The UFC Fortaleza prelims are a wrap and the Brazilian fighters found mixed success against international competition. Thiago “Pitbull” Alves snatched victory from the jaws of Max Griffin in a spectacular brawl. The fight was in Alves’ hometown of Fortaleza no less. The close split decision was a sigh of relief for fans of the legendary Brazilian following losses in four of his last five fights. There were rumors Alves would retire after this fight, but commentator Michael Bisping says Alves has a few more left in him.
Suriname heavyweight prospect Jairzinho Rozenstruik made good on his UFC debut with a second-round knockout of Junior Albini. Rozenstruik wiggled his way out of an early kimura attempt and rebounded in the second, catching Albini with a thunderous combination. The multilingual fighter earned himself some Brazilian fans with a Portuguese salute to those in attendance.
Bantamweight Said Nurmagomedov made a successful first effort at bantamweight with a showcase TKO of Ricardo Ramos. The Dagestani fighter landed more spinning s—t than Nick Diaz could ever have the patience for, including two vicious spinning kicks to the body. The impact of the first kick pushed Ramos to the ground, the second one had him gasping for air. Several followup shots for good measure and Nurmagomedov had his hand raised on foreign soil.
And do not forget about the wild brawl that was Perez vs. Hernandez. Fortunately, you do not have to scroll too far down to see those highlights.
Check out the complete ESPN+ Prelims results below:
Markus Perez def. Anthony Hernandez by anaconda choke at 1:07 of round 2: Middleweight
What a brawl! Both fighters landed with thudding strikes that could have ended the fight at any moment. Perez slammed Hernandez to the mat, Hernandez responded with a cracking elbow on the break. Perez threw a hard body kick, a foreshadowing of things to come. Both fighters continued to wing punches like trebuchets. Perez would land with a leg kick, so Hernandez would respond with a spinning leg kick. What a ridiculous pace these young, hungry fighters put on.
The second round offered more of the same chaos. Right off the top, a whipping body kick had Hernandez wincing. Perez smelled blood in the water and poured the offense on a wounded Hernandez. Perez jumped on Herandez’s back and hunted a choke, but lost it in the scramble. The clever fighter latched on a standing anaconda choke, however, and Hernandez was clearly in the danger zone. A roll occurred and Perez continued to latch in the choke on the floor, rendering Hernandez unconscious.
Mara Romero Borella def. Taila Santos via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29): Women’s Flyweight
Borella out-performed Santos in a bout that was probably close than she would have liked. Borella showed some night effort on the feet with knees and other strikes, but a takedown from Santos had Borella in danger. Santos took her opponent’s back and hunted for a choke to no avail. Borella ended up on top at some point and worked her way out of Santos’ rubber guard.
The second round was not what some people would call thrilling. A lot of back-and-forth grappling exchanges against led nowhere. The referee eventually broke things up only for the fighters to clinch again. Just when it seemed the fighters would separate and engage on the feet, yet another clinc occurred. The third round offered more entertainment thanks, in part, to Santos’ forward pressure and power punches. Ultimately, it was not enough to secure her the win and Borella took home the third split decision on the prelims.
Thiago Alves def. Max Griffin by split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29): Welterweight
If there was any doubt Thiago Alves could still scrap, those doubts should be a thing of the past. Alves rallied from early adversity and brought the fight to a game Griffin. Alves was clipped early with a combination but managed to survivor an onslaught of offense from Griffin. What followed was a very competitive first round: Alves landed with body kicks and leg licks, Griffin made the most of his length with jabs, straights, and a cracking step-in knee. Just as things were looking good for Alves, he was looking at the lights. Griffin knocked Alves down at the end of the first and swarmed his opponent. It looked like Griffin might just take the legendary “Pitbull” out back but the clock saved the Brazilian.
Alves looked like a fighter reborn in the second, neutralizing Griffin’s six-inch reach advantage with nonstop pressure. A noticeably taxed Griffin struggled to keep up with the pace and ate more knuckle sandwiches than this write could count. Constantly on the back foot, the second round clearly went to Alves. In the third, Griffin’s corner urged their fighter to not brawl with the hard-nosed Brazilian. Alves landed on Griffin early, but Griffin’s managed to get Alves to the floor multiple times. Alves had brief moments of success on the ground, but Griffin was clearly getting the better of the grappling exchanges. The American ended the fight on top, but still lost a close split decision to the hometown fighter.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik def. Junior Albini by KO at 0:54 of round 2: Heavyweight
Rozenstruik showed incredible patience and control against a very game Albini despite difficulties early. Albini scored a takedown early in the first round and showed promising submission attempts. He managed to lock up a kimura but Rozenstruik was able to prevent his arm from being torqued. Rozenstruik briefly returned to his feet only to be taken down again. Rozenstruik managed to reverse the position and land a few punches before backing off. Both fighters landed on the feet.
Round two started with a feeling out process but it was not meant to be. Rozenstruik landed a stunning shot, followed up with two more and closed the show with a thudding head kick. A little ground-and-pound for good measure and the referee was forced to pull Rozenstruik off a bloodied Albini.
Geraldo de Freitas def. Felipe Colares by unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
This fight was just about all Freitas Jr. from start to finish. Freitas picked apart his fellow Brazilian with powerful combinations from all angles. He mixed in plenty of takedowns and achieved mount multiple times. Colares was never safe. Colares ate head kicks, leg kicks, knees to the body, double legs and throws throughout the fight.
Colares’ best moment was arguably in the first round when he scooped up his opponent and drove him to the mat. Unfortunately, Colares smacked his own head off the mat and could have very well been knocked out had he landed just a smidge harder. Freitas’ impressive technique and Colares’ unrelenting heart made for a three-round showcase. Freitas took home a clear unanimous decision, including a 10-8 on one judge’s scorecard.
Said Nurmagomedov def. Ricardo Ramos by TKO at 2:28 of round 1: Bantamweight
Nurmagomedov immediately began lighting up a very game Ramos with inside and outside leg kicks. What followed was an almost instantaneous spinning back kick to the body. The impact knocked Ramos to the floor like something out of Dragon Ball Z. Nurmagomedov whiffed on a spinning head kick but found more success with his spinning back fist. One final spinning back kick to the body forced Ramos to keel over. A blitzing combination of strikes was the final straw as the referee pulled Nurmagomedov away and signaled an end to the fight.
Rogerio Bontorin def. Magomed Bibulatov by split decision (29-28 x 2, 28-29): Flyweight
It was a close back-and-forth fight between #11 ranked flyweight Bibulatov and the debuting Bontorin. The two traded effectively on the feet, although Bibulatov generally landed harder with spinning kicks to the body and a sweet hook kick. Unfortunately for the ranked fighter, the floor was lava and he got burned. Bontorin ended both the opening and closing rounds on Bibulatov’s back, hunting for rear-naked chokes. His impressive control on the ground punctuated two of thee rounds and earned him the nod on a majority of the judges’ scorecards.
The Dana White’s Tuesday Not Contender Series product was among the mostly highly-ranked regional prospects in Brazil. Chances are he has earned a spot in the UFC’s flyweight rankings and can look forward to meeting someone in the top 10 very soon.