We’re almost through with the UFC Columbus main card and there was one fight in particular that people will be talking about for a long time. Marc Diakiese began things by putting on a wrestling clinic to get a win over talented striker Viacheslav Borschchev, Neil Magny overcame a heavy knockdown to win a grueling decision over Max Griffin, Kai Kara-France perhaps secured a flyweight title shot with his upset win over Askar Askarov, Bryan Barberena won an all-timer of a three-round war over Matt Brown (much to the anger and dismay of the Columbus crowd), and Alexa Grasso submitted Joanne Wood in a key women’s flyweight contest. Here’s how the fights played out.
Joanne Wood vs. Alexa Grasso - Women’s Flyweights
A three-punch combination by Grasso was immediately followed by a takedown as she pushed forward and closed the distance. Grasso had a couple of minutes of control time before letting Wood back up. Wood had success with her kicking while on the front foot. She was finding her range early while Grasso was trying to work off of her jab. Grasso just evaded a spinning elbow and took Wood’s back and looked to sink in a rear-naked choke... which she did! A first ever submission win for Grasso to move to 3-0 at flyweight, while Wood is now on a three-fight losing run with five submission defeats in her career.
Bryan Barberena def. Matt Brown by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) - Welterweights
The crowd got behind their fellow Ohioan in one of the more anticipated fights on the card. Barberena started brightly with a couple of head shots, but ‘The Immortal’ responded with a nifty foot sweep and then a knee to the body on the clinch entry. Brown took Barberena down and Matt was seeking the crucifix position and Barberena was privy to it. Barberena threw some annoying punches to get Brown to move his head and eventually he got back to his feet. Brown caught Barberena with a hard body kick and then just missed on a standing elbow. ‘Bam Bam’ got in his own good shot in the form of a solid straight left. Barberena got put down to the mat with another foot sweep and ate a few shots, then Barberena responded with a lead elbow, which Brown retaliated in kind with the same strike to end a fun round.
Brown drilled Barberena with another wicked body kick to start round two. A cut opened up on the left cheek of Brown, possibly from one of those Barberena elbows. Brown landed another body shot and recorded another takedown. Not much damage got done there but plenty of elbows were traded in the clinch when they returned to the feet. A massive elbow hurt Brown and he tried to respond with a spinning attack. In desperation Brown got a badly needed takedown. Brown was high on the back and there was no real armbar or triangle threat for Barberena to worry about. Barberena got on top and started unleashing more elbows. Brown was noticeably tired when they stood back up. But this is Matt freaking Brown and he won’t give up. They teed off on huge shots and both men were getting cracked cleanly. All-action, all the time!
These two warriors did not let up in the final round. A right hook caught Barberena cleanly but his chin held up. Check hook from Barberena got Brown’s attention. It was an absolute war of attrition between two fan favorites. Brown foot swept Barberena yet again and into a front headlock. Barberena got cut from one of Brown’s elbows, evening up the score in terms of facial cuts. Brown timed Barberena beautifully for a double leg takedown as the crowd roared, but Barberena was back up and he was teeing off on Matt. A heavy uppercut and another one hurt Brown but back he came with a devastating right hand. Brown slammed home a massive left hand and then a right. One of the best fights of the year! Just a back-and-forth scrap for the ages. Bryan hurt Brown in the dying seconds but he couldn’t knock him down. What an iconic clash!
Kai Kara-France def. Askar Askarov by unanimous decision (29-28 x3) - Men’s Flyweights
Kara-France showed tremendous balance on one leg to try and stop Askarov’s takedown attempt, but eventually Askarov kicked the other leg out from underneath him and he got him down. Askarov took the back and got both hooks in. With the Russian threatening the rear-naked choke, Kara-France stood up but had Askarov on him like a backpack with the body triangle in place. Kara-France was essentially in pure survival mode with all of the control time. Askarov drilled Kara-France with a nasty elbow and then looked to get a neck crank but ran out of time as Kai gave the thumbs up.
Round two started with Kara-France connecting on a right hand and a short left that caught the attention of Askarov, who inevitably resorted to his wrestling shortly thereafter. Kara-France broke from Askarov’s grip and reset to the center of the cage. The City Kickboxing sensation demonstrated impressive defensive wrestling to thwart Askarov’s dangerous wrestling. Kara-France cracked him with a left hook and an uppercut. Askarov was rocked and looking fatigued. No doubt a massive moment for Kara-France as Askarov was getting outstruck and trading in the pocket was a problem for him.
A thudding kick to the groin by Askarov paused things 30 seconds into the final round. The fight did resume without much delay and no point was deducted. Askarov landed a right hand and immediately went for a takedown. No takedown was the bad news for Askarov but he did get a body triangle. Kara-France shook free from the body triangle much to the delight of the crowd. The pace slowed in the latter stages of the contest but Kara-France looked to be just getting the better of Askarov on the feet. This fight was being contested on his terms and Askar wasn’t comfortable with it. Kara-France urged Askarov to throw down like Holloway vs. Lamas, but Askarov went for a single leg and Kara-France thwarted him. How about that for a happy birthday to get the upset win and hand Askarov his first loss?!
Neil Magny def. Max Griffin by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) - Welterweights
An early right hand from Griffin backed up Magny to kick things off. He got in another right and a low kick (a strike Magny has been susceptible to in the past). Magny was floored with a mega right hand that looked for all the world that it was a KO blow but it was not. Griffin was on the cusp of an upset and he let him back to his feet. Max threw a right to the body but otherwise did not go on the attack, perhaps sensing Magny had recovered. Griffin established the outside low kicks and it was his best offense outside of the knockdown.
Magny was more on the front foot in round two and he did pick up the pace offensively. Griffin still got in some power shots and low kicks aka the more eye-catching work. Suddenly Magny was catching Griffin with heavy punches and it became a little more of a slugfest midway through round two. Finally Magny went for a takedown but Griffin stopped the single leg. Magny ended the round nicely with an elbow and a knee after he tried for a takedown and spun to the back, only to get off some clinch strikes.
It looked as if Griffin was fatiguing after a fast start but an otherwise grueling pace. Magny closed the distance and was draped over Griffin’s back throwing short lefts to the dome. Neil had both hooks in and was dominating the final round. With Magny searching for a finish he was too high on the back and Griffin slipped out, but he just couldn’t get Neil off of him even when he stood up. Magny pounded Griffin with elbows but Max charged forward and then dropped for a double for some reason. Neil closed the fight with a pile driver which was cool! Magny ties the great champion Georges St-Pierre for most wins in UFC welterweight history (19).
Marc Diakiese def. Viacheslav Borshchev by unanimous decision (30-27 x3) - Lightweights
Diakiese wasted no time testing Borshchev’s wrestling as he shot in for a takedown seconds into the bout. Borshchev defended well, put Diakiese against the fence briefly. It was a relentless pursuit of the takedown that resulted in Slava taking his back briefly and then landing a hard left hook. After the rest of the combo didn’t land, Diakiese ducked under and he thought he had the takedown but Borshchev scrambled immediately and flipped him over. Third time was the charm for Diakiese and he had him against the fence. Sure enough all of Diakiese’s efforts to get the fight to the ground paid off and he controlled the kickboxing standout for the rest of the round.
Borshchev threw some calf kicks to start round two. Diakiese dragged Borshchev to the mat by his back after getting the rear body lock. The Team Alpha Male product kept trying to roll out of bad spots and do anything to get back to his feet but Diakiese proved the superior wrestler and grappler, not even allowing Borshchev a chance to establish his striking. The theme continued into round three in a bit of rinse and repeat. Not crowd friendly but effective for Diakiese, who completed 11 takedowns and got a desperately needed win to end a two-fight skid.