Another week, another UFC. This time it was a Sunday night for a change but Brazil was the not-unusual venue for UFC Fight Night 38 which was held at the Ginásio Nélio Dias in Natal, Brazil – the promotions second visit to its South American stronghold this year.
Headlining the evening’s business was a rematch almost three years in the making between MMA legends Dan “Hendo” Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Their first fight was widely acknowledged as one of the best ever when it happened; making this one much anticipated. It was a tentative start, though, with neither man landing anything of note inside the first ninety seconds of the fight. Leg kicks from Shogun were the money shots before they traded kicks to the body. More leg kicks and feeling out ensued but then Hendo connected with a right hand and knee before Shogun knocked him down with a left-right combo. The round finished with Henderson badly hurt and taking damage on the ground.
The second round saw Shogun land a stiff right which rocked Henderson early. Rua visibly upped the pace and bullied Hendo on the feet landing, firstly, a hard jab before then dropping Henderson again, this time with an uppercut. The American survived and hung on with Rua in his guard. Once it got back to the feet Shogun jabbed well again but time stopped him from doing much more.
Henderson seemed to be fully recovered by round three and landed well with the right hand early on. As they clinched in the middle of the cage, Rua broke away and as he did Henderson unleashed the H-bomb which rocked Shogun to his very core. Rua was down and out with his knees on the mat and it took only a single strike on the ground for referee Herb Dean to step in and stop the fight ninety-one seconds into round three – giving Dan Henderson a welcome victory after three consecutive losses.
|image credit – mmajunkie|
In the co-main event TUF veterans Cezar Ferreira and C.B. Dollaway battled it out in the middleweight division. This one was crazy from second one. Mutante came out strong and connected with a right hand before getting hurt himself with a counter left. Mutante came again though and backed Dollaway against the fence. As Ferreira swung in with wild punches Dollaway unleashed a huge left-right combination and knocked Mutante to the floor. It was all over seconds later as Dollaway expertly finished it off with ground and pound before the Brazilian had time to recover from the initial blow.
Fifteen consecutive combined wins made Leonardo Santos vs. Norman Parke a really interesting match-up in the lightweight division. A hard leg kick from Santos opened the going as the pair traded on the feet early. After a break for an eye poke, Santos connected with a solid kick to the body followed by a rapid uppercut. Parke, though, continued to push the pace and after controlling Santos against the fence caught him with a well placed left hook. Parke then stuffed a takedown before controlling against the fence briefly. As they separated Parke landed a high kick before the bell broke up a single leg takedown attempt from the Northern Irishman. Parke jabbed well to start the second but was countered by Santos who landed the cleaner punches. Again, Parke stuffed the takedown and controlled from the clinch before and after being deducted a point for an extremely brief short grab. As the round ended the fight was in the balance. It was the Parke clinch which started the third as the Antrim native grinded Santos for half of the round before being separated by the referee. Parke immediately clinched again and was not for letting go – seeing out the fight to the final bell. In the end the judges scored the fight a majority draw (29-27 Santos, 28-28, 28-28) after a fight better left forgotten.
In the second light-heavyweight fight of the evening, Fabio Maldonado welcomed Gian Villante to fight in his home country. Villante wasted no time implementing his game plan as he took Maldonado down inside of fifteen seconds. From side control Villante won the transitions, getting to the back of the Brazilian, punishing him with punches and knees before throwing him to the ground again. Villante dominated from top position for the rest of the period but didn’t do any significant damage. A hard right hook from Villante started the second which seemed to get Maldonado going. The jab of the Brazilian found a home but the success didn’t last long as Villante dragged it to the floor again – taking the back. Maldonado did separate though but caught a knee on the way to his feet which was the starting point for the fight descending into a brawl. Maldonado landed continuously with combinations and stuffed a takedown attempt as he began to get on top. Body punches seemed to hurt the tiring Villante who, after a barrage against the fence, was lucky to see the final round. The boxing range of Maldonado was the story of round three as he dominated Villante. And when two Villante takedown attempts were stuffed the game was up. Maldonado kept the output high, crushing the body of Villante who became so tired he could barely stand as the fight ended. Maldonado took the decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Michel Prazeres vs. Mairbek Taisumov came next in the lightweight division. It was the Brazilian who had the better of the early exchanges – taking Taisumov down and mounting him before the Russian snapped back to his feet. Prazeres persevered, though, and brought it to the floor, and the mount, again as he unleashed some hard ground and pound. Just as the round was about to end Taisumov was deducted a point for a pretty innocuous head kick to his grounded opponent. A right hand from Prazeres was the biggest strike throughout round two as Taisumov was deducted yet another point for a fence grab. Taisumov looked the more energetic in the final round and pushed hard for the finish knowing he was well behind on the scorecards. A late takedown from Prazeres ended all hope, though, and the Brazilian took the unanimous decision victory (30-25, 30-25, 30-25)
Possibly the most intriguing fight of the night on paper opened the main card in the featherweight division as Rony Jason took on the always dangerous Steven Siler. From the opening bell Siler’s gameplan was obvious. The American stood on the outside while jabbing and leg kicking Jason as kept his range. Jason, though, didn’t panic and rushed in continually to close the distance. Then, with just 67 seconds on the clock, Jason swooped in once more and caught Siler flush with an overhand right followed by a left hook which knocked Siler to the floor. Even though Siler looked like he was still in the fight, referee Wernei Cardosa stepped in and stopped the bout inside the first round – giving Jason the TKO victory.
Following the cancellation of Will Chope v. Diego Brandao on Friday over revelations of Chope’s past; the preliminary portion of the card contained just five fights. Firstly, the only fight on the night between two Brazilians saw Ronny Markes (who missed the 185 lbs limit by five pounds on Friday) get taken out by Thiago Santos after being knocked down with a liver kick and finished with hammer fists on the floor in round one. Then highly rated flyweight Jussier Formiga produced his finest UFC performance to date when submitting Scott Jorgensen with a rear naked choke in the first round. That was preceded by an almost identical fight where welterweight standout Kenny Robertson made light work of Thiago Perpétuo – also winning via rear naked choke less than two minutes into the action. Hometown fighter Francimar Barroso lost the close decision to Holland’s Hans Stringer after a drab affair in a fight preceded by Godofredo Castro kicking off the night with a huge first round knockout as he put unbeaten debutant Noad Lahat to sleep with a majestic flying knee.
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