The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 151

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2019

The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 151

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    UFC Fight Night 151 came to the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, on Saturday with an elite lightweight main event.

    Title contenders Donald Cerrone and Al Iaquinta put their title dreams on the line, and it was Cerrone who kept his afloat with a five-round unanimous decision. Cowboy utilized his full striking skill set and rarely gave Iaquinta space to attack.

    Cerrone made his case to be one of the next title contenders in a crowded lightweight division.

    In the co-main event, Derek Brunson got back in the win column over Elias Theodorou. Brunson has only lost to the elite in the division, and a win over Theodorou puts him back on track to make another climb up the middleweight ranks.

    But was he a real winner? What about the remaining fighters on the card?

    Let's not beat around the bush and get right to examining who came out of Ottawa with more than a win bonus or an even more soul-crushing defeat. These are the real winners and losers from the UFC's latest trip to Canada.

Winner: Donald Cerrone

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    There was a lot on the line for Donald Cerrone in this fight. After dispatching Alexander Hernandez earlier this year, Cerrone lobbied for a fight against Conor McGregor. Instead, he got Al Iaquinta in Ottawa.

    A loss would have ruined that McGregor pipe dream and ended any potential title run. Considering the payday that both of those entail, it was a massive fight for Cerrone.

    He stepped inside the Octagon and made every doubter eat crow. He pieced up Iaquinta through five rounds in an incredible showing.

    Cerrone beat up Iaquinta's legs with low kicks, dropped Iaquinta multiple times and never over-extended to put himself in danger. It was a tactical performance that showed Cerrone is ready for whatever challenge the UFC may bring him next. He is very much a viable title contender, but it's the McGregor fight everybody wants to see.

    Can the UFC get it done? That's the big question.

    Regardless, the win on Saturday kept alive that fight. Cerrone did his part. Should he get that fight, his victory in Canada may be the most important of his career for the financial windfall he will receive standing opposite the Irish megastar.

Loser: Al Iaquinta

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    For everything that was on the table for Cerrone, it was also there for Iaquinta. He just didn't get it done.

    Iaquinta stepped up to battle Khabib Nurmagomedov in April 2018 after the Barclays Center melee. He didn't win, but he lasted all five rounds and gave a little hope that with a full camp, he could be a good foil for the champion. He returned in December with a win over Kevin Lee.

    A victory over Cerrone would have given him a good claim for a rematch. Cowboy had other ideas.

    One of the worst parts of the loss for Iaquinta is that he was never a major threat. He landed a few clean, hard punches on Cerrone, but Cowboy controlled the fight. His distance management was on point, and Iaquinta struggled to get inside. He also didn't get the fight to the canvas.

    How he lost makes it an even bigger setback. Iaquinta is still a top-tier lightweight, but in a division full of dangerous contenders, any loss is a yearlong setback. Iaquinta now has to embark on a treacherous journey in an attempt to get another title shot.

    Sometimes it's the how that stings, and how Iaquinta lost is the reason he is a loser coming out of Ottawa.

Winner: Cub Swanson

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    It would be easy to call Cub Swanson a real loser. He is on the downside of his career, lost his fight Saturday and is generally seen as a gatekeeper now.

    While those could be the calling cards of a loser, Swanson is nothing but a winner.

    Swanson is a longtime vet who has given fans exciting fight after exciting fight. Moreover, he has done it with the utmost class. And he is still competitive in the cage. Other fighters fall off hard and get knocked out. Swanson is still competitive against the best young guns in the sport. He is just coming up short.

    Sometimes everyone in this sport needs to step back and respect what a fighter has given us.

    Few more have given us what Swanson has. Win, lose or draw from this point forward, Swanson is a winner.

Losers: Fans

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    Aside from the main event, the only way to describe this fight card is to say it was a chore.

    If you are a fan who checked in for the first fight and stuck all the way through it, you are a trooper. A hardcore fan that deserves some sort of award. Because this event looked like a stinker on paper and did little to prove naysayers otherwise.

    It's not just that there were eight decisions on the card. Sometimes those decisions are close, competitive, exciting fights. That was not the case Saturday.

    It was a slog eating through fans' Saturdays. A nice Spring day outside at a local park would have proved more beneficial and exciting. Those who stayed inside lost. They lost time out of their lives. Time they will never get back.

    There may not be bigger losers than the fans who showed up in Ottawa. They paid for tickets and sat through it in person. They couldn't change the channel and watch the Kentucky Derby or any other number of quality programming. They were there, witnessing this mess live.

    This fight card will quickly be forgotten, and we will all be better for that.

Winner: Walt Harris

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    Sergey Spivak may have come into the fight on short notice, but he was still an undefeated prospect to watch.

    Those eyes are firmly off of the prospect after Walt Harris blasted him and got the TKO win in under a minute.

    Off of the first punches, anyone could see the difference in striking acumen. Harris' strikes were crisp and quick. They landed with sickening thuds. Spivak could only cover up and did not offer any response. That just let Harris know he could fire at will.

    And he did.

    The referee stepped in at the 0:50 mark. In the post-fight interview in the cage, Harris proposed a September date with either Justin Willis or Aleksei Oleinik. Both bouts make sense and would make for a suitable undercard bout on the Abu Dhabi pay-per-view.

    The Big Ticket continues to punch his way through the heavyweight division.

Losers: Canadian Fighters

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    Oh, Canada.

    There were six bouts on the preliminary card, and all six featured homegrown Canadians. They walked away with a 2-5 record.

    The first bout was a Canadian vs. Canadian matchup. Ensuring a win and a loss. So we can effectively ignore that one. The second bout featured heavyweight grappler Arjan Bhullar, who got a win. Things were looking good for the UFC's home cookin' booking.

    Then the wheels fell off. The next four bouts saw Canadians end up on the losing end.

    Perhaps even worse—for everyone—the fights were dreadful. Aiemann Zahabi, Kyle Prepolec and Kyle Nelson all lost rather boring bouts. They did little to generate enthusiasm from fight fans before the main card began. Oh, and in the featured prelim, Sarah Moras got outclassed by Macy Chiasson.

    Then came the main card. Led off by an incoming prospect in Marc-Andre Barriault. This seemed like a showcase bout and tailor-made for Barriault to shine. He faltered and lost to Andrew Sanchez by decision. Yikes.

    It was a rough night for the men and women from the Great White North. At least their trip home is a bit shorter than normal.

UFC Fight Night 151 Full Card Results

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    UFC Fight Night 151 Main Card

    • Donald Cerrone def. Al Iaquinta by unanimous decision (49-45, 49-45, 49-46).
    • Derek Brunson def. Elias Theodorou by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
    • Shane Burgos def. Cub Swanson by split decision (30-27, 27-30, 29-28).
    • Merab Dvalishvili def. Brad Katona by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
    • Walt Harris def. Serghei Spivac by TKO at 0:50 of the first round.
    • Andrew Sanchez def. Marc-Andre Barriault by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).


    ESPN+ Preliminary Card

    • Macy Chiasson def. Sarah Moras by TKO at 2:22 of the second round.
    • Vince Morales def. Aiemann Zahabi by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
    • Nordine Taleb def. Kyle Prepolec by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
    • Matt Sayles def. Kyle Nelson via submission (arm-triangle choke) at 3:16 of the third round.
    • Arjan Bhullar def. Juan Adams by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
    • Cole Smith def. Mitch Gagnon by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).