Once again the UFC goes head to head with the NFL during their postseason push. Also similar to last year this week’s Sunday event took place in Boston as it. The main event was a fight between T.J. Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz that was an entertaining blend of mixed martial arts footwork. The night belong to Dominick Cruz who became a ghost to T.J. Dillashaw on his way to victory. In the co main event Eddie Alvarez won a gritty close battle with Anthony Pettis on a night filled with excitement and great finishes for UFC Fight Night 81.
The main event started off as an exhausting footwork show between the two bantamweight fighters T.J. Dillashaw(12-3) and Dominick Cruz(21-1). Dillashaw had a high kick that found Cruz as he moved to his left in the first round. Cruz stayed somewhat elusive but you could tell he tired a bit in that opening round. The movement of Cruz continued to bother T.J. but he held his ground finally hit Dominick with a few of the high kicks. Dominick stole some momentum from Dillashaw with two consecutive takedowns even though T.J. easily scrambled away. Round three started just like the opening with Dominick staying away from T.J. who repeatedly missed until finally touching him in the middle of the round. Unfortunately for him Dominick controlled the latter portion of the round landed another takedown then hitting Dillashaw with a nice combo off the back of the cage. In the fourth T.J. landed a beauty of a kick to the leg of Cruz who instantly went for another successful takedown. Both fighters resurfaced until T.J. landed a solid takedown of his own. They would end the fourth going tit for tat as they headed into the final championship round. T.J. Dillashaw went for the leg again in the fifth which eventually set up a right. Followed finally by the head kick T.J. was looking for all night. After that he went back to work on the left leg of Cruz and made the fight more painful for Cruz still utilizing his foot movement. The fight ended with a nice final exchange but the limping of Cruz was undeniable. It didn’t matter much as the judges felt that escapability of Cruz with his takedowns and counters did enough to earn him the split decision.
The co main event between Eddie Alvarez (27-4)and Anthony Pettis(18-4) started off as a gritty clinch filled battle with Alvarez setting the pace. Pettis used leg kicks for the base of most of his attacks while Eddie went for the hard pressed offense. He repeatedly put his head deep in the chest of Anthony and landed a few takedowns that gave him the edge in the first two rounds. The third round started off great for Pettis as he landed some devastating kicks and cut the nose of Eddie. From there Eddie returned the match into a grinder landed a few more takedowns and out wrestled him to steal the momentum back. His overall control and six takedowns propelled him to split decision victory over the former 155 pound champion and becomes possibly the biggest win in Eddie’s UFC run.
The heavyweights were the feature bout of the night in a possible contender fight between Matt Mitrione(9-5) and Travis Browne(18-3). The only fireworks in the first round feeling out process was due to accidental eye poke from Browne. The eye chaos would continue when Travis got him again with the thumb in the eye during a punching exchange. The referee stopped the fight later than needed and the doctors came in to check Mitrione’s eye. He was good to return but found difficulty with the length of Browne. Everytime he pounced forward he either a kick or knee would come from Hapa to stop his momentum. In the final round Travis tagged Matt with a straight right that stunned Mitrione and led to the big takedown. From there Browne went to work on top with some heavy elbows as Matt’s eye continued to swell. The fight was eventually stopped as we saw the swollen protruding growth over the right eye of Mitrione. It’s possible the fight could have ended differently without the early eye pokes but Hapa moves on with another top 15 win and looking at some definite consideration for the winner of cain and Werdum.
The first round started a tad slow in the fight between Ross Pearson(18-10) and Francisco Trinaldo(19-4). Trinaldo respected Pearson’s power early but soon became comfortable with his counters towards the end of the round. The second started similar with Trinaldo retreating until a timely takedown but him on his back. He regrouped and went on the attack with a good knee after a nice spinning kick by Pearson. Both fighters ended the second strong with a hard leg kick and the left hook from Trinaldo started to find it’s mark. Heading into the third round it was really anyone’s fight but Fransico found the early round success. He kept catching Ross with counters that put Ross in some trouble. Pearson finally landed a good high kick about 3 minutes in as Trinaldo retreated and returned with one of his own. That would lead to the second takedown of the night for Pearson. The fighters returned to their feet for some mutual exchanges with Trinado still gaining the advantage with his left jab and a good knee to the body. The fight was extremely close with both athletes finding moments but ultimately it was the timely counters that gave the victory to Trinaldo.
The prelims saw impressive wins for Patrick Cote(23-9), Ed Herman(22-11), Chris Wade(11-1) Paul Felder (11-2) and Ilir Latifi (11-4). The early rounds saw 7 finishes in 9 bouts. Up next for the UFC is UFC Fight Night 82: Johnson vs Bader on Saturday January 30th.
Dominick Cruz def T.J. Dillashaw Split Dec
Eddie Alvarez def Anthony Pettis Split Dec
Travis Browne def Matt Mitrione KO/TKO, 4:09 R3
F. Trinaldo def Ross Pearson Unanimous Dec
Patrick Cote def Ben Saunders KO/TKO, 1:14 R2
Ed Herman def Tim Boetsch KO/TKO, 1:39 R2
Chris Wade def Mehdi Baghdad Sub, 4:30 R1
Luke Sanders def Maximo Blanco Sub, 3:38 R1
Paul Felder def Daron Cruickshank Sub, 3:56 R3
Ilir Latifi def Sean O’Connell KO/TKO, 0:30 R1
Charles Rosa def Kyle Bochniak Unanimous Dec
Rob Font def Joey Gomez KO/TKO, 4:13 R2
Francimar Barroso def Elvis Mutapcic Unanimous Dec