UFC Fight Night 125: About Last Night in Belem

UFC Fight Night 125: About Last Night in Belem

Machida Wins, Anders Learns

Lyoto Machida collected his first victory in more than three years, returning home to Belem to earn a split decision win over talented upstart Eryk Anders Saturday’s main event.

It was a close, tactical contest throughout, with Machida using his familiar evasive style to keep Anders guessing and avoid getting cut off and while everyone agreed the fight was close, the 49-46 scorecard turned in by judge Tony Weeks felt a little off as most had Machida winning the first and fifth with the second frame serving as the deciding round in the split.

As much as it was a happy moment for the hometown crowd to see their favorite son get back in the win column, this was one of those fights that felt bittersweet to me as it was once again clear that Machida is in the twilight of his career and doesn’t have many more trips into the Octagon left. While he was able to squeak out the victory, there was nothing about this fight that made you think he’s set to go on one final run at middleweight and the likelihood that this leads to another ugly knockout loss is high.

For Anders, this is a massive learning experience. He showed flashes, like when he split Machida open with a perfectly timed knee along the fence, and there are instinctive things that he does that you have to really like, but his lack of seasoning was also evident on Saturday. He couldn’t cut off the cage. He lunged after too many big shots. He failed to capitalize whenever he stung Machida, opting to duck in for a takedown far too often.

That being said, he’s only 11 fights into his career and just went 25 minutes in hostile territory with a former world champion and could have come away with the victory. That’s a net positive in my books and Anders will be better for having gone through this next time out and his future in the middleweight division remains bright.

Shevchenko Shines

Valentina Shevchenko turned in the blistering, dominant effort everyone was expecting in her flyweight debut opposite Priscila Cachoeira. She rocked the Brazilian neophyte right out fo the chute, exhibiting the extreme discrepancy in their skills and experience from the jump and then spent the next four minutes mauling the overmatched Cachoeira on the canvas. For some unknown reason, the fight progressed to the second round, where Shevchenko took things up another notch, securing a mounted crucifix and continuing to beat down on Cachoeira for another several minutes before finally choking her out late in the round.

This was an absolute mugging and it was exactly the kind of performance the UFC needed from the ultra-talented former bantamweight title challenger.

Look, I hate seeing Cachoeira get beat up like that and think both referee Mario Yamasaki and her corner have some explaining to do (but that won’t happen) for not stopping the fight, but as far as Shevchenko and the promotion go, this is what you wanted. This is what you needed to position Shevchenko as a menacing force in the flyweight division and move her into a title fight with Nicco Montano whenever the champion is ready to go.

As great as she has looked at different points during her bantamweight run, this was a next level, “nobody is going to want to fight this woman” kind of effort from Shevchenko. She showed the same slick hands as always, but they were quicker and she looked more powerful on the ground as well. The 29-year-old has legitimate star potential and this flawless effort should help push her one step closer to realizing her championship dreams and reaching that superstar level later this year.

Odds, Ends & Observations

Here’s one of those “why people don’t take MMA seriously” situations: Michel Prazeres blew weight on Friday, missed the agreed upon upper limit on Saturday and still walked into the Octagon and collected a victory over Desmond Green. If this sport is going to move forward and become anything more than a niche that lunatics like us pay too much attention to, the UFC (and other organizations) need to pull the plug on those fights and enforce greater punishments on athletes that fail to make weight.

Tim Johnson did what Tim Johnson does against Marcelo Golm, forcing the unbeaten heavyweight newcomer to carry his weight, fight in a phone booth and deal with a more savvy, more experienced fighter. It was a suffocating reboot of his win over Marcin Tybura and a reminder of why the UFC struggles to have turnover in various divisions at times.¬†This was the 25-year-old Golm’s second UFC appearance and instead of handing him a more winnable matchup, they put him in there with a smothering grappler who has limited upside. It’s a good win for Johnson, but a bad result for the division.

Douglas Silva de Andrade is the kind of exciting, entertaining fighter who isn’t going to be a contender that every division needs. He’s ultra-aggressive, rocks the vintage Vitor Belfort mullet-hawk and is 25-2 overall, but just 3-2 in the UFC. He’s the quintessential “you can count on him for a fun fight” guy at bantamweight and should be able to maintain that position for the next several years.

It’s time for Thiago Santos to get another crack at a Top 10 opponent in the middleweight division after he stopped the stupid-tough Anthony Smith on Saturday night. “Marreta” has won four straight – all by knockout – and should already be higher than the No. 15 position he occupied coming into this one. He’s ridiculously powerful, always entertaining and rolling right now; get him in there with Kelvin Gastelum or David Branch or someone like that and see what happens.

Sergio Moraes getting the nod over Tim Means was trash, even if you could smell it coming from a mile away. While the Brazilian veteran won the first round, Means landed the more significant strikes in the second and dominated down the stretch, yet two judges scored it in favour of his opponent. The part that really sucks is that it was wholly predictable, as Moraes was slinging hooks and getting loud cheers every time he connected. I don’t know if judges need to wear noise cancelling headphones or what, but Means deserved better.

Polyana Viana straight up mauled Maia Stevenson in their joint promotional debut in Belem. It was a one-sided mugging (as expected) with the Brazilian getting the finish with just over a minute left in the opening round. I don’t normally do the “doesn’t belong in the UFC” thing too much, but Stevenson has no business fighting at this level as her six victories have come against opponents with a combined 0-13 record following their fights.

Iuri Alcantara is the most frustratingly inconsistent fighter in the bantamweight division. Just when you think the 37-year-old veteran is slowing down, he goes out and smashes Joe Soto in 66 seconds, looking like a wrecking machine in the process. He’d lost two straight before this, but also has the third most bantamweight wins in UFC history. Dude is just perplexing, but he looked outstanding on Saturday night.

Really nice performance from Deiveson Figueiredo to kick things off, knocking Joseph Morales from the ranks of the unbeaten with a second-round stoppage win. The 30-year-old is 14-0 with 12 finishes and deserving of a step up in competition next time out. He’s already cracked the Top 15 and needs to get a push in the somewhat stale flyweight division.

Lots of Twitter squabbling and posturing today in the hours leading up to Fight Night after news broke that Max Holloway was out of his UFC 222 title fight against Frankie Edgar. The dumbest of the bunch: people actually thinking it made sense for T.J. Dillashaw to defend the bantamweight title against Cody Garbrandt in four weeks. Losing the Holloway-Edgar fight sucks, but that doesn’t mean you go rushing into a rematch no one (besides Team No Love) is really craving a month from now to make up for it.

Predictions Results: 

Comments are closed.