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UFC on Fuel 9 Parting Shots

By on April 8, 2013

conor mcgregorA month or so ago, UFC on Fuel 9 looked largely unimpressive outside of the main event, save for a few possibly entertaining bouts and an important bantamweight clash between Brad Pickett and Mike Easton. When Gegard Mousasi’s original opponent, Swedish standout Alexander Gustafsson, was cut in training and ruled out of the bout, many even ridiculously wondered if the event would be canceled. (As if the UFC cancels events all the time now. It’s happened once in 12 years, people. Let’s get a grip.)

What really happened, though, is that the undercard fighters got a chance to steal the show. Many of them took the opportunity and ran with it.

There was the excellent bout between Pickett and Easton, where we saw the kind of aggressive boxing in close quarters that we rarely see, as neither man abandoned his fundamentals (along with memorable wrestling battles and scrambles).

We had great finishes from both Diego Brandao and Matt Mitrione, who opportunistically took advantage of a weird turn of events after a failed Philip De Fries takedown apparently left the grappling specialist woozy.

We saw a comeback from Reza Madadi, who was nearly knocked out in the first round while failing to bring Michael Johnson in the ground and keep him there. Though not as dramatic, we saw a similar comeback when Ross Pearson overcame a predictable, but fairly effective clinch/pressure strategy from Ryan Couture to start timing Couture’s movements, landing increasingly impressive shots before surging to a finish via TKO.

Finally, we were also treated to a star-making performance by the dynamic Conor McGregor, who could write a book on how to counter aggressive, hyped-up opponents after the way that he dismantled a very good opponent in Marcus Brimage.

By the time we saw Gegard Mousasi methodically take apart Ilir Latifi in three rounds with a stifling jab and nearly impenetrable defense, it was almost an afterthought. Though I could have written a decent column about Mousasi avoiding the MMA equivalent of a “trap game” or Latifi showing great heart (we haven’t read that story enough times, right?) while going the distance and even finishing with a literal flurry on the mat, I don’t have to. That’s good for myself, you, and viewers of UFC on Fuel 9 alike, because what we got was much more intriguing across the board.

Quick Shots

–There are plenty of different ways to celebrate a win in MMA. Diego Brandao’s “looking around calmly like a cold-blooded killer” is pretty high on the list if you sort it in order of badass-ery, however. Oh, and I loved Mitrione playfully shoving the ref out of the way to properly celebrate his sudden win over De Fries, too.

–It’s unfortunate that the fight between Robbie Peralta and Akira Corassani has been kind of lost in the shuffle, as on many cards it would have been one of the best fights. I thought Peralta looked good much of the way, although he was clearly affected by Akira’s smart movement throughout the bout and timely grappling in the third round.

Say What?!?

“It’s like the WWE to me, you know, it’s all just a little game; I’m just playing a little game.”

-Conor McGregor, explaining the heated weigh-in square-off with Marcus Brimage that presumably led to Brimage’s aggressive approach to the bout. McGregor then took apart Brimage, countering that aggressiveness with smart, tactical combinations and precise punches.

Actually, McGregor’s whole post-fight interview was gold. “I didn’t really have a game plan…wherever the fight takes place is where it takes place. I don’t plan anything,” he said right off the bat. I was a fan of “Dana- 60 Gs, baby!” in anticipation of his earning knockout of the night, too (which he did win).

Movin’ On Up Award

At 24 and with just one UFC fight under his belt, McGregor certainly isn’t in the lightweight title picture after his win over Brimage. However, you can bet he’ll be on the main card next go-round, and that alone justifies this award. Others like Pearson, Pickett, and Mitrione are too close to recent losses to really be moving up quickly with their much-needed wins, and all were the obvious favorites in their bouts, to boot.

Beautiful Loser Award

There are plenty of possible choices for this one. Latifi was a gutsy opponent for Mousasi and deserves credit for taking on a top ten fighter on less than a weeks’ notice. Johnson nearly knocked out Madadi before being subbed in round three. Both Easton and Peralta gave good performances in losing efforts, with Easton faring particularly well in a contest that won fight of the night. However, it’s Besam Yousef that gets this for pretty much getting hosed in a split decision loss to Papy Abedi. I thought Abedi clearly won the final two rounds of that fight, but judges Jim Bergman and Howard “Not That Howard Hughes” Hughes disagreed. Oh, and every media member represented on agrees with me, by the way.

Holy $#!% Award

Is there any question? McGregor’s destruction of Brimage stole the show on a night filled with good back-and-forth action and exciting finishes. Good for him.

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