscles free and comes back with a combination. Good work done by Burgos now and Swanson is backing up under the pressure of the combinations. Crowd are way into this fight. Seconds to go and Burgos continues to walk Swanson down and land with punches. Takedown attempt from Swanson but Burgos defends it well. Clean right hand leads into a good combo for Burgos to end the fight. Probably 10-9 Swanson for the control, but could’ve gone either way. For me it’s Burgos’ fight.

Judges have it 30-27 Swanson, 30-27 Burgos, and 29-28 for Shane Burgos to take the split decision in the biggest win of his career. Well, no complaints from me for the split decision as even the 30-27 scores either way were arguable, as Swanson almost landed just as many shots as Burgos in the first two rounds that he likely dropped. Difference – by a hair – was Burgos being able to use his longer range to strike Swanson while Cub couldn’t quite catch him as cleanly. Really high-level fight too and I look forward to seeing what Burgos can do at the elite level next.

Middleweight Fight: Derek Brunson vs Elias Theodorou

I was quite excited for this one as a big fan of Theodorou’s, as this was his biggest test to date following 5 wins in 6 fights, including 3 in a row – although he’d come under some criticism for a perceived dull style. Brunson meanwhile was coming off two losses in a row, to Jacare Souza and Israel Adesanya. I was taking Elias despite this being a step up for him, as I thought Brunson’s frenetic, impatient style would play into his hands and allow him to counterstrike enough for another decision.

First round begins and Theodorou circles on the outside and throws out some kicks from super long range while Brunson seems pretty calm for his standards. Clinch from Brunson and he eats some knees to the body before Elias breaks with an uppercut. Big leg kick from Theodorou but Brunson grabs hold of him and trips him down into half-guard before taking mount. Elias gives his back and Brunson looks for a choke, dragging him down as he attempts to stand up, but he manages to escape. Brunson keeps mount though and lands some punches before taking the back again. Good job from Theodorou to avoid the choke and he stands up into the clinch, where they jockey for position before breaking off. Couple more kicks glance for Elias but Brunson clinches and almost takes him down again before he escapes. Theodorou continues to circle and throw out glancing kicks, but he’s not doing a lot of damage. Rush from Brunson sees Theodorou dive for a takedown of his own, but it doesn’t work and they break free. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Brunson for the grappling.

Second round and it’s more of the same for Theodorou as he does land some nice chopping leg kicks early on and clips Brunson with a decent left hand too. Brunson closes in with a flying knee into a single leg attempt, but Theodorou manages to escape, only for Brunson to grab hold of him in another clinch. Nice left breaks for Elias. Body kicks connect for both men. Crowd sound annoyed now as Theodorou continues to circle and glance with strikes from the outside. Outright running from Theodorou has the crowd booing even as he tries a showtime kick that misses. Brunson’s not doing a lot at all right now. Low kicks glance for both men. Head kick is caught by Elias but he can’t get a takedown. He’s been the more active fighter in this round with his odd striking though. Counter left lands for Brunson as Elias tries to spin into him in a weird move. Clinch from Theodorou with seconds to go but they break off soon after. Body kick from Elias is returned by Brunson and that’s it. 10-9 Theodorou for the more effective striking.

Third round and the crowd really don’t like this fight at all. Good body kick from Theodorou opens the round and he avoids a takedown too. More kicking and running follows and Brunson looks furious. He manages to grab a rear waistlock though and then tries to drag Elias down, finally planting him by the fence. Elias works back up, but Brunson keeps hold of him and then hits a big takedown, but Elias pops right back up again. More unorthodox striking from Theodorou, but he eats a right hand before Brunson gets hold of him for a BIG SLAM, Matt Hughes style! Crowd finally pop for that as Brunson takes side mount, but Theodorou works back to his feet again quickly. Two minutes to go now and they break, and both men look tired as Theodorou lands some more strikes from the outside. Knees land for Elias as Brunson clinches before they break. Weird downward karate chop to the head (!) lands for Theodorou. Crowd continue to boo as Elias keeps throwing unorthodox strikes while Brunson catches a few decent counters on him too. Round ends with more boos. Probably 10-9 Brunson largely for the slam, but I’d say Elias had more volume so who knows.

Official scores are 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 all for Derek Brunson. Guess the judges didn’t like Elias’s style at all then – and apparently neither did the UFC as he was released straight after this fight. Not sure I agree with that as he was a top fifteen fighter at 185lbs, but then he did have a bit of a frustrating style to watch. I feel like he went a bit downhill once he found he couldn’t just outgrapple opponents as he did on the regional scene and lower levels of the UFC – kind of like Diego Sanchez except of course Sanchez became a striking wildman brawler instead. Anyhow, not the most impressive win for Brunson and a weird fight overall although I wouldn’t call it downright horrible.

Lightweight Fight: Donald Cerrone vs Al Iaquinta

With Iaquinta coming off a big win over Kevin Lee and Cerrone beating Alexander Hernandez to put himself firmly back into contention at 155lbs, this was a pretty major fight in terms of the Lightweight title. Not that the winner would get the next title shot, but they’d definitely be in the picture with a win. I was taking Cerrone as I felt he’d be able to use his length and his kicking game to take out the more boxing-oriented Iaquinta, but it was bound to be a close call.

Fight begins and Iaquinta takes the centre of the cage with a super-high boxing guard before pushing forward with a low kick. Cerrone’s haircut and beard make him look like an angry old man now which is a character that works for him I guess? Get off his fucking lawn! Big punches miss for Al but he does land a good low kick. Nasty body kick lands for Cerrone, his first decent shot of the fight. Right hand connects for Cowboy as it looks like Iaquinta’s struggling to find his range a bit, probably because Cerrone keeps touching him with the jab. Vicious leg kick from Cerrone. Counter right from Iaquinta turns Cerrone around but he seems okay. Crowd are firmly behind Cowboy. Beautiful counter left lands for Cerrone as Iaquinta steps inside. Big trade sees both men land heavy punches. Head kick glances for Cowboy and Iaquinta’s bleeding under his right eye. NASTY head kick lands for Cerrone as Iaquinta ducks for a single leg. Somehow Al takes it, showing an insane chin, and he keeps on throwing shots until the round ends. Great stuff. 10-9 Cerrone.

Second round and Iaquinta pushes forward from the off but Cowboy snaps his head back with a short uppercut. Cowboy is really using his range well in this fight so far. Low kick lands for him and he dodges a right hand counter. He’s just about dodging the biggest punches Iaquinta is throwing. Low kick buckles Iaquinta’s left leg for a second and another has the same result. Iaquinta’s low kicks are working but he can’t seem to reach Cerrone with his punches. Nice one-two lands for Al though and he follows with a right that stuns Cerrone for a second! Best shots of the night for Iaquinta thus far. Clean right hand lands for Cowboy to counter a low kick. Clipping left hand forces Iaquinta backwards for a moment, but he comes back with a partially blocked head kick. Brutal low kick from Cerrone. He’s constantly touching Iaquinta with the jab too, as well as the front kick to the body. Couple of good shots land for Iaquinta and a right hook wobbles Cerrone’s legs. He recovers well, and that’s the round. Super-close round but I’d probably go with Iaquinta for landing the bigger shots even though Cerrone had more volume.

3rd round gets underway and Iaquinta opens with a low kick, before Cerrone misses a big head kick. Iaquinta’s nose appears to be busted up pretty badly as Cerrone continues to touch him with the jab. Nice one-two connects for Ragin’ Al. Few kicks from Cowboy keep Iaquinta at bay, and visually he looks fine while Iaquinta’s face is a MESS now. Takedown attempt by Iaquinta is easily shrugged off. Cerrone is just picking him off with the jab and low kicks in this round. Big left hand lands for Cerrone and Iaquinta looks rocked. He tries to fire back and does land a right hook, but Cerrone eats it right up. Head kick is just about blocked by Al but a body kick lands viciously. Low kick sees Cerrone slip but he pops right back up. Less than a minute to go now and Iaquinta is still coming up short. Head kick glances for Cowboy. Left hand drops Iaquinta with seconds to go and Cerrone drops to finish him off, but the buzzer sounds before he can seal it. 10-9 Cerrone as he largely chewed Iaquinta up in that round.

4th round and Iaquinta’s right eye is practically swollen shut. Looks like he wants to push the pace but he just can’t get inside Cerrone well enough. Front kick lands for Cerrone and then another one puts Iaquinta DOWN and he’s in deep trouble. Cerrone pounces but he can’t quite finish him off, and Al somehow scrambles up and avoids a big flurry. He’s in so much trouble here but he won’t quit at all. Cerrone keeps stalking him with the jab and low kicks and it looks like Al might be in survival mode. Big head kick glances for Cowboy. Clean left hook gets through for Iaquinta but Cerrone eats it up and touches him some more with the jab. He’s chewing Iaquinta’s legs up with kicks too. Left hook gets through again for Iaquinta but Cerrone comes right back with an uppercut into a combo. Big exchange sees both men land but it’s Cerrone pushing forward. Al is ridiculously tough. Another flurry has him backing up but he survives again. Low kick is caught by Iaquinta but he can’t get Cowboy down, and the round ends shortly after. 10-9 Cerrone and this is almost over.

Fifth and final round is delayed to check Iaquinta’s swollen eye, but he’s good to go. Again he comes forward to begin but he’s walking into the low kicks and the jab. Brutal low kick buckles Iaquinta’s left leg. Big overhand right lands for Iaquinta but Cerrone takes it well. Right hands then land for both men in an exchange before Cowboy goes back to the jab. The low kicks are just chewing Iaquinta up now. Couple of hooks land for Al again but Cowboy is just eating them right up with no problems. Couple of jabs set up a clean combo from Cowboy and he backs Iaquinta up. 1:30 to go and this has to be Cowboy’s fight. Takedown attempt from Al is blocked. Head kick narrowly misses for Cowboy. Iaquinta comes back with one of his own but Cerrone gets really busy in the final seconds with a BIG FLURRY that has Al covering up. Flying knee causes Iaquinta to go down in the last seconds and Cerrone drops a right hand that has him covering up on the buzzer. 10-9 Cerrone, 49-46 overall.

Judges score it 49-45, 49-45 and 49-46 all for Donald Cerrone. Iaquinta can’t even get off his stool for the announcement he’s so badly hurt. That was a phenomenal showing from Cowboy as he ate up the best shots Iaquinta had to offer and just chewed him up with his range, landing his low kicks and jab over and over until Iaquinta was basically a broken man. Probably one of the best performances of his UFC career in fact. Basically every time Cerrone steps into the cage he delivers excitement and this fight was definitely not the exception. Awesome main event.

-Show ends there as Cerrone celebrates with his baby son.

Final Thoughts….

Bit of an up-and-down show here as the opener was solid, Harris’s knockout was cool, Swanson/Burgos was great and obviously Cerrone/Iaquinta delivered hugely, while the other two fights were completely forgettable. Check out the Cowboy fight, but you can probably afford to skip the rest.

Best Fight: Cerrone vs. Iaquinta
Worst Fight: Theodorou vs. Brunson

Overall Rating: **3/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: