Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweights Olivier Aubin Mercier and Thibault Gouti scrapped last night (June 18, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 89 inside TD Place Arena in Ottawa, Canada.
Mercier came up short in his last bout against an experienced veteran, ending his win streak. Last night, Mercier was looking to return to the win column and make a definitive statement about his place in the division.
This was an important bout for Gouti as well. After getting blown out of the water in his debut, the Frenchman was very likely fighting with his job on the line against the talented grappler.
As expected, Mercier opened up the bout with a quick takedown attempt but came up short. It took him another couple attempts, but the Canadian soon landed a strong double leg takedown.
After being controlled for a bit, Gouti reversed position and landed some solid blows before his opponent stood back up. Back on their feet, the fighters traded blows without either man really pulling ahead.
All in all, it was a rather competitive opening round.
Once again, Mercier tried to force the takedown quite a bit, but his opponent defended well. However, Mercier was the more active and effective striker, landing long kicks to the body and head.
Just past the halfway point in the round, Mercier finally completed a reactive takedown, showing off his athleticism. He didn't do much from top position, but the control was definitely enough to win him the round. In all likelihood, Gouti needed something dramatic to pull off the win.
Instead, "OAM" turned it up.
The Canadian quickly drove in for a takedown, tripped his opponent, and jumped onto the back. From there, it took a couple minutes for Mercier to break through his foe's defense and force the submission.
This was a much needed victory for Mercier, who remains a fighter to watch in the future. Once he took the back and was in his element, the fight was quickly over.
All that said, Mercier appears to still be the same fighter who lost to Carlos Diego Ferreira. On the feet, he relies mostly on physicality and kicks, looking less than comfortable in exchanges. That cost him in his last fight, and it will again in the future unless he's able to develop further.
At this point in his career, Mercier needs to be making major strides between fights.
Additionally, Mercier has a bad habit of trying to force takedowns without setting them up well. Great athlete or no, that is exhausting and doesn't work at a high level.
On the plus side, Mercier is back in the win column. He's unlikely to receive a step up in competition, as he needs more time to grow his skill set.
Gouti is in a rough spot. Octagon jitters seemed to get the best of him in his debut, as he barely performed before getting tapped out. In this fight, he was able to show off a lot more of his game, but he still came up short in the end.
Unfortunately, Gouti is likely on his way out of the UFC following this loss. They're are simply a ton of Lightweights filling the roster, and the Frenchman likely hasn't shown enough in his pair of submission losses to earn a third shot.
He'll have to work his way back.
Last night, Olivier Aubin Mercier overwhelmed Thibault Gouti and submitted him in the final frame. Where does the Canadian prospect go from here?
For complete UFC Fight Night 89 "MacDonald vs Thompson" results and play-by-play, click HERE!