After each quick and stinging right-hand man or body kick from Lorenz Larkin, Jorge Masvidal broke a smile that is, until he recognized the battle may be slipping away.
In a showdown of highly proficient striking professionals, it was Larkin (17-5 MMA, 4-5 UFC) who regularly beat Masvidal (29-11 MMA, 6-4 UFC) to the punch and answered counters with his own, picking up a split choice.
The welterweight bout belonged to today s UFC Fight Night 88 primary card at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. It aired on FOX Sports 1 following prelims on the same channel and UFC Fight Pass.
After three exhilarating rounds, 2 judges gave Larkin the nod with a 29-28 score while one dissented for Masvidal, 29-28.
Larkin has struggled versus opponents all too willing to smother him versus the fence or take him to the mat. It was a risky relocation for Masvidal, who’s veteran craftiness in the pocket was outmatched by Larkin’s speed.
He found success with a right hand and mixes off the clinch, at one point sweeping Larkin off his feet with a kick. One shot triggered Larkin to extend out his hands and fingers, leading to an eye poke that sent out Masvidal to his knees in pain.
Fortunately for Masvidal, he was able to continue and didn’t have to withstand much more with the round near to an end. It was fortunate for the fans, too, because it meant the set would continue to shoot it out.
A leaping roundhouse revealed Larkin s existence in the second, bringing another smile from Masvidal. The American Top Team’s mirth would fade as it became more clear he couldn’t bully Larkin in the standup, and his clinch work lead to furious counters when the two separated. And just for great step, Larkin stressed the middle frame with a takedown near the bell.
There was no smiling from Masvidal as he pressed the speed in the 3rd, searching for an offensive opportunity that might lastly swing momentum in his favor. He banked huge on a set of guillotine attempts, one which triggered Larkin to bridge off the fence. But no unfamiliar person to the grappling online game, Larkin got away, leading Masvidal to frantically try a takedown. It wouldn’t be successful.
With his win, Larkin gets back in the win column after a split-call loss to Albert Tumenov, while Masvidal drops to 1-3 in his previous 4 getaways.