UFC Fight Night: Iaquinta vs. Cowboy, featured eight Canadian fighters on the preliminary card. It was a mixed bag for the home town fighters, as they went 3-5. However, two of those victories (and losses) came via all-Canadian matchups.
Cole Smith (7-0) def. Mitch Gagnon (12-5) via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
First Octagon appearance ✅
— UFC (@ufc) May 4, 2019
In the night’s opening bout, Smith earned a unanimous decision victory in his UFC debut, defeating Gagnon in a hard-fought back-and-forth battle.
Smith won the fight on all three judges’ scorecards despite spending most of the second round in trouble from being knocked down and defending multiple submission attempts.
The Squamish, B.C., native was calm throughout the fight, knowing that the most difficult part of his journey is behind him.
“I feel like there’s not much pressure on me anymore. I felt like there was pressure to perform just to get [to the UFC],” said Smith in his post-fight scrum. “Now I’m here and fighting the guys who are the best in the world, so the pressure’s off.
“If you win, you win. If you lose, you lost to one of the best guys in the world.”
Gagnon nearly finished Smith on several occasions, locking in an arm bar and a rear-naked choke in the second round.
However, Smith was never fazed by the submission attempts and believes that his drive and determination helped him secure a victory.
“I’m hungry. That’s why I got out of the submissions. I want to be here,” said the 30-year old. “It was nice to show everyone that I’m here and I’m game.”
With the victory, Smith moved his professional record to 7-0 but knows that his previous accomplishments won’t get him anywhere in the world’s biggest promotion.
“Who gives a s— about six wins before [the UFC]. Nobody cares, it’s all about what you do in this octagon,” said “The Cole Train”. “You can be 13, 14, 100-0. You get to the UFC and lose your first fight, nobody cares that you were 100-0.”
“I’m 1-0 right now.”
Arjan Bhullar (9-1) def. Juan Adams (5-1) via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Bhullar leaned on his wrestling often in order to defeat Adams by unanimous decision in the second bout of the night.
Leading up to the fight, Adams had a lot to say about Bhullar’s wrestling abilities, belittling his Olympic resumé and brushing aside the Richmond, B.C. native’s ground game.
Not one to get drawn into trash talk, Bhullar instead chose to let his fighting do the talking.
“Adams talked a lot about my wrestling and how it wasn’t good enough, but it was easy in there, I shot twice and took him down twice,” Bhullar said after the fight. “He can keep talking all he wants, but there are levels to this game and I showed that tonight.”
Bhullar is not content with the victory and is ready to move on and fight one of the biggest names in the history of the heavyweight division, former champion Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski.
“I got into this sport to beat the guys with the names and fight the best in the world, I’ll start with Arlovski,” said the heavyweight. “These guys don’t leave unless you show them the door. That’s why I intend on neutering the Pitbull.
“There’s come a time when the next generation of fighters has to step up and I want to lead the way for the next crop of fighters.”
With no fights left on his UFC contract, Bhullar is focused on finding his next step inside and outside the octagon. His first mission is expanding MMA to India.
“Everyone speaks English in India. A billion plus people,” Bhullar said. “You have Olympic medallists, boxers, let’s take the camera’s in there and shine the light on them.”
“I’m open to it, let’s get it going. That’s what gets me excited.”
Nordine Taleb (15-6) def. Kyle Prepolec (12-6) via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
— UFC (@ufc) May 4, 2019
Taleb defeated Windsor, Ontario, native Prepolec by unanimous decision, dominating the fight from bell to bell.
The French-born Taleb, controlled the fight on the feet, winning the battle between two dangerous strikers.
After back-to-back losses, Taleb felt the pressure of the occasion but didn’t let it get to him despite knowing that a loss would likely mean the end of his run in the UFC.
“Not really [a lot] of pressure, just a little bit and it was in the right place for me to perform tonight,” said the Montreal native. “I definitely needed this win. We’ve seen the UFC doesn’t give third chances.”