It was a big night for Brazilian fighters as the Ultimate Fighting Championship went to Rio as Yushin Okami challenged Anderson Silva for the Middleweight title in the main event of UFC 134, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.
The broadcast began in the light heavyweight division as Luiz Cane faced Stanislav Nedkov.
A lot of feeling out at the beginning of this one as Nedkov threw a lot of overhand rights, with Cane responding with some sound combinations.
Although we saw some good shots it was only as the first round neared it’s final minute that the fight sprang to life. An overhand right followed by a left hook rocked the Brazilian, and as he staggered around like a baby learning to walk Nedkov went in for the kill, with the referee stopping the fight as Nedkov unloaded with the ground and pound.
It was up to heavyweight for the next fight as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira went up against Brendan Schaub.
We saw some more great striking in this one. Schaub connected with a couple of sweet looking uppercuts that rocked big Nog, but it wasn’t long before a left/right combination rocked the former Ultimate Fighter finalist. Nog followed up with several piston-like lefts and rights as Schaub slumped to the ground, the referee stepping in to give the hometown boy the knockout win.
Filler material followed as Erick Silva faced Luis Ramos in the welterweight division.
This all Brazilian battle was the blink and you’ll miss it affair. After a brief feeling out period Silva connected with a big right that sent Ramos down like the proverbial sack of spuds. Silva followed him down for a brief moment of ground and pound before the referee stopped the action, giving Silva the impressive TKO win.
The regular action resumed in the lightweight division as my fellow Brit Ross Pearson took on Edson Barboza.
The first fight of the broadcast to go the distance was an intriguing striking battle. Pearson had some success early on, but after Barboza connected with a spinning back kick to the body the fight got a whole lot more interesting.
The Brazilian seemed to get better as the fight went on, scoring with a succession of combinations and kicks. It wasn’t all one way traffic though as Pearson got in some good shots, although as the fight ended the Brit’s face was swelling badly.
So with the fight going the distance it was down to the judges, with Barboza taking the split decision.
The battle of former Light Heavyweight Champions followed as Mauricio Rua faced Forrest Griffin for the second time.
Very little happened in the first 60 seconds, but when we got past the one minute mark Shogun went to work, unleashing with the combinations as Griffin went down after a big right. The Brazilian followed him for some ground and pound, with the referee stepping in as Griffin went limp, giving Rua the knockout win.
The main event saw Yushin Okami challenge Anderson Silva for the Middleweight title.
Once again Silva proved he is the best there is at what he does. Beginning the fight in his usual way it wasn’t long before he got the better of a clinch against the cage, ending the first round by connecting with a left kick to the back of Okami’s head and neck.
The arrogance and cockiness was on display at the beginning of the second when a simple jab knocked Okami down. The champion didn’t follow him down though, and invited Okami back to his feet. It was another jab that sent Okami down again, and this time Silva went in for the kill with the ground and pound, with the referee stepping in to give the Spider the title retaining TKO win.
So with nearly an hour left to kill it was on to more filler material as Paulo Thiago faced David Mitchell (no, not that one) in the welterweight division.
This fight featured something we hadn’t seen all evening, some ground work. Thiago put on a great display whenever the fight went down to the ground, while Mitchell always seemed to look like a fish out of water.
Thiago also controlled the striking game, mainly because Mitchell seemed content to throw out his one punch combinations.
The Brazilian went back to the ground towards the end of the third, taking Mitchell’s back and going for a rear naked choke and then the ground and pound as the fight came to an end.
So once again the judges came into play as all three gave everything to Thiago.
Then it was down to the bantamweight division as Yves Jabouin took on Ian Loveland.
The first fight of the broadcast that didn’t feature a Brazilian was a great back and forth encounter. Loveland began the fight by coming forward quickly before taking the fight to the ground and going for a kimura.
Jabouin, for his part, put in some good striking, especially with the kicks, mixing it up with some nice spin kicks.
That was basically how the rest of the played out, with Loveland looking good on the ground and holding his own against Jabouin in the striking department, particularly in the third round.
So with neither man able to finish it was down to the judges, with Jabouin taking the split decision.
In conclusion - with only Luiz Cane failing to get the win it certainly proved to be a great night for the home country fighters in the UFC’s first Brazilian show for over a decade.
All the fights shown certainly delivered here, with the performances of big Nog and the Spider particularly impressing as once again I’m left to wonder if there is anyone left in the middleweight division anywhere in the world who could actually defeat Anderson Silva.
So taking all of that into account UFC 134 gets the big thumbs up from this particular writer as another example of why, like their Middleweight Champion, Dana White and his crew are the best they are at what they do.