Last night, UFC Fight Night Maia vs. LaFlare took place at the Ginásio do Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, headlined by an interesting matchup between former title contender and jiu-jitsu phenom Demian Maia and unbeaten Blackzillian’s prospect Ryan LaFlare. While on paper the preliminary card didn’t feature many well established fighters, the undercard did provide an abundance of exciting fights.
Fredy Serrano vs. Bentley Syler
The night’s opening bout pitted two inexperienced flyweight Octagon debutants against each other, in a fight to see who truly belonged in the UFC.
Fredy Serrano, a former Olympic freestyle wrestler, had a clear grappling advantage on paper coming into the bout with Syler, a BJJ blue belt under Ricardo Liborio. But it was on the feet where he had his success in the first, landing a number of heavy strikes on the clearly inexperienced Syler before landing a powerful takedown to end the first round.
It was more of the same for Serano in the 2nd as he hit cruise control and stayed content to outstrike the overly aggressive Bentley Syler. Syler began to fight a little more recklessly in the 2nd round, which would be a clear precursor for the recklessness that would cause his undoing in the final round.
In round three, Serrano really began to put it all together and the Colombian began to throw devastating uppercuts. The first would cut Syler, and the second sent him to sleep.
Result: Fredy Serrano def. Bentley Syler via knockout (punch) – Round 3, 1:34
Jorge Oliveira vs. Christos Giagos
Next up was a battle between hometown fighter Jorge de Oliveira and American standout Christos Giagos.
When Giagos was pitted against Gilbert Burns in his Octagon debut last year, he was dispatched quite quickly by the grappling sensation. However, last night in Giagos’ second UFC fight, the American was able to redeem himself and this time he was able to get the quick submission victory.
From the opening bell it was all Giagos – he easily took de Oliveira to the ground and worked immediately toward the finish, locking in a tight rear naked choke which forced de Oliveria to tap. Unfortunately for de Oliveira, referee Eduardo Herdy, somehow didn’t see the initial tap and put de Oliveira in some serious danger before finally spotting the finish.
Result: Christos Giagos def. Jorge de Oliveira via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:12
Cain Carrizosa vs. Leonardo Mafra
A clash between Cain Carrizosa and Leonardo Mafra in the lightweight division kicked off the action on Fox Sports 2.
Carrizosa started his fight with Mafra like a bat out of hell, landing a right that seriously stunned Mafra. For a second it looked like Mafra was on the verge of getting finished as Carrizosa swarmed, but credit to Mafra he recovered rapidly and from that point on, began to systematically pick his opponent apart. For the remaining few minutes of the first round Mafra began to find his range on the feet, landing his jab and left hook at will, and clearly winning the round.
In the second Carrizosa seemed to realize that he was in trouble on the feet and tried to initiate the takedown, but unluckily for him, Mafra was more than prepared for his wrestling game and kept the fight on the feet. He landed more effective strikes before deciding to take Carrizosa down himself. Eventually he returned back to his feet and landed at will for the remainder of the round.
Round 3 was Mafra’s time to showcase his grappling skills. The Brazilian put on an absolute grappling clinic, taking his opponent down multiple times and controlling him on the canvas, clearly winning the round and in turn the fight.
Result: Leonardo Mafra def. Cain Carrizosa via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Leandro Silva vs. Drew Dober
Next up was a matchup between Leandro Silva and Drew Dober and even though this fight was decent, it will ultimately remembered for a bizarre refereeing blunder.
Round 1 of this fight was a back-and-forth war on the feet with both fighters landing well. Dober landed some decent low kicks and looked good for the first half of the round, but as the round went on Silva began to find his footing, landing numerous clean hard strikes and drawing blood from Dober before the end of the round.
It’s was more of the same on the feet for the opening minute of the 2nd round, before Silva decided to take the fight to the canvas. After a scramble, Silva managed to catch Dober in a guillotine choke. While Silva held Dober in position with the guillotine, Dober defended admirably before, inexplicably, referee Eduardo Herdy stopped the fight, declaring that he saw Dober tap. He was wrong. Herdy’s mistake cost Dober the fight, but at least the UFC decided to award Dober his win money anyway. Eduardo Herdy had two awful refereeing performances last night and it seems unlikely that we will see him refereeing at another UFC in the near future.
Result: Leandro Silva def. Drew Dober via technical submission (guillotine choke) – Round 2, 2:45
Katsunori Kikuno vs. Kevin Souza
In Kevin Souza and Katsunori Kikuno we were treated to a fight between two of the more heavy-handed featherweights and this fight didn’t disappoint.
Souza has been making a name for himself as of late with highlight reel finishes and when he stepped into the Octagon with Kikuno, it took the Brazilian only 91 seconds to provide us with another one. After some initial exchanges on the feet, Souza landed a text book right hand to the chin which rendered Kikuno completely unconscious.
Result: Kevin Souza def. Katsunori Kikuno via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 1:31
Akbarh Arreola vs. Francisco Trinaldo
Francisco Trinaldo vs. Akbarh Arreola was a fight determined purely by Trinaldo’s superior grappling game.
In the first round Trinaldo scored the big takedown early and was content to stay on top of Arreola, landing ground and pound at will as Arreola tried for submissions from his guard. Trinaldo looked in control throughout the round and in top position until the bell.
It was more of the same in the second with Trinaldo catching a kick and dumping Arreola to the ground early and grounded away at his opponent, until he was briefly stood up due to inactivity. The stand up did not phase Trinaldo however as he easily took Arreola to the ground once more.
Round 3 was more of a varied affair with Trinaldo deciding to keep the fight on the feet for a period and displaying his superior striking. But as he visibly began to show signs of fatigue, he landed yet another takedown and remained in top position until the end of the fight.
Result: Francisco Trinaldo def. Akbarh Arreola via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
What was the high point of the prelims?
Two performances really stood out for me in the prelims. Firstly, Fredy Serrano looked very good and scored a brutal knockout, but it needs to be remembered his adversary was hardly “UFC calibre”. My other high point was Kevin Souza’s devastating knockout of Kikuno. Souza has looked good in his 3-0 UFC stint so far and his knockout last night moved him to a 9-fight unbeaten streak with 8 knockouts. Souza is most certainly someone to look out for in the future.
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