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UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3 post-fight results and analysis

Mookie Alexander recaps the full night of action at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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The UFC booked a trilogy bout between Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson to settle their rivalry, and to the surprise of pretty much no one, Henderson got destroyed. That was pretty much the only realistic outcome from the get-go, it happened, and Henderson was blasted with another head kick and a bunch of punches just like in their 2nd fight. The win keeps Belfort relevant as a top 10 185er for however much longer, while Henderson ends up with another stoppage loss.

This was a really really good card overall and I'll get to the rest of the action later, but this main event did nothing for me. It did nothing for me when it was first booked several months ago. There was little to gain out of watching Vitor starch Hendo again, and there was not much upside to Henderson getting another win, which would've delayed the inevitable shellacking he'd receive in his next fight.

Ideally, Henderson doesn't fight again. But if he does fight again, and I say this mostly in jest, then let it be against CM Punk, because even though he beat Tim Boetsch a few months ago, that's the only bout where I am 100% comfortable picking Henderson to win and not get his skull smashed in. It's been uncomfortable viewing watching Henderson over the past couple of years, and tonight didn't change a thing.

Anyway, onto positive and generally happy thoughts on tonight's card:

Main Card

  • Jon Anik and Brian Stann are the best UFC commentary duo out there. I say this pretty much every time they're together and I'm writing the analysis, so I might as well be consistent and write it up here. Stann is remarkably well-researched and is a natural at broadcasting. On a similar note, Yves Edwards is taking to his role as studio analyst very well, too.
  • Glover Teixeira ripped Patrick Cummins to shreds with his striking. If anything, Herb Dean probably could've stopped the fight sooner, because Cummins was out on his feet and just throwing on instinct. His brain was on autopilot and he was not going to fight his way back into things. It was another exciting performance from Teixeira, who is pretty clearly a top 5 fighter at light heavyweight and has carved out a damn good UFC career for himself late in his career.
  • Cummins' style is just not conducive to winning fights at an elite level. I believe he's a top 10 fighter right now (he's ranked #9 anyway), but spamming takedowns without having a grasp on effectively controlling high-quality opposition isn't a successful formula against guys who are better strikers out of the gate. He's made great strides in his game to go from coffee man to a formidable talent in just a little over a year, but there are too many holes in his game right now to take that extra leap forward.
  • Thomas Almeida is supremely violent. Anthony Birchak is no slouch, but Almeida sure had him in a slouching position with another sensational KO. Birchak was willing to stand and trade with the Brazilian phenom, and that was always likely to end badly for him. It did, and Almeida just dropped him like a bag of hammers. Is Almeida hittable? Yes. Is he fun as hell to watch and a future contender in this division? Hell yeah. He's must-see TV if you're an MMA fan, and I hope the UFC recognizes that and gives him the appropriate marketing push.
  • I said on Twitter that there was no reason for Alex Oliveira to engage with Piotr Hallmann on the ground. It arguably cost him round 2 after dominating round 1 with his striking, and then in round 3 Oliveira decided play time was over and hit the kill switch on Hallmann's brain. Two brutal right hands sealed the deal, and that was by far the best finish of the night ... until Almeida one-upped him just minutes later.
  • Oliveira finishes with a 3-1 record in the UFC for 2015, and this was his only fight with a full camp. It was also arguably his best performance to date (although the KJ Noons win may top this), and he's definitely a quality addition to the stacked lightweight roster.
  • Hallmann has quietly dropped 3 in a row, which includes a failed drug test vs. Gleison Tibau. This may be the end of the road for Piotr, and if so, it's a rough way to go out.
  • Rashid Magomedov dominated Gilbert Burns and sent the Brazilian to his first career defeat. Magomedov has crisp striking and mixes his strikes so beautifully, and it's time he get a top 15 fighter. That said, he had Burns just about finished in round 2 and never really upped the aggression. It reminds me of boxing's Erislandy Lara, who is a fantastic boxer but is derided for dull performances and an unwillingness to go for the kill against overmatched opposition.
  • Corey Anderson was a bad matchup for Fabio Maldonado, and what ensued was a predictable one-sided loss for the Brazilian slugger. Again, not an exciting win for Anderson, but an effective one that will see him move up the rankings by virtue of Maldonado being placed at #12 (!!!). It pays to Beast 25/8. I wish I could try it but I don't know how to defy time.

Preliminary Card

  • Keith Peterson bungled the ending of Gleison Tibau vs. Abel Trujillo by erroneously thinking Trujillo had gone unconscious defending a rear-naked choke when he actually hadn't. Trujillo never tapped and I guess Peterson thought he went out because his eyes were closed. However brief the fight was, Tibau was completely dominating Trujillo, but it sucks to see the ending get spoiled.
  • I'm not entirely sure Johnny Case should've gotten the nod (much less a unanimous one) over Yan Cabral, but props to Case for showing a major sense of urgency in the final minute of a 3rd round he was otherwise losing. Cabral has serious problems with his cardio, and Case made it worse for him with the thudding body kicks.
  • Johnny Case called for a fight against Sage Northcutt, whom he dubbed "The Saved By the Bell" kid. I laughed.
  • After engaging in a FOTY contender with Brian Ortega, only to lose in dramatic fashion in the final minute, Thiago Tavares needed just 39 seconds to choke out Clay Guida with a guillotine choke. Guida went in for a double-leg takedown and Tavares immediately countered with a guillotine attempt and adjusted it in the scramble to get the win. At least in the UFC, Guida has historically been hard to submit when he's not rocked, but tonight Tavares seized the early opportunity and got his 2nd win at featherweight.
  • ...Tavares' post-fight interview lasted about 50 times longer than the actual fight. I wasn't sure we were actually going to get to the next fight since he was on the mic for an eternity.
  • I'm not sure Chas Skelly's game, as it stands right now, is sustainable at a top 10 level (especially with his difficulties striking), but it's fun to watch and his win over Kevin Souza was a gutty one. It looked like Skelly was in control until Souza dropped him late in round 1, and Souza was able to capitalize on Skelly's striking deficiencies in round 2 before a composed Skelly was able to take his back and choke him out. That's where he had the original advantage and he closed it out in impressive fashion.
  • Viscardi Andrade beat Gasan Umalatov and there's no need to expand on what happened, because the fight was a sloppy mess that doesn't need to be re-watched at any point in time.
  • Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera fought a terrific contest from start to finish. It looked like Munhoz was edging towards a knockout loss in round 2, but he found a second wind and hurt Rivera on multiple occasions to get himself back into the fight. Rivera's sterling takedown defense, striking volume, and harder punches probably got him the decision, and while I think scoring that fight 29-28 either way would've been fine, there's a stronger case for giving Jimmie the win than Pedro.
  • In a battle of TUF Brazil 4 bantamweights, Matheus Nicolau Pereira largely dominated his fight against Bruno Rodrigues and pulled off a nifty 3rd round Japanese necktie to cap off a fine performance. Bruno had a cool flying spinning back kick knockdown in the 2nd, but he was otherwise outclassed and I doubt he's got much in the way of long-term viability in the UFC.