If Marlon Moraes hadn’t truly stepped into the elites at bantamweight, he sure has now. Moraes avenged his only UFC loss by hurting and submitting Raphael Assuncao in the first round of their headlining bout at UFC Fortaleza. After a rather average start by each man, Moraes connected with a stiff right hook that staggered Assuncao. The next one put him down and cut him. That was the beginning of the end.
Moraes jumped into Assuncao’s guard, methodically worked him over, then secured a guillotine. He rolled into mount with the choke sunk in, and Assuncao tapped for the first time in almost a decade.
Moraes said he was sick all week after picking up a bug there, but he kept it together and picked up the biggest win of his career. If it wasn’t for the whole weird Henry Cejudo/T.J. Dillashaw thing, it would be plainly obvious that he deserves a title shot. But i guess we’ll just have to see how it all plays out.
- Many people wrote Jose Aldo off when he lost to Max Holloway twice. They said a win over Jeremy Stephens didn’t prove much. Now what are they going to say? Aldo just went out and finished another top-five featherweight in Renato Moicano. After a slow start from both men in th first, Aldo cracked Moicano with a big punch, then chased him around the cage with shots until he got another finish. He then jumped into the crowd and bathed in the adulation of his fans, which was just great to see.
- I absolutely LOVE the pacing of these ESPN+ shows so far. There’s not a lot of goofing around. They just get on with it. It’s great!
- Demian Maia is ageless. He just jumped on Lyman Good and squeezed until he got the W. Can we just never have him face a wrestler ever again and watch him choke people out for another 10 years?
- Things could have gone very badly for Charles Oliveira right away. He actually got poked in both eyes at the same time very early by David Teymur, who was deducted a point. Oliveira took a while to recover, and admitted after the fight that he couldn’t really see out of his right eye after the first round. Incredibly, he was actually poked in the eye twice more during the first stanza, but the ref mostly just told him to continue.
- Despite that, he persevered. He engaged in a striking battle with the slick Teymur, and survived getting badly dropped to arguably eke out the stanza. Early in the second, he hit an absolutely beautiful step-in up elbow (think Anderson Silva on Tony Fryklund), and tried to finish a prone Teymur standing. He couldn’t. So he jump ripped him to the mat in an anaconda choke and finished it that way.
- Johnny Walker sure is fun. Despite the obvious pun there, the fighter danced his way to the cage, even grinding away as the outside ref was checking his equipment. And then the fighter was over in no time. Hook kick and a spinning backfist, and opponent Justin Ledet was flatter on the mat than he thinks the earth is. Walker actually got lucky then, because he missed with a totally illegal kick before finishing the fight with his hands in just 15 seconds. His post-fight interview was just as entertaining.
- The UFC definitely has a star on their hands if they manage Walker correctly. Crown Royal is still better though.
- The main card started with a tepid fight between Sarah Frota and Livia Renata Souza. Fronta looked two weight classes bigger than Souza, and was hurting her with punches. Souza just kept trying the same takedown over and over. It was successful early, but not late. She escaped with a split decision victory in a fight that was rather forgettable overall.
- Markus Perez is a flashy fighter, probably the second flashiest on this card. He ate some big shots from Anthony Hernandez, but mostly just walked through them to land an array of innovative offense.
- Mara Romero Borella and Taila Santos spent two boring rounds against the cage, and Santos lit up her opponent on the feet in the third. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get the W.
- Thiago Alves and Max Griffin put on a hell of a fight. They both brought it and left everything in the cage. But Alves was given a hometown decision. Griffin clearly won two rounds there, and the crap decision takes some of the luster out of what was probably the fight of the night.
- I really thought Junior Albini would be a player at heavyweight. I was wrong. He did nothing against a kickboxer on the ground, then got destroyed early in the second round by the debuting Jair Rozenstruick.
- Geraldo de Freitas bullied Felipe Colares around the cage, landing big strikes and scoring a ton of takedowns. It was a great debut, but all I’ll remember about it is Michael Bisping constantly repeating himself about not agreeing with De Freitas’ takedown-heavy gameplan.
- Said Nurmagomedov was spinning like Alexander Shlemenko out there, and it worked. He connected with a devastating spinning back kick o the body of Ricardo Ramos, and ended it shortly thereafter.
- In the opener, Rogerio Bontorin made a successful UFC debut in an entertaining fight with Magomed Bibulatov. He showed some fire and resilience, and has some good hands. IF flyweight sticks around, he could be a player there.
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