Weekend Warrior: Iaquinta-Cerrone Takes UFC North

Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC / Contributor and Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC / Contributor (Getty Images)

Fireworks are a virtual certainty when the Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Canada, as Al Iaquinta will lock horns with Donald Cerrone in the UFC Fight Night 151 headliner on Saturday in Ottawa, Ontario. Meanwhile, Derek Brunson takes on “The Ultimate Fighter Nations” winner Elias Theodorou across three rounds in the middleweight co-main event.

Iaquinta has rattled off six wins in seven appearances, a five-round decision loss to current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov his lone misstep. The Serra-Longo Fight Team representative was a finalist on Season 15 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series and has compiled a 9-3 record since he joined the UFC roster in 2012, victories over Kevin Lee (twice), Diego Sanchez, Jorge Masvidal, and Joe Lauzon anchoring his resume. Iaquinta, 32, last competed at UFC on Fox 31 in December, when he laid claim to a unanimous decision over the aforementioned Lee.

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Iaquinta

Al Iaquinta punches Kevin Lee. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

Cerrone, despite never having won a championship, has carved out a remarkably successful career. “Cowboy” ranks first on the UFC’s all-time list in two categories, wins (22) and finishes (16), and ranks second in appearances (30). He made a triumphant return to the lightweight division at UFC Fight Night 143 on Jan. 19, as he put away Alexander Hernandez with a head kick and follow-up punches in the second round of their encounter. One of the sport’s most dynamic offensive fighters, Cerrone has delivered 27 of his 35 professional victories by knockout, technical knockout, or submission.

UFC Fight Night “Iaquinta vs. Cowboy”—which streams to ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT—will also feature a featherweight tilt matching Cub Swanson with Shane Burgos, a bantamweight affair pitting Brad Katona against Merab Dvalishvili, a heavyweight confrontation pairing Walt Harris with Sergey Spivak and a middleweight scrap slotting Andrew Sanchez opposite Marc-Andre Barriault. ESPN+ will also stream the entire six-fight undercard at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT.

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Donald Cerrone

Donald Cerrone punches Alexander Hernandez. Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

On the regional scene, Invicta Fighting Championships kicks off its “Phoenix Rising” series on Friday at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, where the all-female promotion will crown a new strawweight champion with an eight-woman tournament. The field includes Mizuki Inoue, Janaisa Morandin, Danielle Taylor and Juliana Lima. Invicta “Phoenix Rising 1” will stream to UFC Fight Pass at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

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