Al Iaquinta and Ryan Couture took to the Facebook card of UFC 164 with a lot to prove. Iaquinta was on a two fight losing streak, both by submission, to Pat Audinwood and Michael Chiesa. A loss to Couture would have dropped him to 0-2 in Zuffa promotions as well, and probably meant the end of his run in the UFC. For Couture, he was coming off a TKO loss to Ross Pearson back in April. It's tough to say whether this was do or die situation for him, but he certainly needed a big win to put himself back on fans' radars.
This was an all action fight that really told us a lot about the two fighters involved. For three rounds they slugged it out on the feet with Iaquinta delivering the lion's share of the damage. He had Couture noticably hurt on several occasions and was delivering the kind of power strikes that make you wonder if his hands are made of wrought iron. Every time he looked to have Couture in real danger however, Couture would muster a flying knee or spinning heel kick or some other surprising strike to back Iaquinta off a bit and give him room to breathe. It was a gutsy performance that ultimately saw Couture show a lot of heart while receiving a pretty one-sided beating. The result: Al Iaquinta def. Ryan Couture via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
What was the high point?
Iaquinta's switch to body work in the second round was a real joy to see. It's obvious he's been working on his striking a lot and when he saw that Couture wasn't about to be knocked out he started drilling hard shots to the body. It kept Couture defensive and winded in a fight that Couture otherwise showed flashes of exciting offense.
What was the low point?
The feeling of fallout from this fight for Couture. Given the well publicized spat between his boss and his father Couture comes across as something of a good guy caught in the middle. It's hard not to see him take a bad beating and think that the UFC will probably be eager to see the back of him.
Where do they go from here?
For Iaquinta he gets to live another day as a UFC fighter. Given his recent submission losses it's not really fair to call him a bright prospect, but he showed good skills and aggression in a fight he had to win to keep his job. I'd like to see him fight Norman Parke to see if one of the former TUF fighters can really distinguish themselves.
For Couture, I don't know that he's done with the UFC. He was technically on a four fight win streak when he crossed over from Strikeforce (even if his win over Noons was one of the worst decisions in recent memory). He lost to Ross Pearson, but there's little shame in that. If the UFC cuts him here it won't be unfounded, he just doesn't have the athleticism to compete at this level, but if he does get another fight I'd like to see him take on Vinc Pichel or Cristiano Marcello.
Watch it now, later, or never?
I give it a hesitant "watch it now," there's a lot of solid action, some exciting striking and a really good three round pace. But it's also three rounds from two fighters who aren't anywhere close to being relevant in one of the UFC's deepest divisions. If you watch it later, I'll understand, but do watch it.
More from Bloody Elbow:
- Bellator releases statement regarding report saying Attila Vegh was not injured
- Cage Warriors champion Jim Alers talks about his MMA career past, present, and future
- UFC 164 results: Kid Nate's bathrobe review & analysis for Henderson vs. Pettis 2
- UFC 164 results: Post-fight interviews
- UFC 164 results: Dana White post-fight media scrum