MMA Review: #489: UFC Fight Night 58

-The UFC’s seventh trip to Brazil in 2014 and the final show of the year too, this one looked quite loaded for a Fight Night card – a big Middleweight showdown between Lyoto Machida and CB Dollaway as well as the return of former Bantamweight champ Renan Barao at the top, and some interesting rising prospects (Rashid Magomedov, Cara de Sapato, Elias Silverio) underneath. No complaints from me as I love the Brazil shows.

UFC Fight Night 58

12/20/14
Barueri, Sao Paulo

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Brian Stann.

Middleweight Fight: Daniel Sarafian vs Antonio Dos Santos

Moving back up to 185lbs after an ill-advised trip to 170lbs went badly for him, TUF Brazil’s Sarafian was initially pegged to face Dan Miller here but when Miller got hurt, Dos Santos – no relation to former HW champ Junior – stepped in to take the fight. With the late notice and Sarafian being more comfortable at MW I was taking the TUF Brazil veteran to regain some confidence with a win here.

Round One and Dos Santos opens with a sharp leg kick. Left hook answers for Sarafian. Striking exchange continues and a stiff jab drops Dos Santos for a second but he pops up right away and seems okay. Big head kick lands for Sarafian but Dos Santos counters with a BIG RIGHT HAND that drops him! Sarafian goes down and he’s in trouble, but he manages to hit a scramble and forces his way back to his feet inside the clinch. Dos Santos throws him off though and they trade wildly with both men landing shots to the delight of the crowd. Good leg kick from Sarafian. Body kick follows but Dos Santos tags him with a counter combo. Good combo answers for Sarafian. This is a pretty wild fight thus far. Nice body kick from Dos Santos. Right hand sets up a takedown for Sarafian but Dos Santos reverses to his feet and gets a rear waistlock. Sarafian works to turn into him and they wind up clinched on the fence. Pair of elbows break for Dos Santos. Good shots from Dos Santos in another exchange. He’s definitely getting the better of these trades thus far. Takedown attempt is stuffed by Dos Santos but a second attempt is blocked by a shady fence grab that the ref misses. Round ends there. 10-9 Dos Santos.

Round Two and Sarafian opens with a groin kick. Boo! Ref calls time but Dos Santos evidently has BALLS OF STEEL as he’s fine pretty much instantly. Big left hook lands for Dos Santos. Jab to the body from Sarafian. Dos Santos does look a bit tired actually. Good leg kicks from both men. Wild trade follows but then Dos Santos steps off and waves at the ref calling time. Ref comes in and takes a look at his hand….and throws the fight out. Not sure what happened there at all. Apparently Dos Santos dislocated his finger and called time to fix it, but of course you can’t call time yourself in MMA so referee Eduardo Herdy had no choice but to call it a TKO. Unfortunate but that’s the rules I guess.

Anticlimactic ending to a pretty exciting fight. I look forward to seeing Dos Santos again as he looked like a decent enough fighter while Sarafian definitely looked better back at 185lbs. Shit ending though!

Welterweight Fight: Erick Silva vs Mike Rhodes

This was Silva’s first fight back after his ridiculous FOTYC with Matt Brown in May and in all honesty after taking such a beating in the end I didn’t expect to see him until 2015. This fight looked much more winnable for him – Rhodes had come into the UFC in January with some fanfare as a prospect but hadn’t really lived up to his pre-UFC reputation and so I thought Erick would be able to blow right through him and probably send him back to the minors, unfortunately.

Fight begins and the fans HATE Rhodes. Spinning back kick to the body from Silva but Rhodes tags him with a right hand. Erick comes back with a quick takedown and Rhodes goes for a guillotine, but Silva easily pops his head free and settles into the guard. SICK guard pass from Silva into side mount. Dude literally leapt into it. He looks for an arm triangle from there and it’s looking dangerous. He passes to the other side with ease and tightens it up and from there Rhodes goes out.

Total squash as Erick Silva remains one of the most exciting fighters to watch in the UFC as well as one of the most dangerous men in the division in the early part of the first round. Rhodes just got taken down and THROTTLED. Not much more to say really because what can you say?

Lightweight Fight: Rashid Magomedov vs Elias Silverio

To me this was the sleeper fight on the card as both guys were carrying excellent records in – Magomedov at 18-1 and Silverio at 11-0 – and both had looked fantastic in all of their previous UFC outings. A lot of people figured it’d be striker vs. striker and seemed to be giving a slight advantage to Magomedov, but I was favouring Silverio slightly due to him showing off a pretty tight ground game too in his previous fights. Still, this was a close call and I considered both men top prospects at 155lbs.

Round One and they exchange some feeler strikes with Silverio throwing out a lot of kicks and pushing forward as the aggressor. Pair of body kicks slow Silverio down though and now Magomedov begins to push the action. Magomedov is excellent at checking low kicks too as he catches Silverio a couple of times with it. NICE low kick into a head kick from Silverio but Magomedov takes it well. Right hand answers for Rashid. Xuxu continues to push the pace but he takes a counter leg kick and a right hand from Rashid coming in. Body kick lands for Magomedov too. His counter striking is unbelievably smooth. Leg kick from Silverio but Magomedov comes back with a quick combo. Overhand right glances for Magomedov. This is a very even round. Brian Stann mentions Silverio told him he’d be looking for takedowns but we’ve seen no attempts thus far. Beautiful combo from Magomedov, right hand into a body kick. Clinch with seconds to go and Magomedov hits an inside trip and ends the round with a flurry. 10-9 Magomedov by a hair as although Xuxu was the aggressor, Rashid landed the cleaner strikes throughout.

Round Two and again Silverio pushes forward as the aggressor. Right hand into a left hook connect clean for him and Rashid’s knees wobble for a second. He has to circle out as Silverio tries to close him down with a flurry, but he seems recovered quickly and Silverio smartly refuses to wade in. Silverio lunges forward but takes a poke to the eye and the ref has to call time. Might’ve been a clash of heads actually. They restart and exchange into the clinch before Silverio breaks with a right hook. Combination from Magomedov counters a Silverio kick and has the Brazilian hurt for a second. Looks like he might be cut over the right eye too. Nice left to the body from Silverio but Magomedov counters with an overhand right-left hook combo and gets the clinch. They muscle for position before Rashid breaks with a glancing right hand. Silverio needs to change things up here because he’s eating counters every time he swings something. Nice front kick does land for Xuxu, but he takes a shot to the groin accidentally as he throws it and the ref has to call time. They restart and Magomedov lands with a slick body kick. Leaping kick answers for Silverio but doesn’t land cleanly. Another body kick connects for Rashid. Silverio fires back with one of his own right away. Head kick glances for Silverio. Couple more nice counters from Rashid. Seconds to go and Silverio lands with a spin kick to the body, but he takes a right hand-body kick counter on the buzzer. Same story as the first round – aggression from Silverio; cleaner counter striking from Magomedov. 10-9 Rashid.

Round Three and Silverio opens with a hard switch kick that Magomedov just about blocks. Groin kick follows and although Rashid counters with an overhand right the ref has to call time to allow him to recover. They restart and Silverio connects with a jab. Beautiful combo from Rashid ends with an overhand right. Silverio is beginning to look really beaten up now in the face. Magomedov is showing more aggression in this round too and he’s beginning to walk the Brazilian down. They trade kicks and Silverio slips to the ground for a second but Rashid can’t capitalise. Counter left lands for Magomedov. Silverio finally decides to shoot, but Rashid sprawls to avoid it and lands a combo on his way out. Beautiful counter left hook snaps Xuxu’s head back. Good left hook connects for Silverio over the top of a kick. They clinch and Magomedov goes for a trip, but Silverio defends and finds himself pushed into the fence. The Brazilian breaks quickly though with two minutes to go. Right hand lands for Magomedov to counter a bit of a lazy jab. Couple more nice combinations land for Rashid. He doesn’t look tired in the slightest either. Another nice counter combo lands for him. Left hand glances for Silverio. Crowd begin to boo with about thirty seconds to go but I think it’s more because the Brazilian guy is clearly losing. Stiff left hand drops Silverio out of nowhere and he’s in trouble! Magomedov pounces and bombs on the side of the head with hammer fists as Silverio desperately looks for a single leg. He ends up dropping to his back and Magomedov lands some hard shots from above, before Silverio rolls onto his knees. Magomedov lets him up to his feet, but he practically STUMBLES INTO THE CAGE FACE FIRST and Rashid follows with another right that triggers the ref to step in with like two seconds to go. One of the latest TKO finishes in UFC history I think.

Super-impressive performance from Rashid Magomedov as he basically used his clean counter striking to dominate a large, aggressive opponent who’s hardly a slouch standing himself. I thought Silverio would look to use his ground game more but that never really came to pass as the one time they did clinch, Magomedov looked surprisingly like the stronger fighter which is wild considering how powerful Silverio had looked in his previous fights. I honestly think Magomedov is the big dark horse in this division – Silverio’s no joke and I think he might be top fifteen capable himself – and I think he matches up well with some of the guys ranked in the top ten too, the aggressive strikers like Edson Barboza, Michael Johnson, Bobby Green and Al Iaquinta. Dude is due a step up in competition for sure as he’s passed all his tests thus far with flying colours, including this one. Great fight to watch too and Magomedov’s slick style defies anyone who thinks MMA striking is just crude brawling.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Pat Cummins vs Antonio Carlos Jr.

Coming off his TUF Brazil win at HW, Cara de Sapato was moving down to 205lbs immediately and the word was actually that win or lose this one he was planning to move all the way down to 185lbs, which is pretty crazy. He’d looked tremendous during his TUF run, knocking out Edgard Castaldelli, subbing Marcos Rogerio de Lima and then dominating Vitor Miranda to take the crown. Cummins had of course been considered a bit of a joke after being smashed by Daniel Cormier in his UFC debut, but to be fair he’d looked great since then, using his powerful wrestling game to take out both Roger Narvaez and Kyle Kingsbury. To me though he was probably too wide open for Cara de Sapato and I favoured the Brazilian to win by submission, possibly from the bottom following a Cummins takedown.

Round One and Cummins shoots right away but Carlos avoids and lands a couple of glancing punches. Overhand right from Carlos sets up the clinch and he lands a solid knee to the body. They move around the cage and muscle for position before Cummins trips him into guard. Right away Carlos is moving his hips for a possible submission and sure enough he spins into a leglock. Cummins manages to lean backwards to stack him to avoid, but he’s in trouble here. Looks like Cara de Sapato might have a heel hook locked up, and Cummins tries to spin but can’t quite get free. Cara de Sapato switches to a toehold on the other leg, but lets it go to go back to the heel hook attempt. Cummins again sits back onto the Brazilian’s chest and drops a couple of hammer fists onto the unprotected head. Finally Cummins manages to pull free and stands over the TUF winner before dropping a couple of punches back into the guard. Cummins gets through with some decent punches but again the Brazilian rolls for a leglock. A hammer fist or two stops this attempt though and he has to roll back to guard. Nice ground-and-pound from Cummins. He manages to pass the guard into side mount too, and the round ends with more ground-and-pound. Cummins got himself into trouble early there but really took over the round late on. 10-9 Cummins.

Round Two and Cara de Sapato opens with a hard leg kick. Looks like he’s trying to keep his distance in this round. No sooner have I said that though and he shoots in for a takedown, but Cummins sprawls and spins to take the back. Carlos turtles up and takes some shots before Cummins tries to elevate him for a suplex. He can’t quite get it but he’s still got the dominant position, riding Carlos from behind before taking top position in half-guard. Cummins stands over him and then drops some punches down into the guard, doing a nice job again with his base. Considering the pedigree of Carlos, Cummins is doing a tremendous job of retaining top position and doing damage with his ground-and-pound. Crowd begin to boo as they’re not liking Cummins doing all the damage from the top. Carlos goes for a heel hook again but Cummins manages to defend well and stands free. He drops right back down into side mount and it looks like Cara de Sapato might be tired. Cummins is all over him here. He stands again and drops a big right hand through the guard. Cara de Sapato is looking busted up. Again Cummins stands over him and this time it allows Carlos to explode to his feet. Head kick glances for the Brazilian and has the crowd going wild. Cummins wades in with some wild punches but eats a couple of counters. Crowd are way into Cara de Sapato. Cummins gets hold of a leg, but the TUF winner leaps free. Beautiful double leg from Cummins plants him on his back again though with seconds remaining. He lands some more ground-and-pound before taking an illegal upkick. Mario Yamasaki calls time and warns he’ll take a point if it happens again, and as they restart the buzzer goes. Clear-cut 10-9 for Cummins.

Round Three and Cara de Sapato opens with a big jumping knee and manages to shrug off a takedown. He gets wild with a right hook though and it allows Cummins to duck under and hit a takedown. He forces the Brazilian onto his knees and then down into half-guard. Crowd are FURIOUS with this, raining down with boos. Action slows down as Cummins grinds on him with some forearms from the top. Good punches get through for Cummins as he seems happy to sit in the open guard in this round to deliver the ground-and-pound. Looks like he’s pretty much in half-guard at this point in fact. Cara de Sapato gives his back and it looks like Cummins is trying to lock on some sort of neck crank. The Brazilian avoids, but finds himself mounted and Cummins opens up with punches. Good job from Cara de Sapato to push off the fence to escape the mount, but he can’t sweep and ends up on the bottom in guard. He’s very tired here. Cummins drops a big hammer fist and looks like he’s content to continue to work from the top. Seconds to go and Cummins allows him up and delivers an uppercut that glances. He shoots again but this time Carlos sprawls and takes the back with a rear waistlock before hitting a suplex! Crowd go CRAZY as Cara de Sapato slaps both hooks in and looks for the choke, but he’s running out of time fast. Cummins manages to survive and the round ends with Carlos in dominant position. 10-9 Cummins for a 30-27 shutout.

Judges all have it 30-27 for Patrick Cummins. Well, even the notoriously home-country biased Brazilian judges couldn’t screw that one up. This wasn’t the greatest fight ever to watch (although it wasn’t boring either) but Cummins did a really tremendous job of stifling a very tricky grappler as well as avoiding anything nasty on the feet where he seemed outgunned. It just goes to show how far a strong wrestling background and high-level athleticism can get you because in terms of sheer skills you’d say Cara de Sapato would have Cummins firmly outgunned and yet he couldn’t do a thing with the guy here. I think he’ll get better with more experience for sure – especially if he does indeed drop to 185lbs, although I’d be tempted to stay at 205lbs and pack some more muscle on if I were him as it’s a quieter division these days – but this was just a slight step up too far for him. Cummins probably has enough to stick around the bottom end of the top ten for a while now and that’s almost funny given how he was considered a joke when UFC signed him to fight Cormier.

~Middleweight Fight: Vitor Miranda vs Jake Collier

This was a prelim taped earlier in the night, with TUF Brazil runner-up Miranda dropping all the way from Heavyweight to Middleweight to take on Collier, a UFC newcomer with a solid record of 8-1. Difficult fight to pick but as Collier’s record had no name opponents I was going with the Brazilian.

Round One and the crowd are INSANELY hot for Miranda. Collier comes out aggressively though and tags him with a few early strikes. Good leg kick from Miranda but he gets backed up by some more strikes. More combinations land for Collier and he wobbles Miranda’s legs for a moment with a stiff left hand. Clinch from Miranda but Collier forces him back into the fence. Right hand breaks for Collier. Nice body kick and low kick from Miranda but Collier tackles him to the ground. Miranda reverses up immediately but Collier stays right on him and tries to muscle him back down. He gets to a rear waistlock and lands a couple of knees before tripping Miranda down into side mount. Nice job from the newcomer. Scramble from Miranda almost allows him free, but Collier spins with him and continues to control from the top. He almost gets full mount, but Miranda manages to get half-guard instead. Collier moves back into side mount and Miranda’s looking a bit stuck here. Crowd begin to boo loudly. Good punches and elbows for Collier as the booing intensifies. He looks for a D’Arce choke and it looks locked up, but Miranda manages to escape and ends up being held on his knees with a front headlock. Seconds to go and he escapes to his feet to a big crowd pop. Ten second warning sounds and Miranda lands with a chopping leg kick and then NAILS HIM WITH A RIGHT HEAD KICK! Collier looks stunned and Miranda OPENS UP AND FINISHES HIM OFF! INSANE ending, wow.

Unbelievable win for Vitor Miranda. Round was looking like a 10-8 in favour of Collier but somehow he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as Miranda literally landed one good shot and finished him off with it. Fair play to Miranda for pulling that one out, but man that’s got to be a crushing loss for Collier. Super-exciting ending to a decent fight.

Bantamweight Fight: Renan Barao vs Mitch Gagnon

2014 had undoubtedly been the worst year in the career of Renan Barao to this point – he’d lost his UFC title to TJ Dillashaw in the upset of the year in May and then when it came time for his rematch he ended up botching the weight cut and was hospitalised. This was his chance to right the ship, matched with an opponent way down the pecking order in Gagnon although the Canadian was still dangerous due to his generally reckless style. I was expecting Barao to win here but did wonder how he’d look upon return given all his issues in the months previous.

Crowd are all over Gagnon with the “you’re gonna die” Portuguesa chants literally as soon as he emerges from the back. He doesn’t look at all fazed though to be fair to him. Barao is just ridiculously over. Probably the biggest reaction I’ve ever seen for him which makes sense given it’s his first UFC in Brazil.

Round One begins and they circle and exchange a couple of feeler strikes. Big leg kick lands for Barao and gets a huge pop from the crowd. Left hook connects for Gagnon. Leg kick from Barao. Into the clinch and they muscle for position before Gagnon throws him off. Combo glances for the Canadian. Barao looks slightly gunshy to me as Gagnon’s coming in with these combos. Good knee from the clinch for Barao but they break quickly and now the Brazilian lands a heavy combo. Exchange continues and Barao lands with another sharp leg kick. Stiff jab follows but Gagnon clinches and forces him into the fence. Barao manages to throw him off though and then lands with another vicious leg kick that practically moves Gagnon across the cage. Left hook glances for Gagnon. He’s still wading in with punches here and doing a solid job of it. Another leg kick lands for Barao but Gagnon hits him with a combo ending in a hard left hook. Another good knee lands inside for Barao. Gagnon’s doing a tremendous job of connecting when he’s coming forward here. He tries it again but this time leaves himself open and a BIG LEFT HOOK lands for Barao and drops him! Gagnon is in big trouble but he rolls and ends up giving his back on his knees. Good job from Gagnon to not allow him to slap the hooks in though and he works back to his feet. They clinch against the fence and Gagnon tries to get Barao down, but the former champ blocks it and ends the round with a hard knee to the body. Not vintage Barao but still his round, 10-9.

Round Two and Gagnon pushes the action again. Lead right uppercut from Gagnon sets up a combo but Barao stays in the pocket and fires back with a combo of his own. Clinch from Gagnon and he muscles Barao into the cage but still can’t get him down. Barao continues to defend and referee Mario Yamasaki calls a clean break. Combo from Gagnon is answered by a leg kick and a hard right from the Brazilian. Clinch from Barao and he hits a trip takedown, but Gagnon reverses right back up to his feet. Good knees inside from Barao as it looks like he’s trying to muscle Gagnon back to the ground. Gagnon does a good job to break free though and he lands a jab, but eats a hard left hook on the counter. The Canadian clinches but Barao defends the takedown with absolute ease and they muscle for position in the clinch. Nice knee from Barao and he has to defend the takedown again as the crowd begin to boo slightly. Yamasaki calls another break with 1:30 remaining and Gagnon lands a hard left hook to the body and follows with a clean one to the head. Big combo from Gagnon but Barao’s chin holds up and he connects with a knee to the body when Gagnon clinches. Takedown attempt from the Canadian but again Barao defends well. His takedown defense really is incredible. Good knee from Barao as they separate for a second and then go back to the clinch. 10-9 Barao in a relatively close round actually. Gagnon did quite well.

Round Three and Barao opens with a nasty leg kick. Left hand and a leg kick from Gagnon peg him back and it allows the Canadian to clinch, but Barao shrugs him off and backs him up with punches. Looks like Gagnon might be getting tired. Head kick glances for Barao. Gagnon lands with a left and clinches but Barao muscles him into the fence and looks for a takedown of his own. They break off though and Gagnon wades forward but gets shoved away again by Barao who then misses a flying knee. Clinch again and this time Gagnon shoves Barao off. Gagnon clinches again and this time the crowd outright boo. He drops for a double leg, but Barao stuffs it again. Dude just has sick takedown defense. Mario breaks them up when it becomes clear Gagnon can’t get Barao down, and a combination from the Brazilian sets up a trip takedown of his own. He lands on top, but Gagnon reverses right back to his feet. They exchange position again and Barao lands a nice knee, but Gagnon breaks with an elbow and a knee. Clinch from Barao and he muscles Gagnon down and takes the back in the process. From there he goes right into full mount and sets up for an arm triangle. Looks like it’s locked up and sure enough he slides out to the side and Gagnon taps to a HUGE POP from the crowd.

Good win for Barao to rebound with and the fight was perfectly okay, but it didn’t feel like the pre-Dillashaw killer Barao if that makes sense. I mean, I don’t think I’m playing down Gagnon’s skills and he definitely fought to the best of his abilities, but Barao seemed gunshy (which makes sense) and I don’t know, slower and less dynamic I guess. He’s never been a guy with incredible defense – Brad Pickett and Michael McDonald for instance tagged him numerous times in their fights with him – so I don’t think Gagnon catching him a few times was such a big deal, it was more that he just didn’t seem as explosive as pre-Dillashaw. Whether that’s due to Dillashaw stealing his soul as they say or whether it’s down to weight cutting or just Barao being cautious due to it being his first fight back I don’t know. We shall see. At least he made the Brazilian fans happy at any rate!

Middleweight Fight: Lyoto Machida vs CB Dollaway

After a series of solid wins at 185lbs – Daniel Sarafian, Mayhem Miller, Cezar Ferreira and Francis Carmont, with the lone loss being a bullshit judges call against Tim Boetsch – Dollaway was clearly due a step up in competition, but I have to admit I was surprised when this fight was announced as Machida’s generally considered a top three fighter in the division and seemed like a step too far for CB. Still, I guess the idea was less about pushing Dollaway and more about getting Machida a likely win to bounce back from his loss to Chris Weidman with. With that in mind I picked Machida via knockout.

Dollaway steals Dan Henderson’s theme music (Made In America by Toby Keith) and gets booed almost as much as Mitch Gagnon did earlier. Not for stealing Hendo’s theme music obviously, you know what I mean. Machida walks out to some Brazilian music and I really miss his whole karate theme into the Linkin Park track he used in his 2009 heyday.

Round One and the crowd open with a MONSTER “Lyoto” chant. Machida circles on the outside to begin as Dollaway stalks forward. Low kick glances for Machida. Head kick by Dollaway is blocked. BRUTAL left body kick lands clean for Machida and Dollaway is hurt! He staggers back and covers up and Machida is ON HIM right away, opening up with a flurry for the stoppage! Wow.

Lyoto did not fuck around there at all. I suspected Dollaway was outgunned here but I didn’t think it’d be that quick and easy for Machida, but that kick was perfectly placed and Dollaway just couldn’t mask the pain at all. Tremendous finish for Lyoto, one of the best of his whole career in fact. Wasn’t much of a main event as the fight was over really before it’d even begun, but I’m not complaining about a sick finish like that! In a less logjammed division this might’ve been enough to get Lyoto another title shot but unfortunately for him 185lbs is probably the most competitive division right now and so he’s run into the buzzsaw that is Luke Rockhold and well, the rest is history. But that’s another show!

-Show ends after Machida’s victorious promo.

Final Thoughts….

Excellent free TV show to close the year out – this one didn’t have what you’d call a “bad” fight although Cummins/Carlos was slow at points and Dos Santos/Sarafian had a shitty ending. Best fight was probably the aired prelim actually – Collier/Miranda – but Magomedov/Silverio was really good too and we got tremendous finishes for Machida, Barao and Silva to add to that. Definitely worth a look if you missed it.

Best Fight: Miranda vs. Collier
Worst Fight: Cummins vs. Carlos

Overall Rating: ****

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com