UFC on Fuel 9 Results: Questions Answered and Lessons Learned
When the UFC returned to Sweden, there were a lot of reasons for Dana White to worry. Not only did the event's most popular star get forced from the card on less than one week's notice, but fighters in the main event and co-main event both entered their respective matchups with injury.
In the night's headlining fight, Gegard Mousasi overcame injury and dominated late-replacement Ilir Latifi. The fight wasn't pretty, but it showcased the lightning-fast jab of Mousasi and should be a tutorial for other lengthy fighters on how to fight from range.
As is true with every event, fans had questions heading into the show. Over the course of the card's 13 scraps, there were plenty of answers provided.
Let's take a look at questions answered and lessons learned at UFC on Fuel 9.
The Featherweight Division Is Rich with Talent
This may not seem like breaking news to many of you. Perhaps this slide should be titled "The Featherweight Division Is Deeper Than We Thought."
With incredible performances from unranked featherweights Diego Brandao and Conor McGregor, as well as a solid matchup between Akira Corassani and Robbie Peralta, it's easy to see that from top to bottom, the fighters at 145 pounds are absolute machines.
Conor McGregor Is More Than Just Hype
Yeah, yeah. I talked about Conor McGregor during the featherweights slide. However, the debuting Irishman was so incredible during Saturday's card that he deserves his own slide.
Debuting against Marcus Brimage, a fighter with a flawless 3-0 record in the UFC, McGregor was immediately comfortable in the cage while systematically picking apart his opponent.
McGregor needed only 67 seconds to earn the TKO after battering Brimage with uppercuts.
It will be interesting to see how this kid reacts when taken into deep waters. It will be even more interesting to see if anyone can put him there.
Reza Madadi Has Some Serious Heart
On paper, Reza Madadi was overmatched as soon as he signed the contract to take on Blackzilian Michael Johnson. However, there is no overstating the importance of a fighter who doesn't know how to give up.
Late in the first round, Johnson leveled Madadi with a head kick while the men were clinched against the cage. "Mad Dog" went down as if he had been hit by a wrecking ball; however, he immediately looked to grab hold of Johnson's legs while searching for a miracle takedown.
While Madadi was unable to get Johnson to the ground, he was able to run out the clock and get safely to the second round.
That's when the heart took over.
Madadi outwrestled Johnson for the rest of the fight, but in Round 3, he was able to finish the TUF runner-up with a D'arce choke.
It won the Swede a $60,000 bonus check for Submission of the Night, as well as the respect of everyone watching.
Matt Mitrione Hasn't Lost a Step
Heading into his UFC on Fuel 9 matchup against Phil De Fries, popular Ultimate Fighter standout Matt Mitrione hadn't recorded a win in nearly two years.
That sort of slump is enough to create doubt in any fighter.
Mitrione opened his UFC career with five consecutive wins before dropping fights to Cheick Kongo and Roy Nelson. However, it all turned around on Saturday when "Meathead" needed little time to knock out De Fries.
It was one of those blink-and-you-miss-it kind of stoppages, as De Fries collided hard with Mitrione while hunting for a takedown and then awkwardly went down in the process.
Mitrione threw some bombs onto his fallen opponent, but they were a mere formality while waiting for the referee to stop in, which mercifully came 19 seconds into the fight.
Ryan Couture Was Pushed Too Far, Too Fast
Ryan Couture, son of the legendary Randy Couture, has been competing as a professional for nearly three years. While the 30-year-old has had his moments inside the cage, few of them have come against a fighter the caliber of Ultimate Fighter winner Ross Pearson.
Yesterday, Couture made his UFC debut against the Brit, and although he held his own in the first round, he was quickly overcome by strikes in the second round, despite the fact that his opponent was competing with a broken foot suffered during warm-ups.
Couture should have been slow-rolled into the UFC. In order to get him into the win column, perhaps the Zuffa brass should have considered a matchup against the likes of Jon Tuck or Daron Cruickshank.
Instead, he was thrown to the wolves.
Gegard Mousasi Can Beat Ilir Latifi on 1 Leg
With Alexander Gustafsson forced out of a planned main event only five days prior, Gegard Mousasi wondered what kind of opponent would be given to him on such short notice.
However, in the end, Mousasi was forced to settle for a matchup against little-known wrestler Ilir Latifi.
Some questioned the booking, being that Latifi is a solid wrestler, and Mousasi has previously had trouble with that particular stylistic matchup.
In the end, Mousasi was able to handily defeat his new opponent, and even did so on a leg that requires surgical repair.