Image via UFC
Cyrille Diabate, who has always been known for his standup and not his grappling, managed to fend off a tough grappler in Tom DeBlass long enough to pick up a majority decision victory at UFC on Fuel 2. The final scores were 29-28, 29-28, and 28-28. DeBlass started well, controlling the first half of the fight with some solid, steady grappling. Diabate defended very well though, and took over when DeBlass (a late replacement) gassed out. "The Snake" spent long periods of time on top in the second half of the fight, and damaged DeBlass with a variety of strikes.
DeBlass got inside immediately to begin the bout and landed a nice punch, then managed to push Diabate against the cage. He scooped up a single and had to fight for it for a while, but got the takedown in the center of the cage. Diabate initially did a good job of controlling well from full guard, but eventually DeBlass passed to half and slowly looked to advance further. DeBlass posted up and landed a few elbows while Diabate looked to get up, but DeBlass used it to get to side control. It was grappling dominance for the whole round, but Diabate was never in serious danger.
Diabate opened the second with a kick, which was caught by DeBlass who took the fight back to the ground. A quick pass to side control had him in control once again, but Diabate managed to get to his feet. DeBlass immediately locked on a guillotine and dropped down. Diabate defended, but DeBlass ended up on top in side once again. Yet again Diabate got up, and he got the takedown himself this time. He quickly extracted himself from guard, but jumped back in with some punches. DeBlass went for a footlock (a specialty of his) and managed to get back on top. DeBlass started to bleed as Diabate got back up and dumped DeBlass on his butt. The Snake then started to rain down some ground and pound. A few forearm shivers and more big punches before the bell had DeBlass tired and hurt.
Diabate finally got some extended time on the feet at the start of the third and made the most of it with a few hard punches. He seemed to hurt DeBlass with a knee to the body. DeBlass shot in for a takedown and locked up a leg, but Diabate ended up on top. DeBlass looked exhausted as he tried to curl up and grab onto a leg once again while Diabate landed a few punches, and DeBlass eventually used a heel hook attempt to get back on top with about 90 seconds to go. Diabate escaped though, and DeBlass didn't have much left in the tank. Diabate landed some elbows to the body while DeBlass just turtled up to end the fight.
Diabate was looking move over the .500 mark in the UFC, sitting at 2-2 entering the bout. DeBlass, a Ricardo Almeida disciple, was making his UFC debut on short notice and came in with an unblemished 7-0 record.