UFC Fight Night 98 Recap: Ferguson Waits For His Shot

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UFC Fight Night Mexico put the lightweight division into a clearer focus, along with promising performances from new faces, and a victory from a featherweight stalwart.

The red hot, and no. 3 contender Tony Ferguson fought former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos in the night’s main event.

Dos Anjos applied the pressure early, and was especially effective with his leg kicks in the first round of the fight.

The rest of the fight was controlled by Ferguson. He consistently chained strikes together into impressive combos. His six inch reach advantage was on full display as he showed his uncanny ability to be just outside the reach of Dos Anjos all night.

Ferguson didn’t leave the match unscathed by any means. His chin was definitely tested. But in comparison, Dos Anjos was beat to a pulp. Ferguson’s footwork, including switching stances, and his counter striking made it difficult for Dos Anjos to muster much offense as he earned the unanimous decision victory.

The lightweight division shaped up some after Ferguson extended his winning streak to nine fights. But the future of the lightweight division goes through the title fight next weekend, Nov. 12, when featherweight champion Conor McGregor goes up against lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez. The no. 1 lightweight contender, Khabib Nurmagomedov, also fights next weekend at UFC 205, against Michael Johnson.

The co-main event between lightweights Diego “The Nightmare” Sanchez and Marcin Held was a fight that featured great transitions on the ground. Held had his most success in the first round when he was fresh, but the grind of fighting Sanchez wore down the Polish fighter.

In the second and third rounds Sanchez had his way with Held on the mat, repeatedly hammering his opponent from the top with elbows and fists. Sanchez, the first Ultimate Fighter champion in 2005, won via unanimous decision. He also passed MMA legend BJ Penn for fourth in time fought in UFC history.

Featherweight contender Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas needed a new opponent after BJ Penn pulled out of UFC Manila a little over three weeks ago. Insert Charles Oliveira.

But with Oliveira taking the fight on three weeks’ notice he wasn’t able to make weight, which is becoming a theme with the Brazilian fighter. It’s his fifth time not making weight in his six-year UFC career. As a result, 30 percent of Oliveira’s purse was awarded to Lamas.

Once the two stepped into the octagon the fight was largely fought on the mat. In the first round Oliveira took advantage of his extra weight and nearly choked out Lamas. The bell rang in the knick of time.

In the second round Lamas was able to use his ground expertise to his advantage, and choked out Oliveira with a guillotine submission.

The Ultimate Fighter Latin America final featured lightweights Martin “El Toro” Bravo and Claudio Puelles. “El Toro” proved to be too precise with his stand up strikes, picking apart Puelles early and often. His combinations were strong throughout, and even showed a knack for staying on his feet. Bravo staved off five of six takedown attempts. The fight ended with a few too many liver shots for Puelles’ liking, giving Bravo the TKO in the second round.

The second fight of the main card was a lightweight battle between Rashid Magomedov and Beneil Dariush. This fight was highly competitive as Magomedov and Dariush consistently battled within the clinch; Magomedov throwing uppercuts and elbows, while Dariush used his knees. The bout’s  unofficial tally for significant strikes was dead even and Magomedov recorded the only takedown, but Dariush got the unanimous decision win.

“After the first round, you feel the heaviness. Mexico City, you guys are awesome just living here,” said Dariush, who showed signs of fatigue due to the altitude.

In the women’s strawweight division, Alexa Grasso defeated Heather Jo Clark to stay undefeated. Grasso showed great power in a first round flurry that resulted in a broken nose for Clark. She also showed the ability to take down her opponent with a nice slam in the third round to cap off the unanimous decision victory.