(Event recap via YouTube.com/UFC)
Our decision to only liveblog the UFC Fight Night 28 matches that we cared about turned out to be a wise choice. Though last night’s supporting card had its moments — particularly Piotr Hallmann’s comeback submission win over Francisco Trinaldo, and the Fight of the Night-winning battle between Rafael Natal and Tor Troeng — the UFC’s latest trip to Belo Horizonte didn’t turn into a terrifying orgy of violence until the last three bouts, which all ended the exact same way: A stiff knockdown, some nasty ground-and-pound, and an impressive first-round TKO for the favorite. Let’s start at the top and work our way down.
Of the three first-round maulings on the main card, only Glover Teixeira faced real adversity on his way to victory. During his main event fight against Ryan Bader, the Brazilian light-heavyweight phenom had to collect his bearings after getting wobbled in a striking exchange. Bader smelled blood and tried to go in for the kill, but his aggression turned out to be his undoing. As Bader swarmed with punches, Teixeira tucked his chin and landed a cross/hook combo that sent Bader to the mat. Teixeira followed with shots from above, and that’s all it took to secure his 20th consecutive victory (!) and a $50,000 Knockout of the Night bonus.
After the fight, it was confirmed that Teixeira (now 5-0 in the UFC) would receive the next light-heavyweight title shot against the winner of Jon Jones vs. Aexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 later this month. His performance last night might not have impressed everyone — rumor has it that Teixeira was recovering from a bad weight cut — but anybody with that kind of power and resilience is always a threat.
The second-biggest story of night had to be Ronaldo Souza‘s official arrival as an elite UFC middleweight. Since his Strikeforce title-fight loss to Luke Ruckhold two years ago, “Jacare” has sliced through lower-level competition (Bristol Marunde, Derek Brunson, Ed Herman, Chris Camozzi) with relative ease. Finally, he got a chance to prove himself against a longtime UFC contender, and he rose to the occasion, crushing Yushin Okami with an overhand right midway through the first round. Yes, Ronaldo Souza has “fallen in love with his hands,” so to speak. But unlike other jiu-jitsu aces like Demian Maia who have tried to re-invent themselves as strikers, Souza hasn’t looked the least bit uncomfortable turning his recent bouts into kickboxing matches. He’s as natural at striking as he is at grappling, and that’s a terrifying thought for the rest of the UFC’s 185-pounders. Jacare has chewed his way to the top of the middleweight food chain, and the possibilities in front of him are endless.
Meanwhile in the flyweight division, Joseph Benavidez looked every bit the 6-1 favorite he was going into his fight against Jussier “Formiga” Da Silva, who simply didn’t show up for this one. Benavidez was the aggressor from the opening bell, measuring his opponent with strikes, sticking-and-moving, tagging Formiga at will, while Formiga could only throw game counter-punches, hitting air most of the time. When a punch combination from Benavidez dazed Formiga, the Team Alpha Male standout immediately seized the moment, stuffing a knee into the Brazilian’s ribs, and adding another hook for good measure as he crumpled to the mat. Once on the ground, Benavidez buried Formiga in ground-and-pound until the ref intervened. With three straight wins since his flyweight title-fight loss to Demetrious Johnson last September, is it time for Johnson vs. Benavidez 2? Fun fact: Team Alpha Male has gone 17-0 since Duane Ludwig’s arrival as coach, proving once again that marijuana does in fact help you study better.
UFC Fight Night 28 Quick Results:
FOX SPORTS 1 MAIN CARD
Glover Teixeira def. Ryan Bader via TKO, 2:55 of round 1
Ronaldo Souza def. Yushin Okami via TKO, 2:47 of round 1
Joseph Benavidez def. Jussier Formiga via TKO, 3:07 of round 1
Piotr Hallmann def. Francisco Trinaldo via submission (kimura), 3:50 of round 2
Rafael Natal def. Tor Troeng via unanimous decision (30-27 x 2, 29-28)
Ali Bagautinov def. Marcos Vinicius via TKO, 3:28 of round 3
FOX SPORTS 1 PRELIMS
Kevin Souza def. Felipe Arantes via split-decision (29-28 x 2, 28-29)
Lucas Martins def. Ramiro “Junior” Hernandez via technical submission (rear-naked choke), 1:10 of round 1
Elias Silverio def. Joao Zeferino via unanimous decision (30-27 x 2, 29-28)
Ivan Jorge def. Keith Wisniewski via unanimous decision (29-28 x 2, 30-27)
Sean Spencer def. Yuri Villefort via split-decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
BONUSES ($50,000 each):
- Fight of the Night: Rafael Natal vs. Tor Troeng
- Knockout of the Night: Glover Teixeira
- Submission of the Night: Piotr Hallmann