The UFC returned to the desert of Arizona for UFC on Fox 29. In the main event, Arizona native Justin Gaethje took on Dustin Poirier. The co-main event featured Carlos Condit against late replacement, Alex ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira. The event was the first card since UFC 2 in 1994 with 14+ fights. All 14 of those fights delivered with a total of eight finishes. Many of the performances stood out among the rest, so here are the five standout performances from UFC on Fox 29.
#1: Dustin Poirier def. Justin Gaethje via TKO (Punches) at 0:33 of Round 4
This fight was predicted to be a candidate for fight of the year, and boy did it live up to the hype. Poirier was coming off a win over former champion Anthony Pettis, while Gaethje was coming off a loss to former champion Eddie Alvarez. Both men consistently throw heat, this time they brought their A-game and went to war.
Poirier started the fight very quickly as he was landing sharp combinations. By the end of round 2, he already had landed twice as many significant strikes as Gaethje. But those two rounds were still pretty close. While Poirier was landing more shots, Gaethje was chopping hard at his leg through it all. At the end of round 2, you could see the swelling that had already built up around Poirier’s knee.
In the third round, Gaethje began to pick up the pace. It seemed like Poirier was fading a little bit and it allowed Gaethje to start landing more shots. Gaethje continued landing hard kicks to the lead leg of ‘The Diamond’ which opened up spots to land some good punches. About 30 seconds before the end of the round, he accidentally poked the eye of Poirier. Since it was his second eye poke, to the same eye as well, referee Herb Dean was forced to take a point away. This resulted in what was most likely a 9-9 round as Gaethje was winning until the eye poke.
In the fourth round, Dustin Poirier looked refreshed as he got the rest after the eye poke plus the additional rest at the end of the round. Quickly into the beginning of the round, he landed a counter straight left that sent Gaethje staggering backward on wobbly legs. Poirier swiftly moved in and began to unload on the wobbly Gaethje. He continued to land hard left hooks that eventually forced Herb Dean to call an end to what was a fight of the year candidate.
Dustin Poirier earns his 12th KO in an epic battle against Justin Gaethje pic.twitter.com/el0Yxo7FSc
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) April 15, 2018
#2: Adam Wieczorek def. Arjan Singh Bhullar via Submission (Omoplata) at 1:59 of Round 2
Arjan Singh Bhullar came into the fight as a heralded prospect in the heavyweight division. The man who stood across from him was Poland’s Adam Wieczorek. The first round was close with Bhullar ending up on top early and controlling most of the round but not doing much with it. In the second round, Bhullar got another takedown, but couldn’t pass Wieczorek’s guard or land hard strikes.
About a minute and a half into the second round, Wieczorek began to shift his hips and attack the shoulder with an omoplata. He was able to get the angle and sit up with the lock, forcing Bhullar to tap. Wieczorek had just scored the second omoplata finish in the UFC. The first was seen by Ben Saunders nearly four years ago in 2014.
#3: Alex Oliveira def. Carlos Condit via Submission (Guillotine) at 3:17 of Round 2
About two weeks ago, Carlos Condit was training for a fight against Matt Brown. To the disappointment of many, news broke that Brown had torn his ACL and was forced out of the fight. The UFC searched for a replacement and found one in Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira.
Heading into the fight, ‘Cowboy’ was a slight favorite over the UFC veteran Condit. In the first round, Oliveira was able to power through the clinch and take Condit down. However, Condit reversed position and ended up on top where he spent the majority of the round. He had a few deep rear-naked choke attempts but was never able to lock anything in. Oliveira was able to survive the round.
The second round looked identical to the first. Oliveira secured a trip takedown and Condit scrambled to his knees for reverse on a double leg. During this attempt, Oliveira landed hard elbows that eventually opened up a cut on Condit. As he was trying to pass the guard of the grounded Oliveira, ‘Cowboy’ threw a hard up-kick that landed directly on the chin. The stunned Condit then fell into the guard of Oliveira, who began to reverse the position.
Oliveira was eventually able to lock up a deep guillotine on the bloody and dazed Condit. It seemed as if Condit was certainly going to sleep, but appeared to have survived. Commentator Dominick Cruz suggested Condit was waiting for Cowboy to gas out his arms. Just as this seemed more plausible, Oliveira adjusted his position and forced Condit to tap.
Alex Oliveira hands Carlos Condit his 4th straight loss… But not before he showed off his dance moves. pic.twitter.com/YGWzta2mHc
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) April 15, 2018
#4: Gilbert “Durinho” Burns def. Dan Moret via KO (Punch) at 0:59 of Round 2
Dan Moret was making his UFC debut against a very talented and experienced Gilbert Burns. In the first round, it was close as both men were landing, but Burns was the aggressor. Durinho was landing the harder shots and it seemed he had the edge.
In the second, Burns picked up right where he left off, landing right hands and body kicks. He eventually landed clean, wobbling Moret, and began to pour it on. He landed a vicious flurry of punches, with one final punch folding Moret like a lawn chair. Burns was the victor with a highlight-reel knockout victory.
#5: Brad Tavares def. Krzysztof Jotko via TKO (Punches) at 2:16 of Round 3
Brad Tavares was flying under the radar, as explained in MMASucka‘s fighter of interest this week. He came into this bout without finishing a fight since 2011. It was more of the same early, as he safely controlled the majority of the action. Tavares was able to lead consistently and land more shots on Krzysztof Jotko, who was riding a two-fight losing streak.
Going into round three, Tavares was clearly up 2-0 and didn’t need to look for the finish. Jotko, on the other hand, needed to let it all go if he didn’t wanna be in danger of losing his job. Almost halfway into the final round, Jotko threw an uppercut and left his chin wide open for a counter punch. Tavares took advantage, ducked his head, and threw a right hook that landed cleanly on the chin of Jotko, sending him crumpling to the canvas. Tavares followed up with hard ground and pound that eventually forced the referee to call an end to the fight, snapping Tavares’ 7-year decision streak.
Brad, he has a family 😳 pic.twitter.com/Ro8pReU9Z2
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) April 14, 2018
UFC on Fox 29 delivered with great fights and amazing finishes that may or may not have ended up on this list. After an exciting week of fights, we head to New Jersey next weekend for yet another lightweight main event.
Crafty striker Edson Barboza takes on former interim title challenger and talented wrestler, Kevin Lee in the main event of UFC Fight Night 128. Plus, in the co-main event, we will see a rematch between UFC veterans and featherweight contenders, Frankie Edgar and Cub Swanson. So join me next week as we look back on UFC Fight Night 128 and break down the five standout performances from the UFC’s visit to Atlantic City.
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