It was a long wait for MMA fans, but Saturday night saw the return of arguably MMA’s most consistently entertaining fighter. The main event of the Goiania event saw Carlos Condit step back in the Octagon for the first time since February 2014 to take on Thiago Alves. The opening round was extremely competitive, with Alves landing several hard leg kicks and Condit using his typically diverse striking. The second round was when Condit really got back into the swing of things. A beautifully timed left elbow smashed Alves’ nose, and from that point on the Brazilian couldn’t find a respite. There were a couple moments in the round where Condit looked like he was about to finish Alves with strikes or a submission, but somehow the former title challenger managed to survive despite his blood — and nose — being smeared everywhere, the true sign of a Carlos Condit bout. ‘Pitbull’ wasn’t so lucky when he returned to his corned after the second round however. A surprisingly competent doctor determined that sending a man out to a fistfight who has a piece of his nose in his forehead probably wasn’t a good idea. While all of the fans watching would have loved to see what Condit was going to do next, the right call was made in stopping the bout.
With the victory, Condit has firmly re-entrenched himself in title contention. Regardless of who wins July’s welterweight title bout between Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t want Condit to take on the winner. If the UFC decides to keep Condit busy in the meantime, I wouldn’t be opposed to a five-round rematch with Tyron Woodley, as the ending to the first bout didn’t really indicate who the better fighter was. Perhaps one man who can rival Condit’s status as the most entertaining fighter in MMA is Charles Oliveira. Paired with Nik Lentz in a rematch of their 2011 bout, Oliveira used a dominant first round and his slick submission skills late to pull off a victory in the most competitive bout of the night. Oliveira hurt Lentz badly with a knee to the body in the first round, and nearly finished the bout. In the second, Lentz imposed his grappling game on ‘Do Bronx’, not allowing the Brazilian to get any offense going. The third was what we’ve come to expect from Oliveira. After landing some hard strikes, he instantly transitioned to a guillotine choke and jumped guard. Lentz, to his credit, held out until his face turned blue, but eventually had to tap.
Everyone wants to jump to make a bout between Oliveira and Max Holloway, and while that would be tremendous, I enjoy watching young fighters take separate paths to the title. With that in mind, if Dennis Bermudez can defeat Jeremy Stephens in July, I’d like to see him face Oliveira. Failing that, I suppose I could deal with the consolation prize of Oliveira/Holloway. Beyond those two fights, the main card wasn’t anything particularly great. Alex Oliveira picked up his first UFC win by tapping KJ Noons with a rear-naked choke in the first round. Oliveira simply decided to take Noons away from his primary weapon, and the normally solid submission defense displayed by the Hawaiian was nowhere to be seen on this night. Oliveira’s next move depends on whether he stays at 170 or drops back to 155. I assume he returns to 155, and I’d like to see him against a bit of a mirror image of himself in Valmir Lazaro. For some reason, Francimar Barroso and Ryan Jimmo were on the main card of this event, and that went about as well as you would suspect. As bad as this fight was — the most memorable part of it by far was Jimmo taking a low blow that had Chris Tuchscherer dry heaving for no reason up in Minnesota — it may not have been the worst fight of the night (that “honor” would probably go to Juliana Lima laying on Ericka Almeida for 15 minutes without so much as an attempt at a guard pass). Given his recent comments, Jimmo will likely be cut, while I’m not sure anyone has interest in watching Barroso fight again any time soon. At lightweight, Francisco Trinaldo may have gotten the benefit of the doubt on the judges’ cards in his victory over Norman Parke, but it was far from a clear win for Parke. The Northern Irishman scored four takedowns in the bout, and obviously took the third round, but he was outlanded nearly 3-to-1 in the first two rounds, while only having some short spells of control in the opening round. It came down to what the judges preferred, and in most of those cases they’ll prefer whatever the hometown guy does. It’s also hard to accuse the judges of being biased when they gave a close split decision to Nicolas Dalby over Elizeu Zaleski earlier in the night. We know Trinaldo isn’t making a title run any time soon, so he should be put in fun fights. Chad Laprise fits that category. Kicking off the main card, Darren Till made quite the impression in his UFC debut, knocking Wendell Oliveira clean out with some brutal ground-and-pound elbows. The newcomer took a couple minutes to get settled, but once he was comfortable in the Octagon he used he strong kicking game and left straight to land on Oliveira in every exchange. Till should be brought along slowly, so I could see a fight between him and someone like Pawel Pawlak on a European card. On the undercard, the two biggest takeaways were Jussier Formiga using his vastly improved striking to take a unanimous decision over Wilson Reis, and Mirsad Bektic absolutely running through Lucas Martins. Both fighters were quite impressive, and it’s amazing neither of these bouts made the main card. Formiga is right alongside John Dodson and Joseph Benavidez for a title shot, while Bektic has proven once again that he’s one of the best prospects in MMA and deserves someone in — or near — the top 15 next, perhaps Hacran Dias or Darren Elkins. The next UFC event will be UFC Fight Night 68 in New Orleans. The betting odds for the card were released on Saturday, and there’s already been some sizable movement on a few fights. MMAOddsBreaker.com will have full analysis of the event throughout the week, so keep checking back in.