Tonight’s card comes to us live from Goiania, Brazil and the Goiania Arena.
Now, on to the action! Remember to keep hitting F5 on your keyboard for the most up-to-date results.
Dustin Ortiz vs. Jose Maria
Let’s kick things off in the flyweight division, as Dustin Ortiz takes on Jose Maria. Ortiz (11-2) will be making his UFC debut and is on a three-fight win streak, while Maria (33-4) was finished by John Lineker this past August, his first loss since 2008.
Kevin MacDonald is assigned to be the third man inside the Octagon. As usual, the Brazilian fans are there early and loud, giving Maria a nice ovation.
Round 1: Right away, Maria tosses a spinning back fist that just misses and a smooth side kick. Ortiz, though, isn’t backing down, moving forward and right into the power-range of Maria. Nice overhand right into a double-leg takedown by Maria, who works to take the back but it unable to keep Ortiz down. Maria with a second takedown, this time off a trip. Again, to the back, but unable to secure any hooks at this point. Ortiz connects with a combo and a low blow to Maria causes our first break in action. Maria has recovered and is throwing his leg kicks, connecting with a pair of hard ones. Ortiz this time gets the better of a scramble, taking the back and bringing Maria down. Ortiz gets his second takedown, but winds up right in a guillotine with 30 seconds left. Maria is working hard to clasp his hands together, but he doesn’t have a good angle to get the submission.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Maria
Round 2: Just like round one, Maria throws a spinning back fist to start the action, and misses again. Perfect side kick from the Brazilian, and he follows it up with a kick to the lead leg. Big right lands and Ortiz could be uneasy as the crowd roars in approval. A second low blow from Ortiz connects to Maria and we have another stop. Maria is good to go and comes out firing on Ortiz. This ref is into the action, jumping down on the canvas as Ortiz goes for a takedown. He is all over this bout, and that’s good to see in this day and age. Ortiz looks more calm and is firing off his strikes with more power and effectiveness. Superman punch lands and he goes for a takedown, but gets denied. Maria, though, scores with a third takedown off a trip. Switch from Ortiz and they wind up back on the feet. Ortiz cuts Maria, who is working for another choke late in the round but can’t get it.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Ortiz
Round 3: Ortiz with a takedown and into side control, as Maria locks in an under hook. Ortiz on top, doing a lot of damage in that position while Maria works for a potential kneebar. Nothing of the submission is available and Ortiz steps over into the mount, punishing the face. The Brazilian crowd is willing Maria on, but he is mounted and being pounded with just under three minutes to go. Maria tries to roll out, but winds up back on his back and in a bad position. Ortiz reigns down with hammerfists as Maria screams and the ref jumps in. This one is over and Ortiz has a win in his Octagon debut.
Dustin Ortiz def. Jose Maria via TKO (strikes) at 3:19 of Round 3
Adriano Martins vs. Daron Cruickshank
Lightweights enter the cage with Adriano Martins making his UFC debut against Daron Cruickshank looking to keep the excitement going. Martins (24-6) has won his last five fights, including a January decision vs. Jorge Gurgel in Strikeforce. Cruickshank (13-3) is 7-1 in his last eight overall.
The veteran Mario Yamasaki will handle the referee duties. Cruickshank embraces the booing from the Brazilian crowd.
Round 1: Cruickshank with a huge head kick that just grazes Martins, who answers back with a jab of his own from his left. Martins may have hurt his hand, though, as he shakes it and is now holding it very gingerly. Martins drops Cruickshank with a huge left hand and follows up, hammering down but can’t get the stoppage. Cruickshank is back up and looks ready to go. Big left hurts Cruickshank again, who answers back with a spinning attack. Another left drops Cruickshank and Martins goes into half-guard. Martins switches from a kimura to an armbar, locking in the hooks with just under a minute to go. Cruickshank, though, slips out and escapes the armbar but is still stuck on his back. One more armbar attempt by Martins is denied as the round ends.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Martins
Round 2: Martins catches a kick and scores with a takedown, folding Cruickshank up and landing some nice rights to the face. Martins remains in complete control, working for a kimura. He is showing excellent patience as Cruickshank fights the hold. However, Martins gets an opening and locks in the submission, as Cruickshank quickly taps out.
Adriano Martins def. Daron Cruickshank via submission (kimura) at 2:49 of Round 2
Thiago Tavares vs. Justin Salas
Our final lightweight scrap features Thiago Tavares and Justin Salas. Tavares (17-5-1) was stopped by Khabib Nurmagomedov this past January, halting a two-fight win streak for him. He is 4-2-1 in his last seven overall. Salas (11-4) claimed a split decision vs. Aaron Riley in his most recent appearance.
The referee will be Dan Miragliotta. Salas is replacing Quinn Mulhern, who bowed out due to an injury.
Round 1: Tavares quickly takes control of the Octagon and he wants to get Salas to meet him on the ground. Salas, though, will have none of it and Tavares stands back up. Tavares with a power takedown with three minutes left in the round. He proceeds to pick Salas up and slam him to the canvas with a double-leg, moving quickly into the guard. Salas lands some nice elbows as he tries to get free, and Tavares takes the back. He’s landing with lefts and rights, trying to get an arm in. Tavares locks in the choke and this one is all over quickly, as Salas is forced to tap.
Thiago Tavares def. Justin Salas via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:38 of Round 1
Omari Akhmedov vs. Thiago Perpetuo
Middleweights are up next, as Omari Akhmedov (11-0) makes his UFC debut against Thiago Perpetuo (9-1-1), who stopped Leonardo Texeira in his first Octagon appearance in 2012.
The referee will be Kevin MacDonald, and I might resort to first names in this one depending how action-packed it is!
Round 1: Akhmedov came in hard after Perpetuo and appeared to possibly knock heads and looked out. Perpetuo capitalized, moving in for the kill, but the Russian recovered and scored with a takedown to gain the upper-hand. Another takedown and we have a slug-fest. Akhmedov, who eats another, locks in a rear-naked choke, much to the delight of the Brazilian fans. They are cheering loudly for him, as Akhmedov continues to work for the rear-naked. He’s unable to keep it locked in and Perpetuo picks him up and slams him to the canvas for a takedown. An exciting three minutes of action from these two and Perpetuo is now in side control. They exchange huge strikes and out of nowhere, Akhmedov lands a shot that drops Perpetuo down and out. The Russian caught him with a pair of short right hands that left Perpetuo on the canvas face-down and out.
Omari Akhmedov def. Thiago Perpetuo via KO (right-hand) at 3:31 of Round 1
Godofredo Pepey vs. Sam Sicilia
We complete prelim action with a featherweight match up featuring Godofredo Pepey and Sam Sicilia. Pepey (9-2) was finished by Felipe Arantes this past June, while Sicilia (11-3) is on a two-fight losing streak.
The big man, Dan Miragliotta, will be in charge of these fighters. Some interesting purple-colored hair for Pepey.
Round 1: Overhand right from Pepey off the bat, taking a page from the book of Sicilia. Pepey shoots for a takedown, working for the single-leg. He brings Sicilia down, but the American slips around the back end and winds up on top. Both are now in their positions of strength. Couple of big rights from Sicilia land flush to the face, as Pepey lands two upkicks. Sicilia has had enough of that and drops down, hammering away until the ref steps in and calls this one off.
Sam Sicilia def. Godofredo Pepey via TKO (strikes) at 1:42 of Round 1
Rony Jason vs. Jeremy Stephens
Featherweights head to the Octagon for our next contest, as Rony Jason (13-3) seeks his ninth straight victory – and fourth consecutive with the UFC – against veteran Jeremy Stephens (21-9), who debuted in the division this past May with a win over Estevan Payan.
Controlling the action will be referee Kevin MacDonald, who gave us a very nice strut to the center of the Octagon after he was announced. Stephens has fought 17 times inside the Octagon and is just 27 years old. That is just insane.
Round 1: Stephens quickly takes the center of the Octagon, and Jason comes flying at him with a knee. Big front kicks from the Brazilian, as both men seem very relaxed. Big kick from Stephens and Jason is out cold up against the fence. Holy cow, the arena is completely silent and stunned. Jason ducked at the same time that Stephens threw the kick and he remains out cold. Going to be difficult to top that for “Knockout of the Night.”
Jeremy Stephens def. Rony Jason via KO (kick to the face) at :40 of Round 1
Ryan LaFlare vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio
Our first welterweight match of the evening features Ryan LaFlare (8-0) putting his undefeated record on the line against Santiago Ponzinibbio (18-1), a veteran of TUF: Brazil.
The referee will be Mr. Heart-Hands, Mario Yamasaki. Ponzinibbio was a finalist on TUF: Brazil, but was forced to withdraw due to a broken hand.
Round 1: We’ve yet to make it the distance through six fights, and these two are both going for the finish early, as well. Perfectly-executed combo from LaFlare to start, and he quickly scores a takedown. As Jon Anik just stated, he was a lacrosse standout in college, along with an accomplished wrestler. LaFlare into the mount and lands a stiff left to the chin. The crowd is urging Ponzinibbio on, but the American is in complete control. Ponzinibbio tries to get out, and LaFlare grabs a heel to bring him back to the canvas. LaFlare gets out of position for an armbar, and it costs him, as Ponzinibbio gets free and takes the back quickly. LaFlare, though, uses his wrestling and scrambles to gain the top position once again.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for LaFlare
Round 2: Nice sprawl by Ponzinibbio, but LaFlare still gets the takedown and is dominating the Brazilian, landing a pair of nice knees while he gets to his feet. Stiff right hand to the body and a follow-up to the head. LaFlare taking advantage of a tired opponent, as Ponzinibbio isn’t able to put anything together; just relying on big rights and kicks to work his offense. LaFlare, meanwhile, is mixing and changing strikes and levels. Just like that, here comes the Brazilian, flying at LaFlare and throwing heavy shots now. Maybe he was just waiting for the right time to attack. Left hook lands and the crowd is getting behind him. LaFlare scores with a takedown as we head under a minute left in this round. If he can do some damage in this position, he might be able to steal back the round.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Ponzinibbio
Round 3: Here we go. This could be the deciding round for the winner, as I have it tied 1-all going to the third. LaFlare hit with an eye poke, but he wants no stop in time. He is moving much better than Ponzinibbio, who is being forced to defend and not attack. Spinning attack by Ponzinibbio and LaFlare telegraphs it into a takedown, slamming Ponzinibbio down to the canvas. LaFlare to side control and he is working to advance his position and look for a potential submission. Nice knee to the body by LaFlare while the two are on the ground. Short elbows find the face of Ponzinibbio, who is clawing and trying to get to his feet. LaFlare lands some big shots as the Brazilian gets to his feet, but a huge knee to the side of the body floors Ponzinibbio. LaFlare attacks, but Ponzinibbio is surviving somehow. Tons of shots by LaFlare are getting through, including knees to the midsection. Elbow gets dropped down on the face of Ponzinibbio, who gets to his feet again. No idea how, and the crowd reacts to his toughness. LaFlare gets caught with an uppercut as we head under 30 seconds.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for LaFlare
Ryan LaFlare def. Santiago Ponzinibbio via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Paulo Thiago vs. Brandon Thatch
In a welterweight division contest, Brandon Thatch (10-1) heads into hostile territory to seek a second straight impressive UFC victory. Thatch debuted with a first round finish of Justin Edwards this past August. To do so, he’ll have to defeat veteran Paulo Thiago (15-5), who snapped a two-fight losing skid by besting Michel Prazeres earlier this year.
Dan Miragliotta will patrol Thiago and Thatch in this one. I normally ignore the betting lines, but Thatch is a heavy favorite in this one. Kind of surprising to me, but we will see.
Round 1: Thatch is looking for the highlight-reel finish, throwing big lefts and heavy kicks. He is wasting no time in trying to make it 11-for-11 in first round finishes. Thiago with a right-hand that lands, and he scores a takedown. Thatch cage-walks to his feet and is up, landing a knee and another inside the clinch. Thatch throws a big right knee that just misses and is throwing more of the knees inside the clinch. Thiago eats another knee trying for a trip takedown. Big kick to the body and Thatch pounces, dropping Thiago. As the ref was coming in to stop it, Thiago was tapping. The crowd, again, is in utter silence from the stunning defeat.
Brandon Thatch def. Paulo Thiago via submission (strikes) at 2:10 of Round 1
Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante vs. Igor Pokrajac
We head to the light heavyweight division next, as Rafael Cavalcante (11-4) seeks his first win since 2011 – and first inside the Octagon – against Igor Pokrajac (25-10). Pokrajc hasn’t won a fight in his last three, going 0-2 with one no-contest and was staring a hole through “Feijao” before the fighter announcements were made.
Kevin MacDonald is the referee for this contest. It’s been a rough stretch for the South Americans, who have lost the last five fights.
Round 1: Feijao appears unimpressed by the staring threat, as the two exchange right hands to start the action. Pokrajac has him up against the fence and is grinding away, much to the disinterest of the Brazilian crowd. Feijao catches him in a clinch and is unloading with knees as Pokrajac wilts. Cavalcante continues to punish him with rights to the head and the ref steps in, snapping the string of losses by the South American-born fighters.
Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante def. Igor Pokrajac via TKO (strikes) at 1:18 of Round 1
Cezar Ferreira vs. Daniel Sarafian
We’ll finally see the long-awaited Ultimate Fighter: Brazil finale, as Cezar Ferreira meets Daniel Sarafian in the co-main event. Ferreira (6-2) was expected to meet Sarafian (8-3) last year, but Sarafian suffered an injury and was removed from the finals.
The third man inside the Octagon will be Mario Yamasaki. At least for the sake of the fans, a Brazilian will get the “W” in this one.
Round 1: Sarafian quickly takes the center of the Octagon and was cheered in pre-fight announcements. Big right from Sarafian, who follows up by tying Ferreira up in the clinch. A restless crowd, as they have been blessed with some incredible finishes so far and thrilling fights. Sarafian working hard for the takedown, trying to secure a single-leg but the ref has seen enough and separates them. Big combo from Sarafian lands and it seems to have ignited a fire under Ferreira. Sarafian drops down to try for a guillotine, but he has no shot at it. Pair of big kicks from Ferreira, who follows up with a spinning heel kick that just misses. Sarafian with his own front kick, but it fails to land with any impact. Ferreira walks right into a big right, and Sarafian does the same, eating a strike of his own.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Sarafian
Round 2: Sarafian catches Ferreira, but he comes right back with a power double-leg takedown and into the half-guard. Sarafian has a cut over his right eye and remains on his back. Both fighters are black belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and that seems to have negated the ground game of each. Back to the feet and Sarafian lands a huge right that seems to have Ferreira wobbled. Another left and some leg kicks, but Ferreira drops down and scores with another takedown. Possible arm-triangle is there for Ferreira with a minute left, but the ref steps in and breaks them up. Interesting decision there by Yamasaki, and I’m sure Twitter will be in an uproar over it any second now.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Sarafian
Round 3: Sarafian lands a big combo, but Ferreira remains upright. Another takedown from Ferreira, and the crowd – as they have done throughout – voices displeasure. Not much damage being done by Ferreira on the ground, as Sarafian is holding up well to the offense. More booing from the Brazilian crowd, and Ferreira listens by pushing Sarafian back to the ground. The ref steps in and stands them up, and Ferreira answers by taking Sarafian back to his back, moving to a possible choke and locking in a hook. He has a minute to do something with it and is working to loosen Sarafian up. Both hooks are in and Sarafian is holding him up on his feet.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Ferreira
Cezar Ferreira def. Daniel Sarafian via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 30-28)
Vitor Belfort vs. Dan Henderson
It’s time for the main event, as Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson square off in a five-round light heavyweight affair. Henderson (29-10) has never lost three consecutive fights and bested Belfort (23-10) during their 2006 meeting. For “The Phenom,” this is an important contest, as he would lose his future middleweight title shot with a loss.
Dan Miragliotta will handle the official duties for this fight. We have had an incredible night of finishes, and with the power of these two men, you’d have to think another one might be in the future.
As always, Bruce Buffer gave a rousing introduction to both fighters.
Round 1: Belfort is circling towards the “H-Bomb,” but remains very far away right now. Henderson comes in and Belfort connects, pouncing and hammering away. Henderson works to his feet, but Belfort lands a kick to the head that drops him and he is out. The ref steps in and Henderson remains down. Kenny Florian is saying Henderson was trying to get to his feet, but I have to disagree. Henderson was out, and only getting to his feet because he bounced off the canvas. A good stoppage by the referee, and the first time Henderson’s been stopped in his career. It was a big left hook that first floored him.
Vitor Belfort def. Dan Henderson via KO (head kick) at 1:17 of Round 1