Coming into UFC Fight Night 36, most fans of the UFC knew the name Lyoto Machida very well, yet few knew much about his opponent, Gegard Mousasi.
For those who did, this had the potential to be a terribly exciting bout that would answer many questions about both fighters. It was a clash of intelligent styles that pitted two very diverse fighters against each other in a five-round tilt in the middleweight division.
If that was not enough, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza was pitted against Francis Carmont. Souza was coming off a TKO victory over Yushin Okami at UFC Fight Night 28. Souza brought his five-fight winning streak into the Octagon to the end of making a serious statement for title contention against the always-tough Carmont, who had an 11-fight win streak himself.
These two contests alone had the potential to add clarity to the middleweight division; should Machida and Souza win as expected, both fighters would be near the front of the line for a shot at Chris Weidman’s belt.
And if either one of them lost, it would prove that the division is far deeper than most expected.
Before the headlining and co-headlining bouts took place, the fans would get to see two welterweight bouts, pitting the dangerous Erick Silva against Takenori Sato and Viscardi Andrade against Nicholas Musoke.
Finally, a featherweight fight would get the main card started with Charles Oliveira slugging it out with Andy Ogle.
With such names as Maximo Blanco, Yuri Alcantara, Rodrigo Damm and Cristiano Marcello filling out the undercard, UFC Fight Night 36 had all the makings of an entertaining evening of fights in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil. And if that wasn’t enough, the event marked the first-ever implementation of the UFC’s new bonus plan that will see the knockout and submission bonuses replaced with Performance of the Night bonuses for two fighters.
Now that the fights are over and the results are tallied, we can look upon the event as a whole, the good and the bad.
Here are the real winners and losers from UFC Fight Night 36: Machida vs. Mousasi.
After just two preliminary fights, the unsung heroes of the sport, the cut men, were earning their pay in a big way.
There’s no true way to fully appreciate the efforts of those who stop the blood flow from a bad cut or series of cuts; to many, it seems as easy as wiping the blood away and slathering the wound up with grease.
In truth, it takes much more than that, and it always will.
Granted, they didn’t have much work to do at UFC Fight Night 36 after those first two bouts, but it’s good to know they take their job seriously, preliminary fighter or established star.
By now, everyone knows that low blows are a part of the sport.
No matter how noble and gentlemanly the fighters are, there is always a chance of a shot going south of the boarder.
But when Maximo Blanco let loose with that kick, Felipe Arantes and his boys won the staring role in The Nutcracker. Thankfully for Arantes, it happened in Round 3 rather than Round 1, but nonetheless, it was a moment that made everyone groan in empathy.
Normally, referee Mario Yamasaki doesn’t take a point away for a first offense without due warning. It seems it was the sound of the blow—the sheer volume—that, when coupled with the visual, caused him to react so quickly.
If you are one of those fans who loves a lot of action rather than decisive finishes, then the preliminary cards of UFC 169 and UFC Fight Night 36 gave you all that you wanted.
This is not said in jest, either. As a longtime boxing fan, it was a bittersweet moment to see so much anticipation brought to a close with a quick stoppage. This was part of the problem with loving Mike Tyson in the early days; you wanted to see the stoppage, but it was never really worth the money.
There is nothing wrong with being able to find the good in any situation, and the preliminary bouts for this card in Brazil were fought with passion and purpose. For fans who can enjoy fights for what they are with no expectations other than honest conflict, a long song is not a bad thing at all.
Things were in a bit of a bind as the time neared for Fox Sports 1 to air the main card for UFC Fight Night 36. There was still one bout scheduled for Fight Pass, yet the time for the main card to begin had already come and gone.
Much like the epic failure of UFC 33, which saw every fight go to a decision, tonight saw nine of 11 bouts decided by the judges.
The business of setting up events like this is never easy. No one expected every preliminary fight to go to a decision at UFC 169; to think it would happen in back-to-back events is nothing short of amazing.
The conclusion of the Cristiano Marcello-Joe Proctor bout saw 14 straight preliminary bouts go to a decision, and where that streak ends no one knows.
What we do know is that it can be a little frustrating to be stuck watching NASCAR when the main event fights should be on.
In his fight with the gritty Andy Ogle, Charles Oliveira officially put an end to the decision parade for UFC Fight Night 36 by securing a slick triangle leg choke in Round 3.
Oliveira had been dominating the bout, but on a night of split decisions and puzzling decisions, nothing was a given.
Ogle was as tough and gutsy as anyone out there, but he was just outmaneuvered by the superior ground game of Oliveira.
And that submission was the perfect way to earn the first stoppage of the night in Brazil.
It was almost forgivable when Viscardi Andrade threw his hands up into the air in triumph when he dropped Nicholas Musoke with a right hand in Round 1. Yes, it was hubris and it allowed his opponent an extra second to recover, but we expect a little overexcitement in younger fighters on the big stage.
But then he was simply outworked for the rest of the fight; each second that passed seemed to show that Andrade didn’t have much else to offer after that.
He looked listless when pressed against the cage, clumsy when circling and off-balance when throwing most of his strikes.
Maybe if he hadn’t been so quick to assume victory after that knockdown of Musoke, he would have been able to press that advantage and honestly claim it.
Instead, Musoke endured, turned the tables and won the fight.
While Erick Silva didn’t give us much time to savor the aggression associated with his namesake, he gave Takenori Sato more than he could handle, blowing him out of the water in under 60 seconds.
It was short, sweet and utterly violent, and it proved just how dangerous Silva is when he is given even the slightest bit of room to work. He started it all with a hard kick, worked hard to defend the low single-leg attempt of Sato, then pounded him with a relentless stream of hard punches to the head until it was over.
If he can carry this level of effective aggression into his future with any kind of consistency, he will remain a main card draw for some time to come.
It’s a rare thing to see a fighter with a ground game like Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. When you get the chance, it’s a thing of beauty.
Against Francis Carmont, Souza got to display his ground game early, nearly securing a rear-naked choke in Round 1.
Round 2 saw Souza’s takedown attempts foiled, as both men took turns attacking with punches and kicks from range.
Then, early in Round 3, Souza got another takedown, took Carmont’s back and began to soften him up with punches between choke attempts. Although he was not able to secure a submission, he remained consistent with his aggression, dominating on the ground, and won the bout.
While it might not have been as decisive as many had hoped, it was still a sound victory for Souza.
It couldn’t have been easy stepping into the Octagon to face a fighter like Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in Brazil, but that’s exactly what Francis Carmont signed up to do.
After being dominated on the floor in Round 1, Carmont mounted what could generously be described as a “comeback” in Round 2, but he spent too much time circling away from the fight instead of fighting it.
It’s hard to call Carmont a loser given the task he was faced with, but one cannot help but think he could have done more than he did.
He didn’t attack with any true sense of aggression; instead, he seemed content to throw sporadic shots while maintaining the distance needed to stuff the takedown.
It was a fine defensive effort, especially when you consider that Jacare had his back for prolonged periods of time in Rounds 1 and 3 yet was unable to secure a submission.
But in a fight like this—with so much at stake—it would have been nice to see him attack with energy due the moment.
Heading into this bout, I honestly thought both Lyoto Machida and Gegard Mousasi would be sorely tested. Both men are intelligent fighters who are terribly patient and know how to adapt to nearly any situation thrown their way.
Then, there was the southpaw stance of Machida versus the orthodox style of Mousasi; all of it made for a terribly tantalizing clash of styles.
And for all of my reservations and questions, Machida proved to be the faster fighter, landing the more meaningful strikes and, most importantly, landing first.
Be it hard kicks to the body or head, or stiff punches, Machida got the better of most exchanges, employing his patented style of passive-aggression to keep Mousasi waiting and guessing.
The longer the fight went on, the more comfortable and fluid Machida became. Mousasi was game for the duration, landing good punches here and there in addition to leg kicks, but it simply wasn’t enough.
Machida’s control of the distance was masterful considering his opponent, and he never stopped moving, picking his moments to explode with great success.
Then, in Round 4, he managed to slam Mousasi to the ground hard with an inside trip and from there went to work maintaining top control. Mousasi managed to get the sweep, and suddenly we got to see both men grappling on the floor.
Machida worked for submissions and in doing so managed to limit any ground-and-pound thrown his way. After another reversal, Machida was on top and ate an illegal upkick near the round’s close.
Round 5 began much the same as Rounds 1, 2 and 3: Machida controlling the distance and attacking in spurts while never standing still. Mousasi went for a takedown, and Machida got on top, then took Mousasi’s back.
The fight ended with Machida landing a hard punch before the bell, capping off an excellent performance against a very tough opponent.
While he may have said Lyoto Machida was just another opponent, Gegard Mousasi was unable to deal with The Dragon as he had so many others before.
Mousasi did better than many have, but it still wasn’t enough.
He got caught up existing in Machida’s world nearly the entire fight, walking forward and eating hard shots only to find Machida had slipped away before he could mount a counterattack.
There are many fights in the middleweight division that could see Mousasi establish himself as a true threat in the future.
Once again, it is hard to call Mousasi a loser, but he ended up being just another highly touted opponent whom Machida used to elevate his cause as the next clear title contender.
With Anderson Silva on the sidelines and Chris Weidman poised to defend his title against Vitor Belfort, the middleweight division was well-served at UFC Fight Night 36.
Divisional ramifications were furthered in the ways we expected, as Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Lyoto Machida stated their case as title contenders with sound victories.
As it stands now, Machida looks to be the next logical choice to fight the winner of Weidman-Belfort, especially since he is a former light heavyweight champion.
After Machida, Souza could be next as a title contender if he remains healthy and wins any fights in the meantime.
Should Machida win the title, a bout pitting him against Souza could be very interesting indeed.
The creme is rising to the top, and whoever wins between Weidman and Belfort is going to be facing some stiff challenges for his title.
And that is exactly what the division needs.
Lyoto Machida def. Gegard Mousasi via unanimous decision
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza def. Francis Carmont via unanimous decision
Erick Silva def. Takenori Sato via knockout (punches) at 0:52, Round 1
Nicholas Musoke def. Viscardi Andrade via unanimous decision
Charles Oliveira def. Andy Ogle via submission (triangle leg choke) at 2:40, Round 3
Rodrigo Damm def. Ivan Jorge via unanimous decision
Francisco Trinaldo def. Jesse Ronson via split decision
Yuri Alcantara def. Wilson Reis via unanimous decision
Felipe Arantes def. Maximo Blanco via unanimous decision
Ildemar Alcantara def. Albert Tumenov via split decision
Zubaira Tukhugov def. Douglas de Andrade via unanimous decision