The UFC’s final card of 2014 pretty much went to plan, much like the organization’s earliest efforts in reopening the Brazilian market. The event from Barueri featured a six-fight main card, and the hometown fighters were large favorites in three of those. All three came through with stoppage victories — two inside the first round — and the fights didn’t offer too much in terms of suspense. Overall, the card featured 11 bouts with a Brazilian taking on a visiting fighter, and the local won in eight of those instances. While that isn’t quite as dominant as the results from back in 2011 and 2012, it still illustrates a significant hometown advantage for the Brazilians. In all honesty, it didn’t matter where the main event took place, CB Dollaway never had a shot against Lyoto Machida. The wrestler came out early trying to press forward without exposing himself to Machida’s power strikes. After those efforts proved futile, it became a matter of time as Dollaway was a sitting target in front of the former light heavyweight champion. Machida landed a massive body kick just before the one-minute mark of the bout that echoed throughout the arena and seemed to injure Dollaway’s ribs. It was the perfect performance for the karate stylist, and leaves him firmly in contention at middleweight.
It seems like the match that everyone wants for Machida is with former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold, and it’s hard to argue the appeal of that pairing no matter how you look at the fight. Both are excellent fighters in every area, proven over five rounds, and deserving of the spotlight. It would be a shame to see these two battle over just three rounds, so this could main event a 2015 FOX broadcast, with definite title implications on the line. In the co-main event another former champion picked up a win, as Renan Barao dispatched Mitch Gagnon in the third round with the patented Nova Uniao arm-triangle. Barao did not look particularly good through the first two rounds, as Gagnon was outlanding him through the first ten minutes of the bout. In the third round, Gagnon’s spotty cardio let him down, and he began to make tactical errors. He must have thought he was in a women’s MMA bout at one point, as he feebly went for a head-and-arm throw, which Barao blocked and eventually used to transition into the arm-triangle.
The stoppage was nice, and Barao called out TJ Dillashaw after the bout, but he didn’t show much during the fight that leads me to believe he’ll have more success against Dillashaw a second time around. Barao was even more hittable against the slower, less technical, and less powerful Gagnon, and either Dillashaw or Dominick Cruz seem like they’d be favored against him. Perhaps Barao should take on fellow Brazilian Raphael Assuncao with a title shot against the winner of Dillashaw and Cruz on the line. TUF Brazil 3 champion Antonio Carlos Junior got a taste of American wrestling in his first bout since the show. Pat Cummins was able to take him down repeatedly, and showed no fear of the submission threat presented by ‘Shoeface’. There was a small ray of hope for the Brazilian at the end of the third round, as he took the back of a tired Cummins, but simply ran out of time to find a submission. Cummins is still one-dimensional, but when that dimension is wrestling as good as his is, you can get away with it. Outside of the top 10 at light heavyweight, I’m not sure there’s a wrestler who can hang with Cummins, and that will give him the leeway he needs to develop the rest of his game. After the signing of Quinton Jackson was announced, many called for him to be matched up with Ovince St. Preux, but I think Cummins would be a much better test for St. Preux to see if he’s really improved since the Ryan Bader bout. Lightweight Rashid Magomedov made a statement in his bout against previously undefeated Elias Silverio, stopping the Brazilian with just three seconds left in the third round — the latest stoppage ever in a three-round fight. Magomedov hurt Silverio with a body kick very early on in the bout, and that seemed to take all the steam out of ‘Xuxu’. Rather than employing his grappling against a talented striker, Silverio settled into a striking match where he was simply outgunned. Magomedov continued with the body work throughout the fight, and Silverio slowed noticeably by the third round. When it looked like the bout was destined for a decision, the Dagestani turned up the heat and earned himself the stoppage. The only hole we’ve seen in Magomedov’s game is his grappling, so it makes sense to see that tested next. Beneil Dariush is a solid wrestler and even better as a submission grappler, so that test seems appropriate. Erick Silva was coming off a loss, which means the UFC was going to match him up favorably in his home country the next time out. They did just that against Mike Rhodes, and Silva made quick work of him, earning a submission via arm-triangle in just 75 seconds. Silva is now 5-1 in his UFC bouts that end inside the first round (he should be 6-0, but Mario Yamasaki happened), and 0-3 in his bouts that go past the first. It’s pretty clear he’s talented, but just doesn’t have the makeup of a top fighter. If Mike Pierce is close to returning, I’d like to see him test Silva next, as he has normally proven an extremely durable fighter. The opening bout on the main card saw a strange finish. Daniel Sarafian picked up the win over Antonio dos Santos Jr., but it came because dos Santos Jr. dislocated his finger during an exchange in the second round, and attempted to call a time-out to fix it. As soon as he stopped fighting, the ref called the bout, awarding Sarafian a TKO victory. It was a shame, as both men were throwing (and landing) extremely heavy shots over the first six minutes of the bout, and it was hard to gauge who was ahead at the time the bout was stopped. There are a lot of middleweights in the same tier as Sarafian, so this is really just picking names out of a hat, but I’d like to see the UFC go in one of two directions with him. If they’re still intent on building Sarafian, have him face James Te Huna, as that would be fun and he could potentially pick up a win over a decent name. If they realize that Sarafian won’t end up a top fighter at any point, have him face an up-and-comer like Krzysztof Jotko. Here’s a quick rundown of the undercard results:
- Marcos Rogerio de Lima picked up his second UFC win with a first round TKO over Igor Pokrajac. The most notable thing from this bout was the poor (early) stoppage.
- Renato Carneiro looked every bit the prospect he was billed as, simply being better than Tom Niinimaki everywhere and earning a second-round rear-naked choke.
- In a battle of grinders that most expected to be quite boring, Hacran Dias scored an unanimous decision over Darren Elkins, in a bout that ended up better than many anticipated.
- Leandro Issa took the Yuta Sasaki hype-train completely off the rails, submitting the Japanese prospect in the second round with a neck crank.
- After Tim Means earned every round on most onlookers scorecards, he barely escaped with a split decision victory in Brazil over Marcio Alexandre Jr.
- Vitor Miranda was dominated for much of his bout against Jake Collier, but landed a big head kick and followed up with punches in the waning seconds of the first round to score a dramatic victory in the opening bout of the night.
The next UFC card isn’t until the new year, as UFC 182 takes place on January 3rd, and features the highly anticipated bout between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. The full odds for the card have already been released, and MMAOddsBreaker.com will have full coverage of the event over the next two weeks. Also keep an eye on the site for a variety of year-end content.