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With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie looks at the best fights from February 2019: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMAjunkie’s “Fight of the Month” award for February.
At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting on your choice.
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Rogerio Bontorin def. Magomed Bibulatov at UFC on ESPN+ 2
Brazil’s Bontorin took home a razor-thin split-decision over Russia’s Bibulatov following a 15-minute clash that was action-packed from start to finish.
Thiago Alves def. Max Griffin at UFC on ESPN+ 2
The back-and-forth welterweight fight went the distance, with numerous sways in momentum throughout. It went down to the wire, and former UFC title challenger Alves was awarded the somewhat controversial split decision victory against Griffin, who felt he deserved the nod.
Kyung Ho Kang def. Teruto Ishihara at UFC 234
After an all-out slugfest for the first couple minutes of the fight, Kyung Ho Kang (15-8 MMA, 4-2 UFC) slowed things down and it paid off for him.
Kang was knocked down early by Teruto Ishihara (10-7-2 MMA, 3-5-1 UFC), but recovered to sling fists back and forth. But when Kang got the fight to the canvas, he was able to put Ishihara out with a rear-naked choke with just over a minute remaining in the action-packed opening frame.
Kai Kara-France def. Raulian Paiva at UFC 234
Despite some struggles against a bigger, lankier fighter, Kara-France took the split-decision victory over Paiva with scores of 28-29, 29-28, and 29-28.
Vicente Luque def. Bryan Barberena via punches at UFC on ESPN 1
Vicente Luque (15-6-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC) continued to show he’s among the most dangerous fighters in the welterweight division when he came out on the winning end of an all-out war with Bryan Barberena (14-6 MMA, 5-4 UFC).
Luque kept his perfect UFC stoppage rate in tact when at the end of a wild, thrilling back-and-forth fight with Barberena, he put together a combination of knees that finally dropped his opponent and led to the stoppage with just six seconds remaining in final round.
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Luque and Barberena combined for a thrilling “Fight of the Year” contender, but it was the Brazilian who put the exclamation mark on the result with six seconds remaining.
Barberena set up on the outside to open, moving to his right as Luque looked to explode from the center. The Brazilian did fire a right hand with a high kick just behind it, bu Barberena avoided a direct hit and continued to circle and move. Luque stalked from the center, cutting off the cage and firing big punches that started to land clean, though Barberena somehow survived the attacks. Big right hands and clean left hooks scored flush, but Barberena showed little wear. Still, Luque continued his pressure.
:ate in the round, the two briefly clinch and traded punches inside, but Luque was able to pull away and again find a home for heavy punches. Barberena countered with a big left that dropped hiss fo foe, but when he rushed to finish the job, Luque quickly recovered and scrambled up and around tot he back, locking in a rear-naked choke. The hold looked deep, but Barberena somehow spun and got his back to the canvas. Luque adjusted and turned to a D’Arce, but Barberena survived that as well and popped his head free in time to land a few huge elbows and punches just before the bell.
The crowd was electric to start the second, and Luque appeared to have gassed himself a little with the lengthy choke attempts. The zip was gone from his punches, and Barberena saw it, casually moving forward with his own strikes and then always returning to the center of the cage as the action drifted to the fence. Barberena picked his shots, turning to elbows in close and digging to the body, as well, with Luque keeping his hands high.
Barberena’s straight left began to land clean, popping his opponent’s head back. Luque was clearly tiring, but he did offer the occasional right that flashed out with clear danger attached. Still, Barberena started to showboat a bit, spinning his hands before lacing out strikes. Luque showed the quality of his chin, absorbing the blows, and Barberena was careful not to burn too much gas, methodically lacing out combinations. Both men opened up in the final seconds, and Luque briefly threw his opponent to the floor, but he couldn’t get much offense from there before the bell.
The two embraced briefly to start the third, and Luque appeared to have benefited from a slow second by adding some zip to early strikes in the third. A spinning kicked landed to Barberena’s body, and seemed to gain some speed. Still, Barberena wasn’t backing down and continued to push forward, looking to make it ugly.
Barberena was at his best landing straight punches from distance, and he continued to seek the elbows, as well. Luque kept his guard high and deflected much of the offense, occasionally countering with punches that were again back at full steam. Barberena’s power seemed to finally succumb to the pace, but he didn’t shy away from advances to the pocket. Luque’s face was reddened from the attacked, and the two men continued to trade strikes inn close. Luque held the center and appeared the more dangerous man, but Barberena’s volume was near constant. With 35 seconds left, Barberena started to go for broke, but Luque returned fire with a few big uppercuts that landed clean. Knees landed in tight, as well, and Barberena finally buckled. As he crashed to the floor, Luque unleashed a flurry of punches just before the bell, and referee Jason Herzog waved off the contest with just six seconds left in the fight.
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