Normally sequels suck. Well, at least when you compare them to the original. I'm not going to say this one was better... but it was a damn good sequel. And it made sure that the nights attention wasn't spent focusing on the performance of the referees (more on that in a bit).
The fight was back-and-forth just like the first fight was, but Rua had the advantage early this time around and Henderson made sure that there was a finish instead of letting it go to the judges. The first knockdown of Henderson was a nice right-left combo in the first that sent Henderson to the canvas, though someway somehow Henderson got back to his feet only for Rua to take him back down and come close to finishing it again before the round expired.
In the second Rua landed a beautiful uppercut that sent Henderson to the ground again. Henderson was able to recover enough to clinch up with Rua (after Rua went to the ground) to force the stand up by the referee. Up to this point the fight was all Rua. That is what made the victory for Henderson so much more amazing.
The referees made some potentially controversial calls throughout the night. There were a number of point deductions that were made without warning. I'm OK with this if this is how fights are going to be called in the future, but if this is a one night deal where they are calling it this way, its a load of crap. I can already see that there is going to be issues on the internet as all of the point deductions (as well as the early stoppage) were in favor of Brazilian fighters. Hmmm... I don't want to say whether it was coincidence or not. I'll let you decide that.
Aside from those issues, there were 6 first round stoppages which generally will make an audience happy as it means the violence came fast and hard. It was also a night of upsets. So many to the point that my picks were absolute crap. I'm not going to shy from my ineptitude and am going to fully admit to it and vow to improve on the next card...largely since I doubt I can get any worse. So with me admitting I didn't get a single main card fight correct, I'll just tell ya to keep reading from here.
After the first two rounds I was convinced that Henderson was done. Not just with the fight, but with regards to his career. He got tagged and dropped by Rua in each round and looked sluggish. But age has done absolutely nothing to diminish the power in his right hand and when it connected square with Rua's face, it was all she wrote. Overall the fight was incredibly sloppy, but it was still a fun fight to watch due to the level of violence (and toughness) shown between the two and it had a fantastic from-out-of-nowhere finish. It left me happy.
Henderson is still entertaining ideas of a run at the title, but in reality about the only thing that he can provide at this point is fun fights similar to the one that he just fought and as a high level gatekeeper. At 43, that is hardly an insult. He has very little speed left, but is still as tough as they get and possess instant death in his right hand. Seeing as how there isn't a light heavyweight ready to see if they can break through into contention quite yet, that means a fun fight would be in the makings for Henderson next. He lost to Rogerio Nogueira back in the Pride days and I'm sure he would love an opportunity to get that one back. That is if Nogueira can ever make it to the Octagon.
I'm not going to rip on Rua here. He looked a hell of a lot fresher than what he did in victory over Brandon Vera which would be the most comparable due to the length of the fight. Rua didn't seem tired in the third round with Henderson... he just got caught. It happens. Here is hoping that despite the loss, he doesn't make any major changes with his camp as they seem to have rejuvinated him and made him a better fighter. Similar to Henderson, he isn't a title contender anymore. But he can still put on fun fights and be a gatekeeper. With Jimi Manuwa coming off of a loss to Alexander Gustafsson, he would be an ideal match for Rua. Lets make it happen.
CB Dollaway defeated Cezar Ferreira via KO 1st Round
The fight didn't last long at all, but there was action packed into every second of it. Ferreira came out hard and fast, landing a kick in addition to a few punches. Problem is he came in way to wild and while most of the punches didn't land, Dollaway was able to land a clean counter behind Ferreira's ear to floor him and then finish the job with a few more punches with Ferreira on the ground.
Dollaway isn't really known for his punching power, so it was good to see that he does have that type of strength in his striking. That gives Dollaway three wins in his last four tries, though most would say it should be four in a row (myself included) as his fight with Tim Boetsch was controversial. At 30, Dollaway should be entering his prime and needs to start getting tougher competition to see where his ceiling might be. As a result he should be getting a ranked opponent in his next contest. I like the idea of matching him up with the winner of the Costas Philippou and Lorenz Larkin fight that will take place at UFC Fight Night 40.
Ferreira didn't have the smartest of plans by going at Dollaway recklessly. Sure, he landed some nice shots, but Dollaway never showed any signs of being rocked or on his heels. This was a very winnable fight for Ferreira that he gave to Dollaway. He hasn't reached his ceiling by any means and I would consider it a disappointment if he never breaks into the rankings at some point in his career. But he needs to regroup at this point and figure out a better way to come at his opponents. The loser of Thales Leites and Trevor Smith at UFC Fight Night 39 would be appropriate.
This was a far from satisfying fight as neither fighter was able to implement their game plan. Santos is a submission specialist who was unable to get the fight to the ground and Parke was unable to utilize his wrestling or improved boxing game. While the deciding factor in the draw was a point deduction for grabbing Santos shorts against Parke, it seemed that Santos coasted the last round and allowed Parke to take it and thereby avoid defeat. There are many lessons that both fighters can take from this unsatisfying, clinch-happy decision.
Santos made a huge mistake by allowing Parke to take the last round. He was content to clinch up with Parke and prevent any large shots to land on him. He did a solid job with kicks early on, but he abandoned that idea after the first and was unable to capitalize on the point deduction awarded to Parke. This fight should have been Santos based on the deduction alone. As has been seen with many fights before, the dumbest thing a fighter can do is let up off of the gas in the final round. Sure, Santos didn't lose, but it may as well appear like that in the official records. I'd say match him up with another TUF winner in Michael Chiesa next after Chiesa has his fight with Francisco Trinaldo at UFC 173.
Parke stayed aggressive throughout the fight and I applaud him for that. But I didn't see enough urgency in the end to satisfy my desire to see a fighter go for the win. He almost certainly lost the first round and the point deduction for grabbing Santos' shorts in the second put his back against the wall. Still, Parke came out of the fight looking better between the two and I'd count it more of a win than a loss. I would be advisable to match him up with a veteran again. Thats why I like the idea of pitting him against Rodrigo Damm who is fresh off a victory over Ivan Jorge.
Even though the fight got incredibly sloppy in the end, it was a fun match to watch. Villante took Maldonado down and rode out the first round in complete control and it seemed that he would be well on his way to victory. Problem is, he didn't bring any stamina with him to Brazil. Maldonado will be questioned for a lot of things, but toughness, striking, and his gas tank shouldn't ever be among those things. He utilized all three in his comeback and picked apart Villante over the last round and a half in route to what ended up being an easy decision for the judges to score.
Maldonado has proven almost impossible to put away. Sure, Glover Teixeira put the beating of the century on him that resulted in a stoppage, but only due to doctor's interference. His gas tank is invaluable for him when it comes to being able to come back from anything that his opponents throw at him and he doesn't get the credit he deserves for his deep tank. He is still very limited on the ground and before he gets a ranked opponent, it would be wise to see how he does with an opponent who can get the fight to the ground beyond the first round. The winner of the Ryan Jimmo-Sean O'Connell match would be a reasonable test.
Villante might have solidified the fact that he will never match the potential that many thought that he had. He looked great early on, but only his toughness prevented him from being finished in the last two rounds as Maldonado was able to land strikes at will. He had no movement, no offense, no gas, and no answer. He'll get another opportunity as the light heavyweight division is very thin, but unless he ups his game, he'll never be looked at as a prospect again. The loser of the aforementioned Jimmo and O'Connell match would be a wise choice to match Villante up with.
Michel Prazeres defeated Mairbeck Taisumov via Decision
I'm not attempting to take anything away from the victory of Prazeres who looked very impressive and absolutely deserved the victory. But Mario Yamasaki might have been the star of the show with his point deductions of Taisumov. I am in favor of a referee enforcing the rules... I'm just shocked that he did so in a manner that is such a complete reversal from the usual stance of referees of warning without any real consequences. Like I said with Prazeres though, he looked great as he took down Taisumov with ease (when Taisumov didn't grab the fence) and enforced his will throughout the fight.
I wouldn't have been surprised to see Prazeres wash out of the UFC soon a he had shown rudimentary striking and a short gas tank in his lightweight debut against Jesse Ronson. But he showed much improvement in both of those categories to complement his overpowering takedowns and top control. If he can continue to round out his striking and gas tank, he could end up being a mainstay in the division similar to the type of career that Gleison Tibau has. I like the idea of him facing the winner of Sam Stout and KJ Noons next. Both are standup specialists that will test Prazeres in that category... if they can stop him from getting them to the ground.
Taisumov seemed like he was out of whack mentally more and more as the fight went on due to the repeated penalties. He had to go for broke and he never really seemed to go into that mode. While the striking was fairly even, he was supposed to have a decided advantage there... but it never materialized. I expect this to be a valuable learning experience for Taisumov as he is still full of talent and potential. Jon Tuck is a tough nut to crack who has had a similar arc in the UFC as Taisumov.
Again, it seems that the referee stole the show in a fight. The story of this fight isn't going to be the KO by Jason, but the clearly early stoppage by Wernei Cardoso as Siler was alert and throwing upkicks as soon as he hit the ground. I'm not going to claim he wasn't hurt... but fighters get hurt in fights! They need an opportunity to recover and Cardoso clearly didn't give Siler that opportinuty.
Jason looked effective in the short time that the fight took place and the punches that he landed on Siler to put him down were tight and technically sound. He is a talented BJJ practitioner and proved again that he has dangerous striking. But seeing as how the fight is tainted (through no fault of his own though... he did what he was supposed to do), it is difficult to think of giving him a large step up in competition. Charles Oliveira has long been considered to be a talented fighter with potential up the yin-yang. Whoever walks out with the victory would almost be guaranteed an opportunity against a ranked opponent.
Siler showed just how tough he is by recovering as quick as he did from Jason's strikes. He didn't get to show anything else outside of a few nice leg kicks, but with the amount of class that he showed in the defeat as well as his previous UFC resume, he'll get a chance to redeem himself. Andre Fili and Max Holloway will be facing off at UFC 172. Whoever ends up on the short end of that match would be an ideal opponent for Siler next.
Record for this Card: 2-8-1
Record for Year: 64-44-1
I already discussed how pathetic my picks have been! Just move along from there and please comment on anything else.