UFC fights 25 through 35 of the past eight days went down this Wednesday night in the Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. On paper the card looked top heavy to say the least and in reality that is exactly how it played out with the three top fights producing the best of the action on a poor night overall.
It was a card headlined by, what turned out to be, an amazing back and forth one round shoot-out between Glover Teixeira and Ryan Bader. The former TUF champion came out quickly from the blocks and had Texeira in trouble with a tight guillotine, which the Brazilian managed to escape from, early on. As the fight transitioned back to the feet off of a scramble Bader landed a shocking uppercut to the chin of his opponent, rocking Teixeira backwards. Bader continued to press forward with reckless abandon and had Teixeira in serious trouble after landing a concussive straight right hand. When you swim with sharks, as they say, you are bound to get bitten and as Bader came forward again Teixeira rose with a massive right hand/left hook combo and dropped Bader onto the floor forcing referee Herb Dean to step in - stopping the fight with just over two minutes left in round one. This win looks set to give Glover the next shot at the light-heavyweight strap after Jon Jones and Alex Gustaffson throw down in just over two weeks time. As Teixeira admitted himself in the post fight interview it was a disappointing performance and one he will need to vastly improve on if he is to have any hope of capturing the gold.
In the co-main event Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza demolished former title contender Yushin Okami inside the first round after a flawless performance in just his second UFC appearance. The fight started off at a frenetic pace with Jacare pushing Okami against the fence and unloading a furious flurry of punches to the dome of his crouched opponent in the early seconds. Referee Leon Roberts rightfully let Okami carry on and he escaped shortly after. Submission specialist Souza looked better on his feet than he ever has and seconds later floored the Japanese fighter with titanic overhand right. This time the referee had no choice but to step in and end the fight as Jarace pounced on his nearly-prone adversary, ending the fight via TKO less than three minutes into the very first round. Okami, as a constant contender-killer, is a worthy test for any middleweight and this win must take Jacare within touching distance of the title currently help by Chris Weidman.
In what was more than likely a number one contender fight, Joseph Benavidez crushed Jussier “Formiga” Da Silva inside a round to continue the remarkable form of team alpha-male under new coach Duane 'Bang' Ludwig. The fight started off at an unusually slow pace as both men seemed happy to feel each other out in the early exchanges. That all changed, though, as Benavidez threw a wicked left right combination to the chin of Formiga followed by the crushing knee to the body which dropped the Brazilian to the canvas. It didn't take long for referee Mario Yamasaki to step in and finish the fight giving “JoBe” the first round TKO win as well as putting 125 pounds champion Demetrious Johnson on immediate notice.
In the precursor to the three big fights of the night there was a great comeback win by Poland's Piotr Hallmann as he submitted Brazils Francisco Trinaldo with a fantastic kimura in the second round. Hallmann had come through some heavy body kicks earlier in the fight one of which knocked him down into, what looked like, an ominous position but he managed to recover before securing victory in his maiden UFC bout.
Season 17 TUF veteran Tor Troeng faced Rafael “Sapo” Natal in a 185 pounds fight defined by two humongous right hands landed by Natal in the early stages of the opening two rounds. Although Troeng didn't brilliantly well to survive the blows they led to dominant round wins for Sapo who attained large portions of top position in the first ten minutes. Entering the final round the Swede needed the finish. It didn't come though and Natal ended up taking the unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
The main card opener was another flyweight fight where Ali Baugautinov had Marcos Vinicius in trouble early in the first round after a barrage of punches which the Brazilian somehow survived. The second round was a drab five minutes with prolonged periods devoid of action. It looked as if the last round was going to take a similar route until Baugautinov unleashed an exocet of a straight right hand to the grill of Vinicius, knocking him out with just ninety two seconds left in the fight.
The preliminary action consisted of four fights, the best of which took place in the bantamweight division as giant six-feet tall Lucas Martins put on a stunning seventy second demolition of fellow Brazilian Ramiro Hernandez. The lanky Martins knocked Hernandez down with a huge right hand inside of a minute before jumping on his back and earning his second straight stoppage in the UFC by putting Hernandez to sleep with a inescapable rear naked choke. The other three fights consisted of three uneventful rounds, gas-tank problems and boos from the crowd as Elias Silverio defeated Joao Zeferino via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27), Ivan Jorge won on every judges card defeating Keith Wisniewski (29-28, 30-27, 29-28) and Felipe Arantes lost a split decision to Kevin Souza (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
The sole Facebook prelim was the welterweight war between Brazil's own Yuri Villefort and Sean Spenser which ended in a split decision win (30-27, 28-29, 29-28) for the American after a three round stand-up battle.
After thirty five fights in just a week we now have a seventeen day break before UFC 165 and a double title-fight extravaganza.