Al Iaquinta was the better man yet again.
The longtime Serra-Longo Fight Team standout made another significant move in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightweight division, as he captured a unanimous decision over Kevin Lee in the UFC on Fox 31 headliner on Saturday at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. All three judges sided with Iaquinta (14-4-1, 9-3 UFC): 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46.
Lee (17-4, 10-4 UFC) had “The Ultimate Fighter 15” finalist right where he wanted him on more than one occasion: He advanced to Iaquinta’s back, secured his position with a body triangle and fished for the rear-naked choke in the second and third rounds. However, “The Motown Phenom” could not close the deal. Iaquinta weathered his efforts and put his foot on the gas in the fourth and fifth rounds, where he blasted the Xtreme Couture export with a variety of strikes and set him on unsteady legs.
Iaquinta has won six of his past seven bouts, a decision loss to current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov his only misstep. He now owns a 2-0 advantage in his head-to-head series with Lee.
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Barboza Brutalizes Hooker, Nets Late Stoppage
Former Ring of Combat champion Edson Barboza put away Dan Hooker with a left hook to the body in the third round of their lightweight co-main event. Hooker (17-8, 7-4 UFC) bowed out 2:19 into Round 3, his four-fight winning streak having run its course.
Barboza (20-6, 14-6 UFC) was in prime form. The 32-year-old Brazilian destroyed the inside of Hooker’s lead leg with his patented Louisville Slugger kicks before targeting the head and body with his fists and shins. Barboza was sadistic in his approach, answering the City Kickboxing star with increasing violence at every turn. He doubled over Hooker with multiple spinning back kicks below the navel in the third round, reset and then sealed the Kiwi’s fate with a wicked left hook to the liver.
The win closed the book on Barboza’s two-fight losing streak.
Jab-Heavy Font Denies Pettis
Team Sityodtong’s Rob Font won for the fourth time in six outings, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over Sergio Pettis in a three-round bantamweight feature. Font (16-4, 6-3 UFC) swept the scorecards with identical 30-27 marks from all three judges.
Pettis (17-5, 8-5 UFC) was unsuccessful in his return to the 135-pound weight class. Font punished him with the jab, mixed in well-timed takedowns paired with ground-and-pound and even threatened him with a kimura in the second round. At a distinct size and reach disadvantage, Pettis struggled to close the distance and was met with significant resistance whenever he moved forward.
The 25-year-old Pettis finds himself on a two-fight losing streak for the first time in his career.
Oliveira Choke Submits Miller
Chute Boxe export Charles Oliveira submitted Jim Miller with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their lightweight showcase. Oliveira (25-8, 13-8 UFC) executed the finish 75 seconds into Round 1, avenging a December 2010 defeat to the New Jersey native.
It did not unfold as Miller (29-13, 18-12 UFC) had hoped. Oliveira delivered a high-amplitude takedown inside the first minute, advanced to the back and began his hunt for the choke. Miller kept his chin pinned to his chest for a time, but the Brazilian eventually snaked his arms in place, tightened his squeeze and elicited the tapout.
Oliveira, 29, has rattled off three consecutive victories.
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