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MMAjunkie’s ‘Fight of the Month’ for January: A bloody barnburner

With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie looks at the best fights from January 2019: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMAjunkie’s “Fight of the Month” award for January.

At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting on your choice.

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The Nominees

Geoff Neal def. Belal Muhammad at UFC on ESPN+ 1

Geoff Neal (11-2 MMA, 3-0 UFC) continued to shine early in his UFC career when he dished out three rounds of offense on Belal Muhammad (14-3, 5-2 UFC), who somehow was able to survive all of it.

Neal used the entirety of his skillset to bloody and batter Muhammad over 15 minutes of welterweight action. In the end, he left the octagon with the unanimous decision victory and his perfect uFC record still in tact.

Donald Cerrone def. Alexander Hernandez at UFC on ESPN+ 1

Turns out Donald Cerrone (35-11 MMA, 22-8 UFC) wasn’t interested in being Alexander Hernandez’s (10-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) stepping stone, after all.

After being pestered by the younger man’s trash talk in the lead up to the fight, Cerrone got the last laugh, bloodying Hernandez with punches before dropping him with a head kick and finishing the lightweight fight with strikes to prompt the stoppage.

Joseph Benavidez def. Dustin Ortiz at UFC on ESPN+ 1

Joseph Benavidez (27-5 MMA, 14-3 UFC) repeated history with another victory over Dustin Ortiz (19-8 MMA, 8-6 UFC) in their flyweight rematch.

After taking a decision from Ortiz in November 2014, Benavidez did it again with another unanimous decision in a grappling-heavy affair that featured a bevy of wild transitions over the course of 15 minutes.

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Adriano Moraes def. Geje Eustaquio at ONE Championship 88

In their third title fight, and the first trilogy fight in ONE Championship history, Adriano Moraes (18-3) reclaimed the flyweight title from Geje Eustaquio (11-7).

Moraes took a unanimous decision from Eustaquio, the home country fan favorite, in a back-and-forth fight. After splitting results over their first fight in September 2014 and rematch this past June, Moraes got what could seemingly be the final meeting with a strong performance over five rounds.

Juan Archuleta def. Ricky Bandejas at Bellator 214

Ricky Bandejas (11-1 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) caught on to Juan Archuleta’s (21-1 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) hit-and-run attack, but it wasn’t enough to shift momentum in the cage before it was slightly too late.

Archuleta toughed his way through several brain-rattling shots to impose his will and earn a unanimous 29-28 decision (https://mmajunkie.com/2019/01/bellator-214-results-juan-archuleta-defeats-ricky-bandejas-unanimous-decision) over Bandejas, extending his winning streak to 17 fights and marking a successful return to the bantamweight division.

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The Winner: Geoff Neal vs. Belal Muhammad

Neal brought an end to Belal Muhammad’s four-fight winning streak with a slick striking performance that ended in a unanimous-decision victory.

The takedown defense on Neal held up throughout the bout, and his punches were on the mark as he bloodied and battered Muhammad over three rounds.

The final frame was his best work as he dropped the ever-gutsy Muhammad twice in the frame to secure scores of 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 and remain unbeaten in his UFC career.

“I feel great. I hate decisions, but Belal is a tough opponent,” Neal said after his victory. “I knew he was tough, and I was ready to go to decision. I’ve seen fights where he’s been hurt and come back. I wanted a finish, but I’ll take a decision. I’m just happy to get the win.”

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