After stops in Canadian cities like Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, and Halifax, the UFC finally touched down in the Canadian capital city with UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson. As the card’s name suggests, headlining honors went to top-ranked welterweights Rory MacDonald and Stephen Thompson. Co-headlining honors, meanwhile, went to former lightweight contender Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Canadian MMA veteran Patrick Côté, while the rest of the 13-fight card was packed with talent from Canada and the world over.
Highlighted by one hell of a light heavyweight war, and more third-round stoppages than any card in UFC history (with six total), the UFC’s debut in Ottawa was one for the books. Here’s a recap of the action for those who missed it!
The Main Card:
Thompson Bests MacDonald in Five-Round Chess Match
The main event of the evening paired two of the best welterweights on earth in a bout with massive title shot implications. In one corner, we had streaking karate stylist Stephen Thompson, who entered the Octagon with a first round stoppage of Johny Hendricks behind him. In the other, we had Canadian contender Rory MacDonald, who was making his first appearance since coming up short to reigning champ Robbie Lawler last July.
Though MacDonald entered this fight ranked as the best welterweight not named Robbie Lawler, he ultimately fell where so many before him have: he could simply not figure Thompson out on the feet. Barring a few moments of success—including a surprising pair of heel hook attempts in round one—he spent the duration of the fight trying to navigate Thompson’s rangy offence, eating shot after shot as he did so. The end result was a five-round domination for the American, and another bloody nose for the Canadian.
With the unanimous decision win, Thompson establishes himself as the clear-cut dance partner for the winner of Robbie Lawler and Tyron Woodley’s UFC 201 title fight. He’s now a fantastic 13-1 overall, and is riding a division-best, 7-fight win-streak. MacDonald, meanwhile, will now enter free agency on the heels of a disappointing loss. He’s now 18-4 in sum, and finds himself on the first two-fight skid of his career.
Cowboy Stops Côté in Round Three
The co-main event of the evening saw former lightweight challenger Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone make his second consecutive welterweight appearance. He did so against Canada’s Patrick Côté—a veteran who has fought as high as light heavyweight in the past.
Unfortunately for Côté and his Canadian fans, this fight painted a good picture of what happens when a talented veteran takes on a bona fide, top-5 fighter. It was a blowout win for the American. Punishing his foe with leg kicks and slick combos—and dropping him three times—Cowboy eventually became the first man to legitimately stop Côté with strikes. The TKO came at the 2:24 mark of round 3.
With the win, Cowboy moves to 2-0 as a welterweight, and 30-7 overall. Côté, meanwhile, has a three-fight streak snapped by the loss. Having lost for just the second time in 19 bouts on Canadian soil, he’s now 23-10 overall, and 6-2 since returning to the UFC in 2012.
Bossé Edges O’Connell in Legendary Slugfest
After a touching tribute to the late Kimbo Slice, the main card continued with a light heavyweight bout between part-time radio host Sean O’Connell and former hockey enforcer Steve Bossé. It was a wild one.
Round one began with O’Connell flooring his foe, nearly finishing him in the subsequent moments. As the round wore on, however, Bossé regained his wits enough to oblige O’Connell in a wild Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots style battle. Round two saw the two fighters repeat the process, though, this time, it was O’Connell who hit the deck. Round three, finally, saw the two blood-crazed light heavyweights meet in the center of the Octagon and bludgeon each other with looping hooks, rocket-fuelled uppercuts and even a few spinning attacks. Their making it to the final bell was a downright miracle—but that’s the way it happened.
The judges had a tough job on their hands, but in the end, they sided unanimously with the Canadian, evidently swayed by his efforts in the last two rounds. With the win, Bossé moves onto a two-fight streak, having snuffed James Te Huna in his last outing. He’s now 12-2 overall, and 2-1 in the UFC. O’Connell, meanwhile, will return to the US with a 17-8 overall record and 2-4 mark in the UFC.
Aubin-Mercier Taps Gouti in the Third
The second bout of the main card saw Quebec’s Olivier Aubin-Mercier attempt to bounce back from a January loss to Carlos Diego Ferreira. His opportunity to do so came against France’s Thibault Gouti.
Though Gouti was able to give “The Quebec Kid” some interesting looks, Aubin-Mercier eventually got the win he needed. As the third round wore down, he locked up a tight rear-naked choke, forcing his foe to tap, and sending the Ottawa crowd into a frenzy of cheers and applause.
With the win, Aubin-Mercier moves to 8-2 overall and 4-2 in the UFC. Gouti, meanwhile, enters onto a two-fight skid. He’s now 11-2 overall and, more worryingly, 0-2 in his first two bouts with the UFC.
Calderwood Smashes Letourneau for Third Round TKO
After a moment of silence for the victims of the recent tragedy in Orlando, Florida, the main card kicked off with a clash between Scotland’s Joanne Calderwood, and Canada’s Valerie Letourneau. The two women, both ranked at strawweight, met in the first women’s flyweight bout in UFC history.
Though Letourneau’s toughness was on full display, this one was all Calderwood. In round one, the Scotswoman scored with a takedown and dropped her Canadian foe with a spinning back elbow. In round two, she completed two more takedowns and earned almost two minutes of control time. In round three, finally, Calderwood sealed the deal with a series of thudding shots to the body. Unfortunately, however, the ref’s obliviousness to Letourneau’s condition meant that Calderwood had to chase her retreating foe across the canvas to brutalize her against the cage before the fight was finally stopped.
With this massive win, which demonstrated the fruits of her move to Tristar, Calderwood moves onto a two fight streak. She’s now a solid 11-1 overall, and 3-1 in the UFC. Letourneau, meanwhile, falls to a tough 8-5 overall, and 3-2 in the Octagon.
Saggo Scores Split Win Over Silva
The final bout of the undercard occurred in the lightweight division, as Canada’s Jason Saggo took on Brazil’s Leandro “Buscape” Silva in a clash of slick submission specialists. Unfortunately, no submission materialized, as the two fighters fought tit-for-tat for three close rounds.
Though Silva and his corner were clearly unhappy with the outcome, this one would see Saggo walk away with a split decision win—probably on the strength of his slightly higher output on the feet and 3:19 of control time on the ground.
With the win—which is the first decision win on his record—the Canadian moves to 12-2 overall and 3-1 in the UFC. Silva, on the other hand, has a three-fight streak snapped by the loss. The Brazilian is now 19-4-1 overall, and 3-2 in the UFC.
Cirkunov Taps Cutelaba After Two Wild Rounds
One of the most anticipated bouts of the night occurred in the light heavyweight division, as Latvian-Canadian destroyer Misha Cirkunov took on brick-fisted Moldovan debutant Ion Cutelaba. As so many predicted, this one was a thriller.
The first two rounds saw the light heavyweights bomb each other on the feet, resulting in a fairly even contest. In the third, however, Cirkunov finally drew on the grappling skill that had earned him submissions in five of his previous bouts. From there, it was only a matter of time before he locked up an arm-triangle choke that nearly popped Cutelaba’s head off.
With the submission victory, Cirkunov is 3-0 with 3 finishes in the UFC. Now a strong 12-2 overall, the Toronto resident is looking like he could be a real contender, and is undoubtedly ready for a step up. Bring on the top-15. Cutelaba, meanwhile, comes up short in his debut. That said, the Latvian slugger is just 22-years-old, and as such, seems to have plenty of room to improve. He’s now 11-2 overall.
Jotko Flattens “The Barn Cat” in Less Than a Minute
The second televised bout of the night saw Tamdan “The Barn Cat” McCrory attempt to extend his win-streak to three and continue to build on his second stint with the UFC. Unfortunately, Poland’s Krzysztof Jotko had other plans for McCrory’s trip to Canada.
Just 59 seconds into the first round, the polish middleweight planted a blistering left hand on McCrory’s temple, winning the fight in the most emphatic way possible.
With the knockout win, which won him a bonus, Jotko extends his win-streak to 4—currently the second best streak at middleweight behind Yoel Romero’s seven-straight. He’s now 5-1 in the UFC, and an awesome 18-1 overall. McCrory, in contrast, experiences the first knockout loss of his career. He’s now 14-4 overall, and 1-1 since rejoining the UFC.
Soto Chokes Beal in the Third
Originally, Chris “The Real Deal” Beal was expected to take on Japanese legend Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto in Ottawa. When Kid withdrew from the bout with an injury, however, Beal was forced to shift his focus to Joe Soto—a man famous for taking a title fight with TJ Dillashaw on just 24 hours notice.
In advance of the fight, Soto was riding a career-worst three-fight skid. Luckily, the former title challenger was able to score a big submission win in Canada, locking up a third-round rear-naked choke and very possibly dodging a UFC release as he did so.
With this career-saving win, Soto is now 16-5 in total, and 1-3 in the UFC. Beal, meanwhile, now enters a three-fight losing streak of his own. Now 10-3 overall and 2-3 in the UFC, the blistering, flying-knee KO with which he debuted is quickly vanishing in the rear-view.
Theodorou Edges Alvey After Three Slow Rounds
In the final bout of the prelims, Sam Alvey finally got the fight he’d been asking for, as he entered the Octagon with lustrous-locked social media darling Elias Theodorou. Unfortunately, this long-discussed clash of smile and hair didn’t quite live up to the hype, as the fighters spent long periods tied up against the cage, and Theodorou’s strategy completely nullified Alvey’s patented counter-punching.
Despite the relative lack of action, however, this one was awarded unanimously to Theodorou. With the win, the Canadian rebounds from a bloody loss to Thiago Santos. He’s now 12-1 overall, and 4-1 in the Octagon. With this loss, Alvey will return to US soil on a two-fight skid. He’s now 26-8 overall, and 3-3 since joining the UFC in 2014.
Markos Decisions Jones-Lybarger in Fun Fight
The first of Ottawa’s two women’s bouts paired Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger with Iraqi-Canadian Randa Markos, who unfortunately missed the strawweight cap by 2.5 lbs.
While JJL was not without her moments over the course of the bout’s three rounds, this one ultimately went to the Canadian, who nearly scored a TKO as the first frame ended, and landed the harder shots throughout rounds one and two.
With the unanimous win, Markos rebounds from a December loss to Karolina Kowalkiewicz. She’s now 6-3 overall and 2-2 in the UFC. In defeat, JJL will leave Ottawa with a 6-3 overall record and a tough 0-2 mark in the Octagon.
Covington Taps Meunier in the Third
When Alex Garcia withdrew from his Ottawa showdown with Colby Covington on just 9 days’ notice, opportunistic Canadian Jonathan Meunier stepped up to replace him. While Meunier deserves props for taking this fight on such short notice, his gamble unfortunately didn’t pay off.
Soundly out-grappled in rounds one and two, the Canadian was then dropped in round three, only to be polished off with a rear-naked choke as the bout wore down.
With this submission win, Covington rebounds from an emphatic loss to Warlley Alves. Though his post-fight announcement that he’d like to show Dong Hyun Kim and Demian Maia “who a real grappler is” was undoubtedly premature, the American is now a respectable 9-1 overall, and a 4-1 in the UFC. Meunier, on the other hand, experiences his first pro loss in his UFC debut. He’s now 7-1 in sum.
Bagautinov Outguns Herrera in Action-Packed Scrap
The action began in the flyweight division as former title challenger Ali Bagautinov took on rising 26-year-old Geane Herrera. Though Herrera was able to threaten with a pair of nice submission attempts—and show off one hell of a chin—this one was ultimately all Bagautinov, who closed out the fight with three rounds scored in his favor.
The decision win, which marks Bagautinov’s first victory since an early 2014 bout with John Lineker, pushes him to to 14-3 overall, and 4-2 in the UFC. Herrera, meanwhile, returns to the loss column after a nice December win over Joby Sanchez. He’s now 9-2 overall and 1-2 in the UFC.
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