Taking place just one week after the massive event that was UFC 217, UFC Fight Night 120 had quite the act to follow. While it struggle at times, it did serve as a pivotal night to several of the fighters featured on its main card.
Clay Guida stunned Joe Lauzon with an early KO. Raphael Assuncao shocked Matthew Lopez with a late KO. Cezar Ferreira picked up a forgettable win over Nate Marquardt. Andrei Arlovski put an end to a five-fight losing streak. Matt Brown may have put an end to both his and Diego Sanchez’s careers. Dustin Poirier picked up the biggest win of his professional career.
FanRag Sports offers its report card for those who earned a raised hand on the UFC Fight Night 120 main card. Grades are determined based on overall performance, method of victory and quality of opponent. We’ll also look at what should be next for the night’s biggest winners.
Clay Guida: A+
For the first time in six years, Clay Guida finished a fight. We’d have to go back even further — to 2008 — to find the last time Guida finished an opponent via knockout or TKO. It was a right hand that staggered Joe Lauzon early; it was a stiff uppercut that put him on his back. Guida followed that up with a vicious deal of ground-and-pound, prompting the referee to intervene (even if the ref jumped in way, way too late).
Guida is now riding back-to-back wins and, at 35, claims he’s only getting started. Much of what comes next will depend wholly on whether the UFC decides to bring him back, with his win over Lauzon representing the last fight on his current contract. We’ll assume the UFC responds accordingly to the remarkable ovation Guida received upon winning.
FRS matchmaker: Clay Guida vs. Jim Miller
Raphael Assuncao: A
Facing the No. 13-ranked fighter in the 135-pound class, Raphael Assuncao needed a statement victory if he has any true hope of claiming a shot at the title. That didn’t seem to be plausible going into the third round, as Assuncao was well on his way toward earning his latest forgettable unanimous decision. He made some decent waves with the use of powerful leg kicks, visibly damaging Matthew Lopez’s lead leg, but not much else.
That all changed minutes into the final round, with Assuncao landing the knockout blow. After missing with a flying knee attempt that had all the makings of a fight-ending strike, Assuncao connected with a glancing right hand, which put Lopez to sleep. In one of the classier moves you’ll ever see inside the Octagon, Assuncao pulled his follow-up strike back at the last second to prevent his already defeated opponent from absorbing any more unnecessary damage.
Assuncao is adamant about wanting a title shot against champion T.J. Dillashaw, but with Dillashaw gunning for a super-fight opposite flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, it seems Assuncao will have to wait his turn.
FRS matchmaker: Raphael Assuncao vs. John Lineker
Cezar Ferreira: C+
Stuck in the middle of a card that featured several veteran names and future title contenders, Cezar Ferreira vs. Nate Marquardt didn’t do much to remove itself from the forgettable portion of the night. Neither fighter had a key moment throughout the contest, with Ferreira controlling most of the contest with timely grappling.
Ferreira is adamant about wanting an opportunity at rising Brazilian star Paulo Costa next, but with Costa now making his debut in the official UFC rankings, it seems he’s got bigger fish to fry.
FRS matchmaker: Cezar Ferreira vs. Antonio Carlos Junior
Andrei Arlovski: B-
It was far from the thrilling affair it had the potential of being, but Andrei Arlovski managed to finally bring an end to a five-fight losing streak Saturday night. Facing off against well-regarded prospect Junior Albini, the former UFC heavyweight champion handed the 26-year-old fighter his first loss in the UFC, and his first loss in 10 fights.
It was Arlovski’s consistent pressure that earned him the victory, capitalizing when Albini slowed considerably in Rounds 2 and 3. Letting his hands go far more comfortably than he had in recent bouts, Arlovski’s confidence was complemented by a sturdy chin — one that had failed him in three of his previous five losses.
While this would be a perfect opportunity to walk off into the sunset, Arlovski gave no indication that he is on his way out just yet.
FRS matchmaker: Andrei Arlovski vs. Stefan Struve
Matt Brown: A
The second UFC veteran to put an end to a lengthy losing streak, Matt Brown took it to the last of the original “Ultimate Fighter” class in Diego Sanchez. It was clear from the jump that Sanchez’s game plan was to avoid his trademark brawl and get the fight to the ground. That became especially obvious after witnessing how much trouble Sanchez was having striking against a taller, longer fighter early on.
Brown didn’t have much trouble fending off Sanchez’s takedown attempts, never spending much time with his back against the cage, or his backside on the ground. That forced Sanchez to alter his game plan a bit, introducing more kicks into his night. Those didn’t translate into success, though, with Brown consistently catching the low strikes and forcing Sanchez to lose his balance.
That’s what ultimately led to Brown’s triumphant night, catching a kick before landing a perfectly placed elbow to the head that put Sanchez away.
Brown made waves earlier this week when noting he wasn’t as dead-set on retiring as he previously claimed, reaffirming potential plans for an extended career in MMA following his win. But considering this is just his second win in his last seven tries, this really should be it.
FRS matchmaker: Retirement
Dustin Poirier: B+
Several months removed from the biggest opportunity of his life against former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, Dustin Poirier was presented with yet another massive opportunity in former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. A slew of illegal knees from Alvarez prevented Poirier from picking up what otherwise could have turned into a dominant win last time out, but Poirier would not be denied a win over a former title-holder this time out.
While Pettis looked confident in the early goings, it was Poirier’s takedowns that altered the narrative of this contest. He mixed in timely grappling to strip Pettis of his effective kicking game, forcing the former champion to engage in a boxing/grappling affair he stood a low chance of winning. Poirier went on to land some massive elbows and punches from top position, busting open Pettis, who began bleeding all over the mat.
The seemingly inevitable victory finally came in Round 3, albeit in a rather peculiar manner. Poirier was dominating the third frame by threatening with a rear-naked choke, before deciding to move into the full mount. That’s when Pettis signaled defeat, tapping out without so much as a strike or a submission attempt. It appeared as though Pettis suffered a rib injury.
Shortly after the win, Poirier called out the winner of an upcoming barnburner between Alvarez and Justin Gaethje. We see no reason to deny him.
FRS matchmaker: Dustin Poirier vs. Eddie Alvarez-Justin Gaethje winner