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Iaquinta Finishes Strong, Takes Split Nod over Masvidal

Read on for UFC Fight Night main card results...

Lightweight prospect Al Iaquinta almost went home to Long Island with a first-round knockout loss in his UFC Fight Night co-main event against Jorge Masvidal Saturday at Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia, but the bloodied “Raging” Al came back in the next two frames to take a split decision win over the Miami veteran.

Scores were 29-28 twice and 27-30 for Iaquinta, now 12-3-1; Masvidal falls to 28-9.

Playing it characteristically cool for much of the first round, Masvidal smoothly avoided much of Iaquinta’s attacks and then went on the attack in the final minute, hurting and dropping Iaquinta and nearly stopping him with ground strikes before the horn ended the frame and sent the New Yorker back to his corner with a cut under his right eye.

Iaquinta bounced back in the second round, with a series of leg kicks forcing the Floridian to switch stances, and though the New Yorker couldn’t score a takedown, a few hard right hands kept him on the board scoring wise.

In the third, the war of nerves continued, Iaquinta the busier of the two while the composed Masvidal poked his left jab at his opponent. In the final minute though, Iaquinta simply outworked Masvidal, with two of the three judges’ scorecards reflecting that work.
“That’s what I trained for in the gym, a tough first round," Iaquinta said. "I wanted to show my toughness as the fight went on and if that fight goes another round, he’s done. I got extremely frustrated when the crowd was booing me. I do this for them, I looked in the crowd and a guy was giving me the middle finger – it really got to me because I do this for the fans, I don’t know if they were booing me or the decision but that hurt. I do this for the cheers. The division needs to know that I’m here now, I can hang with the best in the world.”
> Watch Al Iaquinta's Octagon Interview

Former Ultimate Fighter winner Michael Chiesa nearly finished Mitch Clarke on a number of occasions, but had to settle for a clear-cut three round unanimous decision in a clash of lightweight prospects.

Scores were 29-28 twice and 29-26 for Chiesa, now 12-2; Clarke falls to 11-3

Chiesa had a dominant first round, highlighted by judo throws, hard strikes, a late takedown and a couple submission attempts.

Subscribing to the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ philosophy, Chiesa kept the heat on in round two, and after another takedown, he took Clarke’s back with over two minutes left, giving him even more time to work for a finish. With 90 seconds left, Clarke stood up, Chiesa attached to his back. After a few moments, the fight went back to the mat, and though the game Clarke refused to be finished, it was another round in the bank for Spokane’s “Maverick.”

Clarke pressed forward behind his strikes in the third, and the Canadian scored well, getting Chiesa’s attention. But Chiesa fired back eagerly, leading to some entertaining exchanges throughout the final frame.
> Watch Michael Chiesa's Backstage Interview

Competing for the first time since winning The Ultimate Fighter 18 in November of 2013, Julianna Pena rebounded from a serious knee injury with style, stopping Milana Dudieva in the first round of their bantamweight bout.

A fight broke out at the opening horn, with Pena getting after her opponent aggressively. After a brief clinch, Dudieva threw Pena to the mat, but the Spokane native scrambled up and then got the mount position as the fight went back to the mat. A barrage of ground strikes followed from Pena, forcing Dudieva to briefly give up her back until it went back to the mount, and after forearm after forearm followed, referee Keith Peterson stepped in, stopping the bout at 3:59.

Pena improves to 7-2; Dudieva falls to 11-4.
> Watch Julianna Pena's Backstage Interview

Featherweight veteran Clay Guida got back to basics in his bout against Robbie Peralta, using his smothering wrestling attack to win a three-round unanimous decision.

Scores were 30-27 across the board, for Guida, who hinted at a return to 155 pounds, where he holds wins over the last two men to hold the lightweight crown, current champ Rafael dos Anjos and former titlist Anthony Pettis.

Peralta was sharp with his striking in the early going, but it was Guida changing things up with a takedown in the second minute. Peralta got back to his feet, but Guida remained locked on until he could pull off another slam, and this time around “The Carpenter” was able to work his ground-and-pound attack as he took his foe’s back and stayed there until the horn.

Guida used his strikes to set up a takedown early in the second round, and the Illinois native pushed Peralta to the fence. After a restart from referee Mike King, Guida, bleeding from a cut that came courtesy of a Peralta hook, bulled his opponent into the fence once more, but Peralta’s defense was solid, prompting another restart that kept the fighters standing for the rest of the round.

It was more mauling from Guida in the final round, with the veteran nearly submitting Peralta with an arm triangle before the Californian got free. And even though Peralta got to his feet, it was Guida capping off the win with another slam before the bout went to the judges.

With the win, Guida improves to 32-12; Peralta falls to 18-6 with 1 NC.
> Watch Clay Guida's Backstage Interview

Dustin Poirier’s first lightweight bout since 2010 was a successful one, as the former featherweight contender got acclimated to his new UFC weight class with a first round stoppage of Diego Ferreira.

Ferreira came out fast and the two immediately began trading punches with Poirier landing a couple hard blows. Ferreira proceeded to clinch with Poirier against the fence briefly, and after breaking, the exchanges began again, both fighters getting in their share of shots. With under two minutes left, Poirier dropped Ferreira with a left hand, and while the Brazilian appeared to recover quickly, “The Diamond” didn’t let him off the hook, with ground strikes bringing in referee Todd McGovern to stop the bout at 3:45 of the opening stanza.

With the win, Poirier moves to 17-4; Ferreira falls to 11-2.
> Watch Dustin Poirier's Backstage Interview
> Watch Fight Night Fairfax: Post-fight Press Conference Highlights