Some might have considered it a surprise to see Patrick Cote walk into his UFC 148 “Silva vs. Sonnen 2” bout with Cung Le as a -240 favorite -- compared to Le’s +190 odds -- on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
It was Cote’s first Ultimate Fighting Championship appearance since three straight losses resulted in his release from the promotion. To his credit, Cote did win four consecutive fights away from the Octagon following his unanimous decision defeat to Tom Lawlor at UFC 121.
Le, meanwhile, put forth an admirable effort in his promotional debut at UFC 139 in November, when he engaged in an exciting back-and-forth match with Wanderlei Silva that earned the two men “Fight of the Night” honors. Le eventually succumbed to knees and punches with just seconds left in the second stanza.
Heading into his bout with Cote, the depth of the 40-year-old sanshou specialist’s gas tank remained in question. However, Le rose to the challenge.
Le weathered the storm of Cote’s punches and managed to conserve just enough energy to stay competitive throughout the bout, landing his trademark kicks, a few counterpunches and even some takedowns in the final round. Whether Le has a few more fights in him remains anyone’s guess, but he beat the odds and spoiled Cote’s return, all while securing his first win inside the Octagon.
It did not take long for Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Demian Maia, at +117 odds, to find success in his welterweight debut against Dong Hyun Kim (-147), becoming only the second man to do defeat the man they call “Stun Gun.” Carlos Condit was the first, as he stopped Kim with a flying knee and follow-up punches at UFC 132.
Maia immediately shot for a takedown, eating some hammerfists in the process. Still, he managed to take Kim’s back and transition briefly to mount after landing a takedown. Suffering from an apparent rib injury, Kim lost the bout just 47 seconds into the round.
Yoislandy Izquierdo’s dominance on the feet makes it easy to see why he came into his bout with Rafaello Oliveira as a -205 favorite; he used his southpaw stance to connect with straight lefts and left body kicks. However, it was Oliveira’s ground game that cemented the win for him despite his +165 odds.
“The Tractor” landed takedowns each round, and though Izquierdo showcased some skilled submission defense, he spent the majority of the fight being controlled on the ground by the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, who won two out of three rounds on the judges’ scorecards.
Undefeated Russian prospect Khabib Nurmagomedov defied the odds -- he came in as a +160 underdog -- in besting American Top Team’s Gleison Tibau (-200) in a somewhat controversial unanimous decision.
Nurmagomedov was relentless, though unsuccessful, with his takedown attempts. The fight looks just about dead even based on FightMetric figures, but perhaps the judges found Nurmagomedov more aggressive.