Four fights into his UFC career, middleweight Rafael Natal is finally showing some signs of consistency, earning a win over formerly undefeated fighter Michael Kupier by unanimous decision.
It was Natal's second victory in a row, and it followed a draw and a loss.
The judges scored the bout 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
What we'll remember from this fight:
Natal stayed busy throughout the first two rounds. It looked as if Kupier, who was just moving forward and not throwing much, was out of the fight. But he was able to knock Natal down in the third with an uppercut and offered up some brutal ground and pound before being taken down himself.
"It was bad because from the beginning of the round, everything was dark," Natal said of the third-round knockdown.
It was a good fight all around, and the winner emerged with a well-deserved victory.
What we learned about Rafael Natal:
Natal has shown cardio problems in the past, and although he still had a wild and physically draining standup attack, he didn't get as tired as he has in previous performances.
He recovered in the final minutes of the fight and got Kupier down. He even obtained full mount with a minute to go in the fight and attempted an arm-triangle choke. Kupier survived for the last 30 seconds.
"That's my best submission," Natal said regarding his arm-triangle choke. "I tried to get it. He was very tough."
What we learned about Michael Kupier:
The adrenaline dump was an obvious factor for Kupier, who was making his UFC debut after 11 straight victories.
When put on his back, Kupier was unable to do much, and this was his biggest problem for most of the fight.
What's next for Natal:
A fight versus Chris Camozzi, who was victorious last week on the UFC on Fox 2 undercard, makes sense for both fighters. Camozzi's UFC record is 4-2 while Natal's is 2-1-1.
What's next for Kupier:
Kupier did well even in defeat, and a fight versus Justin Jacoby, who is 0-2 in his last two fights, could get him back on track.