Rory MacDonald and Stephen Thompson didn't exactly engage in the firefight that fans wanted. Instead, both men fought tactically - Thompson with his kicks, MacDonald looking to establish range to score with power shots. Unfortunately it took MacDonald four rounds to get truly aggressive and it was just too late by then.
Rory's use of the Imanari roll early was pretty interesting, but he mostly spent the first three rounds on the outside. I fully expected MacDonald to try to wrestle more, but he really didn't other than a couple of half-hearted attempts. Striking with a striking specialist didn't seem to be the best idea, despite what Rory's corner was telling him.
When he finally opened up in the fifth, he had a little bit of success. But Thompson's experience helped him recover and get back at Rory, eventually hurting him late. Thompson is undoubtedly the number one contender now, and should get the winner of Robbie Lawler vs. Tyron Woodley.
- Donald Cerrone looked amazing tonight. He outstruck a vaunted striker, one that's way bigger than him in Patrick Cote. Three knockdowns? Incredible. Two early, beautiful takedowns? Pretty crazy too. Cerrone is clearly a contender at 170, and hopefully they give him another big fight soon. Because who doesn't like to watch Donald Cerrone fight?
- What can you even say about Steve Bosse vs. Sean O'Connell? The two men went to war. I don't think I've ever seen a light heavyweight bout with that many damaging strikes landed. Bosse went down once, but got right back up and controlled the rest of the fight. If you missed this fight, I urge you to seek out tape of it. You will not be sorry.
- If they don't get all the bonuses, I'll be disappointed. It really was a fight of the year candidate.
- Olivier Aubin-Mercier put in work against Thibault Gouti. Gouti had his moments with his hands in the first two rounds, but Olivier's grappling was way too much for him. He picked up a nice third-round submission victory, and will get a step up in competition next time out.
- Joanne Calderwood and Valerie Letourneau made a women's flyweight division look pretty good. Calderwood in particular looked incredible, with an awesome spinning back fist that actually should have won her the fight, and solid Muay Thai that broke Letourneau down until she cracked. The wardrobe malfunction certainly didn't help either.
- Jason Saggo and Leandro Silva both looked good in the featured prelim, but Saggo managed to take a split decision. Not much to say about it, really - if Saggo had opened up his striking earlier, he may have had an easier time with the Brazilian. He still got the win though.
- Misha Cirkunov is a light heavyweight. That means that when you come into the octagon three times and you finish three opponents, you're on the edge of the rankings already. Despite getting dropped by Ion Cutelaba early, he settled down and quickly took over the fight. You don't often see a superman punch to double leg combo, but that's what led to his arm-triangle choke finish. Pretty nice.
- Mookie and I may or may not have been attempting to use fighter names in terrible puns on twitter just to make Zane (who was running the BE twitter account) shake his head in disgust. I believe we succeeded many times, so tonight was a win for us.
- Krzysztof Jotko done went and clubbered the Barn Cat. Jotko just crushed him with a left that sent McCrory straight onto his back. He may have been done already, but two more hammerfists helped rigor mortis to set in. McCrory was stiff as a board, frozen into position. In just 59 seconds, Jotko picked up by far the most impressive win of the night to this point.
- Chris Beal looked dominant in the first round of his fight with Joe Soto. Then he made some mistakes, which included giving into a Soto that wanted to brawl. It helped Soto take over the fight late in the second, and again in the third when Beal was again in charge. Soto got a takedown, took his back, and submitted him for his first UFC win in four tries. Soto is always fun to watch, and it's cool that he was able to get a W.
- Elias Theodorou fought a smart fight against a guy that is totally one-dimensional in Sam Alvey. When Elias didn't throw any punches and stuck to kicking, Alvey had absolutely nothing in response. It may have been slow. You may even call it boring. But it was brilliant strategy, and he won the fight.
- Randa Markos vs. Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger was...okay. To me, it was a bit sloppy at times and didn't feature a lot of action. The first round saw Markos turn it up and earn the round, but I didn't see much from either lady in the second and third (though Jones-Lybarger clearly won the third). It may be a harsh assessment, but I wasn't all that impressed.
- After two rounds of just using his wrestling to control Jonathan Meunier in non-exciting fashion, he made up for it either in the third. A huge spinning back fist dropped Meunier, and he quickly took his back and locked up a rear naked choke. Nice work by Covington, who looks to be a pretty good prospect.
- The card kicked off with a fun flyweight bout between Ali Bagautinov and Geane Herrera. While Bagautinov clearly dominated, Herrera had a couple of moments where he had Ali stuck in some bad spots. He actually almost finished him with a kimura in the third. Bagautinov was able to power out though, and put a beating on Herrera otherwise. Herrera really needs to open up more on the feet in the future.