The UFC made the trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil for its 77th Fight Night event. The fans were treated to an eventful night of phenomenal action, and chaotic finishes, some of which we will surely be talking about at the end of the year, no doubt. After all is said and done in Brazil we evaluate each winner on the main card and their performance and look ahead at who their potential opponent should and might be.
Rashid Magomedov vs. Johnny “Hollywood” Case
One of Russia’s top prospects in Rashid Magomedov was given quite the test in Gilbert Burns, who is one of the more decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artist’s in the UFC’s lightweight division. However, Rashid would not be swayed from implementing a fantastic game plan that called for his technical and counter striking ability to be on full display. Rashid took full control after a close first round that saw him outstrike the Brazilian at every turn. The Russian also defended well enough against the takedowns and ground work of Burns to frustrate his opponent and allow for full control of the fight by the third round. Magomedov now holds four straight victories inside the Octagon, a 12 fight total winning streak, and an amazing 20-1 record overall. Rashid is a prospect to watch as he joins the ever-growing list of Russian’s migrating to mixed martial arts’ biggest promotion. Another young prospect that is turning heads is Johnny “Hollywood” Case who also fought on this card. Case would earn a unanimous decision victory over Yan Cabral. To also be quite honest, Rashid was most likely higher up on the card than Case due to the high-profile of Gilbert Burns in a Brazil arena. Both men hold 4 straight wins in the Octagon, and the depth at lightweight is deep enough to allow two widely impressive up and comers such as these two to face off. The match-up itself is amazing enough, and to see who would win between these possible future stars is something that this writer is personally dying to see.
Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira vs. Stevie “Braveheart” Ray
The Brazilian cowboy capped off his debut year with the UFC in high-profile fashion with a knockout victory over Piotr Hallmann. After losing his debut against Gilbert Burns, Oliveira has now rebounded with three straight wins and two finishes. The man has really shown to possess a diverse toolbox as he is dangerous in nearly ever facet of the game, whether he takes you down and stands with you, if he is on the offense you are in trouble. Oliveira leaves his mark on the year as a must see talent as nearly all of his fights this year were enthralling and entertaining. To add stoke to the fire, matching Oliveira up with someone who is his near equal in overall aggression in the cage is the perfect equation to an exciting start in 2016 for both men involved. Scotland’s own Stevie Ray has emerged this year as well as one of Europe’s most exciting new additions. Finalizing the year as well with three victories, Ray has earned his hand at a fellow rising star in Oliveira. The match-up to start off 2016 could set the exhilarating pace for the man who comes out of this fantastic match-up the victor.
Thomas “Thominhas” Almeida vs. John “Hands of Stone” Lineker
Thomas Almeida continues to validate the hype. With a solid opponent in Anthony Birchak, Almeida (21-0) showed just how ruthless he truly is. After many great exchanges between both men, the majority of which Almeida was winning, the undefeated Brazilian unloaded a combination that absolutely obliterated Birchack with a knockout reminiscent of the Lyoto Machida finish against Rashad Evans six years ago. Now coming off a victory that may very well seal Almeida with a Knockout of the Year award come 2016, the man they call “Thominas” seems poised to continue his ascension up the ranks en route to a title shot. Bantamweight has slowly become one the more exciting and competitive divisions to watch as of late and with this undefeated savage now thrown into the fray, it’s time to see just how much chaos he can handle. A match-up between him and the devastatingly destructive John Lineker will give him the ranked opponent he deserves while also giving the fans something to squeal in excitement over. If the bout however doesn’t materialize due to Lineker being matched with someone else. There is another interesting bout between Aljamain Sterling and Johnny Eduardo that is set to take place in December.
Glover Teixeira vs. Alexander “The Mauler” Gustaffson
Teixeira earned TKO victory over the highly touted Pat Cummins in the second round. A bout Teixeira quite frankly had no reason not to win. Cummins may be ranked but this bout had some semblance of a mismatch. Cummins has yet to even fight 10 times in his career, leaving Teixiera with over three times the fight experience and also being that he was a former title challenger. Cummins of course was offered the great opportunity, however nothing about the result of this fight surprised too many. Teixeira is now two fights removed from his losing streak that started with his title loss to Jon Jones last year. Teixeira continues to commit to his goal of being the UFC champion and to get there once again, he’s going to need a much bigger name to collect. Alexander Gustafsson was an opponent Teixeira was slated to face earlier this year and that fight certainly has more appeal now as both men still possess much intrigue in the wild world that is the UFC’s light heavyweigiht division.
Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort vs. Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida
He is still here, in case you forgot. Belfort continues to fight off obscurity with a devastating finish that has placed him in the record books as Vitor now holds multiple records in both first round finishes and knockout finishes. This all while now being off the now banned Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). Belfort still believes he can make one more title run, and who are we to say no at this point. Vitor believes he can still compete with the best and despite being off TRT, which many both fans and media alike felt was a driving force in that success, he still intends to prove it. To climb the ladder he must first show that the his spot amongst the top 10 can be validated. Against an opponent that must also prove the same thing makes for a very fun fight. Lyoto Machida had rough 2015 after most recently dropping two losses to Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero. Machida has stated that he intends to return to form in 2016 and what better way to make that case than a victory over the 1st round king in Vitor Belfort. Both Brazilians are two of the scariest strikers in the middleweight division for very different reasons. Something that will be quite the topic in the lead up to such a phenomenal match-up at 185 lbs.