The UFC's first venture into Chile ended with a unanimous-decision win for Kamaru Usman over Demian Maia in the main event of UFC Fight Night 129.
As expected, the bout between the wrestler and the jiu-jitsu ace was heavy on grappling. Maia started the first round as the aggressor, spending much of the round working for a takedown as Usman fended off his attempts.
Bloody Elbow gave the round to the Brazilian for whatever action the opening five minutes saw:
The second frame saw Maia still desperate to score a takedown, but Usman flashing impressive takedown defense. His sprawl game was on point and left Maia with little offense to speak of. The UFC passed along one of Usman's impressive denial:
As the fight progressed, Usman settled in to the striking exchanges. Though both looked like fish out of water at times, he landed some strong overhand rights:
The combination of powerful overhands, cardio and takedown defense was enough to contain Maia over the course of all five rounds and earn the decision.
After the bout, Usman said that he believed he broke both of his hands, which would explain the lack of action from the eventual winner:
It wasn't the prettiest of wins. Usman and Maia packed about a half-round of action into the five rounds, but it was an effective win for the Nigerian Nightmare, who is still undefeated in the UFC. Another high-profile fight must be in the making for him moving forward.
This card probably won't be one of the most memorable of the year. It lacked high-stakes bouts and the big names to make it stand out, but we saw a few early finishes and strong performances from up-and-comers.
Here's a look at the results and a closer look at all the main-card action from Chile.
- Kamaru Usman def. Demian Maia via unanimous decision
- Tatiana Suarez def. Alexa Grasso via submission RNC) (R1, 2:44)
- Dominick Reyes def. Jared Cannonier via first-round TKO (2:55)
- Guido Cannetti def. Diego Rivas via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
- Andrea Lee def. Veronica Macedo via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
- Vicente Luque def. Chad Laprise via first-round KO (4:16)
- Michel Prazeres def. Zak Cummings via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
- Alexandre Pantoja def. Brandon Moreno via unanimous decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)
- Poliana Botelho def. Yuri Kondo via first-round KO (0:33)
- Gabriel Benitez def. Humberto Bandenay via first-round KO (0:39)
- Enrique Barzola def. Brandon Davis via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26 x2)
- Frankie Saenz def. Henry Briones via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
- Claudio Puelles def. Felipe Silva via submission (knee bar) (R3, 2:23)
Alexa Grasso vs. Tatiana Suarez
A matchup of ranked women's strawweights saw No. 12 Tatiana Suarez notch an impressive first-round submission win over No. 9 Alexa Grasso.
Suarez wasted no time in closing the distance, while Grasso clearly worked to stay away from the undefeated 27-year-old. Once she was able to get into clinch distance, she worked her to the ground and immediately took dominant position.
Suarez's slick takedown skills drew comparisons to former women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey from Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful:
This was a win that should propel Suarez to the top tier of the division. She may need a little more seasoning with only six professional fights to her name, but at this point anything other than the top tier might just be resume-padding.
As Aaron Bronsteter notes, her grappling skills are going to make her a favorite against anyone but the very top talent in the division:
Whether the UFC gives her the fast track or takes their time with developing her before pushing into the spotlight will be one of the more interesting storylines to come out of this event.
Jared Cannonier vs. Dominick Reyes
Dominick Reyes did what he could to put the light heavyweight division on notice in Chile. He put forth a contender for Knockout of the Night with a massive uppercut that stymied Cannonier and gave him a walk-off knockout win.
As the UFC showed, the uppercut was actually the punch that started Reyes' takeover in the first round and earned him the finish:
There wasn't much to this win other than a strong display of Reyes' striking ability. Luke Thomas was quick to heap praise onto the 28-year-old:
The light heavyweight division is in desperate need of new talent, and an up-and-comer like Reyes would appear to be the answer. After the victory he called out fellow undefeated light heavyweight prospect Jordan Johnson.
It might be a little early to match up the two prospects, but Reyes definitely showed why he could be a name that finds himself in the rankings sooner rather than later.
Diego Rivas vs. Guido Cannetti
As the only Chilean national on the card in Chile, Diego Rivas had a lot of pressure to come away with a W.
Guido Cannetti had other ideas.
Rivas had his moments. He was close to securing a guillotine choke early in the fight that had the crowd ready to erupt, but he couldn't get the hold locked in:
Rivas has now lost back-to-back fights and will struggle to have significance in the division outside of fighting in his home country. Cannetti has alternated wins and losses in his four UFC fights and didn't show anything in this bout that would inspire fans to believe that he is anything other than a middling veteran.
This is one of those fights that had the ability to create a memorable moment for those in attendance, but ended up being a humdrum affair that will be quickly forgotten.
Veronica Macedo vs. Andrea Lee
The best word to describe Andrea "KGB" Lee's UFC debut would be "thorough."
As in a thorough display of skills as Lee showcased her abilities in the standup, clinch and ground game in a convincing decision win over Veronica Macedo. No matter where the fight went, Lee held the upper hand in the three-round affair.
The most impressive facet of her game was the clinch, though. The 29-year-old's muay thai skills carried the day as she landed vicious knees that set up her powerful takedowns. The UFC passed along some of the work she put in from the Thai clinch:
Lee made her name in stints with LFA, Legacy and Invicta. This win simply showed those skills will transfer over just fine to the UFC.
This should only be the beginning for Lee with the division in need of new blood. If she continues to showcase the versatility to her game that she did against Macedo, she should soon enter the rankings.
Vicente Luque vs. Chad Laprise
Vicente Luque might be the best-kept secret in the welterweight division and showed why in the first fight of the main card. The 26-year-old straight-up slept Chad Laprise in the first round to end the Canadian's unbeaten streak in the 170-pound division.
A simple, well-timed left hook was all it took for the Silent Assassin to get his sixth finish in the Octagon:
Luque hasn't faced the greatest competition, but three of his six finishes have come in the first round. He asked for a top-15 opponent the next time out—something that should get done for him.
With a 6-1 record in his last seven bouts, it's time to find out what he can do against a ranked welterweight.