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UFC on Fox 31: Lee vs. Iaquinta II (12/15/2018) - Milwaukee, WI (Fiserv Forum)


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UFC on Fox 31: Lee vs. Iaquinta II 
December 15, 2018
Milwaukee, WI (Fiserv Forum)

Kevin Lee (156) vs. Al Iaquinta (156) - Iaquinta, DEC (unanimous)
Edson Barboza (156) vs. Dan Hooker (156) - Barboza, KO (body punch), R3 (2:19)
Rob Font (136) vs. Sergio Pettis (135) - Font, DEC (unanimous)
Jim Miller (155) vs. Charles Oliveira (152) - Oliveira, SUB (rear naked choke), R1 (1:15)

Fox Sports 1 Preliminary Card:
Zak Ottow (171) vs. Dwight Grant (169) - Ottow, DEC (split)
Bobby Green (155) vs. Drakkar Klose (156) - Klose, DEC (unanimous)
Jared Gordon (156) vs. Joaquim Silva (155) - Silva, KO (punch), R3 (2:39)
Gerald Meerschaert (186) vs. Jack Hermansson (185) - Hermansson, SUB (guillotine choke), R1 (4:25)
Trevor Smith (186) vs. Zak Cummings (185) - Cummings, DEC (unanimous)
Dan Ige (146) vs. Jordan Griffin (146) - Ige, DEC (unanimous)

Fight Pass Preliminary Card:
Adam Milstead (204) vs. Mike Rodriguez (203.5) - Rodriguez, KO (knee to the body), R1 (2:59)
Chris de la Rocha (253) vs. Juan Adams (266) - Adams, TKO (punches), R3 (0:58)

Event Bonuses ($50,000)
Performance of the Night: Charles Oliveira
Performance of the Night: Al Iaquinta
Fight of the Night: Jared Gordon vs. Joaquim Silva

Attendance: 9,010
Gate: $616,000
Rating: 1.83 million viewers

Cancelled Fights:
Erik Koch vs. Dwight Grant - Koch Withdrew From Bout
Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Andrea Lee - Clark Deemed Medically Unfit to Fight

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The end of an era is nigh.

Based on the main card, in terms of entertainment value, it will end better than the last couple HBO boxing cards since HBO really didn't feel like spending money. I don't see any of these fights being boring or pedestrian.

I can see Do Bronx getting that win back over Jim Miller and then request to go back to featherweight.

Sergio Pettis and Rob Font should be very competitive but it's asking a lot of Pettis in his move back to bantamweight. Font is better than any of those fighters Pettis fought before going down to flyweight. However, Pettis is indeed better than he was coming into the UFC three months removed from being a teenager.

Barboza moving back to Florida is interesting. He flourished while in New Jersey when he got more individual attention and was used a lead sparring partner. I don't think there was much wrong with that environment and that his last two fights could be contributed to him facing possibly the best lightweight of all time and then fighting a very good contender who stylistically was tough for him. This could be a trap fight because Hooker is a good fighter and you have to expect some level of adjustment time for Barboza being on a team where he isn't really a top priority. Anyway, it should be a pretty good fight.

The Kevin Lee-Al Iaquinta rematch should be fun at the very least. This is another fight on the main card where one guy is being booked to get that win back, and it probably should happen. However, Iaquinta is pretty underrated when you considered he has some stop and starts over the last few years. His position in the lightweight division could be entirely different if he fought as consistently then as he did early in his career. That and the fact he doesn't seem be 100% committed to MMA. The problem is he is in the fight-all-comers division where you're going to have to fight someone who is maybe vastly superior to you and probably bust you up bad. You can turn down Justin Gaethje because you know what that fight is likely to be and you have non brain damaging options to make money. When it comes down to it though, it's hard to bet on yourself when you're in the championship rounds with a Kevin Lee or a Tony Ferguson or a Dustin Poirier. You're not running from adversity late in the fight, but I don't feel like your initial reaction is to run to confront it either. In this fight, I don't see Iaquinta being there to lay down for Kevin Lee. However, from watching Lee come up through the prelims to title contention, the one thing he doesn't do is fight down to the level of his opponent. If he is now better than Iaquinta, it's going to extremely apparent in the first couple rounds. The most intriguing thing about the fight is how does Iaquinta respond to that should it go rounds? If Iaquinta really is sincere about challenging for a belt, he has to respond accordingly. He didn't get a chance to make up for time lost on the Brooklyn card due all the mayhem that happened during fight week. Now is his chance. For Kevin Lee, it's another chance for him put another quality name on his resume.


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Poor Felder has to watch his teammates in these brutal ass fights. Jared Gordon was out stiff on his feet w/ the cage holding him up after a violent slugfest where both Gordon and Joaquim Silva were hurt bad. In the fight before Gerald Meerschaert got pounded into dust by Jack Hermansson and then submitted. Roufusport is 0-3 so far.

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That a damn good showing from Iaquinta. He fought with a sense of urgency late in the fight and that troubled Kevin Lee. He kept Lee on the backfoot and everything he threw had purpose. 

I would really love to see Gaethje vs. Iaquinta. It would be a fantastic style matchup.

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In the first round, I was thinking Lee wasn't pacing himself for five rounds. And he had very little left in the fifth. Iaquinta's going to have to do something about that nickname though. He hasn't fought in that Raging, toe to toe brawling style for ages, he's a tactician now. A hit and don't get hit guy. Lee came in overconfident, and fought overconfident. He even waited for the decision overconfident.

Dan Hooker took a hell of a beating. If his teammate Israel Adesanya has that kind of ability to absorb punishment (in addition to his other skills), he might be unbeatable.

Rob Font vs Sergio Pettis was another reminder, not that a reminder was needed, that weight classes exist for a reason.

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That fight was Kevin Lee's to lose...and he lost.  I have no idea why he didn't try more takedowns when he was fresh.  His first takedown was just a bodylock that he squeezed so hard Iaquinta just collapsed.  His biggest advantage in that fight is that he was the bigger, stronger, wrestler/grappler, but he decided to spend the early parts of the fight, when the margin between him and Iaquinta was at its largest, trying to kickbox.  When they were fresh, Lee was relatively equal as a kick boxer to Iaquinta, but as soon as he started to slow down Iaquinta had the advantage.  That is just bad fight IQ, bad coaching, and ultimately a losing strategy.

Iaquinta fought to his strengths the entire fight.  He is one of those good at everything great at nothing guys, but he knows where he needs to fight against whatever opponent he's facing.  He's a tough as nails, crafty, kickboxer, who knows how to pick his strikes and land accurately.  He's not the biggest hitter, but he hits hard enough to keep his opponents honest, and the accuracy of his strikes makes every strike matter.  Kevin Lee was holding his own early on, because he has pretty quick hands and hits hard.  The issue is he still strikes like a wrestler who is learning how to strike.  He doesn't know how to cut off the cage, he has a good jab, but doesn't use it to set up his other strikes, and he throws every punch like he's throwing a fastball.   His entire striking game is based on knocking his opponent out quickly, except he's not a good enough as a striker to land a huge shot at his level.  Kevin Lee is a closer, he can throw as hard as anyone, you just can't leave him on the mound too long.  Iaquinta is more of a Tom Glavine, who is going to use every pitch to make you think you know what is coming then hit you with something else.  

Edson Barboza is the lightweight Ryan Bader.  If you are better than Edson Barboza, you will win and it will look easy.  If Edson Barboza is better than you, you will lose and it will be the worst night of your entire life.

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1 hour ago, supremebve said:

 If you are better than Edson Barboza, you will win and it will look easy.  

He beat the shit out of Tony Ferguson the first round of the fight they fought and Cerrone/Barboza was back and forth before he got dropped with that jab. He got dominated by Khabib but it's Khabib. You can forgive that. He looked real off when he fought Michael Johnson. He wasn't throwing his kicks with any type of force and spent most of that backing up. Lee beat him decisively, but Lee was a solid followup shot away from being put out. 

I wouldn't compare him to Bader. Bader went through a stage coming off TUF where he was basically a giant upgraded version of Mark Kerr, Kevin Randleman, and Mark Coleman. He slept poor Tom Lawlor on that one episode where you could tell there was potential, but he also couldn't hurt Anderson Silva punching in the face like 30 times. Some years after TUF, he would run headlong into punches from Lyoto. Once he got with the father of Jose and David Benavidez (Jose Sr.), he seemed more confident in his own skin. He got folded up by Rumble but anyone not named DC got folded up by Rumble when he came back. I don't think he loses to Tito or Machida at this stage of his career. If he fought Glover again, he gets him out of there in under two rounds. Ryan Bader is basically what Brock Lesnar would be if he didn't seem so awkward as a striker being a giant, muscular human being. Right now, besides probably Dominick Reyes, I think Bader thrashes everyone not named Jones, Gustafsson, or Cormier at LHW. I love Anthony Smith and he's super entertaining, but he would get put through the mat against Ryan Bader. Same with Oezdemir and everyone around that level. If he stayed at heavyweight, he would be a top 10 easily and maybe flirt with top 5/6. Maybe Fedor catches him, but I expect him to utterly massacre Fedor or at least bust him up bad on the ground.  I don't think that's the case pre Power MMA w/ Jair Lourenco who was largely responsible for Nova Uniao being red hot for years. Whatever it is, he clicks with Bader which for the love of all things doesn't make sense why Gadelha has went everywhere in the Southwest U.S. but not there.

Because lightweight is so loaded, Barboza doesn't have that option or luxury to fight a bunch of guys he can sleepwalk and beat. Bader just took down Mitrione a few times, didn't even actually throw punches, and won every round wide. Barboza hasn't really had a string of easy opponents since he was fighting Maggie Hendricks' cousin on the prelims and leg kicked him to death. That was in the Spike era a decade ago. Hell that fight itself wasn't even on Facebook. At least the Nova Uniao Kimura guys Lourenco had could go to the main Nova Uniao academy and collaborate with Dede's team for better training. Barboza was with this little ass muay thai team (the same team gave us Marlon Moraes) in Rio and then went to that camp made up of a bunch ex ATT fighters that was constantly in flux before they decided to become the Blackzilians and hired Henri Hooft as the full time head coach. Only when he went to train with Edgar and Mark Henry in New Jersey did it really seem to click for him, and he never had back-to-back losses in the UFC until Khabib and Kevin Lee. That's amazing considering he was never the number one guy at any gym and before that even a part of a real MMA team. That's why I brought up him leaving New Jersey to go to American Top Team before the show. That's an extremely new environment for him. I'm interested to see if he regresses as a fighter or somehow become better. Besides the brief time of Tyson Griffin, Evan Dunham, and Gray Maynard being on the same team at Xtreme Couture (you also got Koscheck, Swick, & Fitch at AKA), we never see the sparring partner type guys flourish in the UFC. Those dudes wash out the UFC fast (Hey Chris Tuchscherer and Cathal Pendred!) or just never get to a certain level. Barboza has been a relatively high level for long ass time as the sparring partner guy. He is basically MMA's Ray Beltran even down to only losing to the elite fighters or at least the best fighters in that specific division. On the other hand, Ryan Bader had the money and the resources to make himself not suck. He basically had sponsors and like the sixth best guy from the 2011-2012 Miami Heat purchase a giant facility, build a team around himself, and bring in quality coaches. Plus, a large part of his career was spent with the organization grooming him to be one of their top fighters. That's only continuing with him signing that deal with Bellator.

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I meant the second part much more than the first, but I get your point.  Bader and Barboza are both extremely talented fighters, but neither will ever be a champion.  When they fight the elite competition at their weight class, you see all the holes in their games in a way that almost makes you forget how good they really are.  But, if you put them in the cage with someone that they are better than, they both look unbeatable.  Dan Hooker has been smashing people lately, and I thought this would be a great back and forth fight...except Barboza made him look like an amateur.  Barboza hit him and hurt him with hands, feet, knees, and elbows and Hooker's corner shouldn't have let him out of the corner for the third round.  He was being brutally dominated in a way that he had no way to defend.  Bader is kind of the same dude, but on the ground.  If Bader is a 5% better grappler than someone, he might as well be 500% better, because he's going to put you on the ground and smash you into tiny little pieces.  Their both dudes who will beat you brutally, and while the beating is bad, the feeling of complete and total helplessness has to be worse.

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