UFC 212 Results: The Real Winners and Losers from Aldo vs. Holloway Fight Card
UFC 212 went down Saturday from one of the world's true capitals of combat sports: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In a lot of minds, the evening's main event lost some luster before it was ever booked. Jose Aldo, widely considered the greatest featherweight of all time, lost his UFC title and more than a little of mystique back on December 12, 2015 at UFC 194. Before that night, he had only one pro loss on his record, and that was back in 2005. But Conor McGregor only needed 13 seconds to hand him his second defeat by way of a stunning knockout.
Aldo's career has been mercurial, but it's been marked far more deeply by greatness. Before his loss to McGregor, no other fighter had ever even held the UFC featherweight belt.
Saturday he faced one of the best featherweights of this or any other era in Hawaiian Max Holloway. All he's done is win 10 in a row over the division's best fighters. Still only 25 years old, Holloway improves with every contest despite already being considered a legitimately great fighter.
Aldo has the lineal championship again after UFC brass stripped McGregor (long story). Holloway has the interim title after he defeated Anthony Pettis. UFC belts don't mean as much as they used to because of all the various interim shenanigans and what have you, but the chance to unify the straps is enticing. We'll have that after the UFC 212 main event.
In the co-main event, strawweight contenders Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz battled it out in an exciting women's bout.
And there were 10 other bouts besides. As usual, the final stat lines don't reveal everything. Read on for the real winners and losers from UFC 212.
Winner: Max Holloway
Ladies and gentlemen, your undisputed UFC featherweight champion, Max "Blessed" Holloway.
That's right. Aldo looked terrific early, but Holloway wrested away the momentum later in the fight, earning a TKO victory in the final minute of the third round.
Holloway may have been nervous early. He appeared hesitant to engage and perhaps too respectful of Aldo's vaunted striking defense. Meanwhile, the ever-efficient Aldo was picking and choosing his openings to slam home huge punches.
As the contest wore on, though, the pace swung for Holloway. He found his range and began to loosen up just as Aldo began to tire and flag a bit.
In the third, a three-punch combination suddenly put Aldo on the ground. Holloway swarmed and jumped on top of Aldo, mounting him and raining blows. He looked for a submission move or two, but for the most part, it was ground-and-pound all the way.
Aldo showed tremendous heart and skill in attempting to scramble away or defend submissions, but eventually it was too much. He was too hurt and too tired, and as Holloway's shots repeatedly found the head of a prone and turtled Aldo, referee John McCarthy stopped the action.
"It feels great, you know," Holloway told Karyn Bryant and the rest of the Fox Sports 1 broadcast team during the post-fight show. "Like I told you before, kings go to villages and they take over. This is the 'Blessed' era."
Holloway also said he planned to "clean out" the division. The mind boggles at the possibilities in a stacked 145-pound weight class. During the aforementioned interview, Holloway said he was willing to face Cub Swanson, who was in the TV studio and who lost to Holloway in 2015. Since then, Swanson has won four straight with some impressive performances. That would be quite a first defense for the "Blessed" era.
Loser: Jose Aldo
Sometimes, this is a sad sport.
It's part of MMA's appeal that it just has zero mercy for its competitors. Aldo looked tremendous for long stretches of this fight. It was easy watching him to harken back to his old WEC days and to wonder if Aldo had found something that allowed him to return to that peak form.
It wasn't to be.
Aldo only slowed by one iota, but it was enough for Holloway to seize the leverage. Just one combination was enough to hurt him, and he wasn't ever able to recover.
One head scratcher during the fight: Aldo never threw one of his vaunted leg kicks. Not one.
The FS1 team asked Holloway about that during the post-fight show. Was he surprised by this?
"Yeah, I kinda was," he answered.
Answers on that may or may not materialize. Another fight may or may not materialize. Aldo has always kept his own counsel on what he does and when and why. Despite this loss, he remains the featherweight GOAT. But unlike his loss to McGregor, there's no fluke in this one. Aldo lost and he lost plainly and clearly. And he has now lost two of three.
If he wants to continue in this sport, at least at this elite-of-the-elite level, he needs to win a few. That's just the way it is.
UFC 212 delivered a respectable performance for the Rio faithful in attendance and the Brazilians watching around the country.
But it wasn't what you'd call a victory.
Your winners among the Brazilians competing Saturday were Antonio Carlos Junior, Deiveson Figueiredo, Viviane Pereira, Raphael Assuncao, Paulo Borrachinha, Vitor Belfort and Claudia Gadelha.
The losers were Iuri Alcantara, Johnny Eduardo, Marlon Moraes, Erick Silva and Jose Aldo.
So you had a 7-5 record on the night. The main-eventer lost, which carries some extra weight. But ultimately they had more Ws than Ls, so you have to conclude it was a successful evening for the host nation.
Winner: Claudia Gadelha
Claudia Gadelha is a great fighter. That's all there is to it.
Her opponent in the co-main event, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, had never been stopped in her pro MMA career. She had only lost at all on one occasion, to the current UFC strawweight champion, the great Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
That's something these two had in common coming in, as Jedrzejczyk was the only fighter to defeat Gadelha, having done so on two occasions.
So something, as they say, had to give. And give it did.
After an initial feeling-out period that saw Gadelha land a couple of nasty elbows after clinch breaks, Gadelha hit a takedown and went to work. Although Kowalkiewicz has taken pains to prove she's more than a kickboxer, she was clearly out of her element as Gadelha moved to take her back.
Gadelha wrapped her arms around Kowalkiewicz's neck, got a rear-naked choke and elicited the tap. It was over in three minutes and three seconds.
What's next for Gadelha after such an amazing and efficient performance over such a formidable opponent?
"I'm moving to [training home] Albuquerque [New Mexico], I'm getting a nice car and fancy dog," she told Stann in the cage after the fight. "That's all that's on my mind right now."
Well, then. But she was also candid about her own evolution as a fighter. And while Jedrzejczyk did not specifically come up, it's not hard to see how prominently the champion weighs in Gadelha's mind, no matter how much she might try to play it cool.
"You can't expect different results if you keep doing the same thing over and over," Gadelha said. "I challenge myself, I've done new things, I'm a new fighter, and I'm going to be f-----ng hard to beat here."
Losers: Judges and Referees
Let's see, we had a late stoppage, an early stoppage and a dicey judges' scorecard. Did anyone hit bingo?
It always seems to happen in Brazil. On the undercard, referee Mario Yamasaki waited far too long to wave off a Matthew Lopez knockout of Johnny Eduardo.
After the featured bout on the prelim slate, judges awarded Raphael Assuncao a split decision over Marlon Moraes. That's not an unreasonable outcome, but it did raise eyebrows that one of the judges gave all three rounds to Assuncao for a 30-27 score. The fight was far too close and back-and-forth for that. Moreover, Moraes was the aggressor for more or less the entire duration (and more on this fight a little farther down).
In the first card on the pay-per-view slate, referee Eduardo Herdy stepped in too early to end a bout between Yancy Medeiros and Erick Silva. Even Medeiros, the winner, said in the cage afterward that Herdy "could have let it go a little more" to give Silva more of a chance to recover.
This isn't the first time things like this have happened, in Brazil or elsewhere, and unfortunately they probably won't be the last. Just another reminder that MMA judging and refereeing are not operating at an optimal level.
Winner: Paulo Borrachinha
We have a new name to watch in the UFC middleweight division, and that name is Paulo Borrachinha.
The 26-year-old Brazilian is a newcomer to this stage. He debuted on March 11 and announced his presence with authority, knocking out the battle-hardened Garreth McClellan in just 77 seconds. The quick win kept alive his streak of first-round knockouts. Barring a first-round submission, no other Borrachinha fight has ever ended any other way.
Well, the streak broke Saturday against Oluwale Bamgbose, the wild-striking Bronx native who appeared tailor-made to test and/or showcase Borrachinha's knockout-seeking game.
Yes, that's right. Borrachinha saw a second round.
But it didn't last long into that frame. Only 1:06 into the second, Borrachinha's body shots began to pile up on a gassed-out Bamgbose. Big shots dropped him, and a few ground strikes later, it was over.
Speaking in the cage after the fight, Borrachinha, now 10-0 as a pro, called for a top-10 opponent, though he didn't name any specific names. Here's hoping, though, that this is a request UFC matchmakers are able to accommodate.
Borrachinha is strong, fast, poised, handsome and well-spoken. It's always fun to see a star born, and it will be fun to see what's next for him. How about David Branch?
Loser: Raphael Assuncao
In the only Brazilian vs. Brazilian fight on the Rio card, former UFC bantamweight contender Raphael Assuncao welcomed World Series of Fighting champ Marlon Moraes to the UFC Octagon.
It was a mixed bag.
Moraes attempted to press the action with his trademark speed and sharp muay thai attack. Assuncao sat back and waited on the counter and generally refrained from attacking, preferring to play defense.
That's understandable. But it's not exciting, and it's not going to earn you a lot of points on the scorecards of judges or fans.
Even so, Assuncao did enough to win on a 29-28, 28-29 and 30-27 (!) set of scorecards. Ah, Brazil.
Hats off to the veteran for a big win in the prelim card featured bout. At the same time, though, he just cannot seem to build momentum in his career. Whether it's extended injury layoffs or uninspiring (if technically impressive) performances like the one turned in Saturday, it just doesn't seem like Assuncao, for all his talent, will ever get over the hump.
UFC 212 Full Card Results
Max Holloway def. Jose Aldo by TKO, 4:13, Rd. 3
Claudia Gadelha def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by submission (rear-naked choke), 3:03, Rd. 1
Vitor Belfort def. Nate Marquardt by unanimous decision
Paulo Borrachinha def. Oluwale Bamgbose by TKO, 1:06, Rd. 2
Yancy Medeiros def. Erick Silva by TKO, 2:01, Rd. 2
Raphael Assuncao def. Marlon Moraes by split decision
Antonio Carlos Junior def. Eric Spicely by submission (rear-naked choke), 3:49, Rd. 2
Matthew Lopez def. Johnny Eduardo by TKO, 2:57, Rd. 1
Brian Kelleher def. Iuri Alcantara by submission (guillotine choke), 1:48, Rd. 1
Viviane Pereira def. Jamie Moyle by unanimous decision
Luan Chagas def. Jim Wallhead by submission (rear-naked choke), 4:48, Rd. 2
Deiveson Figueiredo def. Marco Beltran by TKO, 5:00, Rd. 2