I am all in on the UFC. The first card I bought was UFC 196 back in March and I intend on continuing to buy everyone of them. UFC 198 took place at the Arena de Baixada in Brazil on Saturday and included 5 matches (4 preliminary matches on FS1 as well) all of which involved a Brazilian fighter. It made for an enjoyable watch since the crowd was fully invested in cheering on the native fighter in each match. I am far from being a UFC expert but I did notice a few things that I thought to be worthy of a blog post.
Preliminary Fights (UFC Fight Pass)
Featherweight – Renato Moicano def Zubaira Tukhugov (Decision split)
Welterweight – Sergio Moraes vs. Luan Chagas (Draw split)
Light Heavyweight – Antonio Rogerio def. Patrick Cummins (TKO punches)
Preliminary Fights (FS1)
Bantamweight – John Lineker def. Rob Font (Decision unanimous)
Lightweight – Francisco Trinaldo def. Yancy Medeiros (Decision unanimous)
Middleweight – Thiago Santos def. Nate Marquardt (KO punches)
Welterweight – Demian Maia def. Matt Brown (Submission rear-naked choke)
Main Card (PPV)
Welterweight – Bryan Barberena def. Warlley Alves (Decision)
Light Heavyweight – Mauricio Rua def. Corey Anderson (Decision)
Catchweight – Cristiane Justino def. Leslie Smith (TKO punches)
Middleweight – Ronaldo Souza def. Vitor Belfort (TKO punches)
Heavyweight – Stipe Miocic def. Fabricio Werdum (KO punch)
The most entertaining preliminary fight on FS1 (I didn’t watch the Fight Pass preliminary fights) was between Medeiros and Trinaldo. A lightweight fight between two guys with very different body types. Trinaldo has a beautiful body with lots of tone and perfect distribution of muscles while Medeiros looks lanky and slender. Medeiros was constantly taking punches to the head and at the end of the second round it didn’t look like he was going to survive. He was clearly woozy and wasn’t defending himself, but he stayed in there. The third round had a similar look. Medeiros kept fighting while getting rocked time and time again. I honestly have no idea how he didn’t get knocked out or how the ref didn’t call it. After each round Medeiros kept coming back looking like nothing was wrong but he could barely stand up minutes earlier. Towards the end of the third round color commentator Brian Stann (I thought he did a good job filling in for Rogan) said “if you are just tuning in, I don’t know what you were watching but you made a big mistake.” I couldn’t have agreed more, this was the best fight of the whole night including the PPV card. At the end Medieros somehow got on top of Trinaldo and just threw as many punches as he could knowing there were only seconds left. Once the final bell rung Medieros helped Trinaldo up out of respect. Trinaldo won in a decision but I became a fan of Medeiros and will pay attention to when he fights in the future.
The last preliminary fight between Maia and Brown had its moments as well. The first being Brown getting attacked by an audience member on his entrance to the ring.
That was not cool at all.
This fight involved everything that I do not know about UFC, ground fighting. Maia is known to be an expert ground fighter and that is where he spent most of his time fighting Brown. Every time Brown managed to get back to his feet, Maia was latched onto him still, or Maia dived at his legs to bring the fight back to the mat. This eventually wore Brown down and Maia was able to get around his neck. The broadcast got a great shot of this happening, you could see Brown’s disgusted and exhausted face as he tried to maneuver his arm which gave Maia an opening to get to his neck. The camera stayed on Brown as he laid there hopeless, not breathing, contemplating how to get out of the awful situation. He tried to be patient and grind his way out but it proved too difficult and he tapped out.
The first two PPV matches were entertaining and all four fighters put on a good show. Only a few noteworthy things came out of them in my ignorant UFC opinion. Barberena walked out to country music and looked like a hillbilly with a long beard and a flabby body. Looking past his appearances and entrance he is a good fighter who gets better as the fight progresses and he can take a beating without succumbing to the pain. The Rua vs. Anderson fight seemed like it could have gone either way where Anderson seemed to be more aggressive while Rua came close to knocking out Anderson at the end of each of the first two rounds.
The third fight between Cyborg and Smith is when things started to brutal. This was Brazilian born Cyborg’s (her real name is Christiane Justino) UFC debut. She already had a vicious reputation going into this fight and was heavily favored over Smith. The fight did not last long, Cyborg knocked Smith woozy and then jumped on her and started throwing hammer fists to her face. Now it didn’t look good but as it was happening I thought Smith still had a chance to survive the fury and get out of the first round or at least get out of that series of attacks. But the ref called the fight and Cyborg won via TKO. Smith was furious and shouted while they declared Cyborg the winner that she didn’t give up. She didn’t give up, and even though I felt it would have just delayed the inevitable, I felt like the ref called the fight too quickly.
Before I started watching UFC three months ago, I had a general knowledge of fighters from listening to sports talk radio and reading blogs. Belfort was a name that I knew before UFC 198 but I didn’t know anything other than he is a popular and accomplished UFC fighter. As Belfort and Souza made their way to the ring and stopped at the cut man, the commentators were discussing how Souza looked up to Belfort and read about him in magazines as he started his fighting career. As they talked about the history of the fighters they said Belfort fought at UFC 12 in 1997 at the age of 19. That surprised me, first to be fighting professionally at that young age, and that he is still fighting today 20 years later. Souza has been around for a while too, at age 36 fighting the 39 year old Belfort made for a clash between two decorated Brazilian born fighters.
Belfort taking punches to the face for 20 years, I believe was a huge disadvantage in this fight. The scar tissue on his face must be weak from constantly being punched and hit and his face opened up quickly in the fight. Both fighters were on the ground with Souza on top of Belfort and the blood kept pooling up in his eyes. The cut opened up on the bridge of his nose when Souza swiped his elbow down Belfort’s nose. The ref even stopped the fight to make sure Belfort wasn’t in serious trouble. Shortly after the fight resumed, Souza finished off Belfort in a TKO.
The headline fight between Werdum and Miocic was not one that I was used to seeing. These guys are big and they looked big in the octagon. Most of the fights that I have watched in UFC involve smaller guys and weight classes. These two are heavyweights and they looked it. This fight did not last long. Both traded punches throughout the first round both going at each other with full intensity. It was obvious this wasn’t going to be a decision. As Werdum circled around the outside of the mat, Miocic landed a right punch to Werdum’s jaw which immediately knocked him out. The reply showed that Miocic’s punch wasn’t even fully cocked back, it was a quick strike to the face.
As soon as Werdum fell to the ground and the ref called the fight, Miocic ran to his side of the octagon, jumped the fence and shouted “I am the world champ!” over and over almost sounding surprised as his trainers and family hugged and cheered him on. It was a really cool scene seeing him genuinely excited and proud of what he and his team accomplished. Once Werdum fell to the mat, the arena went silent. It was eerie hearing silence after hours of constant cheering.
As stated in previous posts, consuming sports is a way for me to channel my inner “man” and competitive spirit. UFC takes that to a whole new level. There is a winner and loser in sports but in UFC there is a victor and someone who is unconscious. It is the ultimate (pun intended) form of competition. I am glad there is only one main event each month because watching the UFC is such a strong drug that I don’t want to take it every day. I am excited to watch UFC 199 on June 4th.