For the second UFC event in a row, every single preliminary fight went to a decision. That isn't to say that there weren't some fights worth watching, but one of the factors fans love about MMA is that it can all be over in a sudden instant... and it just hasn't been happening enough lately! But I don't want to bitch too much as there was only one real stinker out of seven fights which really isn't too bad of a ratio.
Here is a breakdown of the important things that happened and what to do with the UFC gladiators next:
*indicates I picked the match correctly
I doubt that I would be the only one that was surprised when Proctor and Marcello utilized a lot of submission attempts in the opening round. Not that neither are capable, but both prefer to stand and bang. The round was largely a toss up, but the following rounds had a clear victor. Proctor was able to rock Marcello in each round and as both of them tired, neither had the energy to take the fight to the ground from that point. Overall it was a pretty entertaining fight, though the crowd was unhappy as they had yet to experience a finish and let their displeasure be known.
Proctor hadn't shown much of his submission game in his previous UFC appearances and though he didn't get a finish still showed a nice ground game. It looked like he could have finished Marcello with strikes in the last round as he had him on the ropes a few times, but didn't have the energy to do so. He didn't necessarily show a bad gas tank, but if he can deepen it a bit he could accentuate his rise up the ladder. It would also guarantee a victory over Francisco Trinaldo who would be a great opponent in his next match. Of course, he would have to withstand Trinaldo's early onslaught.
Marcello expressed earlier that he didn't feel like he would be let go if he lost, but I have to disagree. I admit he brings it and puts on entertaining scraps, but he is now 1-3 in the UFC with his lone victory being questionable. Throw in the fact that he is 36... I think its safe to say he already reached his ceiling. If he is kept around, Isaac Vallie-Flagg would likely put on a fun fight if matched with Marcello.
This was a very tedious bout most would like to forget about. Round one was close with tentative kickboxing without a clear winner. Round two was close as well, but Damm seemed to pull ahead slightly. Round three finally had something else to offer as Damm put Jorge in a crucifix and Jorge attempted a d'arce choke to no avail. After that the lightweights gassed and put a final stamp on a fight few want to watch again. The decision could have gone either way and no one would have complained... largely since they wouldn't have cared.
Damm surprised me by gassing out. I expected that his energy level would have looked much better without the hellish weight cut that caused issues to his kidneys. He got the win, but he didn't win over any fans whether they are in the stands or in the front office. It does give him a 3-1 record though which doesn't seem right. Fellow Brazilian Elias Silverio is coming off of a victory over Isaac Vallie-Flagg in his lightweight debut putting him at 2-0 overall in the UFC. If not him, how about Rashid Magomedov?
Jorge suffered from a lack of stamina again... but that didn't surprise me. He is a large lightweight and usually tries to bully his opponents, but seemed intimidated by Damm's wrestling pedigree. He may have gotten a victory in his debut over Keith Wisniewski, but that wasn't very impressive either. He's got to get an impressive win his next time out. I like the idea of matching him with John Makdessi. Makdessi has a kickboxing game far superior to anyone else Jorge has faced. But Jorge would have the advantage on the ground. Would make an interesting test for both of them.
*Francisco Trinaldo defeated Jesse Ronson via Decision
A close contest that didn't really have any surprises. Trinaldo came out with good energy and was getting the best on Ronson on the feet in the first round... surprising as Ronson was thought to have the advantage on the feet. Ronson seemed to be landing a bit more in the second as Trinaldo slowed down his pace a little, but it seemed to be fairly even until the end when Trinaldo landed a trip that likely gave him the round in most books. Ronson came out the aggressor and landed much more in the last round as Trinaldo gassed a bit more (as expected though) and was forced put it on cruise control, though he did close the fight strong. A good fight, but nothing spectacular.
Trinaldo showed much better stamina than he did in his last outing against Piotr Hallman and that made all of the difference in this fight. He always comes out aggressively and did so against Ronson, but has gotten in trouble when he doesn't get an early finish. He had enough in reserve this time and should keep his role as a lower level gatekeeper for a while at this point. As already mentioned, a match up with him and Joe Proctor makes sense as both have beaten similarly leveled opponents and don't necessarily seem ready for a big step up.
Ronson may be at the end of the line. The UFC has too many employees at this point and though he wasn't completely blown out in any of his fights, he hasn't shown anything spectacular either. If they keep him around there are a number of ways they can go. Youngsters Kevin Lee and Tony Martin are coming off of debut losses and the loser of Yosdenis Cedeno and Ernest Chavez will likely get another shot. Any of them would make sense with Ronson if he sticks.
*Iuri Alcantara defeated Wilson Reis via Decision
In a very much back and forth fight, Alcantara was able to take the victory by a wider margin on the score cards than anyone expected. Alcantara showed the better striking and had his moments grinding out Reis, but Reis. Though Alcantara has a dangerous guard, Reis seemed to have little trouble with it by maintaining top control for a good portion of the fight. Both had their moments in the first on the ground and was difficult to score, though Reis seemed to have control for a greater amount of time. The second round would be up for debate as Alcantara scored a knockdown while Reis maintained ground control through most of it. The third was again Reis having a lot of ground control with Alcantara winning the early standup and a late flurry. The end result made for no idea how the judges were going to score it as it realistically could have gone either way. Two scored it 30-27 for Alcantara which is dumb as hell, but what can you do?
Alcantara isn't going to be moving up the ladder with this fight. It isn't that he looked bad, he just didn't beat Reis in a fashion that says he should be moving up. He is a large bantamweight and still a tough test for anyone. Even though he got a win here, I'd say the performance indicates that he is more of a gatekeeper than anything. Francisco Rivera was looking to move up the ladder by facing Raphael Assuncao before injury KO'd him. Matching him up with Alcantara would be a good test for both men and allow Alcantara to exercise his role as a gatekeeper. And I don't just say that since they are next to one another in the rankings.
Reis may actually squeak into the top 15 with that performance despite the loss. He took a respected grappler in Alcantara to the ground multiple times and stifled him for a good portion of the fight. He'll be a nightmare for any bantamweight without much of a ground game. Yves Jabouin has been around for a while and can beat the bottom feeders but always comes up short when he steps up. Reis isn't upper echelon, but is a step up from what Jabouin usually beats.
I wondered how much aggressiveness Blanco would show considering it cost him with a DQ loss in his last bout and he came out plenty aggressive. Arantes matched his aggression though and it resulted in a hell of a fun fight. Both had their moments in the first round, but with his knockdown and submission attempt at the end of the round likely gave him that round. Blanco maintained his aggression and took a competitive round 2. The defining moment of the fight was the last round when Blanco nailed Arantes with a low-blow that gave Blanco a point deduction. Considering it was likely a round apiece at that point, that made it so Blanco needed the finish. Problem is, it seemed to throw him off mentally and resulted in him fighting tentatively the rest of the way allowing Arantes to walk away with the W.
Arantes seemed to be too tentative in his earlier fights (that may just be my opinion, but that was how I saw it) and he changed that for this match and he looked better than he ever has. Considering it was his sixth fight in the UFC and there was marked improvement, many likely think he needs to move up the ladder soon and see where he is at. But I would rather see something else first. Robbie Peralta is at a similar position with his age and position in the company. While some may not see either as a step up, it makes too much sense not to match them up.
Blanco is done in the UFC. It was his 3rd loss in 4 tries with the company and his 4th out of 5 overall. He looked good the first two rounds before the low blow messed him up. If he were to ever get the mental part of the game down he would be a force to be reckoned with. He can't seem to do it though. Don't be surprised to see Bellator or WSOF pick him up.
This was an awesome fight, though it did slow down a bit in the last round. Both men brought it and busted one another up early and had some fun exchanges and often took the fight to the ground. Tumenov struggled to stop Alcantara's takedowns which gave Alcantara the top position most of the fight. Alcantara also did a much better job of utilizing his reach than he previously had to maintain distance. Inexplicably, both largely avoided going for a takedown in the third round which is surprising as had their most success with top position and GNP. Maybe they felt they didn't have the gas to do so. Both came to throw which will keep them in good standing with Uncle Dana.
Alcantara didn't do a very good job of utilizing his size in his last bout with Igor Araujo and seemed to make improving that his priority in his camp. Considering he is a large welterweight, that is something that should always serve him well. His ceiling still seems limited and I don't expect a big step up. Nate Loughran was expected to make his return on this card before injury knocked him out. He seems like an appropriate test for Alcantara at this point.
Tumenov had his moments and showed why the UFC brought him over as he proved to be a tough bastard and threw some heavy shots. But his takedown defense was atrocious and if that isn't fixed he is going to wash out of the UFC pretty fast. At 22, I expect he will be able to get that solved in good time. Uncle Dana stated that Bobby Voelker isn't going anywhere due to his fan-friendly style. Pit him with Tumenov and I anticipate that the fans will be more than happy to watch.
*Zubaira Tuhugov defeated Douglas Andrade via Decision
Tuhugov was a hot prospect coming in and most figured he would pick up a victory in his UFC debut. It wasn't the most exciting fight as there were long periods of inactivity... but it wasn't a bad fight. The opening round was fairly slow, but Tuhogov landed a couple of well timed shots to start the blood faucet for Andrade. The second round featured much of the same type of carefully timed flurries and the third featured more urgency from Andrade, but in the end it wasn't enough. Tuhugov caught many by surprise when he threw a spinning backfist in the first round that may have qualified as the most exciting move of the fight. Considering both were making their UFC debut it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that both seemed to be a little tentative.
Tuhugov looked good... hesitant at times but good. He is still only 23 and has plenty of time to improve and become a major player for the UFC. I don't want to make any predictions at this point, but it very well could happen. He showed good patience and never seemed to force anything which can be a problem for younger fighters. The diversity he showed in his striking as well has me further intrigued and believe that with time it could have more substance to it. An attempt to once again pit him with Thiago Tavares isn't a bad idea. I have no issues with a match with Kevin Souza either.
Andrade looked incredibly stiff out there and somewhat blinded by the lights of the Octagon. I would say he would be wise to drop down in weight too as he seemed very small for a featherweight. Considering he took the fight on very short notice that isn't much of a surprise, but expect him to be at bantamweight for his next match. Unfortunately for him, I didn't believe that he would be one to stick around long going into the fight and he has done nothing to change my mind yet. The loser of the Cody Gibson and Aljamain Sterling next week would seem to be appropriate fodder for Andrade to match up with next.