Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Jorge Masvidal and Al Iaquinta came to blows yesterday afternoon (April 4, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 63 inside the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia.
One of the finest technicians in the division, Masvidal has been looking for a high-profile matchup for some time. While he was aiming a bit bigger than Iaquinta, it was still a solid opportunity to prove his veteran skill.
Iaquinta entered this bout on a three fight win streak, finishing each of his opponents in that span. This earned the rising star a position inside the top 15, and he looked to move even deeper into the rankings at the expense of "Gamebred."
After a slow start, things began heating up a couple minutes into the round. As the men began exchanging, Masvidal landed the better strikes early, including a jumping knee and a hard body kick.
With about a minute left in the round, Masvidal stunned Iaquinta a bit with a quick combination. A scramble landed Masvidal on top briefly, but the fighters were standing moments later. Masvidal then landed another hard combination, dropping Iaquinta and slicing him open before the round ended.
After his usual slow start, Masvidal put the hurt on Iaquinta to end the round.
Masvidal's defense was very much on display in the second round, as Iaquinta missed a majority of his strikes and others were blocked. While Masvidal did not show a lot of aggression, he generally controlled the striking exchanges and landed the better shots.
Still, Masvidal's patience made the round a bit closer than it needed to be.
Masvidal stepped up his volume in the final round, particularly with his left hand. As Iaquinta looked to close the distance and make something happen, Masvidal ripped his face back open with jabs and left hooks. To counter his opponent, Iaquinta did land some very hard low kicks, which colored Masvidal's thigh.
Iaquinta really stepped up his aggression with a minute and a half remaining, landing a hard right hand. While Iaquinta threw a lot of heat, most of his punches were evaded, and Masvidal continued to land with his lead hand.
Despite all of that, Iaquinta was awarded the split decision.
Before looking at either man's performance. I have to give my opinion on the decision. In short, Iaquinta won the decision by moving forward, despite the fact that Masvidal was touching him up with the jab each time "Ragin" stepped forward.
This was one of those disappointing cases of forward movement overcoming effective offense that happen all too occasionally in mixed martial arts (MMA) judging.
To Iaquinta's credit, he did push forward and threw heat. He also looked to build from the one strike he really found success with, the low kick. While I didn't think it was enough to win, Iaquinta ensured he was still in the fight in the last two rounds.
Sometimes, that's enough to get the win. As for Iaquinta's rant after the fight aimed at the booing fans, it will surely lose him some fans (video here), but I don't have a problem with it.
At least he earned the nickname "Ragin."
Masvidal did so many things well, but ultimately his lack of aggression and patience -- which has won and lost him many fights across his career -- cost him the judges' decision. I don't think it's the least bit fair, but that's the way the sport works.
After this loss, Masvidal should take a page from Lyoto Machida's book, as the Karate fighter seriously stepped up his aggression after losing a controversial decision to Phil Davis. Masvidal has all the skills to be the best lightweight in the world, but he needs to adjust for how the judges score fights.
At UFC Fight Night 63, Iaquinta won a controversial split decision over Jorge Masvidal. How high can the New Yorker climb the lightweight ladder?
For complete UFC Fight Night 63 "Mendes vs Lamas" results and play-by-play, click HERE.