BOSTON – Diego Brandao’s work rate was high for half a round – and then he had to work at it.
But “The Ultimate Fighter” winner, despite being visibly tired for the final 10 minutes of the fight, was able to survive and take a unanimous decision from Daniel Pineda thanks to a takedown-heavy attack.
The featherweight bout took place today at UFC Fight Night 26 at Boston’s TD Garden. It aired on FOX Sports 1 following additional prelims on Facebook and ahead of a main card on FOX Sports 1.
Pineda was aggressive early and tried to take Brandao down after looking to land some flurries on the feet. But the fight stayed standing and it was Brandao who got the best of of the flurries by landing a right hand, then a pair of flying knees. But Pineda stayed in there and survived the onslaught, though Brandao continued to bomb away with right hands that were on the button. Brandao landed another knee seconds later before taking the fight to the canvas. He nearly got to full mount, but then let the fight back to the feet.
In the second, Pineda came out aggressively and tried to land several big shots. But less than 30 seconds into the frame, Brandao landed a clean takedown and went to work on top. When Pineda searched for a couple submissions from his back, Brandao went back to his feet momentarily. But back on the ground, when Pineda went after an armbar, Brandao tried to roll out of trouble – and Pineda got to full mount, where he was able to land several big punches and elbows.
With Brandao visibly tired, Pineda rained down with his fists as Mario Yamasaki looked in. Brandao escaped the bad position and went after an ankle lock, but Pineda stayed on top and rode out the round.
Thirty seconds into the third, Brandao landed a takedown and tried to work from the top. But he let Pineda back to his feet after short success on the canvas. Seconds later, though, he landed another takedown, his fifth of the fight, as he tried to secure the win with the judges. Pineda got back up quickly, but ate a right hand. After a body shot from Pineda, Brandao again landed a takedown. The pattern continued a minute later, but Yamasaki stood the two up when he deemed Brandao not doing any work.
Pineda needed a home-run shot late and went after a pair of wheel kicks. But they were off the mark, and Brandao’s takedowns likely won him the fight. He took home the decision with a trio of 29-28 scores.
“I think I broke my hand in the first round, so I tried to take him down to get the win,” Brandao said. “I was proud I was able to use my jiu-jitsu to fight through the pain.”
“The takedowns beat me,” Pineda said. “I injured my ankle in training, so I taped it up tonight to strengthen it. But the commission made me cut it all off in the octagon. That’s why I was having so much trouble stopping the takedown. It was a really good fight, like we had predicted, but I’m obviously disappointed.”
Brandao (18-8 MMA, 4-1 UFC) now has won three straight after his lone UFC loss to Darren Elkins in May 2012. Pineda (18-10 MMA, 3-3 UFC) is back in the loss column after an april submission of Justin Lawrence, and he now has dropped three of his past four fights.
Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 26 results include:
For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 26, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
John Morgan and Steven Marrocco contributed to this report on-site in Boston.