UFC FIGHT NIGHT 81
JANUARY 17, 2016
LIVE FROM BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
Enjoy some football this afternoon, then settle in for a night of fights from the UFC as UFC Fight Night 81 hits the TD Garden in Boston, Mass. We finally get the return of former Bantamweight Champ Dominick Cruz in the main event as he attempts to regain the title he never lost when he faces T.J. Dillashaw, and two elite lightweights in Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez battle it out in the co-main event. We’ll have live round by round coverage of tonight’s main card as it begins on Fox Sports 1 at 10PM ET, along with quick results on the prelims throughout the night. Stick with us here at MMA Torch for full coverage on tonight’s event!
=====UFC Fight Pass Prelim Quick Results=====
-Francimar Barroso def. Elvis Mutapcic via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
NOTE: Extremely dull fight. Entirely forgettable.
-Rob Font def. Joey Gomez via TKO at 4:13 of the second round
NOTE: Real good finish from Font after controlling the striking exchanges throughout the bout. The second round finish was highlight reel material, and continues to keep him in the mix as another known competitor in the division.
-Charles Rosa def. Kyle Bochniak via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
NOTE: Entertaining fight, and good work from Bochniak given how short notice the fight itself was for him. He was competitive, and even scored a big first round knock down, but Rosa had enough in him to bounce back in order to take the third for the fight.
-Ilir Latifi def. Sean O’Connell via KO at :30 of the first round
NOTE: Latifi knocked O’Connell silly real early on, and O’Connell face-planted before the follow up strike finished him off.
-Paul Felder def. Daron Cruickshank via submission (rear naked choke) at 3:56 of the third round
NOTE: Cruickshank was arguably ahead two rounds to none in a competitive and entertaining fight, which makes it all the sweeter for Felder that he was able to complete the choke. It’s Felder’s first ever submission victory, and he’s got to be feeling good given how much the first ten minutes didn’t quite go his way.
=====Fox Sports 1 Prelims Quick Results=====
-Luke Sanders def. Maximo Blanco via submission (rear naked choke) at 3:38 of the first round
NOTE: Impressive stuff from Sanders, who took advantage from bad striking defense from Blanco to send him crashing to the mat before locking on the submission for the finish.
-Chris Wade def. Mehdi Baghdad via submission (rear naked choke) at 4:30 of the first round
NOTE: Baghdad was out-matched on the ground. Wade impressively worked from top position, took Baghdad’s back, and scored the choke.
-Ed Herman def. Tim Boetsch via TKO at 1:39 of the second round
NOTE: Herman looked great in his first ever light heavyweight bout in the UFC, while Boetsch’s significant decline continues. Herman caught Boetsch with the combination in the second to take the win.
-Patrick Cote def. Ben Saunders via TKO at 1:14 of the second round
NOTE: Great clinch work from Cote, and he scored the finish with six or seven consecutive uppercuts in a standing clinch exchange to send Saunders to the ground. That’s two straight stoppage wins for the longtime UFC vet who, as he noted afterward, now officially has a winning record in the UFC at 10-9 overall.
=====Fox Sports 1 Main Card=====
FIGHT ONE: ROSS PEARSON VS. FRANCISCO TRINALDO (LIGHTWEIGHT)
ROUND ONE: Slow start as they circled around each other in the center. Neither connected on anything of significance in the first minute. Pearson threw a high kick that was blocked, then scored a counter-right hand after Trinaldo missed a strike. The crowd booed the fight a bit two minutes in as little had happened. Trinaldo landed a couple kicks. He popped in with a straight left well. Pearson landed a right hand. Trinaldo landed a couple high kicks, then went for a spinning front kick. They traded punches in the center with 100 seconds left. Perason connected to the body. Trinaldo got in a big knee late. The action slowed again. Trinaldo went high with a kick that was blocked. He scored another significant exchange late.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Trinaldo. When he landed, he did more damage overall.
ROUND TWO: Little happened again to start the round. They pawed out some jabs, and eventually Pearson scored a take down. He did minor damage, but Trinaldo got back to his feet. He pressed Pearson back and connected on a big knee in an exchange. He went for more knees, then backed off. An extended clinch battle commenced on the cage, with nothing much coming of it. They separated again. Trinaldo pressed in and scored a few significant strikes. Again, little happened from an overall standpoint.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Trinaldo. All significant offense in this one has come from the Brazilian.
ROUND THREE: Trinaldo did some early damage, but Pearson kept up through it. There was a brief exchange in which Pearson had some offense. He ate a big knee but scored a takedown. He avoided getting take down himself, but Trinaldo continued to get the better of the offensive exchanges. Perason eventually worked to a that clinch. Trinaldo managed to work himself free in order to do even more damage. Trinaldo started fading late and Pearson got in some offense, but it was all likely too little too late.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Pearson. He came on strong late in a round he still may have lost. Just not nearly enough from him in this one.
WINNER: Trinaldo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
STAR RATING: (**-) Ok fight. Not much more than that.
FIGHT TWO: TRAVIS BROWNE VS. MATT MITRIONE (HEAVYWEIGHT)
ROUND ONE: Browne tossed out an early kick. Mitrione tried to jump in with a strike but was out of range. The pace remained a bit slow from both. Browne got in a strike. Mitrione barely missed on a combination. He connected on a short jab and stumbled out of the way a bit. Browne connected to the body with a hard kick. Mitrione threw a high kick, though looked uncomfortable doing so. Browne threw a high kick. Mitrione got in with a straight left, though not flush. Browne landed a kick that got a reaction from the crowd. Mitrione got in a short combo. Browne fired off some more strikes. Mitrione fired back. Browne slipped and Mitrione missed as he threw a few strikes. Browne got in to the body again. Mitrione pawed out some strikes but was out of range. Browne connected to the body. Mitrione got poked in the eye badly late and he reacted accordingly. Upon replay, Browne stuck his pinky in Mitrione’s right eye with keeping his fingers extended. Once again, points need to be taken here. DQs need to happen when fighters can’t continue. Thankfully Mitrione wasn’t too bad off and they could restart to bring it to the horn.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Browne. More active overall, but Mitrione’s certainly in the fight thus far. Both wary of over-committing here.
ROUND TWO: Mitrione landed a hard leg kick. He connected on another big combination and hurt Browne, but got poked again! Nothing was stopped, and Mitrione had his eye closed off that poke. Seriously, this is ridiculous. He took a thumb to the eye. After some more exchanges they were finally halted to get the eye looked at. Shocking. No point taken away. This remains an absolutely asinine part of the sport. Mitrione able to restart, as UFC’s Marc Ratner says the next one should take a point. No, Mr. Ratner, the first one should have been a point. Back to the fight. Mitrione was fading a bit, and he got cracked by a knee to the jaw before getting taken down with two minutes left in the round. Mitrione managed to make it to his feet, but was slower and sloppier coming in. Browne got in to the body with a knee. He threw a few more kicks out that were blocked. He got in one more knee to the body as Mitrione stepped in late.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Browne. On principal it should be 10-1 Mitrione. Screw Browne and the continued eye pokes, but Mitrione didn’t do anything of his own to take the round.
ROUND THREE: Very little happened in the opening minute. Mitrione scored with a straight left nearly a minute and a half in. Browne landed a hard right had. Mitrione was still having issues with his right eye from the eye pokes. That’s infuriating. The crowd started booing the methodical pace from heavyweights. Browne landed a hard strike. Mitrione got in a strike of his own. Browne took Mitrione’s back, picked him up, and slammed him down. He quickly passed to mount. Mitrione tried to cover up, but Browne postured up and threw down strikes. Browne looked to pick his spots, landing punches and elbows as he got through Mitrione’s defenses. He slowed down and tried to lock up an arm. He let it go and kept throwing strikes to force the stoppage. Large segment of the crowd booed the hell out of him. Mitrione’s right eye – the one poked multiple times – was swelled badly, though it had been punched as well. Regardless, Mitrione never really recovered from the eye pokes.
WINNER: Browne via TKO at 4:09 of the third round
STAR RATING: (*) Wasn’t a good fight to begin with, and the repeated eye pokes and Mitrione’s impaired eyesight from there didn’t make it any better.
FIGHT THREE: ANTHONY PETTIS VS. EDDIE ALVAREZ (LIGHTWEIGHT)
ROUND ONE: Pettis started slow in the center. Alvarez threw a kick. Pettis tossed out a strike. Alvarez closed distance and went for a takedown. Pettis kept his back on the cage and used a head lock to work up to his feet. Alvarez landed a few strikes and pressed the clinch. He tossed out some strikes as he continued trying to get it to the ground, but Pettis defended well. Pettis threw some body strikes and continued stuffing the attempt on the cage. Pettis got a little space but missed a strike and Alvarez held him in the clinch. Pettis landed more body strikes as he defended the clinch. Alvarez was going nowhere with his attempt. Alvarez scored a trip, but couldn’t keep Pettis down. Pettis finally spun out away fro the cage and got space. He landed some kicks as he pressed in. Pettis missed a spinning kick as Alvarez shot in. Alvarez dragged Pettis down but couldn’t keep him there. Pettis got in a knee and backed Alvarez off. He landed a hard kick to the body. Pettis missed the spin kick again. He ate a body kick and countered with a left hand. Pettis landed a hard combination with a strike and a kick to the body. Alvarez clinched. Pettis landed a knee. He got in a straight left. He blocked a kick and landed a counter late. Hard round to score.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Alvarez? Barely? Pettis won every striking exchange, but most of the round he was stuck with his back on the cage, and Alvarez dragged him down a couple of times. No issue with Pettis winning that round if he gets it.
ROUND TWO: Alvarez blocked a kick. Pettis tossed out a combo. Alvarez got in a body kick. He landed a right hand as he stepped in. He beat Pettis to the punch in an exchange. He shot in. Pettis continued to stuff the attempts, but let himself get held there again. Alvarez did nothing and Pettis separated with a knee. He landed another step-in knee as he came forward. He landed a few short strikes. Pettis with another left. He landed a hard kick to the body. Pettis landed another nice jab. They traded shots in the center. Pettis connected with a few strikes. Alvarez fired out a leg kick. He got in with a left hand. Pettis landed a kick that was caught. Alvarez drove him to the cage but again got stuffed. Pettis attacked for a guillotine but lost it. He again held it off with several strikes. He peppered Alvarez’s head with jabs. He landed a right hand. He got in with a hard body kick. Alvarez landed a leg kick. Pettis cracked him with a combo. Alvarez shot again but Pettis stuffed him quick. Pettis landed a jab. Pettis with another short combo. Pettis came in again with another combo and a leg kick. Alvarez landed a jab. Pettis got in to the body and blocked a kick. Alvarez shot in and got stuffed.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Pettis. Much more active and successful overall, but probably needs to pick up his pace a bit. Close fight.
ROUND THREE: Pettis landed a hard kick. Alvarez got in a right. They traded kicks and Alvarez shot in. The crowd booed the takedown attempt as Pettis stuffed it. He circled out and landed a combo. They traded, and Pettis got in a combo. Alvarez tossed out some body punches. Pettis landed several big strikes. Alvarez was hurting and bloodied up. Alvarez shot in again and took Pettis down. Pettis needs to get up quick. He went for a leg lock as Alvarez continued grabbing the fence. Pettis lost the hold. Alvarez laid on top in half guard. Pettis tried to explode out. He finally did. Alvarez took him back down. Pettis has been too passive in this fight and it could cost him. Pettis got up again. The crowd booed again. Pettis held off an attempt, but couldn’t get separation. Alvarez dragged him down. Pettis got up again. He got separation with a strike. Pettis landed some strikes. He pressed in again. Alvarez fired out a strike. Pettis hit him in the body at the horn.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-10. Alvarez did almost nothing with those takedowns, yet got hurt in every exchange. Really tough to score. Pettis didn’t have the performance he needed for a three round fight and it could cost him here, but Alvarez didn’t clearly “win” himself.
WINNER: Alvarez via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
STAR RATING: (*) Unfortunately bad fight, and I don’t agree with the decision. Really looking back at that first round it should have been Pettis’, as Alvarez continued to do nothing with his grinding. At the same time, he didn’t ultimately need to with Pettis fighting as passive as he did. Disappointing fight all around.
MAIN EVENT FIGHT FOUR: T.J. DILLASHAW VS. DOMINICK CRUZ (BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP)
ROUND ONE: Dillashaw opened with a body kick. He connected on a right hand as he stepped in. Dillashaw got in a kick to the body but it was caught. Cruz landed an inside leg kick. Dillasahw walked him down and landed a right. He got in a body strike. Dillashaw landed another right hand. Cruz tried to walk in and scored a right. Dillashaw walked him down and Cruz landed a few strikes. Dillashaw missed a right hand, and both fighters missed some strikes. Cruz landed a right. Dillashaw slipped on a head kick and Cruz got on top of him. Dillashaw easily got to his feet and separated. Dillashaw landed a left. Tons and tons of movement two minutes in. Dillashaw tossed out a couple strikes. They reset halfway through the round. Dillashaw missed a right hand and Cruz countered. They traded and Cruz landed a hard left hand. Dillashaw cracked him with a right hand. Cruz blocked the head kick attempt. Dillashaw missed and Cruz landed a right hand. Dillashaw landed a nice kick to the body. Dillashaw landed a solid combination as he kept Cruz backed up on the cage. He landed another body kick and continued to walk Cruz down. Cruz missed a few strikes. He caught a kick but Dillashaw countered. They traded punches with 30 seconds left. Dillashaw missed a right, then shot in late. Cruz stuffed it at the cage.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Dillashaw. Both had moments, Dillashaw just had more of them. Very good title fight here.
ROUND TWO: Dillashaw pressed in. Cruz landed some strikes and avoided the rush. Cruz landed a right hand as Dillashaw got close. Dillashaw landed a right hand. They traded punches in the center. Cruz landed a jab. He avoided Dillashaw’s return-fire. Cruz landed a strike as Dillashaw slipped on a kick. Cruz landed another jab. Dillashaw shot in but got stuffed. He missed a kick. Dillashaw missed an uppercut. Dillashaw grazed Cruz with a kick, then landed a hard right hand. Dillashaw landed a solid leg kick. He got in with another as Cruz tried to move around him. Cruz got in with a jab. Cruz missed a kick, but kept coming with a short combo. Dillashaw got in a right hand. He landed a nice high kick, then a couple punches. Dillashaw landed a right hand. Cruz connected on a couple strikes. Cruz timed a shot well and took Dillashaw down, but Dillashaw immediately popped up. He scored another quick, but brief, takedown. Dillashaw landed a jab. Dillashaw missed a few wound up kicks. He landed a left hand late. Cruz got in a leg kick. He avoided a couple strikes before the horn.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Cruz. Dillashaw’s power still evident, but he was much less effective that round, while Cruz was more active and added a couple takedowns.
ROUND THREE: Dillashaw pressed in, catching Cruz a bit. He landed a hard right hand as Cruz tried to avoid him. Dillashaw missed a kick. Cruz landed a jab. Dillashaw got in with a right hand. Dillashaw landed a hard leg kick. He got in to the body. Cruz ducked under some strikes, but ate a right hand. Cruz got in a jab. Dillashaw landed. They traded. Dillashaw grazed Cruz with a head kick. Dillashaw landed a nice combination in the center. He landed a body strike. They traded strikes. Cruz had some blood coming from his lip. Cruz tossed out a couple strikes. Dillashaw pressed back. Dillashaw landed a kick. He landed another. Cruz timed another takedown well. Dillashaw scrambled and Cruz went for a choke. He lost it and Dillashaw got up. Dillashaw missed a right hand. Dillashaw landed a jab. Dillashaw landed another combination. Cruz connected. Dillashaw landed a body kick. He got in a right hand. They traded at the cage. Cruz landed a few hard strikes and circled out. Dillashaw backed him up to the cage but missed. He shot in. Cruz landed a right hand to the back of the head at the horn.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Dillashaw. Another close round likely to lead to controversy, but Dillashaw connected on more even as he missed a lot, and Cruz didn’t do enough to take that round for me.
ROUND FOUR: Dillashaw pressed in again. Dillashaw landed a hard right hand. They traded with Dillashaw getting the better of it. He landed another hard right hand and blocked the return fire. Dillashaw landed another right hand. Dillashaw covered up but missed as he swung back. Dillashaw landed a hard leg kick. Cruz shot in and scored the takedown, but only briefly. Dillashaw got up with a strike. He landed a kick to the body. Dillashaw landed a strike. Dillashaw landed another right hook, with Cruz firing back. They traded strikes. Dillashaw got in a few at the cage. Cruz landed a jab. Dillashaw got in a few strikes, Cruz countered. Dillashaw got Cruz’s back standing and took him down. Cruz scrambled but Dillashaw held his back standing as they got up. He landed some knees to the leg. Cruz got warned about grabbing the fence. Dillashaw landed more knees to the leg and head. Dillashaw backed off with a short combo. Cruz landed a right hand in there that cut Dillashaw open. Dillashaw swung and missed. He slipped on another kick attempt. He landed a straight left. Cruz landed a right hand. He shot in late, got stuffed, ate a knee, then a combination after that. Dillashaw pressed in late.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Dillashaw. Cruz is still elusive as all hell, but it hasn’t translated to offense in this fight for me. Several rounds close, which could work in his favor, but Dillashaw’s been pressing and still connecting on more overall.
ROUND FIVE: Dillashaw came forward. He threw out some leg kicks. Cruz got in to the body. Dillashaw landed a hard body kick. He landed a huge right hand. He landed a big head kick. Cruz fired out a few strikes. Cruz missed a few strikes. Dillashaw landed a few strikes. Dillashaw got in with a left hand. Cruz landed a right. Both traded shots. Dillashaw landed another hard body kick. Dillashaw landed a couple more body kicks. Cruz got in with a right hand as he pressed back. He threw a spinning back fist that was blocked. Dillashaw went to the leg again. Both missed in the center. Dillashaw landed another leg kick with a couple punches behind it. Dillashaw got in with a kick to the body. He landed another right hand. Cruz missed several and Dillashaw landed a right. He backed Cruz up and threw out a few strikes. He landed another jab. Dillashaw landed another strikes. Cruz connected on a few. Dillashaw landed a hard right hand. Dillashaw with another leg kick. Dillashaw with a few. They traded in the center. Cruz shot in, got stuffed, adn ate a left hand. Dillashaw pressed again late. Cruz threw a groin kick as he missed a jump knee. They traded strikes late. They traded just before the horn.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Dillashaw. So much more landed for the champion that round, and he did some damage with the head kick and leg kicks. Unless you think Cruz took the first three (and I don’t at all) that should be Dillashaw’s fight.
WINNER: Cruz via split decision (48-47, 46-49, 49-46)
STAR RATING: (***+) I just don’t agree with the decision, but it was a hell of a fight regardless. Extremely close rounds open to interpretation, of course, but Dillashaw did quite a bit offensively in that fight. Still, it’s a hell of a return story for Cruz to come back after all this time to get that title back, and let’s just hope he can fight again before the year is out.
Thanks for joining us here tonight. There’s another week off from UFC action, but we’ll have plenty to say about this event and more throughout the next two weeks into UFC on Fox 18 and Bellator’s first event of 2016.
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