UFC Fortaleza is in the record books as there were more ‘Winners’ than there were ‘Losers.’
UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Gastelum saw mixed results for the veterans in the main and co-main events. Vitor Belfort fell to strikes in the first round of his main event matchup with young gun Kelvin Gastelum, but Mauricio Rua turned back the hands of time with his third round finish of Gian Villante. Edson Barboza picked up a highlight win over Beneil Dariush to solidify his spot atop the UFC’s lightweight division. Check out the real winners and losers of UFC Fortaleza:
Paulo Borrachinha: Borrachinha wasted no time getting his first win inside of the UFC Octagon, as he absolutely mauled Garreth McLellan in a swift 1:17. The UFC newcomer made a statement in his promotional debut as he moves to 9-0 in his professional career. It should be noted that Borrachinha has finished each of his opponents, and has yet to see a second round. How far will the 25 year-old Brazilian go in the UFC’s middleweight division?
Michel Prazeres: Prazeres was involved in 7-straight decisions heading into UFC Fight night 106, so achieving a finish was the forefront of the gameplan. The Brazilian immediately stormed the castle of Josh Burkman, landing big punches with bad intentions. Burkman was ultimately put on his back, where Prazeres transitioned to North-South to find the choke. The first round stoppage marks Prazeres’ first finish since his Jungle Fight days back in 2012, as the Brazilian moves to 22-2.
Joe Soto: Soto lost a lot of blood at UFC Fortaleza. Despite spilling his DNA all over the canvas, Soto beat the #14 ranked Rani Yahya, and even out-grappled the grappler in the third round. Soto just might crack the Top 15.
Kevin Lee: Lee earned his second-straight Rear-Naked Choke submission against the #11 ranked Francisco Trinaldo. Lee overcame early adversity in the first round, as Trinaldo wobbled him with an overhand left. “The Motown Phenom” rocked his opponent with a head kick, which resulted in Trinaldo unsuccessfully shooting in, leading to Lee finding the back. This makes 4-straight wins for Kevin Lee, and should land the lightweight somewhere inside of the Top 15. Lee made the most of his post-fight, in-the-cage interview by calling out the #1 ranked Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Alex Oliveira: “Cowboy” Oliveira had a strong showing in his rematch with Tim Means, as he picked up a second round submission by way of Rear-Naked Choke. Oliveira scored multiple takedowns throughout the fight, showing that he is built for the welterweight division. Having only lost 1 out of his last 8 UFC bouts, “Cowboy” has a ton of momentum behind him, as he looks to settle in at 170 pounds.
Edson Barboza: Barboza proved his Top 5 worth with a sensational second round stoppage of the #9 ranked Beneil Dariush. Barboza was eating more left hands than he wanted to in the first round, but a well-timed flying knee rendered his opponent unconscious in the second frame. Barboza has now won 3-straight in the lightweight division, including victories over Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez. With current UFC lightweight king Conor McGregor looking to box Floyd Mayweather, a title shot may not be in the immediate future, however Barboza solidified his spot at the top of the 155 division.
Mauricio Rua: Shogun showed up for the UFC Fortaleza co-main event, as the UFC’s #6 ranked light heavyweight dispatched the #12 ranked Gian Villante with strikes in the third round. Rua has now racked up 3-straight wins, as the 35 year-old with 35 pro fights just might be heading to the Top 5.
Kelvin Gastelum: Gastelum picked up another huge win as he put down Vitor Belfort with strikes in the first round. After some highly publicized weight cutting issues, Gastelum seems to have settled in to the UFC’s middleweight division. Coming in ranked #10 and dispatching the #9 ranked Belfort, expect gastelum to move up just a tad in the division, but will be in a position for a potential big-name match with the #7 ranked Anderson Silva.
Garreth McLellan: McLellan never had a chance to implement a gameplan of his own before getting thumped by Borrachinha in just 1:17 of the first round. The TKO loss moved McLellan to 1-4 in his UFC career, which could put the South African’s promotional employment in jeopardy.
Rani Yahya: Yahya gassed out in the second round, possibly due to the plethora of botched takedowns. Despite the ample blood loss from Soto, the #14 ranked bantamweight was unable to capitalize on his injured opposition. Most known for his stout grappling ability, the fatigued Yahya spent the bulk of the final round on his back, as Soto was all over him on the ground. This poor showing could bump Yahya outside of the Top 15.
Josh Burkman: Burkman was ran over by Michel Prazeres in a brief 1:42 submission loss. Prazeres had Burkman on the ropes from jump street, before taking the veteran to ground and choking him out. Having won just 2 out of his last 9, Burkman almost walked away from the sport, as he left his UFC in the cage following the first-round loss. Will Burkman bounce back from his 3-fight losing skid, and will that take place inside of the UFC promotion?
Vitor Belfort: Belfort started his professional MMA career in 1996, but in 2017, “The Phenom” has found himself on a 3-fight losing spree. To make matters worse, Belfort was (T)KO’d in 3 of his last 4 outings. With 1 fight remaining on his UFC contract, the end of Belfort’s lengthy two-decade career is on the horizon. What will be next for “The Phenom?”