The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 41, TUF Brazil 3 Finale
The "historic" day is done for the UFC. Two cards in one day—hundreds of sore butts for MMA media members who have been furiously typing on their computers for a full 13 minutes.
While many were cynical heading into Saturday morning, it could have been much, much worse.
Both cards, in general, were pretty good across the board. There were few big names, granted, but while these hodgepodge cards comprised of mid-level talent often go very poorly for fans and media, Saturday featured more than a few exciting fights and plenty of quality finishes.
As such, the fans and media who sank an entire Saturday on the UFC were the biggest winners (and losers, in their own way). But who else came out smelling like roses? And who came out smelling...not so rosy?
Find out right here!
Real Loser: All Those Preliminary Card Fighters Without Sponsorships
Maximo Blanco defeats Andy Ogle by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
All the fighters without sponsorships. The UFC's oppressive approach to fighter sponsorships was the talk of the MMA town for a little while. Dana White's response to his company denying fighters the opportunity to make money? "It's not my f-----g problem."
The problem of fighters being unable to obtain sponsorships seemed to fade for a while, but attention might be called back to it following UFC Fight Night 41. Numerous fighters sported generic "UFC" or solid-colored trunks. It wasn't the case for all fighters, but plenty of guys went shirtless for their entrance or sported just one logo on their shorts.
While the rich are getting richer, with guys like Johny Hendricks sporting new Reebok kicks for his pay-per-view main events, the Andy Ogles are out there are wearing solid black vale tudo shorts for their Fight Pass preliminary card fights.
Real Winner: Iuri Alcantara
Iuri Alcantara defeats Vaughan Lee by TKO at 0:25 of the first round
Iuri Alcantara. He has had some mixed success in the UFC but has always been regarded as one of the better bantamweights for reasons that were actually somewhat vague. Regardless, he looked the part of a top-10 bantamweight in Berlin when he knocked out a resurgent Vaughan Lee in 25 seconds.
Alcantara is a solid fighter and one of the better finishers in the bantamweight division. He is a power puncher with solid Brazilian jiu-jitsu. While much can be said about the UFC's refusal to book him on a main card (unless it is feeding him to Urijah Faber), he needed a big win to maintain his spot in the top 10. He got that big win.
Real Loser: The UFC's Resident Polish Fighter
- Peter Sobotta defeats Pawel Pawlak by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Magnus Cedenblad defeats Krzysztof Jotko via submission (guillotine choke) at 4:59 of the second round
The UFC's resident Polish fighters. Two UFC fighters born and raised in Poland fought on the preliminary card in Berlin. Krzysztof Jotko was submitted in the second round by Magnus Cedenblad. Pawel Pawlak laid an egg in his UFC debut, as he was generally dominated by Peter Sobotta (who was advertised as Polish but actually grew up in Germany).
Poland has a booming MMA scene. American MMA fans may not have seen much of it, with the lone exception being Marcin Held's success in Bellator, but it has been growing steadily for years. With KSW's roster and prominence growing steadily, the UFC is looking to kneecap the promotion with its show in Lodz later this year and has been signing Polish talent to prepare (most notably former KSW light heavyweight killer Jan Blachowicz).
The UFC was hoping to have Pawlak and Jotko gain some steam heading into the card, but alas, it looks like the company is going to have a lot of work ahead of it in terms of nailing down Polish talent. That's going to be very tough, considering KSW is willing to give its talent market value.
Real Loser: Everyone Involved with Luke Barnatt vs. Sean Strickland
Sean Strickland defeats Luke Barnatt by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
Everyone involved with Luke Barnatt vs. Sean Strickland. Luke Barnatt vs. Sean Strickland was basically a move-for-move recreation of Rory MacDonald vs. Jake Ellenberger. Barnatt walked forward trying to jab, while Strickland backpedaled trying to counterstrike. In the end, Strickland got a much-maligned split-decision win that was greeted with boos from the crowd and snark from the media.
Eesh. Gray jacket and beige pants? What was he thinking?
Oh, right, fights...
So, Barnatt looked bad, given that he couldn't use his ridiculous lank to any real effect. Strickland looked awful as he whiffed punch after punch while pedaling away from Barnatt. The judges looked foolish for giving a win to the guy who mustered no offense rather than the guy who mustered a little offense. The UFC looked angry because the guy it tried to spoon-feed a win now finds his profile taking a shot from losing and from putting on a boring fight.
Not a good outcome for anybody.
Real Loser: Francis Carmont's Status as a Top-10 Fighter
C.B. Dollaway defeats Francis Carmont by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Francis Carmont's status as a top-10 fighter. Francis Carmont bored his way to the middleweight top 10 but ran into the buzzsaw known as Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza. In a fight that would either confirm or deny his status as a top-10 middleweight opposite CB Dollaway, he came up short.
Nobody has ever been all that high on Carmont. It doesn't matter how many wins you put together in a row—nobody is going throw their chips down on a guy who needs the judges to gift-wrap him a win over Tom Lawlor and Lorenz Larkin. This loss, in all likelihood, puts a fork into Carmont's status as a top-10 fighter.
The funny thing, of course, is that while he has been panned by fans as "boring" for his winning efforts over Costas Philippou and Lawlor, his losing effort against Dollaway was fairly entertaining.
Real Loser: Mark Munoz
Gegard Mousasi defeats Mark Munoz via submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:57 of the first round
Mark Munoz. Coming off a harsh knockout loss to Lyoto Machida, Munoz needed a win to keep his spot among the middleweight top 10. He did not win.
Mousasi took Munoz down, despite the presumed difference in wrestling chops, worked him over on the ground and finished him in the first round with a rear-naked choke.
Both Munoz and Mousasi entered the cage with a lot on the line. Title implications, legacies, general career stuff...a lot on the line. Munoz losing in any way would have been bad.
A first-round submission loss set up after getting taken down by somebody with no real wrestling background, though? That's pretty much the worst way it could have gone for the "Filipino Wrecking Machine." It is a loss that will lead to fans questioning how good he is en masse, whether he was ever actually good and whether or not he should retire.
Real Winner: True Heavyweights
Marcos Rogerio de Lima defeats Richardson Moreira, KO (Round 1, 0:20)
True heavyweights. The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 auditioned both light heavyweights and heavyweights ahead of the season. In the end, the show took the best from both divisions and folded them together. The handful of heavyweights who made it onto the show benefited greatly from the size advantage during the season, and Marcos Rogerio de Lima used that extra bulk and punching power to score a lightning-quick knockout.
TUF: Brazil 3's heavyweight crop was relatively weak, but Marcos Rogerio de Lima looked solid here. Regardless of whether or not he sticks around for long, the UFC desperately needs legitimate heavyweights, and he fits the bill.
At age 28, he is one of the youngest guys in the division. Even if he can just maintain a .500 UFC record, he would be an incredibly valuable asset.
Real Loser: Herb Dean's Tailspinning Credibility
Kevin Souza defeats Mark Eddiva, TKO (4:52, Round 2)
Herb Dean's tailspinning credibility. Mark Eddiva was getting punched. A lot. The thing is, he was standing, defending and escaping a flurry—when Dean called the fight to a close. It's the latest questionable stoppage from "The Best in the Business," whose mistakes have ranged from ending this fight when Eddiva wasn't even wobbly to letting Mike Pyle straight-up murder TJ Waldburger.
Not really sure what's wrong with ol' Herb lately. There's no question that he was the best referee in MMA up until late 2013. Since then, he just seems to be flubbing calls time and again.
Some of them wrongly drew the ire of fans and media, most notably Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber 2 and Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann, which were both stopped too quickly for some. Some of them were rightly criticized, like Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos 3, which saw Velasquez mercilessly batter the Brazilian for an uncomfortably long time.
This fight is just the latest questionable call by Dean, and the fact that he has made so many in such a short span of time is alarming.
Real Loser: UFC's Brazilian Foothold
Robbie Peralta defeats Rony Bezerra, split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
UFC's Brazilian foothold. TUF: Brazil 1 winner Rony Bezerra, better known by his stupid nickname Rony "Jason," is one of the most popular fighters in Brazil. He is, pretty much, the Brazilian Forrest Griffin. Well, Robbie Peralta is Bezerra's Tito Ortiz...or Keith Jardine. I don't know...
Either way, this was a close decision that Bezerra could have easily won. That said, Peralta isn't anything resembling an elite featherweight, so the fact that it was even remotely close is a telling indictment of Bezerra's place in the division.
This is a hard hit for Bezerra no matter how you slice it. He went from being a potential top 10 talent before he fought Jeremy Stephens in December to being a middle-of-the-pack body in the middle of one of the UFC's deepest divisions. He'll still be a steady presence near the top of Brazilian cards, but he can't take too many losses before his shine starts to fade.
Real Loser: The "No Easy Fights in the UFC" Mentality
Demian Maia defeats Alexander Yakovlev, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
The "no easy fights in the UFC" mentality. Former middleweight contender and longtime welterweight top-10 presence Demian Maia faced off with UFC newcomer Alexander Yakovlev. The fight was a disgustingly lopsided mismatch on paper, and it played out like one in the cage, as Maia walked away with a cut-and-dried decision win.
Something MMA fans have always brought up in relation to boxing is that there are no squash matches. Muhammad Ali vs. Chuck Wepner is a boxing thing. The Undertaker vs. Arthur "The Accountant" Worthington? You don't see that kind of thing in the UFC!
The UFC is openly putting together squash matches these days. Maia vs. Yakovlev was one of them. Chad Mendes vs. Yaotzin Meza, Donald Cerrone vs. Adriano Martins and Erick Silva vs. Takenori Sato also fit that bill. Sad times, folks!
Real Winner: Warlley Alves
Warlley Alves defeats Marcio Alexandre Junior, submission (Round 3, 0:25)
Warlley Alves. For a while there, The Ultimate Fighter was a joke. Recently, though, its legitimacy as a talent source for the UFC has been renewed, and Alves looks like another guy who could be a contender in the near future. He dominated Junior, and finished him in the third round.
I have rarely said "Wow, he is going to be somebody" in all my time watching MMA, but when I do, I tend to be correct. Alves is going to be somebody.
He is probably going to drop to welterweight after the show, and he looked good enough that he could conceivably be favored over some ranked guys (Ryan LaFlare and Erick Silva in particular). It will be interesting to see how the UFC handles him. Will the promotion toss him into the deep end like it did with Khabib Nurmagomedov or nurse him toward contention like it did with Ryan Bader?
Real Loser: The Guys Who Fought Right After Warlley Alves
Antonio Carlos Junior defeats Vitor Miranda, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
The guys who fought right after Warlley Alvez. The middleweight finale to TUF Brazil 3 was great. The heavyweight finale between Vitor Miranda and Antonio Carlos Junior? Not so much. Junior won decisively with his superior grappling skills to become the second winner of The Ultimate Fighter but showed how large the talent difference was between the two pools of fighters on this season of TUF.
This was an ugly fight. There's no other way to slice it.
Junior's Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game wasn't good enough to do anything other than lay-and-pray on Miranda. Miranda, meanwhile, saw his entire offense stifled by the slightest hint of a takedown. While Alves is an absolute treat, it's hard to imagine either of these guys making waves in the middleweight or light heavyweight division.
Real Winner: Chael P. Sonnen (the "P" Stands for "Perfection")
Chael P. Sonnen (the "P" Stands for "Perfection").
Fans booing loudly at the mention of Wanderlei Silva. In Brazil. That's pretty incredible.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) June 1, 2014
Two tweets say it all.
While Wanderlei Silva was hiding under his bed out of fear of NSAC drug testers, Chael Sonnen made the rounds at the TUF: Brazil 3 Finale. He talked to the media, shook hands, posed for photos and kissed babies. It further cements his place as the hero of the season and makes Silva look even worse than he already did.
Say what you want about Sonnen, but the brotherly, nurturing dude you saw on The Ultimate Fighter season 17 and The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3? It's hard not to love him. The fact that he is now absolutely beloved in Brazil says a lot about the "real" Sonnen.
Real Winner: Stipe Miocic's Status as a Potential Contender.
Stipe Miocic defeats Fabio Maldonado, TKO (Round 1, 0:35)
Stipe Miocic's status as a potential contender. Miocic entered with a lot on the line here. He was a surging but still relatively unknown heavyweight who went from fighting a former champion to a random unknown light heavyweight...it had disaster written all over it. He avoided trouble, though, with a big win in the opening minute.
This could have gone very badly for Miocic. If he had lost, it would have been a potential career killer. If he won in anything less than emphatic fashion, it could have denied him the opportunity to get another high-profile heavyweight opponent.
It all worked out just fine for him, though, as he scored the knockout in 37 seconds. He might be able to get that fight with Junior dos Santos soon.
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