UFC Fight Night 41 served as Part 1 of a two-event day for the UFC. After a slew of dominating performances from some rising contenders, it's going to be tough for the main course to outdo the appetizer.
Gegard Mousasi capped the card in Berlin, Germany with a stunning first-round submission victory over fellow middleweight Mark Munoz. Although the card was a matinee affair for American fans, there was no mistaking a main event feel for the 185-pound showdown.
Mousasi—sitting just outside the Top 10 in the division—made a big statement with the win. He dominated the bout in every facet until sinking in the rear-naked choke that ultimately drew the tap from his opponent. Even UFC President Dana White stood up and took notice:
WOW!!!! Total domination by Mousasi. I never understood how the media had him ranked 11 after going distance with #1 Machida— Dana White (@danawhite) May 31, 2014
The win should no doubt place Mousasi in the Top 10 moving forward, and it served as a nice rebound to his decision loss to Lyoto Machida.
Mousasi wasn't the only one to take a step forward in Berlin, though. The four-fight main card and six prelim bouts were highlighted by some impressive performances that are sure to drum up some momentum for several contenders.
|Middleweight||Gegard Mousasi||def.||Mark Muñoz||Submission (rear-naked choke)||1||3:57|
|Middleweight||CB Dollaway||def.||Francis Carmont||Decision (unanimous) (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)||3||5:00|
|Middleweight||Sean Strickland||def.||Luke Barnatt||Decision (split) (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)||3||5:00|
|Featherweight||Niklas Bäckström||def.||Tom Niinimäki||Submission (bulldog choke)||1||4:15|
|Lightweight||Nick Hein||def.||Drew Dober||Decision (unanimous) (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)||3||5:00|
|Middleweight||Magnus Cedenblad||def.||Krzysztof Jotko||Submission (guillotine choke)||2||4:59|
|Bantamweight||Iuri Alcantara||def.||Vaughan Lee||TKO (punches)||1||0:25|
|Welterweight||Peter Sobotta||def.||Pawel Pawlak||Decision (unanimous) (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)||3||5:00|
|Featherweight||Maximo Blanco||def.||Andy Ogle||Decision (unanimous) (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)||3||5:00|
|Heavyweight||Ruslan Magomedov||def.||Viktor Pešta||Decision (unanimous) (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)||3||5:00|
CB Dollaway Outpoints Francis Carmont
Coming off a dominant first-round TKO victory over Cezar Ferreira at UFC Fight Night 38, CB Dollaway needed to keep the momentum rolling against 32-year-old Francis Carmont.
It wasn't always pretty, but he built his win streak to two.
The former All-American wrestler grappled his way to dominant positions and into the history books, according to Michael Carroll of FightMetric:
CB Dollaway passes Yushin Okami and Nate Marquardt for 3rd place in MW history with 28 takedowns.— Michael Carroll (@MJCflipdascript) May 31, 2014
Carmont was able to salvage some moments of the fight. He threatened with a kimura in the second round and shined in the stand-up department. However, it wasn't enough in the eyes of the judges. Dollaway took the bout on all three scorecards.
Sean Strickland Earns a Controversial Decision
When Sean Strickland and Luke Barnatt met in the Octagon, one fighter had to experience his first loss. Unfortunately, it wasn't clear who should have had that dubious distinction added to his record.
Strickland and Barnatt engaged in a back-and-forth bout that lacked the action that most fans would expect from two undefeated prospects. Strickland—who usually prefers to use his wrestling—took a rather tentative approach.
While the rangy Barnatt attempted to be aggressive, Strickland preferred to sit back and counter. Ultimately, the judges saw the bout in favor of Strickland, although it wasn't without some confusion from Bleacher Report's Scott Harris:
Holy crap. Sean Strickland defeats Luke Barnatt by split decision. One judge scored it 30-27 for Strickland. Wut.— Scott Harris (@ScottHarrisMMA) May 31, 2014
Niklas Backstrom Impresses with Rare Choke
UFC newcomer Niklas Backstrom may not be a well-known commodity to the casual fan yet. But he made "yet" a key word in that sentence with his performance in the main card's first bout against Tom Niinimaki.
The 24-year-old Swede whirlwind brought the fight to his opponent and didn't stop until he got the finish. Jordan Breen of Sherdog summed up the stirring performance:
FLYING KNEE TO BULLDOG CHOKE TO NO HOOKS REAR-NAKED CHOKE. THE SPIRIT OF CAOL UNO LIVES IN NICKLAS BACKSTROM.— Jordan Breen (@jordanbreen) May 31, 2014
Backstrom's rear-naked choke came from a fairly rare position, as Carroll pointed out:
Backstrom's RNC is just the 5th RNC in UFC history without back control. Others: CroCop (115), Gonzaga (142), Vemola (Fox3), Carmont (Fuel4)— Michael Carroll (@MJCflipdascript) May 31, 2014
With his ability to finish fights aggressively, there's no doubt that Backstrom emerged from this event as a prospect to keep an eye on as he progresses up the ladder at featherweight.