In the opening bout of UFC 149: Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barao, Lightweight Anton Kuivanen took a close split decision over Mitch Clarke. It was a fun, if somewhat sloppy, grappling-centric affair. The fighters spent the match exchanging transitions, reversals, and submission attempts. Kuivanen moves his career record to 17-5 and gains his first UFC victory after dropping his debut to Justin Salas. Clarke drops to 9-2 with his only losses coming consecutively in his last two UFC bouts.
Clarke got the match going with an almost instant takedown attempt. Kuivanen defended well with his back against the fence trying to punish Clarke with strikes from top position. Clarke almost finished the fight early with an armbar from guard, but couldn't keep control of Kuivanen's upper body. After that, Kuivanen used his larger size and superior conditioning win the decision.
What was the high spot of this fight?
At the end of the second round Clarke landed a powerful upkick that dropped Kuivanen. The two battled for leg locks in the 50-50 guard position while exchanging punches.
Where do these guys go from here?
Anton Kuivanen finally put a mark in his UFC win column, but it was a really close fight against a lower tier lightweight. He'll get another fight in the UFC, but expect to see him early on the prelims again. Clarke just gave up his second loss in as many UFC appearances. Most likely, he'll let go to and sent back to the regional circuit.
Watch it now, later, or never?
Later. It's a fun fairly high paced grappling tilt, but there's some better fights from the night that deserve your attention first.
More Bloody Elbow coverage of UFC 149 in the full entry.