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UFC on ESPN+ 9 recap: Breaking down Donald Cerrone’s dominating victory

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight veterans Donald Cerrone and Al Iaquinta went to war last night (Sat., May 4, 2019) at UFC on ESPN+ 9 from inside Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Cerrone has seen some major ups-and-downs throughout his record-setting UFC career, but a world title has eluded him throughout his career. Only last year did Cerrone admit that the gold strap mattered to him, prompting “Cowboy” to return to his home base of 155 lbs. Riding a two-fight win streak into this main event slot, this was a monumentally important fight for him. Meanwhile, Iaquinta answered a lot of questions last time out, handing Kevin Lee a decisive decision loss to gain the first top-10 victory of his career. However, it takes more than one big win at Lightweight to gather much momentum, leading “Raging Al” to this showdown with “Cowboy.”

Iaquinta looked sharp to open the fight, backing his foe up with the jab and chopping at the lead leg. The New Yorker was finding his way into the pocket with dangerous regularity, but Cerrone managed to avoid eating anything major in the opening couple minutes of the fight.

Cerrone’s kicks began to land with more frequency as he found his range. Aside from his usual low kicks, “Cowboy” was especially focused on landing his counter left kick beneath the right hand to Iaquinta. Meanwhile, Iaquinta did a nice job of mixing up his entrances, occasionally bursting forward behind a takedown feint or firing a sudden uppercut.

Both men landed some very hard strikes in the first five minutes.

In the second, Cerrone’s jab was especially accurate, snapping Iaquinta’s head back as the New Yorker tried to throw in combination. In addition, the low kicks were beginning to take their tool, more routinely knocking Iaquinta’s leg from underneath him. Just as Cerrone seemed to be pulling momentum into his corner, Iaquinta landed a pair of massive rights that wobbled the knees.

That pattern somewhat repeated as the round continued. Cerrone won a majority of the exchanges, continuing to chop at that lead leg, but Iaquinta’s right hand was a game-changer. In addition, Iaquinta was doing a nice job of firing back off the low kicks, doing his best to punish Cerrone’s digs.

Once more, it was a close and violent round.

The third round was the first truly definitive round of the fight, as Cerrone really carved Iaquinta up. From the opening of the round, Cerrone’s jab was stabbing through Iaquinta’s nose. Furthermore, the low and body kicks were landing consistently, taking their toll even if Iaquinta gamely held a poker face. Then, in the final seconds of the round, a stiff jab from Cerrone caught Iaquinta ducking towards a leg, dropping him to the mat.

Iaquinta’s face was looking pretty rough by the end of the third.

Cerrone opened the fourth round with a brutal snap kick to the face that again dropped Iaquinta. With more time to work, Cerrone attempted to take the back, but Iaquinta was aware enough to turn back into his guard and work back up to his feet. Back in the open, Iaquinta was understandably a bit more hesitant, but “Raging Al” was still hunting for power shots, now aiming for the left hook. It landed a few times, but each time Cerrone was touched, he’d answer with a flurry of punches.

In all likelihood, Iaquinta needed a finish in the fifth.

Instead, Cerrone did not relent. Iaquinta tried to throw some big punches, but by the fifth round his leg was pretty destroyed, making it difficult to plant and throw for long periods of time. Meanwhile, Cerrone only increased his aggression, spending his time either chasing Iaquinta down with combinations or continuing to chop at the leg.

The fight ended with Cerrone overwhelming Iaquinta, running at his opponent with snap kicks, jump knees, and general violence until his foe fell to the mat.

This performance was vintage Cerrone. “Cowboy” kicked his foe to pieces, slowly breaking down the lead leg and body. Once Cerrone gains that small advantage in damage, he’s incredibly difficult to rally against, as Cerrone simply keeps chopping at the leg and building further upon his lead.

On the whole, Cerrone’s boxing did look noticeably sharper. He was there to be hit on occasion by Iaquinta’s right hand, but Cerrone stymied many of his foe’s attempts with the jab and did duck his head a few times — more than usual! In addition, Cerrone did a nice job of firing back, never allowing Iaquinta to hit him freely. At the very least, Cerrone tried to throw a 1-2 back at his foe.

Over time, all that volume took over.

Iaquinta fought well. The New Yorker pulled out all his tricks to land the right hand, and it paid off quite a few times in the first half of the fight. Unfortunately, it never landed well enough to knock Cerrone out or hurt him so badly that Cerrone lost confidence. Instead, Cerrone did recover from those punches and kept fighting well, whereas Iaquinta was trying to overcome dozens of low kicks. When the lead leg begins to give out, there’s little hope left, even if you fight to the bitter end like “Raging Al.”

Last night, Donald Cerrone extended his win streak in stellar fashion. Who should ‘Cowboy’ face next?

For complete UFC on ESPN+ 9 results and play-by-play, click HERE!

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