The UFC’s second Sunday fight night event of the year was a surprisingly entertaining affair given the lack of stars and prospects on the card. As with the vast majority of Brazilian-based UFC shows, an array of slick submissions and vicious KOs softened fans’ earlier disinterest in the event.
Apart from the slew of finishes that distracted fans for the majority of the evening, there was a string of upsets on the card that made for intriguing post-fight storylines, including Frank Mir’s TKO stoppage of Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva – his first win in over three years. It was a wacky night to say the least, and left us with a far more interesting list for the winners and losers column.
Frank Mir ended a four-fight losing streak that spanned back over three years to December 2011 when he knocked out Bigfoot in the opening round of the evening’s main event. Apart from it being Mir’s first victory since his stomach-churning kimura finish of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, it was also the tenth underdog victory on the card – a record for UFC events. Given that many assumed that this was a ‘Loser Leaves Town’ match of sorts, Mir has evidently extended his UFC career just a little while longer.
Michael Johnson added to the slew of upsets on Sunday, as well as the terrible evening of fights for the local talent, when he outclassed Barboza for the better part of the three-round contest. Referred to as the real main event of the evening, the lightweight berth was an enthralling affair, and one that Johnson won with better technical striking and aggressive tactics. The Blackzilian fighter is now on a four-fight win streak, including wins over Joe Lauzon and Melvin Guillard.
Sam Alvey became the eighth underdog to cash during the UFC Fight Night 61 event, as he KO’d Cezar Mutante in the opening round of their feature fight. While the win was a predictable one given the Brazilian’s suspect chin, Alvey still deserves recognition for being able to knock out his opponent after landing exactly Four strikes in the entire fight.
Adriano Martins may be one of the most underrated fighters in the lightweight division, and his performance on Sunday certainly helps reinforce that. The Brazilian outwrestled a talented grappler en route to a decision victory. While fighters are generally weary of Khabilov’s constant pressure, Martins was able to neutralize that with better striking and a pair of takedowns to eventually seal the fight.
Santiago Ponzinibbio strung together consecutive wins in the UFC for the first time when he beat Sean Strickland via unanimous decision in an entertaining main card opener. Ponzinibbio bombarded Strickland with his best shots throughout the fight but was unable to crack his granite chin. Nevertheless, he will now look to continue his upward trend in the welterweight division.
Marion Reneau continues to prove that she was an essential talent that was overlooked for The Ultimate Fighter 18 cast. The American earned another big upset on Sunday night’s fight card in Brazil, as she cinched in a tight triangle choke after being dropped in the opening round, which forced Andrade to tap. Reneau moved to 2-0 in the UFC, and has compiled a five-match win streak overall.
Matt Dwyer picked up an incredible KO finish on the preliminary portion of the card – a superman punch KO that sent Macario tumbling face-first into the canvas. After suffering a double head kick KO loss to Albert Tumenov in his last octagon outing, it was remarkable to see Dwyer pull off the upset finish. The BC native will now get another opportunity to entertain fans under the UFC banner.
Mike De La Torre secured his first UFC victory in vicious fashion, as he applied his dirty boxing, then landed the final blows for the TKO win. It was his twelfth career stoppage and sets the MMA Lab talent on the right path in the featherweight division. Although he was given stiff challenges in his first two UFC outings, he appears to be working diligently to improve his game.
Antonio Silva has never been the same since he was forced to stop using testosterone replacement therapy. While that is not meant to be an excuse for his string of losses, it is hard to deny the remarkable drop in ability since the ban. After suffering two consecutive knockout losses in a row, there should be no reason for ‘Bigfoot’ to continue fighting.
Edson Barboza became the sixth Brazilian fighter to lose on home soil. Up against surging lightweight Michael Johnson, Barboza was unable to get into any sort of rhythm with his striking, and continuously found himself being cornered and blasted. It was a painfully poor showing from one of the division’s better strikers, and places him in a difficult position in an overcrowded portion of the roster.
Cezar Ferreira continues to prove that he is one of the most overrated competitors on the UFC roster. While he made his UFC debut following much hype from former champion Vitor Belfort, Mutante has done little to warrant the recognition. On Sunday, he lost his second UFC fight via KO when he was planted face-first by Sam Alvey on the main card. He drops to 4-2 in the UFC, and 1-2 since last March.
Rustam Khabilov failed to impose his overwhelming advantages, mainly his grappling acumen and fluid transitions from striking to takedowns, in his feature fight against Adriano Martins, and that cost him dearly. The Dagestan native lost a split decision after being controlled for two of the three rounds in the contest. He looked slow and failed to showcase the seamless transitions between his striking and wrestling. Now, after starting his UFC career on an impressive tear in the lightweight division, Khabilov is now on a two-fight losing streak.
Yuri Alcantara implemented a terrible gameplan on Sunday night, where he attempted to outwrestle Saenz in the early stage of the fight, gassed out badly in the 94% humidity in the stadium, and lost a clear decision in the end. It was a disappointing performance overall given that Alcantara had obvious size and striking advantages, yet did nothing to impose them during the contest.
Jessica Andrade had her three-fight win streak snapped on Sunday night in surprising fashion when she was forced to tap out after finding herself trapped in a tight triangle choke. It was one of the bigger upsets of the evening – Andrade’s first via submission – and derails her climb up the bantamweight ranks.
William Macario was the recipient a picture-perfect KO, as he was hit with a superman punch from Matt Dwyer that caused him to stagger momentarily before collapsing face-first on the canvas. Given that few fans, and even fewer pundits expected the Brazilian to lose, this was undoubtedly one of the bigger disappointments of the evening. Macario is now 1-3 under the UFC banner with two consecutive knockout losses in his most recent outings.
Cody Gibson may not have been dominated in his prelim match-up against de Andrade, but he showed enough technical flaws and low fight IQ to make the judges’ decision a believable one. Gibson, who is infamous for getting into a bar altercation and suggesting that the drunk instigator should “google me, bitch,” is now 1-3 in his UFC run. He has been disappointing since joining the UFC, and we may never get to see him rise to his true potential in the octagon.
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