Saturday night, the UFC headed to Goiania, Brazil for UFC Fight Night 32. Despite a lack of relevance overall, the event came through with a ton of action. Only two of the eleven fights went to decision, and only the Middleweight co-main event was a lackluster fight. Let's take a look at who made out big and who lost in the aftermath.
Vitor Belfort - There's no denying the importance of Belfort's victory last night. He was facing an opponent who has literally faced the best that MMA had to offer over the last decade and more. On top of that, he had a lot riding on the fight with a promised Middleweight title shot. He rose to the occasion and stopped Henderson with strikes in just over one minute.
Brandon Thatch - Even after a successful UFC debut, it's hard for most fighters to keep that momentum going as they rise up the ladder. Thatch was able to do just that in a dominant performance over Paulo Thiago. He didn't give an inch in their Welterweight fight, and dropped Thiago with a devastating knee to the body. Some will disregard his victory by denigrating Thiago's talent, but it was a big step up in competition and a fantastic performance.
Jeremy Stephens - Following a 3-fight losing streak at Lightweight and legal troubles, Stephens was on the chopping block when he entered the Featherweight division earlier this year. After last night, he's now on a 2-fight win streak coming off an impressive knockout win. Rony Jason isn't the top of the division, but it's a legit win that gives Stephens a foothold at 145.
Sam Sicilia - After his TUF 15 Finale win, Sicilia had lost his next two fights in the UFC. There was a good chance he was leaving with a pink slip had he lost Saturday night. Instead, he smashed his opponent in short order and exciting fashion.
Thiago Tavares - Even though the broadcast team wouldn't mention the reason for his inactivity, many fans knew it was because of a failed drug test. Coming off a dominant loss earlier this year as well as that failed test, it would have been easy for the UFC to cut him with another loss. Thiago didn't succumb to the pressure, however, securing a first round submission. Justin Salas may not be the most impressive opponent, but it gave Tavares the win he needed to retain his spot on the roster.
Dan Henderson - Watching Hendo fall beneath the strikes of Belfort will be a hard pill for most MMA fans to swallow. Prior to his lackluster performances against Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans, Henderson had been on a career renaissance with huge wins over Fedor Emelianenko and Mauricio Rua. But, this loss to Belfort was his third consecutive loss, one of the most definitive of his career and the last fight of his current contract with the UFC. While Hendo said that he's looking forward to 2 more years before retirement, this loss will severely hinder his leverage in contract negotiations.
Paulo Thiago - It seems so long ago that Thiago was knocking off guys like Josh Koscheck and Mike Swick. In MMA time, it was almost an era ago. Since beating Swick in 2010, he's gone a disappointing 2-5 and clearly can't compete against the UFC Welterweight division. In spite of being a fan favorite, he'll probably get cut following this loss.
Rony Jason - Jason was probably one of the biggest stars to come out of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Prior to Fight Night 32, he'd gone 3-0 in the UFC. This time he gave up a devastating loss in front of a home town crowd.
Jose Maria Tome - The UFC's 125 lb. division is one of the very weakest in the promotion. But consecutive losses outside the very top of the division can't be excused, and it's likely Tome's loss to Ortiz mean's he's out of the UFC.
Kevin MacDonald - Following the opening bout, I kept looking for more big mistakes from the referee, but there was nothing else as egregious. Regardless, he completely mishandled the Flyweight fight between Tome and Ortiz. he allowed Ortiz to go completely unpenalized after two "accidental" low blows. Then, when Ortiz was firing shots to the back of the head in the final frame, MacDonald didn't issue even a verbal warning for the misplaced strikes. Instead, he stopped the bout and awarded the fighter carrying multiple illegal shots the victory. Probably one of the worst singular pieces of refereeing since Rosenthal allowed Chris Weidman to bludgeon Mark Munoz half to death.