by Felix Falcon
The UFC made its way to the Commonwealth for the third time in five years last Saturday, April 4, 2015, at the George Mason University Patriot Center. The reported attendance was 5,417 with a live gate of $545,604.
While the 10 fight card did not have blockbuster names attached to it that casual fans would recognize, it was a hardcore MMA fan's delight. Almost every fight had important implications within their designated weight classes and carried a roster of fan favorite names that people who follow the UFC closely could appreciate, including 2010 Fairfax headliner Gray Maynard and 2012 Fairfax headliner Dustin Porier.
In a departure from their regular programming, the promotion and Fox Sports 1 decided to broadcast the prelims for this card at 11:00 AM, with the main card starting at 1:00 PM, as to not interfere with the NCAA's Final Four games scheduled for later that evening.
The morning started with Ron Stallings, the only regional fighter on the card, facing off against Justin Jones. The much larger looking Jones was comfortable to clinch and press Stallings up against the cage, but did not do much once he got his opponent pinned up to the chain link. Stallings on the other hand, had the advantage striking on the feet, targeting clean body kicks and keeping his opponent honest with blocked high kicks. Over the course of three rounds, it was visible that Jones' cardio diminished, while Stallings kept chipping away to a unanimous decision win.
The aforementioned Dustin Porier kicked off the main card in amazing fashion. Catching Diego Ferreira multiple times with a short lead left hook that dropped Ferreira half way through the first round and some quick ground and pound that forced referee Todd McGovern to call a stop to the action. This was Porier's return to the Lightweight division after years of competing at featherweight. At the post-fight press conference, Porier explained that his cut to 145 lbs was brutal, that most of his camp was about where and when he could burn some extra calories and became more about his weight instead of focusing on technique. He went on to say that this cut went way better now that he's competing at 155 lbs. The Louisiana native has already been told he will be fighting in his home state, on the June 6 UFC Fight Night event in New Orleans.
Perennial fan favorite, Clay Guida put on a wrestling clinic on decorated striker, Robbie Peralta. Guida took Peralta down seemingly at will, and kept a constant pressure on his opponent for three straight rounds. Even though these types of fights might usually be considered boring by some, Guida's popularity resonated throughout the arena, as fans consistently chanted his name regardless of the action taking place inside the cage. After his unanimous decision win, Guida had a long, awkward interview with Jon Anik where he transitioned from the topics of Easter, to President Obama, to wrestling, among other things. In the post-fight press conference, Guida clarified that he was not taking shots at the Commander in Chief, what he wanted to convey was that since the fights were taking place so close to the nation's capital, that he should come by and check them out if he wasn't busy.
One of the more dramatic moments of the afternoon came once the Co-Main Event fight between Al Iaquinta and Jorge Masvidal went to the judges decision. By all accounts Masvidal was the definite winner of the first round. Rounds two and three were close, and it reflected on the judges score cards. The 29-28, 27-30, 29-28 split decision went in favor of Iaquinta and as soon as his name was called, the arena erupted in boos of disagreement. As Iaquinta was being interviewed afterwards, he took the boos personally and scolded the audience, with an F-bomb to boot, and left mid-interview.
The Main Event pitted #1 ranked Featherweight, Chad Mendes vs. #3 ranked Featherweight, Ricardo Lamas. In the build up to this fight, the narrative that was being pitched was that Mendes' only losses and the lone Lamas loss as a UFC Featherweight have come at the hands of the champ, Jose Aldo, Jr. Both recently going all 5 rounds against the title holder. Needless to say, it was expected that this would be a multi-round technical war. Apparently, no one gave that memo to Mendes, as the fight only lasted shy of three minutes. Mendes landed a huge overhand right that dropped Lamas and immediately swarmed on Lamas, holding him down and landing vicious head strikes. At the end of the fight, Mendes took Lamas' back and after one of his big left hands connected, Lamas dropped his head to the canvas and Mendes just looked over to referee Dan Mirgliotta, who was convinced it was enough and stopped the fight. Mendes celebrated with what has become a signature winning back flip.
The UFC awarded Dustin Porier, Julianna Peña, Timothy Johnson, and Chad Mendes $50,000.00 each as "performance of the night" bonuses.
MMA in VA's "Of the Night" Awards:
Fight of the Night:
Felix Falcon - Michael Chiesa vs. Mitch Clarke
Ryan MacDonald - Al Iaquinta vs. Jorge Masvidal
KO of the Night:
Felix Falcon - Chad Mendes
Ryan MacDonald - Chad Mendes
Chad Mendes def. Ricardo Lamas at 2:45 of the 1st Rd by TKO (strikes)
Al Iaquinta def. Jorge Masvidal by split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
Michael Chiesa def. Mitch Clarke by unanimous decision (29-26, 29-26, 29-28)
Julianna Peña def. Milana Dudieva by at 3:59 of the 1st Rd by TKO (strikes)
Clay Guida def. Robbie Peralta by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Dustin Porier def. Diego Ferreira at 3:45 of the 1st Rd by TKO (strikes)
Liz Carmouche def. Lauren Murphy by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Alexander Yakovlev def. Gray Maynard by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Timothy Johnson def. Shamil Abdurakhimov at 4:57 of the 1st Rd by TKO (strikes)
Ron Stallings def. Justin Jones by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)