Tonight, the UFC returns to Brazil with a special four-hour pay-per-view event in Rio de Janeiro, headlined by none other than women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. The undefeated worldwide superstar will go up against fellow unbeaten Bethe Correia, who comes into this one as the biggest underdog in UFC history. In the co-main, PRIDE legends Mauricio Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira duel again, 10 years removed from their classic encounter in PRIDE, which Shogun won by unanimous decision.
This post is all about the main card, which spans seven fights because of the additional TUF Brazil 4 finals that were supposed to take place in Florida back in June. Also on the card are heavyweights Minotauro Nogueira and Stefan Struve, Bigfoot Silva and Soa Palelei, plus the UFC debut of women's strawweight Jessica Aguilar, who faces top ranked contender Claudia Gadelha.
Live commentary of the pay-per-view broadcast begins live at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT. Dallas Winston will be your play-by-play typist for the main card fights. In the meantime, feel free to view this week's Vivisection with Kid Nate, Zane Simon, and Connor Ruebusch.
Jessica Aguilar vs. Claudia Gadelha - Women's Strawweights
Round 1: Aguilar starts with repeating, almost nervous jabs but Gadelha scores first with a quick up-knee to the head. Aguilar looking for speedy strikes and volume while Gadelha wades through them, measuring heavier shots. Body kick lands for Gadelha, who continues to march forward fearlessly. Another kick from Gadelha followed by a one-two.
Reactive uppercut lands for Gadelha, who's bullying Aguilar with her power. Aguilar scores with an outside low kick. Gadelha changes levels and slams Aguilar to the canvas, then transitions to back control. Both hooks in for Gadelha as the clock winds down. 10-9 Gadelha.
Round 2: Gadelha stings Aguilar with a left hook and a one-two, then an uppercut. She puts Aguilar on the fence and eats a knee but powers Aguilar to the mat from the body lock. Aguilar gets to her feet but Gadelha threatens to move behind her; Aguilar circles off the fence and lands a few knees up the middle. They separate and Gadelha keeps plugging away with no respect for Aguilar's punching power.
Stiff jab from Gadelha. Aguilar lands a short right, then an outside low kick. Another stiff jab from Gadelha. And another, then a hard counter right. Aguilar hangs tough and finds the mark with a low kick, then charges with a flurry that Gadelha avoids. Gadelha nails a power double to close the frame. 10-9 Gadelha.
Round 3: A sturdy left/right combo for Gadelha. Aguilar lands consecutive low kicks to Gadelha's lead leg, and the impact shows as Gadelha starts to pre-check the kicks. Aguilar lands another and a right hand but Gadelha plugs her with a big right. They trade right hands and Aguilar gets the worst of it, but shows a big heart with two more low kicks. And another, the new tactic changing the complexion of the fight.
Gadelha looks to counter the barrage of low kicks with jabs and the occasional cross but the leg kicks seem to have taken their toll. They both land evenly in an exchange but Aguilar closes her combo with a low kick. Gadelha hits a takedown with 30 seconds left but can't capitalize. 10-9 Aguilar. I have it 29-28 Gadelha.
Official result: Claudia Gadelha defeats Jessica Aguilar by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Soa Palelei vs. Antonio Silva - Heavyweights
Round 1: Silva crouches low and walks Palelei into a corner. Palelei wings a punch and shoots, keeping Silva on the fence and unable to transition into a single leg. Silva stays upright and pushes Palelei away to reset on the feet. Palelei tries to duck under Silva's combo but can't stay connected. Silva flings a front kick that whizzes by Palelei's head. Silva lands a hard uppercut and nearly times an up-knee as Palelei changes levels.
Silva puts Palelei on the fence and lands a short knee to the inner thigh. Palelei hits a beautiful counter hip throw and lands on top in Silva's half guard. Short forearms for Palelei as Silva moves to deep half guard. Palelei dissuades him with a round of hammer-fists. Palelei sits up and throws a barrage of wild punches. Now a hard right and a few more glancing shots from Palelei to finish the round. 10-9 Palelei.
Round 2: Silva lands a sharp uppercut and then a knee with Palelei on the fence. Silva persists, swatting away with his giant bear-mitts until Palelei crumples to the canvas.
Official result: Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva defeats Soa Palelei by TKO (punches) R2 0:41
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Stefan Struve - Heavyweights
Round 1: Nogueira lands a left over the top and puts Struve on the fence. They stalemate briefly in the 50/50 clinch, then engage in a long sequence of reversals against the fence. Nogueira pursues a single leg but Struve stays upright. Struve creates space and peels off a lengthy right cross that dazes Nogueira momentarily. Struve rings his bell with another but the veteran walks right through this one.
Nogueira pulls guard but Struve isn't having it. Struve dings him with another right cross after missing with a high kick. Clean outside low kick lands for Struve. Nogueira fires back with a combo that gets through and they clinch briefly. Struve gets the Thai plum and Nogueira swings rights and lefts to counter. Struve establishing range with a front kick. Nogueira slips a right hand through. Now a left. Struve lands an outside low kick and buckles Nogueira's legs with another right hand. 10-9 Struve.
Round 2: Nogueira starts the second with a right/left combo that bobs Struve's head back, then connects in the clinch. Nogueira slithers behind Struve and hits a trip, nearly taking the back. Struve slips free and counters with a leg lock that's threatening enough to dislodge Nogueira. Big Nog lumbers in with more alternating left and right hooks to Struve's head.
Struve plugs him with a hard right. Nogueira forces a clinch and looks for a takedown from the rear waist cinch but can't get it. Struve attacks the outside leg with a low kick, then spears a front kick to the body. Struve lands a glancing jab and a hard low kick, then a knee as Nogueira continues to predictably engage in a straight line. Nogueira forces another clinch but Struve stays upright. 10-9 Struve.
Round 3: Struve holds range with his left front kick and clips Nogueira with a right. Nogueira bull-rushes but can't maintain control. Nogueira lands a punch that's answered with another front kick. A pair of low kicks land for Struve along with a step-in knee to the body. Struve lands a low kick and Nogueira just walks through it.
No dice on another clinch blitz from Nogueira. Struve wheels out a right high kick that blasts through Nogueira's guard. Big Nog clinches up and goes for a single but eats a downward elbow from Struve. They land simultaneously: Nogueira with a right hand and Struve with a low kick. Nice range work from Struve, now with his jab. Struve dings him with a one-two and a low kick. A half-hearted and slow takedown attempt from Nogueira as the round draws to a close. 10-9 Struve. I have it 30-27 his way.
Official result: Stefan Struve defeats Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Round 1: Vieira uncorks a huge right and they clinch with Lopes hammering a blinding succession of punches to the body. They separate. Vieira goes downstairs with a combo, then cinches on a guillotine and jumps to guard. Vieira falls back but loses guard and Lopes slips his head out, countering immediately with a guillotine of his own. He jumps guard and closes it but Vieira somehow gets free.
They separate somewhat and touch off mutual flurries with a Lopes left hand leaving the biggest impression. Lopes tries another guillotine to no avail. They clinch up and Vieira's guillotine attempt from the front headlock is enough to back Lopes off. Vieira lands a heavy shovel punch and Lopes returns fire. These boys are chucking some leather here. Vieira tags Lopes with a right hand. Lopes answers with a left. Whoa. 10-10.
Round 2: Lopes looks a tad worse for the wear to start round two. Vieira lands a low kick and checks one from Lopes. Lopes cracks a left kick to the body of Vieira, who answers in kind shortly after. Lopes just misses with a big left hand. Vieira scores with a right cross. Lopes digs a left kick deep to the body of Vieira, then follows with a left hand downstairs -- that might've hurt Vieira. Lopes changes levels deftly and hits a takedown with a minute left. 10-9 Lopes.
Round 3: Vieira leads with a low kick, then glances with another. Vieira dictating the exchanges thus far as Lopes is late with his counters. Lopes charges with a wild flurry, Vieira whiffs badly on a punch and Lopes hits a duck-under takedown. Overhook and closed guard for Vieira and it's enough to keep Lopes at bay.
Vieira takes a knee and Lopes drops back for another guillotine with two minutes left. Lopes squeezes the hold for a good 30 seconds and Vieira looks to be surviving but pouring blood from an unknown wound. Vieira slips his head free and levels some heavy ground strikes. The round closes with both competitors hurling caveman-style punches with both hands. 10-9 Lopes. I have it 30-28 his way.
Official result: Reginaldo Vieira defeats Dileno Lopes by unanimous decision (29-28 x 2, 30-27)
Round 1: They trade low kicks. Bruno uncorks a three-piece combo that forces Franca to duck and cover. Bruno shoots and Franca plants a thudding knee deep into his body. A scramble ensues and Bruno has Franca on the fence when the dust settles. Bruno finishes a single leg despite the front headlock of Franca, though it enables Franca to get back to his feet. Bruno keeps Franca on the cage with double under-hooks, then lands a knee downstairs.
Franca, still using the front headlock, circles off the cage and goes on the offensive with a double leg. Franca peels Bruno off the cage to secure top control, then gets the rear waist lock when Bruno escapes and takes him back down. Bruno tries a counter single and Franca nearly takes his back with an arm trapped. Bruno creates enough space to spin and face Franca but he's taken down again; Franca deftly slides into back control with one hook in. 10-9 Franca.
Round 2: Bruno looks to impose his will early but the gangly Franca spins off the fence and goes back to the front headlock. Bruno cleverly counter-wrestles his way into top position and Franca gets head control with an open guard. Franca boots him off and threatens with a counter double to keep Bruno off him; they reattach and Franca again slides into back control, this time cinching on a body triangle. Franca gets in rear-naked choke position and switches to a Gable grip but doesn't have enough time to finish. 10-9 Franca.
Round 3: Franca lands a sharp inside low kick, prompting Bruno to go berserk with wild punches. Franca fires back and they lock horns in the clinch. Bruno hits a takedown from the body lock and quickly takes Franca's back but, in a flash, Franca reverses position and ends up on Bruno's back. Bruno shakes him off and wades forward with both hands whirring.
Franca counter-clinches and Bruno keeps him on the fence with under-hooks. Franca pummels and gets under-hooks but lands a knee below the belt. After a brief pause, Franca snaps an inside low kick and glances with a body knee from the double collar tie. Franca bowls Bruno over and keeps his head trapped on the cage in side mount. Franca gets back control again but this time finishes with the choke.
Official result: Glaico Franca defeats Fernando Bruno by submission (rear-naked choke) R3 4:46
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Mauricio Rua - Light Heavyweights
Round 1: Rua comes up short on a body kick as Nogueira does with a left cross. Shogun lands the next body kick glances with a vicious one-two counter. Short left lands for Nogueira. Rua answers with a right hand, then an inside low kick. Nogueira ducks under a Rua punch and puts him on the cage, then backs off with a big left that whiffs. Nogueira grazes with a right hook to close his combo.
Inside low kick lands to the thigh for Nogueira. They land combos mutually but Rua's seems to have more impact. Rua's right body kick connects with a resounding thud. Nogueira uncorks a searing left out of nowhere and it puts Rua on roller-skates. Nogueira pounces on the wounded Rua but can't land clean. Rua recovers and lands a punch that might've wobbled Nogueira but he can't hit his signature trip takedown. Nogueira unloads another heavy salvo to close the frame. 10-9 Nogueira.
Round 2: Rua lands an inside low kick, then changes levels to hit a takedown. Rua buries his head in Nogueira's chest and tries to land strikes from inside his full guard. There's not much doin' until Shogun postures up with a short forearm, then passes into half guard. He keeps on going and nearly mounts Nogueira, who counters with a deep half sweep and escapes back to his feet.
Rua snaps an inside low kick, then lands a hard right body kick. Rua follows behind a left hook and puts Nogueira on the fence. They're separated shortly after and Shogun whiffs on an overhand right. Nogueira lands a left to the chest and Rua responds with another right body kick. And another followed by a low kick, and these are rugged kicks. 10-9 Rua.
Round 3: Rua goes back to the right body kick and it lands. They exchange mutually but Rua closes his combo with another body kick. Rua puts Nogueira on the fence and they break shortly after. Rua thwacks another shin into the ribs of Nogueira and they're all getting through clean. Now an inside low kick from Rua but Nogueira plugs him with a left. Rua answers with a right but can't finish his single-leg attempt.
Rua lands a glancing left hook, then an inside low kick. Now a counter right from Rua. They trade shots and Shogun again finishes with a right body kick. Inside low kick from Rua. Another body kick lands for Rua. Nogueira lands a short flurry. Rua shoots a double with a minute left and Nogueira falls back for a guillotine, and it looks tight. Nogueira sits back and cranks with full guard but Rua slips his head free. 10-9 Rua. I have it 29-28 Shogun.
Official result: Mauricio "Shogun" Rua defeats Antonio Rogerio Nogueira by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Ronda Rousey vs. Bethe Correia - UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship
Round 1: Rousey shrinks the gap aggressively but Correia pivots and catches her with a punch while reaching. Rousey resets, still in kill-mode, and locks up in the clinch. She looks for an outside trip and it off-balances Correia, who back-rolls out of it. She hits her feet with her back on the fence where a hail of leather from Rousey awaits her. A knee to the body lights the fuse and a Mack-truck right hand ignites the bomb. Correia goes limp before she hits the mat.
Official result: Ronda Rousey defeats Bethe Correia by KO (punch) R1 0:34