It was bound to happen sooner or later. Saturday night, in the UFC's seventh modern-era card held in Brazil, everything came together for the home team, and a little bit of history was made. Eight submissions occurred on the evening, setting a single-event UFC record for the Zuffa era.
Yep, it was pretty much a jiu-jitsu clinic, from Antonio Braga Neto's brutal show-opening kneebar to the culminator between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fabricio Werdum. Here are grades for every fighter on the main card.
Result: Rony Jason def. Mike Wilkinson by submission (triangle choke), 1:24 of Round 1
After Wilkinson put Jason on his back, the crowd was almost calling the shot. And Jason delivered. Throwing his legs over Wilkinson's neck, he almost instantaneously cinched on the triangle. It happened so fast, in fact, that Wilkinson didn't seem to know how much trouble he was in until it was too late. Nighty-night, as they say.
If you shoot in for a takedown on a jiu-jitsu black belt—fighting in front of a home crowd, no less—you better be ready. Wilkinson wasn't, and less than 90 seconds later, he had suffered his first loss in the UFC Octagon.
Wilkinson avoids a lower grade for showing great toughness in refusing to tap to the watertight triangle.
Result: Daniel Sarafian def. Eddie Mendez by submission (arm triangle choke), 2:20 of Round 1
Sarafian was a huge favorite facing a UFC newcomer in Mendez, and he did what he was supposed to do. He hit an inside trip on Mendez, got on top and it was soon over.
I feel for Mendez, but the jiu-jitsu blue belt had to know that if he landed on his back, he was in trouble. And yet, Sarafian essentially just pushed him over, and once there had his way. I mean, at least pretend to have a game plan, bruh.
Result: Erick Silva def. Jason High by submission (armbar), 1:11 of Round 1
The fastest submission of the night doubled as a return to grace for Silva, who rebounded from a defeat to Jon Fitch in his last bout with a bonus-winning performance in his homeland. Looks like the hype train is firmly back on the tracks.
Props to High for stepping into a dangerous situation in only his second UFC bout. The odds were against him, and the result showed why. A tentative takedown was easily stifled by Silva, High lost his back, and an amazing armbar quickly ended things.
High is a fun personality for the sport but wasn't in Silva's league on Saturday night.
Division: Light heavyweight
Result: Thiago Silva def. Rafael Cavalcante by KO, 4:29 of Round 1
Thanks a lot, Thiago. Way to break up the no-hitter. The only non-submission on the main card was a boring knockout victory for Silva. All right, I guess it was impressive, though I'm going to put an asterisk next to this result until I see a clean drug test from Silva.
The former Strikeforce champ had a decent showing on Saturday night, working a tight jab and fearlessly trading leather with Silva. In retrospect, perhaps he should have been a little more fearful.
Though he was admirably aggressive and maybe the sharper boxer, he began to flag late in the round and fell hard under that widowmaker of a right uppercut from Silva.
Result: Leonardo Santos def. William Macario by submission (arm triangle choke), 4:43 of Round 2
This one was for all us Ensure drinkers out there.
Experience trumped energy in the final fight of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2, when 33-year-old underdog Santos pulled off the submission on the exciting, aggressive and ultimately outgunned 21-year-old Macario.
It was a stirring win for the Nova Uniao veteran, who ran out of the Octagon after the fight to embrace teammate and featherweight champ Jose Aldo.
Macario mowed a path through his fellow TUF opponents but hit a brick wall in Santos. He was bigger than Santos, younger than Santos, stronger than Santos and favored over Santos.
He put Santos on his back and mushed him against the fence for some ground-and-pound. He looked to win the first round rather easily.
But then the script flipped for Macario. He seemed to grow a little tired, and Santos executed a beautiful trip takedown. The veteran saw his opening.
Santos quickly gained top control, and in the final 30 seconds of the second, Macario was forced to tap.
Result: Fabricio Werdum def. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira by submission (armbar), 4:41 of Round 2
Werdum is in the top handful of heavyweights in the entire sport and he confirmed it on Saturday night. Nogueira came forward and pressured the younger fighter, but Werdum simply bulled his way out of any semblance of trouble.
In summary: Nogueira doesn't need any help looking old these days. But Werdum helped him anyway. After the impressive armbar submission, Werdum can't be far away from top-contender status.
At 37 years old, Big Nog's only wins in his last five came over Dave Herman and Brendan Schaub. The great heavyweight can still be successful in the division's mid-to-lower ranks, but his days at the top of the class certainly appear to be over.
Being tough and being valiant and being smart can only take you so far in MMA. Eventually, you have to execute, and Nogueira just couldn't against a younger, faster, stronger, better fighter in Werdum.
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