RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JANUARY 14: Gabriel Gonzaga celebrates after defeating Ednaldo Oliveira in a heavyweight bout during UFC 142 at HSBC Arena on January 14, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
A hyper-cautious start by Gabriel Gonzaga led to a joyously seized opportunity to rush in behind a left for the takedown, big slam and eventual choke of Ednaldo Oliveira inside four minutes. Gonzaga immediately started mean-mugging and seemed very glad to be back in the octagon. The Gonzaga in front of us last night looked like a smarter, more willing fight than the one who dropped the decision to Brendan Schaub back at UFC 121.
What was the high spot of this fight?
The slam of Oliveira onto the mat looked fantastic. Gonzaga seems to have a knack for highlight reel moments and his smothering control from the back made Squidward look vastly out-sized and out-skilled.
Where do these fighters go from here?
Gonzaga has to sit and wait for a heavyweight to fight. His run to the UFC 74 title shot against Randy Couture was built atop a four fight winning streak. A similar slow build may not be possible in the current division, but jumping up to the level of Daniel Cormier or Josh Barnett is probably too far. Mike Russow or Cheick Kongo might be better and more beatable match-ups to wait for.
Oliveira should drop down to 205, while adding as much muscle as possible. As a light heavyweight, he would have more of an even footing in terms of strength and skill sets. He could welcome another prospect to the division or provide a competitive bout for a veteran like Kyle Kingsbury.
Watch the fight now, later or never?
Now. If you can handle a slow start, Gonzaga makes your patience worthwhile with the slam and subsequent rear naked choke.
More Bloody Elbow coverage of UFC 142 in the full entry