Saturday was a first for the UFC, as they held two events in two locations on the same day. Germany and Brazil played host to a marathon of 22 fights that began at 12:30pm EST and didn’t end until the wee hours on Sunday morning. Although it was a trial for fans to watch every minute of every fight in succession (I’ll readily admit that I have not seen some of the prelim bouts from each card), there were some impressive performances and entertaining bouts among the massive sample. Since the day began in Germany, we’ll start there as well. The main event of the Berlin card was a middleweight showdown between Gegard Mousasi and Mark Munoz which saw a dominant outing for the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, forcing Munoz to tap to a rear-naked choke in the first round. The Armenian was never troubled by Munoz’s wrestling, as he either kept his foe on the end of his punches or dominated the grappling sequences when Munoz did manage to close the distance. This is the type of performance that onlookers have expected from Mousasi at 185lbs ever since winning the DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix all the way back in 2008.
The influx of Strikeforce fighters has been a boon to the UFC’s middleweight division, as veterans of the promotion now comprise four of the top eight 185ers on the planet. Because Mousasi fought at light heavyweight in Strikeforce, matchups with any of the other top middleweights from that promotion (‘Jacare’ Souza, Luke Rockhold, or Tim Kennedy) would be suitable, and would put the winner in title contention. Of those three, either Rockhold or ‘Jacare’ would make the best fight in my opinion, but it’s hard to argue that Tim Kennedy doesn’t deserve a top opponent as well after beating Michael Bisping. The co-main event saw another impressive performance, as C.B. Dollaway earned the biggest win of his career by outgrappling Francis Carmont to take a decision. Dollaway closed as a +155 underdog (bet $100 to win $155) at Several Bookmakers, which marked the fifth consecutive time he has been an underdog. Dollaway deserved to win all of those bouts, but has gone 4-1 across that stretch, making him one of the most profitable fighters to bet on over the past two years. Dollaway deserves another highly ranked opponent — not to mention a raise — and many people called for a bout with Yoel Romero immediately following the victory, which I think is apt, even though Romero is ranked lower than Carmont was. Dollaway is still yet to be outwrestled in his MMA career, but with the ease that Romero dominated Brad Tavares, he may be the one to do it. The unfortunate part of the bout is that both fighters are ranked lower than they should be based on what they have shown in the cage, so they may not get the desired boost towards title contention. Over in Brazil the main event was equally, if not more, one-sided. Stipe Miocic landed the only strikes of his 35-second bout with Fabio Maldonado, as he rocked the Brazilian slugger twice early, and finished with a barrage of hammerfists as Maldonado turtled and was saved by Mario Yamasaki. Miocic has been criticized of late for a perceived lack of finishing power, but in stopping someone with the reputation of Maldonado — light heavyweight or not — some of those questions should be put to rest.
Miocic did exactly what was expected of him as a -650 favorite (bet $650 to win $100) by dispatching the smaller fighter with ease. He also took a risk that didn’t present him any sort of real return as a favor to the UFC, so he should get the fight he wants next: the originally scheduled bout with Junior dos Santos. The Brazilian event also served as the finals of TUF Brazil 3, which was contested at heavyweight and middleweight (which is to say the tournament participants were light heavyweights and welterweights). Neither final proved to be particularly competitive, and both favorites came out victorious and moved the record of favorites in international TUF finales to a dominant 8-2. At heavyweight, Antonio Carlos Jr. picked up a unanimous decision over Vitor Miranda. Carlos Jr. was able to push Miranda back in the striking, and use it to effectively set up his takedowns. Once on the ground Miranda showed good defensive awareness, but was only able to utilize it to keep himself from being submitted, as ‘Cara de Sabato’ repeatedly passed guard and gained dominant positions. The middleweight final was even more lopsided, as the consensus top prospect on the show, Warlley Alves, ragdolled Marcio Alexandre Jr. en route to a third round technical submission by way of guillotine. Alexandre Jr. was never able to get his karate-based striking on track as Alves’ aggression saw the fighters spend very little time at range. Once inside, Alves was the dominant fighter technically and physically, wearing his opponent down over the first ten minutes. Alves opened the third round with a massive right hand which stunned Alexandre Jr. and forced him to shoot for a takedown. Alves locked on the guillotine, and seconds later Mario Yamasaki was calling a halt to the bout as Alexandre Jr. was completely unconscious.
Other ranked fighters who competed on Saturday were #8 welterweight Demian Maia — who picked up a decision over the debuting Alexander Yakovlev — and #7 bantamweight Iuri Alcantara — who made short work of Vaughan Lee, knocking the Brit out in 25 seconds for the second-fastest stoppage of the day. Next up for the UFC is trip to Albuquerque for UFC Fight Night 42 which features a plethora of Jackson-Winklejohn fighters, and is main evented by former lightweight champion Benson Henderson taking on Rustam Khabilov. As always, stay tuned to MMAOddsBreaker.com for odds, picks, and analysis for every UFC event.