Many have claimed that the TUF Brazil 3 Finale was a complete disaster. I wouldn't go that far, but there is no doubt that the card had an overall disappointing vibe. The main event couldn't be salvaged despite the UFC best attempt to do so as Fabio Maldonado was completely overwhelmed by Stipe Miocic, leaving a lot of viewers (live and at home) feeling less than satisfied. Not everything was bad though as there were the two new TUF champs crowned and both offer some potential for the future and a few other noteworthy fights.
Here be the details (I'm aware of the length of this article. Feel free to stop reading any time).
* indicates I was right in my pick
*Stipe Miocic defeated Fabio Maldonado via TKO 1st Round
Its hard not to be more disappointed in how this fight played out. Maldonado has often been seen as an indestructible force of nature who could walk through a minefield and survive. Considering this fight lasted a whole 35 seconds, it kind of feels like a banana peel did him in. Miocic did what he was expected to do by landing a few hard punches and Maldonado... couldn't make it a fight as he wilted from the first combo and crumbled from the second. Damn it! Honestly, there really isn't a lot to say so I'll move on to the individual analysis.
I won't deny that Miocic looked good... but we were all expecting him to as Maldonado is a natural light heavyweight who is known mostly for his ability to take a beating, not dole one out. Still, I don't want to crap on the Ohio native. It isn't his fault that dos Santos broke his hand and there were severe limitations as to what the UFC could do to provide him with an opponent. They did the best they could and based on the results it obviously wasn't enough in this case. Not trying to be a dick... I'm just saying fans want more out of their main event. Hopefully dos Santos can get healed up and the UFC can re-book the bout between him and Miocic. If the early destruction of Maldonado did anything, it increased the hype for people wanting to see that fight.
The scenario couldn't have played out worse for Maldonado. No longer will people be able to look at him solely as the guy who received the most brutal beating at the hands of Glover Teixeira and refused to quit. He's also the guy who made a valiant but ultimately pathetic attempt to save the main event here. Even with that said, he is fearless as there are few who would rush to take the fight as he did knowing that he would be a long shot. He should still pose as a good test at light heavyweight and shouldn't be thrown down the ladder too far if at all from his venture into the heavyweight kingdom. Ryan Jimmo and Ovince St. Preux square off in a few weeks and the loser will look to rebound (obvioiusly). Maldonado should pose as a good choice for the rebound opportunity.
*Antonio Carlos Jr. defeated Vitor Miranda via Decision
Many expected Miranda's experience and motivation (fighting for his deceased son) to be the difference and push him to victory. Aggression and improvement from the younger Carlos were the actual differences. Knowing full well that Miranda does best in operating with space and landing kicks, Carlos had the fight on the ground every round and dominated once the fight was taken there, passing Miranda's guard multiple times. Miranda did have the advantage standing and did land a few shots, particularly to the legs, but not nearly enough to sway the judges. Though the fight wouldn't be termed as exciting, it was very telling about the growth and potential of the renowned BJJ practitioner.
It was a no-brainer that Carlos wanted the fight on the ground seeing as how Miranda had kickboxing experience and has traditionally done well in the clinch. He did better than expected standing though and should produce some excitement as he only made his professional debut last year. I doubt the UFC would ever admit it, but I'm sure they preferred to have him win as he is much younger with a higher ceiling than Miranda. The other no-brainer was that Carlos would end up dropping his weight class, which I assumed would be light heavyweight. Rumblings have been indicating that he'll go to middleweight though which isn't as asinine as it may sound. The biggest hurdle he'll have to overcome is mastering the cut, but my guess is he'll do it. Luke Zachrich and Guilherme Vasconcelos (also known as Bomba from the show) will fight in about a month and the winner should be a good choice to face Carlos in his debut at the class.
I have no doubt that the loss was heartbreaking for Miranda and I genuinely feel bad for the dude as the loss of a child is something no one would wish upon another. But he also realizes that the nature of the business is cruel and he will get another shot in the Octagon. At 36, he knows his time in the sport is short and he just lost his best opportunity to leave a memorable imprint (even if being a TUF winner isn't what it once was). So I could see him wanting to get back in the ring as soon as possible. Its well established that Kyle Kingsbury is expected to fight in less than two months after a lengthy layoff. If Miranda could get all the visa stuff squared he would be a good choice as the two would likely engage in a standup war. If that is too quick, I'd expect him to get a debutant.
Alves walked into the Octagon heavily favored and delivered every bit of promise that people saw in him throughout the fight. It probably took about 15 seconds for him to take the advantage in the fight that he never relinquished as he floored Alexandre with a right hand and though the majority of the fight lacked a lot flash, it wasn't short on dominance. Alves pushed Alexandre against the fence and wore him down for a big chunk of the fight in addition to taking the fight to the ground a few times. Alexandre scored a few nice kicks, but outside of that he wasn't able to show anything in a bout that Alves turned the lights out on with a leaping guillotine choke similar to the one he scored in the semifinals.
It was no secret that Alves would be dropping to welterweight at the conclusion of the tournament as he clearly was undersized at middleweight. I would claim that makes his performance that much more impressive, but Alexandre and most of the other competitors were fighting a class up themselves. Still, Alves has lots of untapped potential at 23 and many are already touting him as a future title contender. I wouldn't go that far quite yet, but I'm not denying that he should go far up the rankings. Look for the UFC to largely take their time in his development. He won't be facing any contenders for quite a while. Li Jingliang scored a victory in his recent debut and seems like a reasonable fight for a young talent such as Alves. We'll see what the UFC does though.
Alexandre shouldn't feel to badly about the loss. Alves really is that good and even though their coach Chael Sonnen refused to make predictions, he as good as said before the finals were set that Alves was the most talented fighter in the tournament. Alexandre largely beat up on no-names on the regional circuit and is going to have to be handled with care at this point in order to tap the potential that he possess. His karate style is fairly unique which mostly works in his favor, but he is gonna have to get grittier to survive. Like Alves, I expect Alexandre to drop down to welterweight. And seeing as how confident I am in my belief that Alexandre will get a debutant, I'm not even going to bother listing anyone else.
No one was surprised by the dominance Maia showed over Yakovlev. They were only surprised by the lack of a finish from the BJJ expert. Much has been stated that he decided to adopt a safer approach to grappling after taking some risky chances that cost him position in his decision loss to Jake Shields last fall and I would agree with that assessment. Still, I won't complain with Maia not scoring a finish. He did score a knockdown and achieved mount in every round in a fight that had few truly memorable details (the knockdown was nice, but not one that would scream at you from highlight reels).
Maia said post fight that he needed the win and everyone will agree with him as he was coming off of two loses in a row. No one is going to thumb their nose at Jake Shields and Rory MacDonald as quality opponents, but you gotta win your fights no matter who you are facing to maintain strong job security. Maia did what he needed to do in a fight that was doomed to have little if any standing on his ranking if he won regardless of how he did so. Maia is 36 and with his recent setbacks it is hard seeing him working back into the title picture. He is certainly deserving of his top 10 ranking and should serve as a gatekeeper into those rankings. Tarec Saffiedine would be a good choice to match him with as Saffiedine has no victories over a ranked opponent. Maia would provide him the opportunity to prove he belongs there himself.
All I keep hearing about is the moral victory that Yakovlev scored by going the distance with such a renowned grappling expert. While I'm not going to disagree with the sentiment, it very much feels people are celebrating his survival. Perhaps I should digress as he was a very heavy underdog. Yakovlev had a solid moment when he was able to reverse position on Maia (not an easy thing to do) and showed poise as he never seemed flustered even as he was dominated. There is no doubt that he will be getting a step down in competition to the extent that he could very well end up being considered the favorite whoever he ends up fighting next. Danny Mitchell recently had to pull out of a fight due to injury, but it doesn't seem to bad. He'd make a fine opponent for Yakovlev.
This fight wen exactly how many people figured it would except for one little catch: Jason was supposed to be walking out of the arena with a victory. In the eyes of many he very well did so, but two of the judges saw fit to give it to Peralta and in all fairness, it was a fight that could have gone either way as most will agree that not even one round was decisively won... which was reflected in the judges cards with both fighters earning a 30-27 score in their favor. Jason landed the flashier strikes including a spinning back elbow and jumping knees, but Peralta landed much more frequently. In particular, he scored quite a few more leg kicks which very well may have proved the difference. Don't ask me to give my opinion on who won though. I'm gonna have to cop out and say it should have been a draw.
Regardless of whether or not you agreed with the victory for Peralta, it can be agreed that he exceeded the expectations of many by even making the fight a close one. No one will deny that Peralta has talent, its the fact that he fights on the side with his full-time job taking precedence over his fighting career. I wouldn't venture to say he'd be going for the belt if he were able to focus solely on training, but it would certainly be interesting to see what he could do if the opportunity were to present itself. Even if that point in time never arrives, don't be surprised to see him continue to score upsets similar to this one. He's never been KO'd and packs a hard punch himself. Max Holloway is riding a two fight win streak like Peralta currently is. Chances are it would be action-filled and would mark a level of development for both.
This loss doesn't reflect well on Jason as he is one of the original winners of TUF Brazil and has a bit of a reputation of a golden boy as a result. With this being the second loss in three tries, he has more than a little mud on his face. To give him credit, he broke his hand early in the fight and considering he did so does make his performance admirable and the loss more understandable. With his status, the UFC wants him to win and should end up getting a fight that will favor him to get back on track... but it shouldn't be a gimme by any means. Akira Corassani was in over his head against Dustin Poirier despite showing a lot of heart. He's a name Jason should beat... but then again most said that with Peralta as well. All the more reason to book it though as some are grumbling Jason is an underachiever.
*Rashid Magomedov defeated Rodrigo Damm via Decision
If anyone reads my previews, perhaps they remember saying that Damm was just going to throw punches and ignore his wrestling and BJJ background since that was simply what he wanted to do. If y'all will notice, that is what he did for the first two rounds and he was thoroughly outclassed by the sleeker Magomedov. Sure, he lost the third round as well when he actually started to attempt to get the fight on the ground, but it was the closest round in my book even if he never got a takedown. So I'm not going to say that Damm would have won or lost if he had attempted his ground game earlier, but he gave the match to Magomedov as a result. Magomedov was by far much more active and scored a knockdown in the first and ran away with it from there.
Magomedov deserves more credit than I'm giving him as he did utilize a good strategy and used his jab very effectively to not just pick apart Damm, but to set up other punches like the right hand that floored Damm. And I haven't even mentioned the plethora of kicks he threw at the legs and body... until just now. That gives him two UFC victories in two tries as he tries to pick up momentum in the most crowded division in the organization. He doesn't have the look of someone who will be entering the rankings, but he looks like he'll provide a stern veteran test for the youngsters looking to advance themselves in the division. But what would it hurt to give him a chance to make a run? Michel Prazeres has won his two fights at lightweight within the organization and seems to be in a similar situation to Magomedov. Square 'em up and let fate decide whom is better.
I have nothing against Damm. I just can't fathom how he can ignore the facets of his game that brought him to the big dance time after time. He offered little movement and was only responding with leg kicks in the opening round. I like his kicks, but he has to do a lot more than that. So my proposal would be to match him up with someone he wouldn't want to stand and trade with, but whom he would be more than happy to take to the ground. I'd say Anthony Njokuani fits that bill quite well. I can't see Njokuani's ground game improving at this point, but I can see him wanting to make up for a disappoointing return from injury. Let Damm be the one to test him.
This wasn't the most exciting fight, but it did keep my attention as Chavez impressed me with his heart in this one. Silverio looked like he was at least one weight class above Chavez if not two, but that didn't stop Chavez from going toe-to-toe with his much larger opponent. An exchange of punches? Chavez met Silverio's every punch. Try to be the bigger bully in the clinch? Chavez was willing to push Silverio around. While it was gutsy, it wasn't the smartest approach as Silverio knew his size and strength advantage would eventually wear down his much smaller opponent and after a while he was able to snake an arm under Chavez's neck for a RNC at the end of the third round. For a guy who had been criticized as being unable to finish, the submission was big for Silverio.
Even though Silverio didn't dominate and bully Chavez in the way that I thought he should, I was pleased with what I saw out of him. He did a very efficient job of mixing up punches and kicks (even though he caught Chavez twice in the groin), utilizing his reach with a jab, throwing in some flash with a spinning kick, and making the necessary adjustments to make sure he got better as the fight went along. He has the reputation of a grinder, and though he did grind down on Chavez, he also showed he can fight a striking battle from a distance. I still believe that Silverio has the talent to enter the rankings within a year. He just needs to be handled the right way and I believe the UFC will do so. There are a lot of options at lightweight though and have a hard time sifting through who is available and who isn't. I'll say Alan Patrick who last fought 4 months ago and nothing has been said about him since. He's a lanky lightweight with some striking power.
I stated that Silverio didn't dominate Chavez like he should have, it seems anyone who ends up facing Chavez won't ever dominate him the way that they should. He's one hell of a tough bastard who doesn't take no for an answer, even when everyone was saying he was gonna get smacked around in this fight. He lost, but he also made a statement about his abilities and his heart. Aint nobody gonna bully him around. Now that he has made his statement, I hope he starts to fight a little smarter because taking the fight right back to Silverio really did help wear him down so that Silverio could finish him off. But then again, that might have been his best option for victory. Tony Martin looks like an intriguing prospect who could stand to have his mental capacity tested. Chavez would be very capable of doing so.
Neither of these guys did much to endear themselves to fans (or the upper brass) with this fight. A fairly plodding affair that had very little urgency to it, Umalatov was the one who seemed to stay busier throughout the affair that neither fighter took control of. In fact, rather than call Umalatov the winner I'd rather call him the fighter who didn't lose. It seems more appropriate given the lack of notable exchanges or moments in the fight. Seriously, I'm having a hard time remembering anything notable that happened. There was some time spent against the cage, a missed spinning back kick, some uninspiring jabs, and a lot of stuffed takedowns. This is sad. I'm moving on...
Umalatov probably ended up saving his job in about the most uninspiring way you can do so. But he can only be blamed for half of it and considering he walked away with the win, maybe he should be blamed for less than half? I don't know. He landed the harder shots which ended up being the biggest difference since Thiago likely landed more more due to a few flurries at the end of the second round and third round. But he isn't exactly worrying a lot of potential opponents at this point... or attracting any fans. Still, a victory is a victory and he has a bit of job security now. I could see him welcoming Alberto Mina or Andreas Stahl to the UFC as they have an unknown quality to them at this point and Umalatov offers a tough to finish if not winnable opponent.
I very much believe that Thiago has reached the end of the line of his UFC run. He looked very uninspired out there and almost disinterested at times. Sure, he woke up every now and then and remembered that he was in a fight and started throwing punches, but he is a far cry from the guy who opened his UFC career over the likes of Josh Koscheck, Jacob Volkmann, and Mike Swick. In fact, he has lost 6 of his last 8 and he isn't about to get Leonard Garcia treatment fighting the way he did here. He's a good guy... he just no longer fights at a UFC level.
*Kevin Souza defeated Mark Eddiva via TKO 2nd Round
Now that was a fun fight! Earning a well deserved Fight of the Night award, these two didn't throw anything light at one another and despite all of the bombs being dropped on one another, neither fell to the mat at any point due to strikes. They were both staggered for sure and wobbled right in front of one another, but never dropped. I figured both would be gassed after a first round that saw each of them load up and give each other all they had in punch after punch, but Souza in particular seemed to be expending all of his energy. But he had enough to close out the second round in the same fashion only to see the ref stop the match after Eddiva could only retreat rather than fight back.
For all of the good things that can be said about that performance from Souza (and there were a good amount), there were things that he could improve on as well. For one, he could stand to learn that its OK to throw punches at half strength sometimes. I'm amazed he had the energy to finish Eddiva in the second round. He could also mix up his strikes. Bomb after bomb was thrown at Eddiva's head while Eddiva covered up. His body was wide open during that time and an uppercut looked as though it could have landed flush as well. And not one single leg kick was thrown on his part either. Nonetheless, his aggression and power was impressive, as well as his will to win. He took a lot of hard shots from Eddiva! He'll never be a champion fighting like that, but he'll be a fan favorite. Sam Sicilia is coming off of a victory just a week earlier. How about matching him with Souza? That one could easily be FOTN as well.
I will give it up to Eddiva. He is a much better fighter than I had given him credit for. I figured he rolled over Jumabieke Tuerxun because Tuerxun isn't UFC level, but Eddiva really is a solid fighter. He takes what is presented to him (I don't know how many leg kicks he landed on Souza, but it was an ungodly amount for two rounds), has a diverse bag of kicks, and packs a good punch. Oh yeah... he is one tough bastard! Contend for a title someday he will not, but I can't claim he is a token fighter from the Philippines after a fight like that. I've heard nothing about the release of Mike Wilkinson and think he'd be able to put on a fun fight with Eddiva.
Abreu wanted to do destroy Silva as quick as possible and though it needed to extend to the second round for him to do so, he got the job done in impressive manner. He damn near finished Silva multiple times in the first round with some wild and hard shots, but even with the knock down he wasn't able to finish the job. The beginning of the end for Silva came when he rushed at an off-balance Abreu thinking he was hurt and Abreu landed a right that sent Silva to the ground. Abreu pounced on his back to sink in a RNC for a quick tapout.
Abreu got the W and certain parts about his victory made him look absolutely fantastic. But was there any technique in his punches? I didn't see any. Abreu looked to be easy to counter (and Silva tagged him a few times in the first that way) and I doubt he would be able to fight 15 minutes at the insane pace that he was pushing with the way he throws his punches. This is the UFC son! You don't just overwhelm the best fighters in the world! His BJJ skills are world class, so if he learns to fight under control, he could develop into a mainstay. But out of curiosity, does anyone else remember Jorge Lopez, a formerly hyped prospect also out of Wanderlei Silva's camp? I fear he may have a similar fate. Sultan Aliev is a recent signee from Russia that has yet to be scheduled for a fight. Abreu seems to be a fair introduction. If not Aliev, another debutant seems to be a wise choice.
Silva doesn't seem to have any particular skill that would make me think that he should be in the UFC. His grappling is supposed to be his strong suit and though I wouldn't say it was weak, it did nothing to jump out and grab my attention. He took some strong shots from Abreu to show a solid chin, but you can't fight in the UFC with that being one of your selling points. I don't believe that he would be able to work his way back either, but you all know that I've been wrong before.
I had thought that the KO Iuri Alcantara scored earlier in the day in Germany was quick. I didn't expect another fight to go quicker... lo and behold, de Lima proved me wrong! Brian Stann put it best in the commentary when he stated that fighters need to do a better job of keeping their hands up when the break from the clinch. Moreira didn't and de Lima landed a powerful right hand only to follow up with a few more punches after Moreira hit the deck to put him out.
de Lima didn't let the fight go for too long, so it is hard to say exactly what he got to show... outside of his powerful right of course. de Lima weighed in at 235 lbs. which is an acceptable size for heavyweight. But he has also fought at light heavyweight and has actually done so for most of his career. So where is he going to fight now? I can't say for sure, but it is looking like he is going to stay at heavyweight. 205 is a long way to cut from 235. I'm not saying he couldn't do it, but I doubt he wants anything to do with that. Geronimo dos Santos has been with the promotion for a while, but hasn't fought due to health issues. If de Lima stays at heavyweight I'd favor that match. If he goes to light heavyweight, Jan Blachowicz has yet to make his debut either.
If Moreira had been able to make this match a fight, he might have been able to hang around to get another chance at hanging around the organization. Alas, he did not and it is doubtful he'll get another look. At least right now. The UFC is incredibly light on talent in the light heavyweight division and if he were to pick up a few wins on the regional circuit, I'm sure the UFC would give him a call. If nothing else, his slugfest with Miranda in the semifinals would warrant that much.
For being a submission specialist, Munhoz packs quite a mean punch. Hobar will be sure to back up that claim. Munhoz worked Hobar over with both his fists and his feet and showed why so many have high expectations for the young Brazilian. He worked Hobar over with combinations that utilized both his fists and feet, a hard head kick, threw on a guillotine, and knocked him unconscious while unleashing his GNP. Munhoz didn't show all of the aspects of his game in less than 3 minutes, but he almost did. And he looked damn good.
Munhoz was in over his head when he stepped up to face Raphael Assuncao as an injury replacement in his UFC debut. He did hold his ground and fought to a decision, but took a loss. This time Munhoz was the one dunking the newcomer under the water and he looked fantastic doing so. He isn't known as a striker, but for those that had never seen him before would be hard to convince otherwise. In other words, he didn't really get a chance to test his real strong suit. Its hard not to feel excited about his potential. It feels unfair to give him another newcomer or even someone else who is relatively new to the organization. Kyung Ho Kang has proven to be a tough test for veterans or youngsters and would be a good choice.
I wish I could say something positive with regards to Hobar's debut. I'm sure I can think of something... but the fact I really have to think about it should indicate just how bad his debut went. He landed a jab to open up the fight! Yeah... it was that bad. He has proven to be a tough dude on the regional scene and it is almost a surety he'll get another look... but he is in a deep hole at this point to prove that he won't be more than just a couple of W's on the resume of someone else. Patrick Williams had a disappointing debut as well. There is no way the loser of that match would be able to survive the chopping block.
Record for this Card: 10-2
Record for Year: 123-75-1