The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 164

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2019

The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 164

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    The UFC Fight Night 164 card on ESPN+ on Saturday was heralded as the return of two of Brazil's most prolific mixed martial arts heroes, but it wound up being a much bigger night for a much smaller and younger man.

    By the time it was over, the veterans were looking for answers, the charismatic performer of the night was calling out a high-profile adversary and a handful of other under-the-radar commodities were hoping to take the next step toward recognition—if not superstardom.

    Twelve fights yield a lot of winners and losers of all shapes and sizes, and we've compiled our list coming out of the show in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

    Click through to see what happened or simply to decide if your list jibes with ours.

Winner: The Light Heavyweight Division

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    Once again, the light heavyweight division proved too tough a nut to crack for ladder-climbers.

    Former middleweight standout Jacare Souza made his debut in the 205-pound ranks and was expecting to begin a path toward world champion Jon Jones but instead found more frustration than fanfare.

    The 39-year-old Brazilian—who will reach birthday No. 40 in December—dropped a split five-round decision to No. 6 light heavyweight contender Jan Blachowicz in front of a partisan but unsatisfied home crowd.

    Two judges gave Blachowicz a 48-47 nod, while the other saw Souza a winner by the same score. Bleacher Report agreed with the minority view, also giving Souza a 48-47 verdict.

    "Every time it's a tough fight, a close fight, they never give me the win," Souza said.

    It was the third time in five months that a former 185-pounder found himself on the short end of a light heavyweight debut.

    Blachowicz himself stopped former UFC middleweight champ Luke Rockhold in two rounds on July 6 in Las Vegas, while another ex-titleholder at 185, Chris Weidman, was KO'd in a single round by Dominick Reyes on Oct. 18 in Boston.

Losers: Old Guys

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    Saturday's main card included six men aged 30 or older across the final three fights.

    The Jared Gordon-Charles Oliveira bout at lightweight matched a 31-year-old against a 30-year-old. Meanwhile, the co-main event at light heavyweight pitted Mauricio Rua (37) against Paul Craig (31), and the feature bout at 205 pounds included Souza (39) and Blachowicz (36).

    As it turned out, the older guys have had better weekends.

    And while Oliveira was a heavy favorite before blasting out his elder foe, the two main show's two oldest fighters—Rua and Souza—will have significant questions to answer about their futures after unimpressive performances as crowd favorites en route to a split-decision draw and a split-decision loss, respectively.

    Rua looked tentative and slow in a three-round bout against Craig but salvaged the draw after the Scot inexplicably chose to spend much of the final two rounds on the mat after dominating the initial five minutes with significant strikes.

    "I was coming here to retire him," said Craig, who took the fight on two weeks' notice.

    Souza was equally pedestrian in a tedious five-round bout with Blachowicz that saw neither man consistently take the initiative, prompting frequent boos from the Brazilian crowd.

    Rua, who held the UFC light heavyweight title in from 2010 to 2011, is 7-7-1 in 15 bouts since winning the belt.

    Souza, meanwhile, is 4-5 in nine fights since an eight-bout win streak between 2012 and 2015.

Winner (ish): Brazilian Pride

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    Unsurprisingly, a capacity crowd at Ginasio Do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo was ready for revelry.

    But their hometown heroes, more often than not, left them unfulfilled.

    Each of the 12 bouts across the preliminary and main cards included at least one Brazil-based fighter, but in the eight bouts matching a Brazilian against a visitor from elsewhere, the locals were just 3-4-1.

    Main-eventer Souza was the most noteworthy of the night's losing causes in dropping a five-round decision to Poland's Blachowicz, and he was joined in the L column by Sergio Moraes, Isabela de Padua and Vanessa Melo, alongside the disappointing draw by UFC Hall of Famer Rua.

    Lightweight Charles Oliveira was the clear crowd favorite among the local fighters, blasting out American foe Jared Gordon in just 86 seconds in a blitz that earned him a Performance of the Night bonus.

    The charismatic submission expert entered the cage with a 9-0 record in Sao Paulo and quickly reached double-digit wins after landing a counter right hand as Gordon charged toward the cage. The blow sent Gordon sprawling and was followed by a right uppercut that drove him to the floor.

    Oliveira quickly swooped in and landed another chopping right along the fence before referee Osiris Maia intervened to prevent further damage.

    "I said a few months ago when my daughter was born, everything was gonna change," said the winner, who sent the crowd into a frenzy with a callout of UFC bad boy Conor McGregor. "I don't care who you are, if you come in [against me], you're in for a bad night. If you're going to walk into my fist, that's what I do."

Loser: Pre-Fight Makeup Jobs

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    Markus Perez channeled late actor Heath Ledger's "Joker" persona for Friday's weigh-ins, all the way down to an elaborate face-paint job that made for outstanding pre-fight staredown optics.

    The problem for Perez, though, it didn't seem like opponent Wellington Turman was in on the gag.

    The 23-year-old Brazilian beat his 29-year-old counterpart—sans paint once the middleweight fight started—via a competitive, albeit unanimous decision to raise the curtain on Saturday night's main card, sweeping all three scorecards by matching 30-27 verdicts.

    Turman laded 59 strikes in three rounds to Perez's 56, and scored the only two takedowns.

    The happy winner referenced the weigh-in portrayal after his victory.

    "The Joker always loses," Turman said. "Markus is a crazy guy. We teased each other a lot during the fight, but I had already said I would tease him the same way he teased me. It was a tough fight, but I was better."

Winners: Fans of Distance Fights

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    If you arrived ready for the long haul Saturday night, you pretty much got your wish.

    Across a preliminary card that started at 5 p.m. ET and a main show that kicked off at 8 p.m., UFC fans were treated to no fewer than eight bouts that went their scheduled three- or five-round distances.

    Four of the seven early fights went a full three rounds, alongside a KO by James Krause that lasted all but 41 seconds of its anticipated 15-minute duration. Four of the five bouts on the main show also went to the limit, including the five-round, 25-minute main event matching Blachowicz and Souza.

    The results were all but academic for most of the night, with each of the initial six distance bouts resulting in unanimous decisions wherein the winners took 51 of a possible 54 rounds across 18 scorecards.

    Things got a little less predictable in the two bouts involving headlining fighters, which ended in a surprising split-decision draw for Rua and a split-decision loss for Souza. Bleacher Report's card was in the minority on both counts, seeing Craig as a 29-28 winner against Rua and Souza a 48-47 winner over Blachowicz.

    "I thought that I'd won the last few rounds," said Rua, for whom the draw was a first in 38 career fights since 2002. "But I left it to the judges."

UFC Fight Night 164 Full Card Results

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    Main Card

    Jan Blachowicz def. Jacare Souza by split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47).

    Mauricio Rua drew with Paul Craig by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 28-28).

    Charles Oliveira def. Jared Gordon by KO, 1:26, Rd. 1.

    Andre Muniz def. Antonio Arroyo by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

    Wellington Turman def. Markus Perez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).


    Preliminary Card

    James Krause def. Sergio Moraes by KO, 4:19, Rd. 3.

    Ricardo Ramos def. Eduardo Garagorri by submission (rear naked choke), 3:57, Rd. 1.

    Francisco Trinaldo def. Bobby Green by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).

    Randy Brown def. Warlley Alves by submission (triangle choke), 1:22, Rd. 2.

    Douglas Silva de Andrade def. Renan Barao by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26).

    Ariane Lipski def. Isabela De Padua by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27).

    Tracy Cortez def. Vanessa Melo by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).