Even before it took place, UFC 198 was the best Brazil vs the World card we had ever seen, with various surefire hall of famers participating in matchups that were almost guaranteed to be tremendous fun. Even with the loss of Anderson Silva vs Uriah Hall, we got some pretty amazing moments and some great fights that were capped off with a stunning upset for the ages.
Stipe Miocic - An unlikely contender rose through the ranks being the underdog in pretty much every outing as he defeated top ten opposition, and came in once again underestimated by many to punch his ticket on the big stage. A bit of a slow start for Miocic as far as getting his timing right is concerned, but he made it count when it mattered most and slept one of the most complete fighters to hold a heavyweight title. Excellent job by Miocic and he deserves all the credit he can get for this massive accomplishment. The UFC now has another American heavyweight champ they can get behind, which means he's going to get far more exposure and marketing opportunities for their business that will also benefit him greatly. From former baseball prospect to MMA champ? I guess dreams really do come true. Another illustration of hard work meeting opportunity in a bizarre sport.
Ronaldo Souza - Jacare was dominant en route to a finish, but now that the fight is over he's aiming for a title shot that he richly deserves at this point. Most curious was his phrasing - "I deserve the opportunity..." This man wants to prove himself. More than that, he seems to want to prove to everyone else how good he is. Sure, Belfort isn't what he used to be. That was still a very impressive win as the technical aspects of his grappling were sharp while his movement was fluid while his pace was constant. Now, there's no doubt as to who gets a crack a the winner of Rockhold vs Weidman, and his promise to finish Rockhold in a possible rematch raises the stakes a bit.
Cris Cyborg - Yes, it was way overdue for her to be in the UFC. It was still a bit surreal to see Cyborg in a Reebok kit being introduced by Bruce Buffer, but her performance showed she was still ready to fire on all cylinders. Her work with Jason Parillo really paid off, because she looked better hitting Leslie Smith than she did hitting pads. Her timing and combinations looked great, and she was surprisingly composed and accurate in the process. This wasn't the Daria Ibragimova fight. Cyborg didn't come in with the patented bumrush, which makes this performance so much more impressive. Despite the premature stoppage, she was gracious in victory and showed a lot of respect to Smith. In fact, the buildup to this fight since her signing to the UFC has been one of the best low-key PR goodwill tours in some time. She has been tremendously respectful and humble throughout the entire thing. She was also strangely but expectedly noncommittal to staying exclusively in the UFC or defending her title in Invicta, but after that performance it stands to reason that there's way too much money on the table for Zuffa to let her go back to Invicta at this point. Especially considering that there aren't as many fresh and compelling challenges for her there outside of a superfight with bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger as well as the fact that they're building a women's featherweight division practically from the ground up.
Mauricio Rua - I wish this were a "Shogun still got it" piece, but no. Shogun is gone. That guy left after the legendary fight against Dan Henderson in 2011. This, well... is different. The work with Cordeiro was more than evident here as he was far more measured, punctuated combinations with leg kicks and didn't let himself get drawn into a dogfight. He fought in equal parts smart and hard, beating a young and hungry talent that has a lot of upside, and even dealt remarkably well with Anderson's wrestling. What this means for his immediate future is uncertain, but perhaps the best thing we can say about this is that he didn't get reckless and his performance was a better representation of what he's capable off than say, the OSP fight. He very well may have extended his career for another while, and if it means more performances like this that's not a bad thing.
Demian Maia - Simply amazing domination by Maia. Despite the fact that most fans prefer the big knockouts and not everyone appreciates a grappling clinic, Maia's in this rare spot where people actually appreciate watching him dismantle the opposition in a manner that he not only makes it look easy, he makes it look fun. A grappler! Granted, it's 2016. One would think that people would finally have a greater appreciation for all aspects of MMA, but Maia is a true treasure. Currently on a five-fight win streak and none of them have been anything resembling a close fight. Despite stumbling against Jake Shields and Rory MacDonald back to back, his welterweight run has been outstanding, and he's now successfully muddied up the waters a bit when it comes to the pecking order in that weight division and who gets the next shot at the title after UFC 201.
Francisco Trinaldo - Tremendous performance here by the man with the most fun nickname in MMA. Massaranduba has come such a long way from his days in Bitetti Combat and Jungle Fight and is another one of the fighters from TUF Brazil season 1 that has made great strides in his improvement overall. Trinaldo came into the UFC mostly being a kickboxer with a greater emphasis on boxing, and struggled against grapplers. He's now quietly amassed a 10-3 UFC record with four finishes and a six-fight winning streak. He was never supposed to succeed like this, but he has, and he's looked simply phenomenal in some of the exchanges. If his wins over Norman Parke, Chad Laprise and Ross Pearson haven't convinced you of his legitimacy, let this be the fight that makes you a believer. He negated the reach advantage and came very close to finishing a notoriously tough opponent. Hard to stand out in the most stacked division in the sport, but he's making it happen and making it fun in the process.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira - Well, this was a good thing. It's certainly better to see Lil Nog go out there and get a big win like this as opposed to watching him look old and downtrodden like he did against Rumble Johnson. These people have families, man. Watching older dudes get beat up while looking like they don't belong is just wrong.
Bryan Barberena bit down on his mouthpiece and fought hard against one of the best Brazilian prospects and won a decision in Brazil. That ought to quiet some people. Great performance and another gritty win from a fearless fighter that might just stick around at 170 as opposed to returning to lightweight. Thiago Santos was merciful in dispatching Nate Marquardt, and that's the nicest way to put any of that. John Lineker and Rob Font had a great fight that should see Lineker move up a bit in a division that is a bit of a mess outside of the top 6-7, While Font doesn't fall too far here as he didn't have much to lose and has room and time to grow. Renato Carneiro keeps his almost perfect record (10-0-1 draw) and is now 2-0 in the UFC.
Fabricio Werdum - Not sure what happened there. This wasn't the Werdum that fought Travis Browne. There was no need to run towards Miocic while doubling up on punches. Strange thing is, he was looking pretty good in the opening minute, landing body kicks and keeping his combinations sharp and clean. Perhaps the moment got to him or he believed he could overwhelm Miocic with pressure, but that didn't happen. The way heavyweight is these days, he's probably getting a title shot offer later this year or early next year under the right conditions.
Vitor Belfort - As a general rule, I don't advise anyone to bet against Belfort. That policy may soon be rescinded. This should be a reminder that there are BJJ black belts, and there are elite level grapplers. For someone that's been fighting for so long, not being able to look like they're even close to escaping mount just looks humiliating. At least he didn't try to punch his way out of mount as he did against Weidman. I understand it seems harsh, but performances like this don't do anyone any favors. He's probably another two wins from yet another title shot, but at this point that's not in anyone's best interest. He needs to be kept away from the top 5.
Matt Brown - It's not that there was much he could do about it, because losing to Maia via grappling is what it is. Brown ends up in this column because he falls back a few spots in a crowded and talented division. He can still give anyone a tough fight, including the champion himself. His stock just takes a big hit with this loss.
Nate Marquardt - Brain trauma is a real thing, people. I'm tired of seeing Nate get his lights shut off like this. This is probably the second or third time that Nate gets hit so hard he starts to grapple with the ref, as he snatched a leg once the ref kneeled in front of him. Some people are hesitant to tell a fighter they should retire, but even those people have to look at this case and consider that some fighters need to be saved from themselves, and this is a prime example right here.
Leslie Smith - First things first: that stoppage was wrong. A very emotional Smith was adamant about it immediately after the fight and she was correct in protesting the stoppage. She never quit, though. She took on the fight with a very good idea of what she was up against and got dropped by a slicker boxer with power. It happens. Justino shucking the leg aside and passing to work from the side certainly looked like the end was near, but even as someone that wants to see fighters get the opportunity to fight back it was too early. She now drops to 8-7-1, with the doctor's stoppage against Eye that probably shouldn't have happened along with some questionable decision losses, it's hard not to feel bad for her. She did the UFC a solid here, and may still get another shot despite being 2-3 in the organization. Again, it's not so much how she lost, it's what she loses in the process.
Yancy Medeiros - Didn't want to put him here, but here we are. Medeiros is currently 3-4 in the UFC with a no contest against Yves Edwards. He belongs in the UFC, but fought some guys he shouldn't have been facing at the time such as Jim Miller and Dustin Poirier. He also has that freak thumb injury doctor stoppage loss against Khabilov. He fought valiantly here, though. He could have been put away in a few spots, but stayed at it and kept giving Trinaldo a fight. He may get cut, but it would be great if he were given another chance against a lesser-ranked opponent.
Corey Anderson - Currently at 4-2 in the UFC, Anderson came on the scene with more talent than what was expected of him and a strong controlling game that served him well against fighters like Jan Blachowicz and Fabio Maldonado. This loss showed how much work he still needs to do when it comes to his standup, and despite the chaos that is light heavyweight outside of the top 10, he may fall a few spots after this loss.
Patrick Cummins - Two straight TKO losses, and both were absolutely brutal. His record is now 8-4 and he's currently 4-4 in the UFC. Granted, two of them were against Daniel Cormier in his UFC debut and Glover Teixeira. Clearly a case of too much too soon in those fights, but this was just a case of being beat by an older fighter that had better boxing and can still crack. It's unfortunate, and he may get cut as a result.
Warlley Alves - Alves fought Barberena in a close fight where they both gave it pretty much everything they had, and lost. It's the first loss on his career, and it was to another younger fighter that's very skilled. This won't hurt him much as he's only 25 and still improving.
Serio Moraes and Luan Chagas ending in a draw is what it is, and neither party looks particularly bad as a result. Zubaira Tukhugov is now only 3-1 in the UFC, so he doesn't lose much traction.