UFC on Fuel TV 9 looked like a thoroughly underwhelming card, but it had a few interesting surprises. It certainly wasn't a very exciting card, but Brad Pickett and Diego Garza put on some very entertaining performances. Akira Corissani and Robert Peralta put on a good opener and Matt Mitrione destroyed a man in 19 seconds. The main event was the low point of the card. We saw Mousasi take a safety first approach to fighting Latifi when we could see he outclassed his opponent before the end of the first round.
Mousasi vs. Latifi
Everything about this main event made it destined to be a drunken nightcap at best. Not really what you would want from a card that ended before 5 pm. Main eventer and hometown hero Alexander Gustafsson was forced to withdraw earlier in the week by Swedish MMA officials due to a cut above his eye. Virtually everyone who isn't a doctor from Dana White to Gus himself said he should fucking fight. Some internet doctors even decided that his only medical condition was being a pussy. However, the people who actually examined him decided it would be a bad idea to face a world renowned striker with only a paper thin piece of flesh ready to cascade a waterfall of blood into his eye at any given punch.
His replacement, Ilir Latifi, created a weird situation where Mousasi would stand to lose much more from a loss than Latifi would gain from a win. Mousasi stated he suffered an injury that led to diminished performance and Latifi appeared largely clueless as to how to get inside Mousasi's range and do damage. After the fight, Mousasi admitted he worked what he considered to be a stand up version of lay and pray.
I really hope you like jabs, because this fight is chock full of them. All three rounds play out in the same fashion. Latifi eats a couple of stingers and spends the rest of the round backing away. Mousasi slowly plods forward throwing his hand out with all the enthusiasm of a fat guy shopping for rice crackers. Occasionally Latifi would throw a vicious hook at the empty parking space between Mousasi. The highlight of the fight was possibly the moment in the first when Latifi went full Leben and dropped his hands. He was tired of Mousasi punching him in the face and loudly demanded in Swedish that Mousasi come at him, bro, and punch him in the face some more. Mousasi was credited with landing 80 significant strikes to Latifi's 18.
Ross Pearson vs Ryan Couture
Round 1 showed a decent set of exchanges between the two. Ryan did a nice job of staying outside of Ross Pearson's range and managed to grind Pearson against the cage. He landed a few short elbows and knees while Pearson maintained composure and escaped. Couture utilized his seven inch reach advantage to keep Pearson just out of reach like some cookies on the top shelf.
Round 2 brought a more elusive Couture who landed some good combos with Pearson against the cage. When Couture's offense slowed, Pearson began to find a slightly less stumpish rhythm. Pearson finally caught Couture's foot during a kick and flipped Couture on his back. Without mobility, Pearson was able to explode and land a series of blows that crumpled Couture. I assume he got one hell of a spanking when he got home.
Couture's game plan was solid but wasn't put together to win any KO or submission victories. Plus I'm pretty sure he only grew a beard because he thought it would shield him from the legacy of the Couture chin. He was well on his way to winning both rounds before Pearson countered him and won the fight. It wasn't a terribly entertaining fight but it wasn't boring either. Pearson won his second straight fight by TKO since stepping up to lightweight.
Matt Mitrione vs Phil De Fries
I feel bad for Phil De Fries. He wanted a takedown so badly in this fight. He shot for two takedowns within the first 19 seconds. Matt Mitrione threw a hard straight and De Fries responded by ducking and covering, which is pretty weird because I'm certain he didn't actually hear the hurricane sirens until about 3 second later. Mitrione used the inertia of his own punch to finish bulldozing and falling to the side of his opponent. De Fries didn't get to respond because punches were already raining down from the beefy sky looming over him.
Brad Pickett vs Mike Easton
Brad Pickett won what shouldn't have even been a split decision against contender and tiny Chris Brown impersonator Mike Easton. Pickett vs. Easton won fight of the night honors largely in part to the steady pace both competitors kept from opening to closing bell. Each fighter scored takedowns and had his opponent injured at a few key points. Easton looked closest going out throughout the fight. I personally scored it 29-28 for Pickett.
Diego Brandao vs Pablo Garza
Garza looks freakishly tall in comparison to Brandao. The first round began with Brandao interestingly enough sticking to the outside of Garza's reach and darting in and out scoring kicks. Brandao landed a slam so heavy it's now served at Denny's after he isolated his opponent against the page. Brandao utilized the side control advantage and light striking to snake his arms behind his opponent. He flipped to the other side and secured a nice arm triangle to secure the victory.
Akira Corissani vs Robert Peralta
Corissani and Peralta put on a very energetic show to open the card. Both fighters appeared to be a little green yet comfortable. Given some time and development, both could be contenders. The two went the full three rounds with each fighter landing heavy, staggering shots. In the end Corissani's takedowns were the difference. He used them to effectively stifle his opponent's offense and constantly worked to improve his position. After the fight, Corissani talked about how his opponent was awesome because he had a full time job and something about his third leg.