Aldo silences doubters, knocks out Mendes in sensational first round finish
By Steve Davies – mmabay.co.uk
UFC featherweight champion Jose ‘Junior’ Aldo’s reign at the top of the division continues and there is no end in sight. The Brazilian bomber took to the Octagon in front of his home fans last night to defend his title against undefeated wrestling sensation, Chad ‘Money’ Mendes, and silenced the critics who picked apart his previous two title defences….and then some.
The Nova Uniao fighter had not faced a wrestler of Mendes’ calibre before and some felt the champion would be exposed on that front, but from the first bell it was clear that Aldo was in no mood to play the ground game. The champion stuffed a couple of takedown attempts before beginning to find his rhythm and chop away at the challenger with legkicks. Mendes eventually succeeded with a takedown late in the round but Aldo popped right back up with the challenger clinging to a bodylock from the rear.
With the clock running down, Aldo swivelled and simultaneously clocked Mendes with a knee to the face that sent him toppling to the mat – a further punch sealed it as Mario Yamasaki intervened and ‘Junior’ stormed from the cage to celebrate with a throng of fans in the seating area. A fittingly chaotic end to a hectic night of fights, Aldo’s knockout came at 4:59 of the first round.
Next for Aldo: After winning his first two UFC title fights by decision, the Brazilian wrecking machine finally delivered what the fans wanted and what a way to win on home soil. ‘Junior’ reminded us just how devastating he can be and you can bet the next fight card headlined by Aldo will not be recieved with as little enthusiasm. With contenders being paired up in the coming months to establish the next pretender to the throne, Joe Silva should thrust Chan Sung Jung into the title frame after his 7-second knockout of Mark Hominick at the end of 2011. ‘The Korean Zombie’ presents a solid case for a title shot and we would be guaranteed firewrorks.
Next for Mendes: ‘Money’ falls to 11-1 and the first defeat of his career will be a tough one to take on board, as Mendes really had nothing for the champion last night. The prospect has a bright future ahead but needs to elavate the other facets of his game to the same level as his wrestling to progress in what’s becoming a ruthless 145lb division. Look for the Team Alpha Male man to return to action against either Ricardo Lamas or Mike Thoms Brown as he looks to get back on the horse.
Belfort proves size doesn’t matter, submits ‘Rumble’ in very first round
Following his disastrous weigh-in on Friday night, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson’s punishment for missing weight by a staggering 11lbs was a fight day weigh-in and a fine – but the knockout artist was made to pay through the nose by co-main event opponent Vitor Belfort.
The frenzied Rio crowd roared Belfort on from the off but the Brazilian was taken down by Johnson on a couple of occasions, eating a big right hand from guard that caused his right eye to begin swelling immediately. But ‘The Phenom’ pulled guard well and on three occasions Dan Miragliotta stood the fight up, perhaps a little early.
As the first round began winding down, it was clear that ‘Rumble’ was tiring – the imposing middleweight threw wild shots and a head-kick at Belfort but in the melee Johnson found himself on the mat with the Brazilian quickly securing his back. Belfort dropped punches and forearms to the exhausted Johnson before switching to a tight rear-naked choke and in no time, Johnson tapped handing ‘The Phenom’ the submission victory at 4:49 of round one – yet another reason for the Rio crowd to erupt.
Next for Belfort: We know that Belfort will be coaching the first ever run of ‘The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil’ which starts filming in the coming months and all signs point to a blockbuster rematch with rival coach, Wanderlei Silva, when the UFC returns to Brazil in June. ‘The Phenom’ has now knocked out Yoshihiro Akiyama and submitted ‘Rumble’ Johnson – he is one win away from a second shot at Anderson Silva’s title.
Next for Johnson: The writing is on the wall – ‘Rumble’ has been cut by the UFC. The talented but unreliable Johnson has come in overweight consistently in his time with the promotion and this latest debaucle was obviously the final straw. An exciting fighter, Johnson will hopefully get his act together – and string together a few wins – before perhaps being recalled in the future.
‘Toquinho’ continues to impress, makes quick work of Massenzio with patented heel-hook
Middleweight contender Rousimar Palhares continued his charge up the ladder in the UFC last night as he blitzed Mike Massenzio on the main card in something of a mismatch. ‘Toquinho’ started off landing decent legkicks on the much taller Massenzio but in no time, the Brazilian had dropped to the mat and seized a leg – oh dear.
The leglock specialist quickly grabbed the heel-hook and forced the American to tap in agony at just 1:03 of the first round, handing Palhares another slick submission victory to add to his growing resume inside the Octagon – plus ‘Submission of the Night’ cash to sweeten the deal.
Next for Palhares: Something of a loose canon, the 5ft 8in powerhouse is once again flitting around the title picture and Palhares will get a top contender later this year as he looks to stake a claim for a shot at the gold. A fight with Alan Belcher would seem most likely, but the grappling demon could also face the winner of UFC 144’s clash between Yushin Okami and Tim Boetsch.
Next for Massenzio: ‘The Master of Disaster’ (ahem) is 1-2 in his most recent stint with the UFC and although injuries have hampered the grappler, his results inside the cage should prove decisive. Expect to see Massenzio trimmed from the roster in the weeks to come.
Controversy reigns as Prater gets handed DQ victory over Silva
There were bizarre scenes afoot in the welterweight division as Brazilians Erick Silva and Carlo Prater met on the main card and the fans were left scratching their heads at the verdict. Surging prospect Silva was the heavy favourite going into the fight and quickly drove a knee to the body of the veteran – bundling him down in a daze and landing a series of hammerfists to the turtling Prater, ending the fight after just 29 seconds of round one. However, referee Mario Yamasaki ruled that Silva had landed several telling blows to the back of Prater’s head and handed Prater the disqualification victory.
Joe Rogan felt so strongly about the decision that he made Yamasaki explain his call on the microphone, a somewhat unneccessary move but the outcome of the fight was called into question when replays showed that Silva was mainly on point with his shots. There was certainly nothing deliberate about the errant shots, but Prater emerges the victory in anti-climactic fashion.
Next for Prater: ‘Neo’ cannot feel satisfied with that victory but the veteran is finally getting the chance on the big stage and will probably drop to his usual 155lbs for his next fight. Veterans like Yves Edwards will be waiting to greet him.
Next for Silva: It depends on how Joe Silva wants to match ‘Indio’ up going forward. The Brazilian was the rightful winner last night and I’d expect the UFC to treat him as such, perhaps pairing him with British prospect John Hathaway in the coming months.
Barboza turns it on, scores spectacular knockout of Etim in third round
‘Fight of the Night’ bonuses were handed out to lightweight prospects Edson Barboza and Terry Etim who put on an exciting three-round affair to open the main card but an incredible finish in the third round saw Barboza pad his wallet with ‘Knockout of the Night’ cash to boot.
The unbeaten Brazilian had the crowd on his side but Etim came out hard, working for takedowns but being unable to keep the striker down. Barboza found his groove and spent much of rounds one and two brutalising the legs of Etim with kicks and keeping himself away from trouble.
In the third round, the Brit’s sense of urgency took over and he gamely came out scrapping, but it was to be in vain. Barboza suddenly launched himself into a roundhouse or wheel-kick and clattered Etim’s jaw with the heel – sending the Liverpudlian crashing to the mat, hard. Barboza walked away in style, with Dan Miragliotta already on the scene to call the fight at 2:02 of the final round. An early contender for ‘Knockout of the Year’? Without a doubt.
Next for Barboza: Now 10-0, the Brazilian has put together a 4-0 record inside the Octagon and with a knockout like that under his belt, will have plenty of options going forward. The muay thai wrecking ball will have a close eye on next month’s match-up between Joe Lauzon and Anthony Pettis as he looks to force himself into title contention.
Next for Etim: The Team Kaobon standout did himself proud in the early stages last night but had no answer for the slick striking of Barboza. Etim is held in high regard in the UFC and will be back in action later in the year, possibly against a veteran striker such as Yves Edwards or Spencer Fisher.
Preliminary Card round-up
The undercard was headlined by an entertaining back-and-forth scrap in the lightweight division as local boy Thiago Tavares and Sam Stout went tooth and nail for three rounds. Tavares got the better of the early exchanges, including spending some time in control on the ground, but the Canadian hung in there and came close to finishing him late in the final round. While no official scores were presented, all three judges swayed in favour of Tavares by unanimous decision.
Next for Tavares: The talented Brazilian finally puts together consecutive victories but this was a close and somewhat debatable decision, at the end of the day. Tavares is gradually climbing the ladder though and might serve as the next test for recent winner of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, Tony Ferguson.
Next for Stout: The Canadian veteran was coming off a stunning knockout victory and although he made things very competitive in Rio, ‘Hands of Stone’ still falls back to the bottom tier of the brimmed lightweight division. The former student of the late Shawn Tompkins could return to face fellow veteran, Aaron Riley, to see who deserves to stick around on the big stage.
Undefeated Brazilian heavyweight prospect Edinaldo Oliveira saw his UFC debut – and perfect record – shattered by former title contender Gabriel Gonzaga who made a triumphant return to the promotion after retiring from the sport last year. The 6ft 7in Oliveira looked the quicker man as the fight began but ‘Napao’ soon took the taller man to the ground and with little fuss, sunk in a rear-naked choke without hooks to flatten out his opponent and get the tap at 3:22 of round one.
Next for Gonzaga: Finally – Gabriel Gonzaga remembered how good he is on the ground and as a result, ‘Napao’ picks up a vital and impressive victory to mark a successful comeback. The BJJ black-belt might meet the winner of next month’s bout between Stipe Miocic and Phil De Fries as he looks to climb back to the top of the division.
Next for Oliveira: ‘Lula’ is far from a big heavyweight and you might think Oliveira could make some noise at 205lbs, if he really wanted to make the weight. But the Brazilian is more likely to stay at heavyweight and will need to lick his wounds as he falls to 13-1-1, perhaps returning later in the year against British all-rounder Rob Broughton or even knockout artist Matt Mitrione.
Featherweights Yuri Alcantara and Michihiro Omigawa went to battle on the prelims in a three-round war that was not short on memorable moments. Fast-rising contender Alcantara looked solid in rounds one and two, mauling the Japanese veteran on the ground and ending round one torquing a grotesque looking armbar as the bell sounded. ‘Marajo’s claims that Omigawa tapped proved unfounded and somehow the judo player was able to continue fighting, coming up short in round two but almost turning the tables on the tiring Brazilian in the third. All three judges saw it in favour of Alcantara, who took the hard-fought unanimous decision.
Next for Alcantara: ‘Marajo’ moves to an impressive 27-3 and seems to be a legitimate threat in the featherweight division. The hard-hitting Brazilian will be targeting a fight with a well-known contender when he returns and countryman Diego Nunes or British banger Ross Pearson could be the man in question.
Next for Omigawa: The veteran’s record is a depressing read and with only a hard-fought decision win over an inexperienced Jason Young to his name in recent times, Omigawa might have outstayed his welcome. The judoka is tough, experienced and durable but he’s failed to prove himself time and again – expect to see Omigawa crop up on a Japanese fight card as the summer approaches.
On the entire fight card, only one non-Brazilian fighter saw his hand raised and that was welterweight veteran Mike Pyle who outclassed Brazilian expat Ricardo Funch without breaking a sweat. The Xtreme Couture fighter landed a hard, straight right hand that rocked Funch before folding him against the cage with a knee in the clinch, standing over the bloodied Funch landing punches until Mario Yamasaki spared the Brazilian further punishment at just 1:22 of round one.
Next for Pyle: After disappointment last time out, ‘Quicksand’ needed to win last night and he looked impressive in doing so. The grappler’s experience always puts him in the mixer with the bigger names in the welterweight division and we might see Pyle square off against Korean prospect Dong Hyun Kim in the months to come.
Next for Funch: ‘Golden Boy’ falls to 0-3 in the UFC having come in as a replacement for an injured fighter and although most guys get another shot, win or lose, Funch’s disappointing showing should mean he’s shown the door.
The first fight of the night, and the only to stream on Facebook, saw featherweight newcomer and hot prospect, Antonio Carvalho, take on fellow Brazilian Felipe Arantes in what looked like being a straight-forward debut victory. But Arantes had other ideas and after surviving some hairy moments on the mat with ‘Pato’ in round one, ‘Sertanejo’ edged him out in round two with better striking to leave it finely poised going into the final round. Arantes spent much of the round battering Carvalho from top position on the ground, opening up some cuts on the newcomer and ultimately doing enough to take a surprising unanimous decision victory.
Next for Arantes: ‘Sertanejo’ was a big underdog last night but looked a much better fighter than the man who lost his UFC debut last year. With an important, and pretty impressive, win under his belt the Brazilian could face recent TUF graduate, Bryan Caraway, in the next few months.
Next for Carvalho: ‘Pato’ was hyped coming into his UFC debut and despite starting strongly the Brazilian could not keep up the pace, but Carvalho will definitely get a second chance in the UFC against another losing featherweight like Rani Yahya to separate the wheat from the chaff.
That’s all for ‘UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes‘ which despite lacking in serious name power, still managed to deliver the goods and kick off 2012 on a high for the UFC. Don’t blink, as next weekend sees ‘UFC on FX 1: Guillard vs. Miller‘ go down in Nashville, Tennessee and that’s only the beginning of a frantic few months.
By Steve Davies