Several moments of flash occurred in this fight with MTB getting more than one high amplitude slam or throw and Pineda swept MTB twice in eye-catching fashion. The action unfolded at a good clip and MTB looked to be much more comfortable in the cage than in previous matches. He moves to 2-3 in the UFC (the first loss being to Genki Sudo back in 2004). Pineda drops to 2-1 in the UFC.
A slight controversy arose in how exactly to score the last round, which MTB dominated for roughly three minutes only to have his back taken with two minutes to go. Pineda was able to punch away at his opponent for all of that time, but no finish was truly threatened. Brent Brookhouse, doing the live blog here at Bloody Elbow, still gave the round to MTB. The official judges saw it differently and gave Pineda the round.
What was the high spot of this fight?
The perfectly timed hip toss from a whizzer MTB put on Pineda after a failed double leg and the reversals Pineda had off his back to get on top of MTB.
Where do these guys go from here?
MTB had been talking retirement if he didn't feel good in the cage, but after the win, the 36 year old fighter spoke of taking a couple weeks to make the final call to keep going as a fighter or to move full time to coaching and cornering. If he stays in the game, the winner of Leonard Garcia and Matt Grice would make sense for MTB. Based on the Pineda fight, I think he has enough left in the gas tank to get a few more wins and paydays in the featherweight division.
For Daniel Pineda, he needs to figure out why MTB was dominating the clinch so badly, why he was throwing easily telegraphed kicks and strikes from the very edge of range and to further improve his ability to get back up. This was the second time he's been to a decision in 25 fights - and he's lost both. Otherwise, Pineda has been getting finishes (or finished himself) by any means possible. That kind of fighting style is definitely one that will be kept around for a while in this UFC climate. He is probably best served in picking a "wait and see" strategy regarding his next opponent.
Most of the featherweights around his skill level and visibility are already scheduled with opponents. Perhaps one will shake themselves free with a quick finish and he can get back in there quickly, or if his trainers get him working at a good rate, he can take a few months to improve and get back in the cage some time in the fall.
Watch it now, later or never?
Watch it later - but do watch this. There were so many finishes on the card that getting through the most high profile ones will give you the patience to watch a back and forth decision battle between two good featherweights. There were no snoozer moments and the pace remained above average throughout the match.
After the jump, all the related UFC 146 links you could want.