At least in my mind this fight will always be somewhat marred for the memory that it was originally supposed to be John Makdessi and not Rafaello Oliveira facing off against lightweight striking sensation Edson Barboza at UFC 162. Oliveira is a good fighter, whose long been plagued by injury; he's never managed to find consistent success in the UFC and this fight was tailor made to give him fits.
From the opening bell it was clear that speed and athleticism were going to dictate the fight. Barboza seemed to be operating at an entirely different level. To his credit Oliveira showed respectable tenacity, and even caught Barboza coming in and out with a few good shots. But for every one he landed he ate three and none more brutal than a steady diet of axe like leg kicks. The hematoma that resulted was nasty on it's own, but the final blows were really hard to watch, buckling Oliveira's leg over and over until the ref was forced to call an end to the action. Edson Barboza def. Rafaello Oliveira via TKO (leg kicks)
What was the high point?
Barboza's striking, and most particularly his leg kicks. It's good to see him re-acquiring his status as a divisional elite following a rough loss to Jamie Varner. His striking is devastating and there's little question that he occupies a space shared by few others in the lightweight division. Any chance to watch him work should be taken.
What was the low point?
Watching Oliveira take this beating. I realize that he was a late fill in, and I commend him for stepping up for the fight, but it's hard to see a guy go out and take that kind of punishment after so long on the shelf.
Where do they go from here?
For Barboza it's up up up. He's back on the fast track for a title shot. They may want to keep him from heavy handed wrestle boxers, but everyone else should be fair game. Personally I'd like to see him face off against Josh Thomson in what would be sure to be a fantastic fight that would go all over the place.
For Oliveira I have to think he's done in the UFC. He's 1-3 in his second UFC run and this loss was ugly. If he gets another fight Fabricio Camoes seems like a natural fit, as two longtime vets who have struggled to make a home at the highest levels of the sport.
Watch now, later, or never?
Watch it now. As I said above, nobody should miss a chance for some Edson Barboza ultra violence. He's a striker with few parallels and an opportunity to see him work shouldn't be overlooked. Also, it's always interesting to see a leg kick KO, a nice break from the headhunting norm.