Fights are ranked on the scale shown below, based on competitiveness, the skill and technique on display, excitement, and the story and drama of the contest. Wherever possible, the fights are described without spoiling the outcomes. Here's the MMA Gradebook for UFC Fight Night 151: Iaquinta vs. Cowboy.
Gagnon returned to the Octagon for the first time since 2016 to take on the debuting Cole Smith. Not much action on the feet but the back-and-forth grappling and multiple submission attempts from both men earn this 2.5 stars.
Former Olympic wrestler Bhullar takes on undefeated Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series alum Adams in this heavyweight battle. The two put on a good back-and-forth fight with some fun exchanges on the feet, in the clinch and on the ground, but this wasn’t anything special. [2.5]
Both fighters stepped inside the Octagon for just the second time with both men looking to get their first UFC win after dropping their debuts last year. There were a couple of lulls in the second and third rounds, but overall this was a great fight with multiple momentum changes and closely contested action on the feet and on the ground. [3.5]
UFC veteran Nordine Taleb stepped inside the octagon for the 12th time to take on the debuting Kyle Prepolec, a habitual lightweight who took the fight on just 10 days’ notice. This wasn’t a bad fight but I definitely expected both men to come out more aggressive. The fight was much closer than expected and there were some good exchanges on the feet, but this bout was nothing more than average. [2.0]
Zahabi returned to the Octagon for the first time since 2017 to take on Morales, who was looking to get his first UFC win. Not much to say about this fight other than I never want to see either of these guys fight again and we finally hand out our first 0 score!
Nearly every second of this fight took place on the ground with a lot of dull moments, but the finish is worth the watch. [2.0]
“The Ultimate Fighter 23” winner Sanchez stepped inside the Octagon for the sixth time to take on debuting prospect Marc-Andre Barriault. The fight was rather close with some good action on the feet and on the ground, but it was nothing more than average. [2.0]
Any fight under a minute is worth the watch, especially when it’s heavyweights. [3.0]
Dominant performance from the winner, but not a particularly good fight between the two prospects. [2.0]
Longtime UFC veteran Swanson stepped inside the octagon for the 17th time to take on a bright prospect in Burgos. Both men put on a crazy pace and the fight was much closer than expected despite what the scorecards said. Multiple momentum shifts and a wonderful showcase of technique from both men earn this 3.5 stars.
Two of the top middleweights in the world clashed in arguably the most important fight of both men’s careers. I would be lying if I said this didn’t go exactly as expected but it was a fun fight nonetheless. I would have liked to see both men push the action a bit more, especially since they are both known for their high pace but overall this was a co-main event. [2.5]
“Cowboy” walked down to the Octagon for the 31st time -- one away from Jim Miller's UFC record -- to take on Iaquinta, who was coming off the biggest win of his career over Kevin Lee. This fight was far from close, but the story around the fight and the dominant showcase from the winner make this a must-watch and earn the highest score of the night. Our run of fantastic main events continues; hopefully the trend can continue all year. [4.0]