UFC Flyweight Title: Demetrious Johnson vs. Kyoji Horiguchi
Johnson has built a reputation as one of the best fighters in the sport, dominating his division with great technical skill. He has won seven straight fights. Horiguchi, 15-1, has a unique style of movement and striking. He is 4-0 in the UFC and is looking to put Japanese MMA back on the map after it has faded in relevance in recent years.
Round 1. Johnson starts to throw some kicks early. Horiguchi dives in with a solid straight punch and then moves out. Johnson looks for a takedown briefly but then gives up the attempt. A little while later, Johnson catches a Horiguchi kick and looks for the takedown again. He doesn't get it. Johnson lands a few punches to the chin of Horiguchi and then takes Horiguchi down. Johnson can't do much with that and Horiguchi gets up. Horiguchi lands a hard leg kick and then a knee back on the feet. Close round. 10-9 Johnson.
Round 2. Horiguchi goes right back to the attack, landing a knee to the head and taking Johnson down. Johnson reverses and takes top position. Then Horiguchi gets back up and they exchange by the cage. Johnson shoots in and gets a takedown on Horiguchi. Horiguchi gets up but then Johnson takes him back down. Horiguchi works his way up once more and charges with his blitz punches again. Johnson answers back with a few punches of his own. 10-9 Johnson.
Round 3. As Horiguchi lands a body kick, Johnson grabs him and scores another takedown. Horiguchi gets up and connects with a hook to the head of the champion. Johnson then gets Horiguchi down with another takedown. Johnson works into side control but isn't able to accomplish a lot with the position. 10-9 Johnson.
Round 4. Johnson looks for another takedown early. Horiguchi defends well but Johnson keeps working for it. Horiguchi keeps defending it. Johnson lands a few punches and goes back to looking for the takedown. Horiguchi does an admirable job of continuing to block the takedowns, although he isn't able to get any offense in himself. 10-9 Johnson.
Round 5. After struggling unsuccessfully for a takedown in the fourth, Johnson gets it quickly in the fifth. He works into side control but Horiguchi moves to the cage and looks to stand back up. Johnson prevents him from returning to his feet and gets him back on his back. Johnson looks for a kimura but can't get it. Horiguchi attempts to stand up but Johnson yanks him back down. Johnson gets Horiguchi in crucifix position late and lands a bunch of rapid fire punches. He then quickly transitions into an armbar and gets the tap at 4 minutes and 59 seconds of the final round. That's remarkable - a finish 24 minutes and 59 seconds into a 25 minute fight.
Winner: Demetrious Johnson, submission, round 5.
Quinton Jackson vs. Fabio Maldonado
Jackson is one of the most famous fighters in the world, a former world champion with an exciting style and outspoken personality. He returns to the UFC under controversial circumstances. He was signed to Bellator, where he won three straight fights (his most recent decision over King Mo Lawal was heavily disputed). Jackson alleged a breach of his contract by Bellator and signed with UFC for this card. A judge granted an injunction to block his participation, but was then overruled, allowing Jackson to fight. Maldonado comes from a boxing background and was selected principally because he fights standing and Jackson has complained loudly in recent years when matched with wrestlers who try to take him down.
Round 1. Jackson backs Maldonado against the cage, landing a leg kick and then some power punches. The fighters clinch and upon separation, Jackson lands a nice knee to the body. Jackson is throwing his punches with bad intentions but neither man has landed much. Jackson gets Maldonado by the cage again and opens up with punches and knees. Maldonado for the most part defends well. Maldonado lands a nice hook late but eats a knee to the body as the round ends. 10-9 Jackson.
Round 2. Maldonado attacks with some close range punches early and clinches with Jackson by the cage. Both fighters look tired and relatively inactive. Jackson lands some heavy body punches. The crowd boos the slow action. Jackson lands some punches by the cage and Maldonado takes Jackson down at the end of the round. 10-9 Jackson.
Round 3. Maldonado uses some jabs. Jackson lunges forward with some power shots that don't land. Jackson looks very tired. He does land a nice combination at the midpoint of the round. He follows with some more body punches. They clinch by the cage and the crowd boos. Jackson continues to work the body, one of the strongest things he has done this fight. 10-9 Jackson, 30-27 Jackson. Bad fight.
Winner: Quinton Jackson, unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27).
Michael Bisping vs. C.B. Dollaway
Bisping, the colorful British fighter, has looked to earn himself a middleweight title shot in the UFC for many years. Unfortunately, he has come up short at key moments and still seeks that elusive shot. He has lost 2 of his last 3, albeit to high quality opponents in Luke Rockhold and Tim Kennedy. Dollaway comes from a wrestling background but has improved all aspects of his game. He has won four of his last six in the UFC but is coming off a quick TKO loss to Lyoto Machida.
Round 1. Dollaway seems confident to strike with Bisping early. The fight is principally a boxing match, with each man landing solid shots. Dollaway briefly looks for a takedown but doesn't come close and gives it up. Dollaway drops Bisping with a punch late in the round. Bisping is badly rocked and Dollaway lands a bunch of shots on the ground looking to finish. Bisping gets up but Dollaway pours it on more trying to finish. Bisping answers back at the exciting close of the round. 10-9 Dollaway.
Round 2. The fight returns to the same standup pace from most of the first round. Bisping seems fully recovered and is moving well. He lands a nice knee to the body and punch that has Dollaway in some trouble. Bisping looks to close by the cage but Dollaway fires back. Bisping is landing the better shots as the round winds down. 10-9 Bisping.
Round 3. Bisping lands a nice right hand early. He lands another right hand moments later but Dollaway gets a takedown in the process. Bisping gets back up to his feet in relatively short order. Dollaway hurts Bisping with a left hook back on the feet. Bisping, a volume striker, is forced to respect Dollaway's power and isn't throwing as much as usual. Bisping does land a pair of looping punches to the jaw that sends Dollaway back. Dollaway goes for a takedown with a minute left in the round but Bisping blocks it and takes top position on Dollaway. He lands punches on Dollaway from the top and lands a hard right hand when they get back up to the feet to end the contest. 10-9 Bisping, 29-28 Bisping.
Winner: Michael Bisping, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. David Michaud
Aubin-Mercier was the runner up on the Ultimate Fighter Nations. He rebounded from a split decision loss in the finals of that tournament to submit Jake Lindsey impressively in his most recent fight. Michaud, the valedictorian of his high school class, is 8-1 in MMA competition and 1-1 thus far in the UFC.
Round 1. Aubin-Mercier clinches. He looks to get in his hooks from a standing position but gives up on that. He lands punches while controlling Michaud's back next to the cage. Aubin-Mercier finally gets Michaud down and then locks in a body triangle on the ground. He lands punches from behind while looking to secure a rear naked choke. Aubin-Mercier can't get the submission but wins the round handily. 10-9 Aubin-Mercier.
Round 2. Aubin-Mercier utilizes a number of kicks early while Michaud focuses more on his boxing. Aubin-Mercier goes for a takedown but it is stuffed. Aubin-Mercier lands a nice two punch combination. Michaud then drops Aubin-Mercier with a straight right hand. Aubin-Mercier gets up quickly but was clearly hurt. Aubin-Mercier a little while later drops Michaud with a body kick and looks to finish on the ground. Michaud is able to recover and stand back up. Michaud lands a few hard punches late in the round. Much closer than the first. 10-9 Aubin-Mercier.
Round 3. Aubin-Mercier scrambles for a takedown right at the start of the third round. He gets the takedown and again gets Michaud's back. This time, Michaud is unable to fend off the submission. Aubin-Mercier sinks in a rear naked choke and Michaud is forced to tap.
Winner: Olivier Aubin-Mercier, submission, round 3.
Chad Laprise vs. Bryan Barberena
Laprise was the winner of the aforementioned Ultimate Fighter Nations show, defeating Aubin-Mercier in the finals. He followed that up with another UFC win and is now 9-0 for his career. Barberena won his UFC debut, scoring a TKO over Joe Ellenberger in the third round, and is 10-2 in his MMA career.
Round 1. Barberena presses forward confidently at the start, but slows his pace when Laprise fires back. Laprise connects with a head kick and mixes in additional kicks in the followup. His hands are very fast as well and his striking looks dynamic against a solid opponent. Laprise lands a spinning back kick to the body and another pair of high kicks. Barberena is becoming target practice as the round progresses. Laprise lands another spinning back kick to the body. Laprise peppers Barberena with a few more punches as the round concludes. Barberena was never seriously hurt, but Laprise thoroughly dominated that round. 10-8 Laprise.
Round 2. Laprise goes back to work, landing some crisp punches and adding midlevel kicks with frequency early in the second. Barberena does better at the midpoint of the round, landing a few low kicks and a nice hook that perhaps connects more fully than any other shot he has landed in the fight. But Laprise continues to land from different angles. 10-9 Laprise.
Round 3. The fighters clinch and Laprise backs off. They clinch a little while later and this time, Barberena throws him to the ground. Laprise wants no part of that and quickly gets back up to his feet. Laprise has noticeably slowed down from his early pace. Barberena clinches but nothing major develops this time. Barberena is confidently walking down Laprise, smiling because he clearly has much more energy left at this stage than Laprise. He is landing more in large measure because he's throwing more. 10-9 Barberena, 29-27 Laprise.
Winner: Chad Laprise, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
Sarah Kaufman vs. Alexis Davis
Kaufman and Davis are two of the best in the women's bantamweight division. Kaufman's finishes have tended to come via knockout while Davis has been more reliant on submissions. Each lost in under a minute to champion Ronda Rousey and thus they need to win impressively to work back to a title shot. They've fought twice previously with Kaufman winning each time. Their second fight was a tremendous battle.
Round 1. The fighters start the bout with very similar approaches, as they move forward with straight punches from close range. Davis does land a few nice jabs, but Kaufman on balance is connecting both more frequently and with more power. She lands a number of multi-punch combinations to the chin. Davis grabs a single leg and looks for a takedown with a minute left in the round, but Kaufman defends well. Clearly Kaufman's round. 10-9 Kaufman.
Round 2. Davis looks to establish kicks early, but every time she throws Kaufman tries to catch the kick and counter with punches. About two minutes in, Kaufman hammers Davis with three or four stiff punches, backing Davis off. Davis responds with a beautiful judo throw and works right into full mount. Davis grabs a triangle choke and rolls to her back looking to finish. Kaufman stacks Davis against the cage to get out but Davis transitions into an armbar and Kaufman is forced to submit. That was a great comeback for Davis.
Winner: Alexis Davis, submission, round 2.
Patrick Cote vs. Joe Riggs
Patrick Cote is a big favorite in his native Quebec, having fought there for over a decade. Over the course of his UFC career, Cote has fought many high profile opponents including Tito Ortiz, Anderson Silva and Cung Le. He lost his last fight to Stephen Thompson. Riggs was once scheduled to fight Matt Hughes for the UFC welterweight title (it ended up being a non title fight because Riggs missed weight) but left the organization in 2006. He finally worked his way back to the UFC late last year but lost his return fight to Ben Saunders due to a neck injury.
Round 1. As Cote moves in looking to land some punches, Riggs grabs his back and looks to pull him to the ground. Riggs gets Cote down, but ends up in bottom position and Cote unleashes a series of hard punches from the top. That forces Riggs to stand back up. Cote responds by taking Riggs back down. Cote lands punches from top position and controls Riggs' body. Riggs works back up to his feet only to be taken right back down by Cote. Riggs gets up again but is taken back down again. Cote looks for an arm triangle choke momentarily but then switches into a kimura attempt from the top. 10-9 Cote.
Round 2. Cote is the aggressor early, landing some big punches to start the round, but he walks into a heavy Riggs counterpunch. Cote is rocked badly by that and Riggs looks to capitalize. Cote ties Riggs up and regains his faculties. The fighters exchange with each landing some shots and then they clinch for most of the rest of the round. Riggs gets a takedown late. Close round. 10-9 Riggs.
Round 3. Riggs gets a takedown early. He looks for a guillotine choke in a scramble but can't get it. Riggs is able to take Cote's back, however. He sinks in his hooks and looks to lock up a rear naked choke. Riggs is sloppy in securing Cote's body and Cote rolls out into top position. Cote then proceeds to open up with a series of punches from the top. Cote continues to work from top position, landing punches and shutting down Riggs' attempts at offense. Riggs finally gets back to his feet with a little less than a minute left. He prevents Cote from taking him back down and lands some knees against the cage. They scramble late, with Riggs ending up on top. 10-9 Cote, 29-28 Cote.
Winner: Patrick Cote, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Thomas Almeida vs. Yves Jabouin
Almeida is undefeated at 18-0, a difficult achievement in a sport with so many ways to win (and lose). All of his wins were via finish until his UFC debut, a decision win over Tim Gorman. Jabouin is a respected veteran who has fought many of the bantamweight division's best. He is 5-3 in the UFC.
Round 1. The fighters start with a longer feeling out period than any other bout on the card. Jabouin ducks under and slams Almeida to the mat with an impressive takedown. However, he isn't able to accomplish much on the ground and Almeida quickly returns to his feet. Back on the feet, Almeida finally begins to open up more. He scores with some hard punches to the head of Jabouin and aggressively keeps the pressure on with serious offense. He hurts Jabouin with a punch and Jabouin is forced to cover up against the cage. Almeida keeps firing in power shots and the referee stops the fight.
Winner: Thomas Almeida, TKO, round 1.
John Makdessi vs. Shane Campbell
Makdessi, another Montreal native, possesses an exciting and dynamic striking style. He is coming off a loss to Alan Patrick. Campbell likewise is an entertaining striker with excellent muay thai making his UFC debut. This has all the makings of a great fight.
Round 1. Campbell throws a number of kicks early. Makdessi catches one and looks for a takedown but can't get it. Makdessi starts to establish his punches while Campbell continues to fire away with kicks. Makdessi connects with some nice punches to the body and then to the head. He drops Campbell with a punch to the head and looks to finish the fight. Campbell is barely able to hold on. Campbell gets back up to his feet but Makdessi pours on additional punishment. Campbell looks for a takedown but Makdessi illegally grabs the fence and uses that to prevent the takedown. Makdessi continues to land big punches and drops him with another punch late. Campbell covers up and the referee stops the fight.
Winner: John Makdessi, TKO, round 1.
In preliminary action, Randa Markos scored a unanimous decision victory over Aisling Daly by controlling the first and third rounds. Valerie Letourneau mixed up striking and submissions to best Jessica Rakoczy via unanimous decision. Finally, Nordine Taleb proved too much for Chris Clements and won their contest via unanimous decision.