By Jaime C. Feal
What was supposed to be a party and homecoming for Alexander Gustafsson became a nightmare for the UFC promotion this week, as a cut to Gustafsson’s eye forced him out of the main event. The UFC chose lackluster replacement Ilir Latifi, and the results really showed. Earlier in the night, Brad Pickett, the UFC #5 ranked bantamweight, earned a split decision victory over #9 ranked Mike Easton. TUF Season 14 winner Diego Brandao completely dismantled Pablo “The Scarecrow” Garza. Brandao won the standup portion of the fight for the first couple of minutes, then expertly took Garza down and started working explosive top control. Brandao immediately started looking to pass, ground and pound, mount, and eventually locked up the fight finishing arm-triangle choke from side control.
Heavyweight Division (265 lbs.): Matt Mitrione (5-2, 5-2 UFC) vs. Philip De Fries (9-2, 2-2 UFC)
De Fries shoots for a takedown and gets denied. Back on the feet, De Fries shoots again, and runs into a wall, as Mitrione is coming forward and falls on top in a dominant position. Mitrione immediately lands several vicious, hard shots, that turn De Fries’ lights all the way out, referee Mark Goddard rushing in to stop the contest.
Matt Mitrione wins by KO at 0:19 of Round 1.
Lightweight Division (155 lbs.): Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson (14-6, 6-3 UFC) vs. Ryan Couture (6-1, 0-0 UFC)
Couture locks up with Pearson on the cage, and tries to muscle him and score, but really isn’t accomplishing much. Pearson shrugs him off thirty seconds later. Couture again gets double underhooks, this time scoring with knees. Couture is trying to wear Pearson down. Couture has remained just active enough to not get broken by the ref. Now Pearson shrugs him off with two minutes to go. Ross is stalking, looking to land a big right hand. Nice spinning back kick lands for Couture. Pearson lands a knee, but Couture again muscles him up against the cage. Pearson breaks free, lands a big knee and left hook.
10-9 round for Couture.
Pearson quickly takes the center of the cage, looking to strike before he gets tied up. Good right hand from Pearson. Nice left hook from Pearson, but Couture lands a nice knee in response. Couture again presses Pearson against the cage, looking to grind on him. Nice combination of leg kicks and punches on the cage from Couture. Pearson back on the offensive, lands a hard right hook to the body and head. Nice left hook from Pearson. Couture tries for the clinch, but Pearson shrugs him off. Leaping left hook from Pearson finds the mark. Pearson catches a kick from Couture and takes him down, and instantly unloads on him with nasty ground and pound. Couture scrambles to his feet, only to eat a hard body shot. Pearson goes to town with three powerful left hooks that drop Couture on his face. Pearson seals the deal with a few more follow up strikes, ending the fight with a brilliant finish.
Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson wins by KO at 3:45 of Round 2.
Light Heavyweight Division (205 lbs.): Gegard Mousasi (33-3-2, 0-0 UFC) vs. Ilir Latifi (7-2, 0-0 UFC)
Latifi misses with a leg kick to open the round. Nice jab from Mousasi. Hard outside leg kick from Gegard. Mousasi with his hands very low, showing little respect for the striking of Latifi. Nice one-two for Mousasi. Latifi goes for a takedown and gets stuffed. Good jab from Gegard. Latifi hasn’t done much in this fight. Nice straight right from Mousasi, who clearly has the speed advantage. Hard jab from Mousasi, Latifi partially lands a right. Latifi getting backed up against the cage, Mousasi looking to hit him with punches. Outside leg kick from Mousasi, then a hard straight right. Latifi’s eye is starting to swell. Beautiful jab from Mousasi. Another hard jab from Mousasi.
10-9 round for Mousasi.
Mousasi back to stalking and hunting Latifi. More jabs from Mousasi, controlling the fight. Latifi finally lands a left hook. Powerful jab from Mousasi, then goes to the body with it. Mousasi still with his hands very low, eats a right hand. Stiff jab from Gegard pops Latifi’s head back. Nasty left hook from Mousasi. More jabs from Gegard, Latifi has no answer. Latifi is now cut and bruised from all the jabs and strikes he’s eaten. Mousasi should go for the finish, has completely outclassed his opponent. Latifi is blinking his eye to try to get the blood out as it’s clearly affecting his vision. Gegard lands more jabs to end the round.
10-9 round for Mousasi.
Latifi’s eye is almost swollen shut as we start the final round. Latifi lands an outside leg kick, but gets caught with a jab in the process. Mousasi controlling the range beautifully in this fight. Hard jab after hard jab find the mark for Mousasi, clearly his best punch in this fight. Mousasi looks to be cruising instead of working for a finish. Five more jabs back Latifi up, and Latifi is a bloody mess at this point. Big right hand from Latifi, his best punch of the fight. More jabs from Gegard. Good outsaide leg kick from Latifi. Nice right hand from Mousasi, toying with Latifi. Gegard Mousasi has not put his hands up once this fight, complete disdain for Latifi. Mousasi ducks out of the way of an overhand right from Latifi, then pops him with a jab. Mousasi throws a leg kick, which is caught by Latifi. Mousasi questionably drops to his guard, Latifi gets on top. Ilir Latifi lands several hard shots on the ground to end the fight.
10-9 round for Mousasi.
The judges score the fight 30-27, 30-27, and 30-27 for the winer by unanimous decision, Gegard Mousasi.