One massive left hand from Derek Brunson ruined the return of Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida in front of a stunned audience at Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo in the main event of UFC Fight Night 119 on Saturday.
The bout got off to a tentative start as Brunson hesitated to engage and Machida worked strikes from the outside. However, Brunson looked a lot like old-school Machida because when he decided to strike, he did so with bad intentions.
Brunson ducked inside and loosed a looping left hand that landed clean and sent Machida stumbling backward. The No. 7-ranked middleweight wasted no time in capitalizing. He followed up with ground strikes and drew the TKO finish.
Fox Sports: UFC shared the ending:
It was a discouraging result for the former light heavyweight champion. Fans of The Dragon are used to seeing him time up opponents on the counter—not the other way around.
As Patrick Wyman of the Washington Post noted, the little we saw of Machida showed he still has skills, but his chin might be betraying him:
While Machida may have been the legend in this bout, the result shouldn't be surprising. Brunson's last six wins have come by first-round knockout or TKO.
Two victories removed from his decision loss to Anderson Silva, Brunson utilized the opportunity to call out middleweight contender and former champion Luke Rockhold:
It was a crowning moment for Brunson. After a conservative loss to Silva two fights ago in February, it's a good sign for the former Strikeforce competitor that he brought the aggression against a dangerous counterstriker in Machida.
While this might be an indication The Dragon is finished, it's a sign of new life for Brunson.
Main card (FOX Sports 1)
- Derek Brunson def. Lyoto Machida via TKO (punches) at 2:30 of R1
- Colby Covington def. Demian Maia via unanimous decision (29-27, 30-27, 30-26)
- Pedro Munhoz def. Rob Font via submission (guillotine) at 4:03 of R1
- Francisco Trinaldo def. Jim Miller via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Thiago Santos def. Jack Hermansson via TKO (punches) at 4:59 of R1
- John Lineker def. Marlon Vera via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Undercard (FOX Sports 2)
- Vicente Luque def. Niko Price via submission (D'arce choke) at 4:08 of R2
- Antonio Carlos Junior def. Jack Marshman via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:30 of R1
- Jared Gordon def. Hacran Dias via unanimous decision (29-26, 29-27, 30-26)
- Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos def. Max Griffin via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-28)
Undercard (UFC Fight Pass)
- Deiveson Figueiredo def. Jarred Brooks via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
- Marcelo Golm def. Christian Colombo via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:08 of R1
Colby Covington vs. Demian Maia
Colby Covington oozes confidence. The 29-year-old hasn't been shy about calling for a top-tier welterweight opponent, and he didn't fail to capitalize once he got one.
Taking on a dangerous veteran in No. 3 Demian Maia, Covington looked the part of contender in three rounds.
The 39-year-old Maia got off to a strong start. He surprised the brash American with solid striking, but the disparity on the feet widened as the fight went on. Covington became increasingly confident in his ability to sprawl on Maia's takedown attempts and countered with strikes.
As is the case with most fights involving Maia, it wasn't pretty. The Brazilian's constant takedown attempts didn't make for great TV, and Covington did what he had to do to win in front of a hostile crowd.
He didn't do much to assuage the fans after the fight, either, as he went full heel in making derisive comments toward the crowd, per MMAFighting.com.
Covington is doing his best to take a page out of Chael Sonnen's book to market himself. Even if it isn't quite believable, his skills in the Octagon are successful.
He has five consecutive wins. With one of those having come against a top-three fighter in his division, it might be time for Covington to get the marquee matchup he craves.
Rob Font vs. Pedro Munhoz
Pedro Munhoz had an opportunity to get a win in front of his home crowd, and he didn't disappoint. The Brazilian earned a first-round submission victory over Rob Font in an action-packed fight that was fun while it lasted.
Font came out swinging early and pressed the action. It was an effective strategy until Munhoz bit down on his mouthpiece and returned fire. The 31-year-old sneaked a left hook past Font's defense and stymied him. A dazed Font thought it was a good idea to shoot on Munhoz in desperation.
As RJ Clifford of Sirius XM pointed out, Munhoz has abilities in grappling:
Fox Sports: UFC posted the smooth finish from Munhoz.
This was an exciting matchup between two guys who sit just outside the top 10 of the bantamweight division. After this bout, Munhoz has earned his shot at a big-name opponent.
He extended his win streak to four, and three of those victories have come by guillotine choke.
Francisco Trinaldo vs. Jim Miller
In the lightweight scrap between Francisco Trinaldo and Jim Miller, one veteran of the division got back on track while the other showed he might be done.
In March, Kevin Lee snapped Trinaldo's seven-fight win streak.
After the first round, it looked like Trinaldo might make it a two-fight losing streak. Miller secured a takedown and won the frame with his top control. In the second, Trinaldo took over by touching up Miller on the feet.
By the third round, Miller wondered aloud if he had anything left, per Bleacher Report MMA:
The lack of energy brought about questions regarding how much longer Miller will grace the Octagon. He's been a mainstay in the lightweight division since 2008, but the 34-year-old is on a three-fight skid.
Those losses have come against good competition in Dustin Poirier, Anthony Pettis and Trinaldo, though. He might get a shot at a redemption fight, but the lack of endurance to make it through three rounds is a real concern.
Thiago Santos vs. Jack Hermansson
Jack Hermansson almost—almost—survived the first round against middleweight Thiago Santos.
For the vast majority of the opening frame, Hermansson engaged in nondescript action that seemed like an extended feeling-out period. Other than a takedown attempt that Santos stuffed, there wasn't much to speak of.
Then Santos made his move. With under 10 seconds left in the round, Santos went full Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots and unleashed back-to-back uppercuts that set up a buzzer-beating knockout to conclude the opening frame.
Fox Sports: UFC shared the finish:
The win gave the 33-year-old Santos his third consecutive victory, with all three coming by way of TKO. It's been a good run for a fighter who once earned a bout against Gegard Mousasi in July 2016 because of a four-fight win streak.
A loss to Mousasi knocked down his stock, but this recent streak might mean a step up in competition once again for the Brazilian.
John Lineker vs. Marlon Vera
Update: John Lineker still hits really hard.
The powerhouse bantamweight made his first appearance in the Octagon since losing a unanimous decision to former champion TJ Dillashaw in December 2016. Marlon "Chito" Vera was the victim as Lineker struck his way to a unanimous-decision victory to kick off the card from Sao Paulo.
In fairness, the 24-year-old Vera put on a strong showing. Coming in as the underdog, per OddsShark, he stood his ground in exchanges and even won a round on two judges' scorecards. Still, it was hard to deny Lineker's signature aggression.
The UFC passed along some of the highlights for the Brazilian:
Although Lineker was the aggressor, he showed growth in his game. The usual meat-and-potatoes striker attempted two spinning kicks that failed, but he didn't allow his frustrations with Vera's movement to expose to counterstriking.
In the end, this was the kind of bout that will help both fighters. Lineker got a nice tuneup before he goes back to taking on the elite in the division, while Vera got to test himself against a highly ranked fighter and will be able to learn from this bout.