UFC Ottawa: Stephen Thompson Outpoints Rory MacDonald, Cowboy Becomes First Fighter to Knock Out Cote.

UFC Fight Night 89 took place at the sold out TD Place Arena in Canada’s capital of Ottawa, Ontario. It was a sneaky good card that delivered for the most part but it was higher on the significance totem than most fight nights as the main event produced a new, dangerous contender in one of mixed martial arts’ best weight divisions. The co-main saw a former fan favorite lightweight contender establish himself as a legitimate welterweight contender and the remainder of the card gave us a light heavyweight brawl, the reemergence of a once promising Scottish prospect, a comeback win for an unforeseen bantamweight title challenger and a brutal knockout of the night of a respected UFC middleweight veteran.

MAIN CARD

Joanne Calderwood puts on a clinic against Valerie Letourneau.

Joanne Calderwood and Valerie Letourneau competed in the very first women’s flyweight bout in UFC history. On paper, it was thought to be a closely matched contest, in practice it was a shutout. From kicks, punches, clinch fighting and even takedowns, Calderwood led the dance, got off first and landed the more efficient punishing blows. Calderwood who was notorious for her slow starts had no issues revving up in Ottowa.

The striking battle between the French-Canadian and the Scot was thought to play out in the center of the Octagon with each fighter going tit for tat in strikes, it didn’t play out that way for long. After a few minutes of back and forth exchanges, Calderwood took a chance and unloaded a spinning back fist that was as beautiful to watch as it was brutal and effective. The blow nearly put Letourneau unconscious but a big show of heart and the subsequent follow-up shots possibly woke Letourneau up enough to get back up to her feet.

The fight stopped being competitive after the knockdown in the first round. Letourneau couldn’t keep up enough of an effective plan of attack. Calderwood even managed to land a takedown in the second that buried Letourneau’s hope of victory even deeper.Calderwood seemed to have shifted into fifth gear in the closing round. Her output was more pronounced and her use of body strikes were at their most optimal. Teeps to Letourneau’s body hurt the ATT product on several occasions in the third. After a jumping front kick to the stomach that stunned Letourneau and another teep to the chest that left viewers, the referee and Calderwood herself in confusion as to what just happened, a third front kick to the abdomen took all the wind out of Letourneau and sent her retreating with her back to Calderwood but “Jojo” got off a running knee to Letourneau’s leg and some additional punches before the ref was able to step in to properly stop the fight.

Olivier Aubin-Mercier dismantles French debutant.

Olivier Aubin-Mercier met promotional newcomer Thibault Gouti and absolutely dismantled him. Mercier has been given some flack about his less-than-stellar fighting style, but he shined in all facets against the Frenchman.Though Gouti was thought to have the advantage on the feet, it was Mercier who landed the big shots. Mercier still has a ways to go in the striking department, but his power was clearly present at the TD Place. With Mercier winning the battle standing, victory with him on the mat was almost assured.

Mercier took Gouti down in every round and scored some meaningful ground and pound and got rear naked choke attempts in each one, finally concluding in the third frame against a beaten, and bewildered Gouti. Gouti got more reckless and tired with each choke he defended and Mercier capitalized with a body triangle and subsequent rear naked choke for the tap.

Steve Bosse and Sean O’Connell put on a brawl for the ages.

It’s no surprise that former hockey enforcer Steve Bosse loves a good brawl and though fiction author isn’t the first thing that might come to mind as a secondary job for a cage fighter, Sean O’Connell can scrap with the best of them. From the onset, it seemed like both men made a pact; do not leave this arena without an extra 50 thousand dollars in your pocket. Bosse was the aggressor early on, landing big, telegraphed power punches. Bosse bumrushed O’Connell, but “The Real OC” stood his ground, countered “The Boss” and dropped him with two left hooks. Bosse dropped like an oak tree and the fight seemed to be all but over, but he managed to survive and make it the full 15 minutes for only the second time in his career.

Bosse might have been finished if O’Connell managed to land more consistently, but Bosse went full reptile mode and threw as hard as he could, and as much as he could. Bosse staggered O’Connell a few times in the second and caught a kick to take O’Connell to the mat and also landed a few spinning back fists to take a unanimous decision.

It was fun, it was wild, it was sloppy but it is a worthy candidate for fight of the year so far, and with fights like Lawler vs. Condit, Reyes vs. Kim and Cruz vs. Dillashaw so far into the half year, MMA media is gonna have some fun debates as to which was number one.

Cowboy is now a welterweight contender.

It only took a knee to the body and innumerable ground and pound blows a minute into Rafael Dos Anjos’ title defense against challenger Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone to stop the perennial lightweight contender. In an effort to restart his career fresh, “Cowboy” jumped to welterweight for new fights and an opportunity at redemption after losing to the lightweight king twice in two years. His welterweight debut against Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira was a swift submission victory, but Oliveira didn’t have the name or resume of Patrick Cote.

Cote was a career long middleweight who had even fought as a light heavyweight at one point, “Cowboy” was a man who was a decent sized lightweight but going up in weight seemed problematic for a few pundits even in his first fight against Oliveira who is a huge welterweight. Cote might have been even bigger and was definitely much more experienced to use his size to his advantage, it never came to fruition.

Cerrone, the notorious slow starter, had no issues with getting warmed up this time around. A nicely timed takedown in the opening seconds of the fight showed Cerrone was becoming more disciplined and a much savvier veteran. “Cowboy” scored a bit on the ground before getting omaplata’d and swept by the French-Canadian to stand the fight back up. It was all Cerrone after the fight was stood. Cerrone’s boxing looked as crisp and effective as ever, his timing was impeccable and his varietal attack never allowed Cote to score anything meaningful.

Cerrone did an excellent job of throwing persistent leg kicks and the kicks were so discreet and effective that much like Eddie Alvarez when he fought “Cowboy” two years ago, Cote didn’t realize how badly he was hurt until it was too late. Just as Cote was coming to the realization that his legs were barely able to support his weight, a “Cowboy” left hook planted him on the mat. A cross, left hook dropped Cote early in the third and Cerrone would smartly pace himself and allow Cote to stand back up and drop him with two sharp right hands. Cote did not have the wherewithal to stand up on the third knockdown and “Cowboy” took it upon himself to mount Cote and get the TKO finish.

“Wonderboy” outpoints the “Red King” in a shutout.

Rory MacDonald vs Stephen Thompson was one of the more anticipated bouts this year and it wasn’t even a FOX or pay-per-view headliner. The consensus number one and two contenders in the welterweight division would go five rounds in a de facto title eliminator in what was probably to be one of the more significant fights this year. It wasn’t a war like MacDonald’s last fight against Robbie Lawler, or the flawless victory that Thompson produced against Johny Hendricks, but it was a calculated chess match in which neither competitor wanted to give an inch.

“Wonderboy” had some trouble establishing range in the first, not staying as far on the outside as he might have wanted to and MacDonald attacking with some unconventional moves like rolling leglock attempts made it all the much more awkward, but as the fight wore on Thompson gained more space and threw flashier techniques.

MacDonald was definitely prepared to take on a striking savant like Thompson, but seemed frozen in the moment. As strange and unorthodox as MacDonald’s rolling leglock attempts were, they had some merit as common sense would infer that Thompson diligently trained to defend double and single leg takedowns and clinch fighting with an All-American wrestler like Chris Weidman. A rolling leglock is definitely not something that the common mixed martial artist trains or trains to defend against, but Thompson defended nicely and it appeared like every attack was just more data aggregating in his fight database. It looked more and more apparent that with each waning round, MacDonald was running out of ideas and with each jab coming up shorter and kicks becoming an afterthought, Thompson established his space and gained more confidence with each round.

The fight was a matter of numbers and the numbers were very heavily in Thompson’s side. He had the variety in kicks, the higher output, the wider knowledge on footwork and angles while Rory had basic boxing and a few clinch takedown attempts. The crowd at the TD Place didn’t sound so pleased with the fight but it was a great win for Thompson. He was rarely touched and MacDonald couldn’t find many ways to avoid getting hit. The most important aspect of this fight was the fact that “Wonderboy” did go five rounds and should he get the title fight next, as most expect he will, it will be a valuable experience for both Thompson and the winner of Robbie Lawler and Tyron Woodley to assess how the fight might play out and what his actual chances against other men might be.

Below are the full card’s official results.

FLYWEIGHT

Ali Bagautinov defeats Geane Herrera by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

WELTERWEIGHT

Colby Covington defeats Jonathan Meunier by submission (rear naked choke) at 4:06 of the third round.

WOMEN’S STRAWWEIGHT

Randa Markos defeats Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).

MIDDLEWEIGHT

Elias Theodorou defeats Sam Alvey by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).

BANTAMWEIGHT

Joe Soto defeats Chris Beal by submission (rear naked choke) at 3:39 of the third round.

MIDDLEWEIGHT

Krzysztof Jotko defeats Tamdan McCrory by KO at 0:59 of the first round.

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

Misha Cirkunov defeats Ion Cutelaba by submission (arm triangle) at 1:22 of the third round.

LIGHTWEIGHT

Jason Saggo defeats Leandro Silva by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29).

WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT

Joanne Calderwood defeats Valerie Letourneau by TKO at 2:51 of the third round.

LIGHTWEIGHT

Olivier Aubin-Mercier defeats Thibault Gouti by submission (rear naked choke) at 2:28 of the third round.

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

Steve Bosse defeats Sean O’Connell by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27).

WELTERWEIGHT

Donald Cerrone defeats Patrick Cote by TKO at 2:36 of the third round.

WELTERWEIGHT

Stephen Thompson defeats Rory MacDonald by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 48-47).

 

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Victor "Juice" Vargas

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