Lorenz Larkin won a close split-decision over Jorge Masvidal, Sunday, on the FS1 main card of UFC Fight Night, showing new grappling wrinkles to his game. The dangerous striker needed effective wrestling takedowns and clinch work to edge out the American Top Team "Gamebred."
Afterwards, the California celebrated. "All you die-hards that have followed me, did you see that takedown?" he joked.
They certainly did, as well as the rest of an excellent fight between he and the former lightweight. The pair traded leg-kicks in the first round and Masvidal also landed big punches and elbows to the head.
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Larkin accidentally poked Masvidal in the eye, late in the round, prompting the referee to temporarily stop the action and call in the ringside doctor to examine Masvidal.
The fighter dropped to his knees in pain, pounding the mat, before the doctor could get to him. Later, while being examined and asked of his ability to see, Masvidal only responded, "let's go."
The doctor let him to it but the referee wisely stepped-in to remind Masvidal that he had lots of time to rest and recover, a bit, before having to re-enter the fire. Soon, however, the referee was pressuring Masvidal, asking him if he was ready to go.
Masvidal, his eye apparently flling a bit with blood, didn't say he was ready, but once again responded with a "let's go." He wasn't "ok," but he certainly still wanted to fight.
And fight he did. In the second round Larkin connected with a big kick, and Masvidal smiled it off. From there, the two engaged in technical striking exchanges on the feet, complete with feints, punches, kicks and elbows.
Larkin scored nicely in those, but decided to press Masvidal against the cage with about half the round, left. Late in the round, Larkin scored a takedown.
The third round saw Masvidal walk Larkin down, pressing him against the cage with punches, and then Larkin circling-out and pressing Masvidal against the cage with a takedown attempt. Larkni left his head too low on the right side of Masvidal's body and the Floridian locked onto a guillotine choke.
Larkin defended, escaped and then the two exchanged big punches, along the cage wall. Larkin once more pressed Masvidal against the cage and this time, Masvidal pulled guard and locked onto another guillotine choke.
Larkin defended, flipped over the guard and then scrambled to his feet. Next, Masvidal looked for his own takedown, against the cage, and got it. Larkin was quick to regain his footing, however, landed an uppercut punch to the head and once more pressed against the cage.
Masvidal got free, shot for his own takedown, then came up high to land big elbows, over the top, to the head. Larkin reversed positions against the cage and shot in for a takedown in the closing seconds of the fight.
At the very last second, Larkin came up high, let his grip go and connected to the head with a spinning, reverse elbow.
In the end, Larkin won the fight with scores of 29-28 (twice) and 28-29. He told the UFC that he's ready to fight whoever they want, next.
"I'm here, I'm ready to work," he said.
"Call me, let's make something happen."
Masvidal's record drops to 29-11. Larkin's improves to 17-5-1.