Lawlor grabbed Cote, held him against the fence and then took him down in the early going, and that was exactly where he wanted to be. They spent the rest of the round on the ground with Lawlor fairly well dominating, hitting Cote and almost finishing him with an arm-triangle choke, which Cote broke free from with the help of an illegal grab of the fence. It was an easy 10-9 round for Lawlor.
Early in the second round Lawlor got on top of Cote on the ground again, and he spent a few minutes controlling Cote without ever coming close to finishing him. Eventually referee Big John McCarthy surprisingly stood them up with about half a minute to go in a second round that didn't have much action, but that Lawlor clearly won.
At the start of the third, no surprise, Lawlor got on top of Cote once again. Lawlor first tried an arm-triangle choke from half guard, then passed into side control. Lawlor showed off his superior grappling for a couple minutes before McCarthy surprisingly stood them up again with a couple minutes to go in the fight. But that didn't do Cote much good, and Lawlor easily won the round. He won the fight 30-27 on all three judges' cards.
The loss was Cote's third in a row, and it was the kind of showing that could cost him his job in the UFC. Lawlor improves to 7-3.
To the extent that UFC fans are talking about this fight on Sunday, it will be less about Lawlor or Cote than about McCarthy, the legendary MMA referee who's rarely seen in the Octagon anymore. McCarthy missed Cote's illegal grab of the fence in the first round and had questionable stand-ups in the second and third rounds. It was a disappointing showing not just for Cote, but also for the best ref in MMA history.
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