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Top Three Moments of UFC Fight Night 81

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

 

 UFC Fight Night 81 is in the books and it was a fantastic night of fights. The main card delivered, The Fox Sports 1 prelims delivered, and even the UFC Fight Pass prelims delivered! Was it an incredibly long night of fights? Sure. Could I have DVR’d it and skipped through the roughly four hours of commercials? Absolutely. But I am glad that I didn’t. Instead I settled in for a night of fights that featured an amazing performance by two of the best fighters on the planet, a return to action for one of the Pacific Northwest’s favorite sons, and a gritty performance by one of the toughest veteran fighters to never fight for UFC gold. Let’s talk about it, folks.

Fight of the Night: TJ Dillashaw versus Dominick Cruz

Not that there was every any doubt what fight was going to win fight of the night, Dillashaw and Cruz absolutely brought it. In a display of footwork that would leave most people exhausted just by watching, Dominick Cruz was able to escape the power and speed of TJ Dillashaw for much of the fight earning a tough split decision victory. Cruz was able to roll with many of the shots that Dillashaw was working inside with doing a masterful job of reducing the amount of damage he was taking from the champion. That being said, he did not avoid ALL the offense that Dillashaw unloaded. In fact, the Fight Analytics breakdown of the fight showed that the two fighters were landing a very similar number of punches but Cruz was landing at a better percentage.

I have watched the fight three times now and I have come to this conclusion: Dillashaw was the aggressor and landed what I would argue were the more significant strikes of the fight. His head kick in round five could have easily put Cruz down if it hadn’t been partially blocked. Cruz, on the other hand, was the clear winner in the category of defense. He defended or made Dillashaw miss on over one hundred strikes, amazing. As far as scoring the fight goes, on my initial scoring, I gave it to Cruz. On my second viewing, I thought it could have been a draw. After my third and final viewing, I believe the judges got this one wrong. For me, the aggression of Dillashaw far outweighed the takedowns of Cruz and that was the real difference for me. That being said, I am not mad at the outcome in the least. Cruz just completed what was the probably the most amazing comeback in the history of professional athletics and he earned the win. I would bet my bottom dollar that we see this fight again and hopefully soon.

Knockout of the Night: Ed Herman

Last week I wrote about this fight. I had a feeling that the matchup between Ed Herman and Tim Boetsch was one that would bring the fireworks and it really came through for me. In what would be Ed Herman’s first ever fight at light heavyweight, he proved he had the power to hang with the big boys. After a first round that saw Herman rocked by the powerful Boetsch, he recovered nicely to use his old school Team Quest “dirty boxing” to set up a series of knee strikes that eventually scored him his first knockout in five years. Boetsch looked slower than in some of his past performances and he didn’t work the angles that would have allowed him to move away from the length of Herman. At 35 years old, this could be the last chance for Herman to make a push toward a title shot and after his fight he made sure to let everyone know why he believes the time is now. Herman made a great post fight speech in which he stated, “I’ve been a clean fighter my entire career. I think that’s an advantage for me at 205.” Herman went on to say that now that the sport is getting cleaned up (in terms of PED use), he feels more comfortable competing at his natural weight class. I for one think that is a huge step in the right direction for Herman and I hope more fighters follow suit. This win puts Herman at 1-0 since returning to his home in the greater Portland area, another trend I hope to see continue.

Surprise of the Night: Eddie Alvarez Defeats Anthony Pettis

The co-main event for this card featured two fighters who were both in desperate need of a win. Anthony Pettis was coming off the loss of his UFC lightweight title to current champ, Rafael dos Anjos. Pettis was soundly defeated in their matchup and following the fight suffered an injury that kept him out of action for the better part of a year. If Pettis hoped to stay relevant in the lightweight title picture, a win against Alvarez was paramount. Alvarez, since coming to the UFC, has only faced top five competitors. After going 1-1 in UFC action, he needed to have a performance that would show the world how dominant he could be in the Octagon. In the cage against Pettis, it was clear that Alvarez had a game plan; he wanted to out wrestle Pettis and nullify the arsenal of strikes the flashy former champion is known for. Alvarez had no problem doing just that on his way to a split decision victory. It was kind of odd to me that this one was a split decision, seemed pretty obvious he had won.

Here is why the loss by Pettis sort of shocked me. First of all, he has struggled against the takedown as of late and all signs pointed to this being a major concern during his camp. He left his base camp to train with top wrestling coaches and still was unable to stop the takedown of Alvarez. Secondly, Alvarez isn’t a physically imposing guy at 155 lbs; he could easily make the cut to featherweight. Once Alvarez overpowered Pettis, it seemed clear that Pettis was going to loss out on the decision. And lastly, Eddie Alvarez is usually a brawl for it all kind of fighter. While some might be disappointed in his performance since it was the classic slugfest he is known for, I found his cerebral approach to be a sign of maturity. Following the win, Alvarez called for a title shot, maybe that’s a bit premature but another win or two and he’s right there.

This card was a real winner in terms of excitement. Eight out of thirteen fights got finished, a title changed hands, Alvarez is slowly emerging as a contender, and Ed Herman showed up looking like he’s ready to take one last crack at UFC gold. All and all, I’d say UFC Fight Night 81 was pretty awesome.  

GoLocalPDX partner Oregon Sports News: Since 2011, Oregon Sports News has provided entertaining, hard-hitting local sports news & commentary every weekday. To read more from this author, check out Oregon Sports News by clicking here.

 

Related Slideshow: Oregon’s Most Devastating Sports Injuries

Here is GoLocalPDX's list of Oregon's most devastating injuries that have occured within the past 10 years.

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Greg Oden

Sept. 2007 — Micro fracture surgery on right knee

Dec. 2009 — Fractured left patella 

Nov. 2010 — Micro fracture surgery on left knee

Dec. 2011 — Arthroscopic surgery on right knee

Unfortunately, Trail Blazer fans everywhere already know how drafting Greg Oden over Kevin Durant worked out for their team. After being be the #1 selection in the 2007 NBA Draft, Oden was never able to play a full season due to ongoing knee injuries. The team eventually waived him in March of 2012.

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Dennis Dixon

Nov. 2007 — Torn left ACL

During the 2007 season Dixon had the Oregon Ducks as the #2 team in the country. That was until he suffered a torn ACL against Arizona State and attempted to play on it the following week against Arizona. After Dixon went down for the season the Ducks lost their remaining two regular season games. Fortunately, they were able to end their season on a high note with a victory over South Florida in the 2007 Sun Bowl.

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Brandon Roy

Sept. 2008 — Cartilage removed from left knee

April 2010 — Meniscus tear in right knee

Jan. 2011 — Arthroscopic surgery on both knees

Brandon Roy is perhaps one of the most beloved Trail Blazers in the history of the franchise. After being drafted in 2006, and leading the team out of the "Jail-Blazer" era, he had to make the tough decision to retire at the young age of 28. His degenerative knees prevented Rip City from seeing their superstar ever play to his full potential.

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Jacquizz Rodgers

Nov. 2008 — Grade II separation of the acromioclavicular joint

During the second to last game in 2008 Jacquizz Rodgers suffered a separated shoulder that ended his season. Unfortunately, this meant that he wasn't able to play in the Civil War, which was perhaps the biggest game of the year for the Beavers. If the Beavers had been able to defeat the Ducks they would've been able to book their tickets to play in the Rose Bowl. Instead, they went to the Sun Bowl where they defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers.

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James Rodgers

Oct. 2009 — Torn left ACL

After participating in only 4 games during the 2009 season Rodgers went down with a torn ACL while playing against #9 Arizona. This couldn't have come at a worse time for Rodgers considering he was expected to have a breakout season. Rodgers, who was a senior at the time, was able to end his career at Oregon State as the career leader in all-purpose yards.

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Joel Pryzbilla

Dec. 2009 — Ruptured right patella tendon and dislocated patella

In December of 2009 the Trail Blazers' backup center, Joel Pryzbilla, was lost for the season with a ruptured and dislocated patella. This was a huge blow to the Trailblazers' frontcourt because they had already lost Oden for the season a few weeks before. Pryzbilla was also the team's defensive anchor who provided an inside presence. "The Vanilla Gorilla" was sorely missed for the rest of the year.

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LaMichael James

Oct. 2011 — Dislocated right elbow

The 2011 season couldn't have started any better for LaMichael James. After the first game James became Oregon's career rushing leader, surpassing Derek Loville. During the second game he rushed for over 200 yards against Missouri State. Unfortunately, James' year was slowed by a dislocated elbow suffered against Cal. Luckily for Duck fans he was able to return to end the season.

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Nate Costa

Nov. 2010 —Torn Right ACL

After suffering a multitude of knee injuries throughout his career at Oregon Costa was forced to officially retire from football after tearing his ACL for the third time in agame against Washington. Although Costa's career was hobbled by injuries many of his teammates looked to him as their leader. Oregon's coaching staff referred to Costa as the "heart and soul" of the 2010 team that won the Rose Bowl.

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Sean Mannion

Oct. 2012 — Torn Left Meniscus

During the beginning of the 2012-2013 season, Sean Mannion was enjoying one of his best as a Beaver. Unfortunately, he tore his left meniscus against Washington State that resulted in him missing around half the season. With Mannion leading the way the Beavers had the Pac-12's fourth rated offense, averaging 459.5 yeards per game. With Mannion sidelined Cody Vaz became the starting quarterback

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Marcus Mariota

Oct. 2013 — Partial MCL Tear

Marcus Mariota is widely regarded as one of the greatest Oregon Duck quarterbacks to ever play at Autzen. Unfortunately a knee injury hobbled his sophomore season. After Mariota suffered a partial MCL tear against UCLA he conintued to play the remainder of the season. With Mariota's knee not allowing him to be as mobile as he was accustomed to teams were able to take advantage. In the weeks following the injury the Ducks suffered losses to Stanford and Arizona. Duck fans everywhere would like to know what that season woud've loked like if Mariota had stayed healthy.

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CJ McCollum

Oct. 2013 — Broken fifth Metatarsal In Left Foot

After being taken 10th overall during the 2013 NBA Draft the shooting guard out of Lehigh wasn't able to start his career the way many had hoped. After breaking the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot the rookie wasn't able to take the court until January of 2014. Before the injury McCollum was in consideration for playing time behind Lillard. 

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Alex Morgan

Oct. 2013 — Stress reaction in talus bone

During the 2013 season Morgan suffered an injury that doctors misdiagnosed as a mildly sprained ankle. After a few additional tests were performed it turned out that Morgan had suffered a far more serious injury. She actually suffered a stress reaction in the talus bone that put her immediate future with Team USA in question. After rehabbing for 7 months Morgan was able to make a full recovery.

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Bralon Addison

April 2014 — Torn left ACL

After exceeding expectations as a freshman and sophomore at the University of Oregon Addison was expecting big things from his junior year. Unfortunately, Addison suffered a torn ACL during last year's spring practice that kept him sidelined the entire year. Without Addison in the lineup the receiving core never lived up to their full potential. If he had been able to play this season the National Championship may have wielded a different outcome.

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Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

Dec. 2014 — Torn ACL

In preparation for the first ever college football playoffs Ekpre-Olomu ended up tearing his ACL during a routine practice. This was a huge blow to the Ducks considering Ekpre-Olomu was one of the team's better defenders. He was also one of the best corners in the country who many analysists expected to be selected as high as the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

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Wesley Matthews

March 2015 — Torn left achilles

Just 2 months before Matthews suffered a torn achilles he had become the Trailblazers' all-time leader in 3-point field goals made. It looked as though the Trailblazers were poised to make a deep playoff run. Things took a drastic turn when Matthews was lost for the season. With the team in a 0-2 hole against the Memphis Grizzlies it doesn't look as though they will be making it to the second round of the playoffs this year.

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