One of the talking points that emerged in the aftermath of the UFC 276 main event fight between middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and Jared Cannonier was that fans — and fighters — expect to be entertained during UFC events. Many fans (and again, also professional fighters), weren’t satisfied that Adesanya employed a “safe” — or was it boring (?) style on his way to a victory against Cannonier. With that in mind, Caio Borralho is likely to hear some feedback following his comments after his win over Armen Petrosyan in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 58.
Borralho took the win over Petrosyan via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28). During the 15 minute contest, Borralho landed 12 of 25 significant strikes, went four-for-five in takedowns and had 10:09 of control time. Despite the impressive amount of control time, Borralho left the octagon without attempting a single submission.
The man who sports a “Free Spirit” tattoo across his throat, was upbeat about his effort at the post-fight press conference, “I feel blessed, I’m happy with my performance, I did what I needed to do,” said Borralho. “I’m happy with my performance. I’m a fighting nerd, I will calculate everything and I will do what I need to do to win the fight. I’m not going to just brawl and be a dumb fighter. No, I’m a fighting nerd and it’s bully payback time.”
The win moved Borralho’s overall record to 12-1. As he also pointed out, “This is my fourth fight in 10 months, my fourth fight at a high level, and my fourth fight [with a] domination win.”
It’s also his second fight in the UFC that might have left fans and matchmakers wanting more from the Brazilian, who also sports a “Fight or Die” tattoo on his left arm. In his UFC debut, Borralho’s landed 31 significant strikes and rang up 10:11 of control time in a win over Gadzhi Omargadzhiev. Like in his victory on Saturday, Borralho did not register a submission attempt during that unanimous decision win (which came via a technical decision).
I’m not one to criticize a fighter who fights in a calculated and safe manner. In a sport that has no financial safety net, prolonging one’s career while preserving one’s health is not to be taken lightly. However, as we heard post-UFC 276, that’s not in the forefront of the minds of every fight fan and I doubt it’s something UFC matchmakers are going to reward Borralho for.
Here, let me use Belal Muhammad as a reference. Muhammad is unbeaten in his past eight fights. His run has earned him the No. 5 spot in the official UFC rankings, but it has not earned him consideration for a title fight. In fact, Muhammad, who landed 60 significant strikes in his most recent fight, a five-round affair opposite Vicente Luque, recently accepted a bout against the No. 9 ranked Sean Brady. Muhammad is 16 fights into his UFC career.
The UFC is not a meritocracy. Wins and losses are not the only things the matchmakers consider when they advance a fighter. With that, Borralho needs to weigh the pros and cons of fighting “safe.” Only he can decide if, at 29, he has the time and patience to invest in ringing up calculated victories while avoiding risk and damage.
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