RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JANUARY 14: Yuri Alcantara celebrates after defeating Michihiro Omigawa in a featherweight 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)
For two rounds, Yuri Alcantara put a beating on Michihiro Omigawa. Those straight armbars from guard were not working and Omigawa was getting tagged every time he tried to employ his peek-a-boo boxing style. Then the third round came about and Omigawa had the opportunity to finish a very tired Alcantara, but a series of poor decision doomed that comeback.
This was an entertaining fight, but being one of the three decisions all night may doom it to obscurity.
What was the high spot of this fight?
The end of the first round had the Rio crowd yelling as Alcantara nearly finished Omigawa with a very deep armbar. Omigawa was saved by the bell as the round ended and replay showed that he did not tap. In the third round, a visibly gassed Alcantara was nearly finished, but Michihiro chose to trip Yuri and work from the guard. The trip and guardwork probably cost Omigawa the chance to win the fight, but it let Alcantara survive and jump in delight as the decision was announced.
Where do these fighters go from here?
Omigawa might get cut. His actual record says he has gone 1-3 in his last four fights, but that Elkins decision was indefensible judging. Still, going 2-2 with the wins being over Elkins and Jason Young does not bode well for the 36 year old's future in the division. A match with a young prospect or another veteran on the verge of being cut is likely. At least, Mendes got the title shot, which could bode well for Alcantara's future.
Alcantara is in a strange spot. Those above him in the divisional hierarchy are almost all occupied or waiting for the line of contention to shake out. He could vault up there and try to bull his way to the front of the line, but that third round near-loss shows that to be a very risky move. At 31, Yuri has to build to a title shot soon, but going too fast too soon could mean he never sniffs the title shot again. Sitting and waiting for someone to free themselves up seems like the best course for Alcantara.
Watch the fight now, later or never?
Later. In a normal card, I would say "Now", but there were seven finishes on this UFC 142 card and although there was surprising drama in this fight, it went to a decision. Cue it up later for a fine exhibition of boxing and strong ground and pound in the face of a threatening guard.
More Bloody Elbow coverage of UFC 142 in the full entry