Jeremy Stephens def Rony Jason via 1st Rd KO
A vicious, light-out, cold-bodied KO for Jeremy Stephens absolutely silences the Brazilian crowd to start off the main card of UFC Fight Night 32. A vicious head kick followed by a Henderson-esque dropping right hand seals the deal in a fight I had going the other way. I knew Stephens had the power to pull off something like this, but I didn’t think Jason would be the one to get caught by it. Stephens never gave him the chance to take him down, and made him pay for it. 0-1 on the main card.
Ryan LaFlare def Santiago Ponzinibbio via Unanimous Decision
So perhaps a new welterweight prospect has been formed as Ryan LaFlare out-duels the hot-topic, Santiago Ponzinibbio. In a fight that was surprisingly one-sided, LaFlare put the pressure on Santiago from bell to bell on the feet, and on the ground. Forward pressure, takedowns, and relentless grappling offense was the gameplan for LaFlare to do what he needed to do. I figured Ponz would see the wrestling game of LaFlare coming, but the athleticism and explosiveness of LaFlare is what surprised me. I picked Santiago to win by submission, but LaFlare proved to be the better grappler, and his forward offense on the feet made him appear to also be the better striker. I fall to 0-2 on the main card.
Brandon Thatch def Paulo Thiago via 1st Rd TKO
So the prospect Brandon Thatch proves to be legit as he stops Paulo Thiago with a vicious knee to the body that crumpled the Brazilian and left him tapping for the fight to be stopped. Thatch never let Thiago even get close to him as his long legs proved to be problematic for Paulo. I picked Thiago by decision as he would have no problem walking through Thatch’s output and scoring takedowns, but boy was I wrong. Thatch stayed in control of body placement and never gave Thiago the chance to take him down. A perfectly executed second fight in the UFC, and a much needed win to let everyone know that Brandon Thatch is legit. 0-3 for me, c’mon Brazil!
Rafael Cavalcante def Igor Pokrajac via 1st Rd KO
Finally! A fight I predicted pretty much to the tee. Rafael Feijao had no problems locking up with the strong wrestler, because he knew he would have the advantage with those vicious knees he threw. Feijao’s accuracy and traditional Muay Thai delivers the first round knock-out, just like I thought it would. Great first win for Rafael Cavalcante, delivering some power. 1-3 for me.
Cezar Ferreira def Daniel Sarafian via Unanimous Decision
Another fight I predicted correctly. Ultimately, I’d like to say it was Ferreira’s size that gave him such an edge in the grappling exchanges. Sarafian went for several choke attempts, but he never had the right positioning because of the superior grappling of Ferreira, which was aided by his size. The stand-up was relatively even, back and forth, with both fighters landing their fair share of shots, but Ferreira did enough on the ground to get the decision. 2-3 on the main card.
Vitor Belfort def Dan Henderson via 1st Rd KO
I really felt like I went out on a limb by predicting Belfort by knockout in the third, but what happened reassures me that I wasn’t crazy at all. Belfort shocked-and-awed every MMA fan when he obliterated the granite chin of Henderson with a left hook, a flurry of punches, and a brutal head kick to seal the deal in the first round. I thought this fight would’ve dragged on a little longer, like to the second or third rounds, but Belfort proved that with his kind of power, you can stop a fight against anybody, anywhere, at anytime.
I end the main card with a 3-3 record, and with a 5-6 record. Not quite as good as I would’ve liked, a lot of Brazilian’s got upset tonight, but the fights and finishes were awesome.