UFC 144 Live on FX: Fukuda vs. Cantwell Recap

Live on FX: Middleweights: Riki Fukuda (17-5) vs. Steve ‘Robot’ Cantwell (7-5)

Cantwell  is a heavy handed striker that knocks his opponents out when he wins, but he’s looking to recover from a four fight losing streak (all by decision) that began after his UFC debut in 2008. Fukuda, who also likes to stand toe to toe, saw his seven fight win streak come to an end last February in his UFC debut against, then undefeated, Nick Ring. Fukuda is the current DEEP Middleweight Champion, while Cantwell vacated his Light Heavyweight WEC belt after beating Brian Stann and joining the UFC in 2009. Fukuda, the more experienced fighter, hasn’t fought in a year, while Cantwell is hanging onto his UFC career by the thinnest of hairs. If they want to continue fighting in the strongest MMA league out there, both fighters have to put it all on the line tonight. Let’s see who wants it more…

Round 1: Cantwell slips a few feint jabs, and Fukuda immediately takes advantage of the slow tempo and takes him down. After unsuccessfully trying to trap Fukuda in an arm triangle, Fukuda posts up and drops a series of heavy bombs. He settles back into Cantwell’s guard  for a few seconds and does it again. The crowd is counting the bombs as his fists rain down. Most of Fukuda’s long blows miss, and Cantwell finds his way to his feet. Fukuda backs him into the fence before they square back up in the middle of the octagon. Fukuda throws a few inside leg kicks. Fukuda drives in with a combination of straight jabs. Fukuda is clearly pushing the action, backing Cantwell into the fence, then retreating. Cantwell finally throws a couple high kicks that loosely connect before the horn. Fukuda pushed the action, got a takedown, and landed more punches;  Cantwell made a nice effort at the end of the round. The round will likely go to Fukuda.

Round 2: Cantwell comes out more aggressively than he did in round 1. Fukuda answers by landing three heavy inside leg kicks. Fukuda shoots for a single leg takedown, and lands in Cantwell’s guillotine. It’s deep, but not deep enough. Fukuda escapes, stands up and delivers another nice inside leg lick. Cantwell looks for the clinch, and Fukuda lands a couple stiff uppercuts. Cantwell is trying to push the action with long jabs, but Fukuda answers with leg kicks and a swift right to the body. Fukuda catches Cantwell with a combination, backs him into the fence, and starts teeing off on him. Cantwell looks doomed, but finds away to counter-punch his way away from the fence. Fukuda is pushing the action with long straight jabs, then lands a sharp uppercut, followed by a straight right hand. Fukuda throws an inside leg kick that barely lands in Cantwell’s groin. Cantwell rests for less than a minute, and they get back to action. They square up and Cantwell takes Fukuda down and tries to get on his back. Fukuda escapes. This round clearly belongs to Fukuda.

Round 3: Both corners tell their fighters they have to win this round. Fukuda continues with a string of leg kicks that are starting to wear on Cantwell. Fukuda pushes the action with his leg kicks and backs Cantwell into the fence. Cantwell defends, but doesn’t counter. Cantwell throws a weak spinning backfist followed by a high kick; they both miss. Fukuda slips a couple jabs, pushes Cantwell into the fence and trips him for a takedown. Cantwell is working Fukuda’s arm for an arm triangle or oma plata, but Fukuda defends well. During Cantwell escape attempt, Fukuda lands on his back, but Cantwell is too slippery and Fukuda lands in his side control before letting Cantwell up. Fukuda continues to work inside and outside leg kicks. Cantwell looks tired and unable to respond. He has no answer for Fukuda’s straight jabs and powerful leg kicks. Cantwell can barely defend himself as Fukuda tees off on him against the fence. Both fighters are tired, and Fukuda can’t finish him. Fukuda totally dominated the round and earned the victory. I score it 30-27, Fukuda. Here’s the decision…

Winner: Fukuda (Unanimous Decision: 29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Your Turn To Talk

Your email address will not be published.