I know this hurts right now, Big Nog, but it will all be worth it in a minute. (Pic: UFC.com)
UFC 134 was the outfit’s first return to Brazil in thirteen years, and with plans for four more Brazil-based events in 2012, Zuffa needed to make a lasting impression. The fighters delivered, big time, and for their efforts three of them walked away with a cool $100,000 bonus in their pockets. That’s a lot of Bony Acai.
Much was made of the homecoming to Rio, Royce Gracie‘s home, the birthplace of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Yet in the land that helped transform hyper-extending limbs into an art form, there wasn’t a single submission landed. Brazilian fighters have evolved just like the rest of them, and last night they chose to showcase their fists.
Multiple fighters were able to shatter the tenuous bonds that link our bodies and our brains, with Shogun, Erick Silva, Nedkov, Anderson Silva, Tavares, and Nogueira all scoring wins by KO or TKO. All were impressive in their own right, but in the end the check went to the war-torn Big Nog, whose win was not only meaningful to the heavyweight landscape but completely unexpected. Coming off an 18 month layoff that saw a rushed rehab from multiple surgeries, few gave the local hero much of a chance against the quickly rising Schaub. For Minotauro, the win buys him some more time to recover and another shot at proving that there’s still life in that high-mileage body of his. For Schaub, losing to a legend isn’t as great as beating one, but it is a learning experience that will help him in his young career.
Edson Barboza edged out Ross Pearson in a split decision battle that earned both men the $100k nod at the end of the night. Pearson’s strategy of applying constant pressure and pushing Barboza backward paid off for much of the fight, limiting the full range of the Brazilian’s Muay Thai arsenal. But when he found any bit of room, Barboza was ready to uncoil a spinning kick of one variety or another. Was his win a case of style over substance or perhaps home-cage advantage? I don’t know, but FightMetric seems to think so.