The preliminary fights for UFC Sao Paulo featured a bevy of competitive match-ups, with plenty of exciting submission victories in the country that founded jiu-jitsu. A pair of Bantamweight fighters looking to get into the Top 15 rankings put on a show, while a pair of Featherweight fights ended with submissions. As well, a controversial finish in a fight between two notable lightweights.
Gleison Tibau def. Abel Trujillo via submission (rear naked choke)
Tibau shot for the double leg takedown within the opening seconds of the fight, eventually getting Trujillo down against the cage. A quick scramble led to Tibau getting the back of Trujillo. Tibau put in the choke and the referee stepped in to stop the fight. No tap from Trujillo as he jumps up immediately to protest the stoppage. Although the choke was in tight, it looks like Trujillo did not tap out and was definitely not unconscious.
Cabral started the fight by pulling guard, setting up a triangle choke that Case easily escaped. Cabral worked for a takedown a minute later, leading to a scramble that ended with Cabral on top. After multiple submission attempts, Case is eventually able to get back to his feet with less than a minute left in the round. Case was able to keep the fight on the feet in the second round, eventually dropping Cabral with a punch. It seems like Cabral is going down quickly after getting hit, hoping Case will fall into his guard. Case stalked Cabral against the cage for the rest of the round, landing punches to the body and the head. In the third round, Cabral took Case down against the fence, eventually taking his back. After a couple of minutes of working for a choke, Case spun out and ended up on top in guard. Case landed hard ground and pound in the closing minute.
Clay Guida came out bouncing around the octagon, shooting in for the quick takedown. While completing the takedown, Tavares sunk in a guillotine choke and pulled guard. After struggling to get out, Tavares rolled Guida over, mounting him with the guillotine choke, forcing Guida to tap out. With the quick win, Tavares sets a new record for fastest submission with in UFC Featherweight history.
Souza started off the fight in a very low stance, but that didn't stop Skelly from getting the early takedown. Skelly went for the d'arce choke with Souza eventually freeing himself. When the fight got back to the feet, Souza immediately hit Skelly with a big left hook, dropping him to the mat. Skelly was able to recover and work for a leg lock. A true classic grappler vs. striker match. Skelly pulls guard to start the round but gets hit hard with a couple of elbows from Souza. Skelly gets to his feet and shoots for a takedown, quickly transitioning to Souza's back and sinks in the rear naked choke. A very quick and stunning submission for the grappling ace.
Viscardi Andrade def. Gasan Umalatov via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) - Welterweights
With the crowd heavily supporting him, Andrade came out aggressive, throwing plenty of kicks from the outside and controlling the range. Late in the first round, after several failed clinch and takedown attempts by Umalatov, Andrade opened up with his striking and finished the round strong. The second round was very similar, with Umalatov doing a better job of defending strikes. Again though, Andrade got comfortable in the last minute and ended the round with hard knees to the stomach from the clinch. Umalatov landed a solid spinning heel kick to Andrade's face to start the round, but was unable to capitalize. Andrade recovered with the rest of the round consisting of short bursts of offence from each fighter. With 30 seconds left, Umalatov stumbled Andrade with a big right hand, but let Andrade recover on the ground as the clock ran out of time.
Munhoz had a very slow start, with Rivera getting the better of the majority of exchanges throughout the round. Munhoz was able to hit Rivera with a nice knee to the face late in the round, but Rivera had already hit Munhoz with plenty of power shots to give him the round. Both fighters came out swinging in the second round, with Rivera rocking Munhoz, but getting hurt himself while going for the finish. Mid-way through the round Munhoz hit Rivera with a hard punch, making Rivera stumble before falling down. Munhoz looked to lock up a guillotine but was quickly countered. An absolutely crazy round with both fighters going for the knockout, with Munhoz turning the tide on the fight. Both fighters came out swinging in the third and ended the third the same way. Both fighters hit each other with big punches, with Munhoz pressing the action, but Rivera countering. A very close and entertaining fight between two rising Bantamweight prospects.
Matheus Nicolau def. Bruno Korea via submission (Japanese neck tie) at 3:27 of Round 3 - Bantamweights
Nicolau worked Korea in the first round, constantly finding a home with the left hand. Korea's refusal to keep his hands up cost him a knock down, making Nicolau the clear winner of the first round. More of the same occured in the second round until Korea was able to hit a spinning back kick to Nicolau's chest, knocking him down. Nicolau recovered quickly and worked for a very tight armbar. In the third round, Nicolau continued to capatalize on the lack of defence from Korea, knocking him down mid way through the round and submitting him with a guillotine choke from half guard. The fight was an entertaining scrap between two young fighters with Nicolau clearly the better fighter.