The Octagon made its first trip to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan last night, and despite an extremely anti-climatic end to the hotly anticipated main event, the card largely delivered more than expected. Charles Oliveira was forced to bow out of his bout with Max Holloway with an apparent neck injury, as the Brazilian was stretchered and braced following the fight. As a result, Holloway moved his winning streak to six straight, and is in search of a bigger name in the featherweight division moving forward. The end came at just 1:39 of the first round. The co-main event saw Neil Magny outwork — and at times even outgrapple — a much more timid Erick Silva than MMA fans have become accustomed to seeing. The lanky American was taken down early in what seemed like it might be a repeat of his performance against Demian Maia, but he got back to his feet, closed out the first round by dominating Silva on the mat, and went on to use his length and volume in the final two rounds to earn himself a decision and get back on track. This was a good barometer for where Magny sits in the division, as he obviously is not ready for the best at 170, but seems capable of beating anybody outside of the top 15.
Easily the fight of the night, Patrick Cote and Josh Burkman turned back the clock and brawled it out as if it was 2006. After a pair of hotly contested rounds where both men found themselves wobbled, Burkman started out the third hot, much like he did against Dong Hyun Kim. Cote was able to survive the Burkman onslaught and offer enough offense to keep him honest, then landed a massive right hand of his own which put his normally iron-chinned opponent down. Some swift ground and pound followed, and the fight was called off. After the fight, Cote called out Hector Lombard, in what would be his biggest fight since getting the title shot against Anderson Silva.
While Cote was on the right side of the result for the Canadian fans in attendance, Chad Laprise’s night couldn’t have gone much worse. Laprise was stunned early by Francisco Trinaldo, and in a daze he decided to pull guard. That allowed Trinaldo to unload shots on the ground which Laprise simply could not recover from. It was over at 2:43 of the first round, and Trinaldo picked up his fourth consecutive win in the UFC. For Laprise, it was the first blemish on his pro record.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier, the man who Laprise defeated to win ‘The Ultimate Fighter: Nations’ was able to control nearly the entirety of his bout against Tony Sims en route to a unanimous decision. It was far from the most exciting bout of the evening, but the young fighter from Quebec did was he needed to get his hand raised. Aubin-Mercier was able to finish his takedowns much more emphatically against Sims than in some of his previous fights, which was a step in the right direction, but wasn’t quite as effective once the fight got to the ground. Still, he’s now 3-0 since dropping a split decision to Laprise in the TUF finale. Opening up the main card, Valerie LeTourneau dashed any hopes Maryna Moroz had of getting right into the strawweight title picture with a unanimous decision victory. LeTourneau simply had more on her strikes, was able to threaten with various types of strikes, and got top position when she needed to against Moroz. The Ukrainian found great success against Joanne Calderwood in her UFC debut, but when the quick finish wasn’t there she found it difficult to rack up points over 15 minutes. The most notable happening on the undercard at UFC Fight Night 74 was Frankie Perez knocking out Sam Stout in under a minute, and then proceeding to retire at age 26 in his post-fight interview. Many had expected that Stout might retire if he were to suffer another KO loss, and it was a surprising twist when Perez beat him to the punch. Other news to come out from Sunday included the main card being released for the UFC’s first show in South Korea. The Octagon will travel to Seoul in November, and on Sunday the organization revealed the entire main card for UFC Fight Night 79. The main event of Benson Henderson and Thiago Alves (at welterweight) was announced a couple of days ago, and it should prove to be a very interesting bout for the division. Other bouts include: Mirko ‘CroCop’ Filipovic vs. Anthony Hamilton Dong Hyun Kim vs. Jorge Masvidal Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Alberto Mina Given the heritage of these fighters, and the notoriety of someone like CroCop in Asia, this inaugural trip to a growing MMA hotbed seems primed for success. Expect many more Korean fighters to be added to the card in the coming weeks as well.