“Grading the card” is an article written by Mike James after every major UFC and Bellator event. Every main card fight and the fight card itself is briefly discussed and given a letter grade. This article covers UFC Fight Night 81, which took place Sunday night from the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. T.J. Dillashaw vs Dominick Cruz First off, the scores for this fight were all over the place. You very rarely see each fighter earn a 49-46 score from the judges, but it happened on Sunday night. I cannot totally fault the judges here, though, as the two combatants were moving unbelievably fast and constantly changing directions and techniques. Cruz and Dillashaw are clearly the two best fighters in the division right now and I am sure they will meet again sometime down the line. As far as the fight goes, I think either fighter could have won, it was that close. However, it was nice seeing Cruz come back from all those devastating injuries to recapture the title he never lost. Fight Grade: A- Anthony Pettis vs Eddie Alvarez It was a frustrating night in Boston for former UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis. Coming into the fight as a big favorite, he never really got anything going past the first round. He hesitated too much and Alvarez landed enough strikes and takedowns to secure the win, likely the biggest of his career. The loss puts Pettis in an unenviable position, as he has now lost two in a row and is no longer seen as the UFC’s golden boy in the lightweight division. Alvarez, however, has now won two fights in a row over top five fighters. I am not really sold on him as a legitimate title challenger at the moment, but he is getting there. Fight Grade: C+ Travis Browne vs Matt Mitrione I thought this would produce immediate fireworks, but it did anything but. The bout was somewhat controversial because of the repeated eye pokes that Browne inflicted on Mitrione. The eye pokes seemed to play a factor in the fight because Mitrione fought much differently and with a lot more anger after the second eye poke. Ultimately, the fight was won on the ground as Mitrione still has not closed the gaps in his ground game. Browne dropped Mitrione in the third round, mounted him, and scored a technical knockout finish. The win is Browne’s first since his first round knockout loss to Andrei Arlovski in May, while Mitrione will end his current UFC contract on a loss. Fight Grade: C+ Francisco Trinaldo vs Ross Pearson Kicking off the main card was a lightweight matchup between Francisco Trinaldo and Ross Pearson. The first round did not feature much action until Trinaldo landed some hard shots late in the round. Trinaldo had Pearson badly hurt at one point, but Pearson was able to hang on until the final bell. Trinaldo was awarded the winner on scores of (30-27, 29-28, 20-27) and has now won five straight fights. It was a lackluster fight. Fight Grade: C- Thoughts: UFC Fight Night 81 may not have lived up to some people’s expectations, but it certainly had its moments. The bantamweight title fight was amazing, but that was expected. Although we are only grading the main card, most of the best moments occurred on the preliminary portion of the card, including the performances by Ed Herman, Patrick Cote, Luke Sanders, Paul Felder, and Rob Font. The performance of Luke Sanders was especially noteworthy because he came in on short notice and took out a tough veteran in his UFC debut. Further, the fight between Paul Felder and Daron Cruickshank was a back and forth brawl with several near finishes until Felder finally sunk in a come from behind rear-naked choke. Final UFC Fight Night 81 Grade: B-
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