Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on last night (Weds., Sept. 4, 2013) and despite some lackluster fights on the international card, the main card was a decent showing of solid mixed martial arts (MMA) action.
Glover Teixeira sent the Brazilian faithful home with smiles, finishing Ryan Bader in the first round of the main event, while he was on the verge of being disposed himself. Bader dazed Teixeira and swarmed him, looking for a one-shot kill with his right-hand; however, he paid a hefty price when "Hands of Stone" landed a solid counter combination that ultimate put "Darth" down for the count (watch full video highlights here).
Teixeira wons his 20th fight in a row. And despite being undefeated in the Octagon, it is unclear if Teixeira will do well in a Light Heavyweight championship bout.
Ronaldo Souza, meanwhile, stole the show, scoring a technical knockout win over Yushin Okami and looking like the Middleweight fighter to keep a close watch on moving forward (watch video highlights ere).
Unfortunately, in a sport like MMA, each bout can only have one winner and one loser. Earning a victory inside the world-famous Octagon is the highest of highs, while suffering a defeat in front of millions of viewers can be the lowest of lows.
Every competitor who steps foot in the eight-walled cage is looking for that moment of glory. Some capture it, others don't.
There were several shining stars on UFC Fight Night 28, including hometown heroes, title shots and successful UFC debutants. With that said, it's time to name the biggest winner and biggest loser from the event in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza
For a Brazilian jiu-jitsu guy to knockout the durable Okami with virtually one punch (the others were necessary but Okami was more or less done), that means the "Jacare" stock has just risen through the roof and he is the man to keep an eye on at 185 pounds.
Souza almost had Okami finished early in the round, brutalizing him and for a moment, looked like a middleweight version of Alistair Overeem in the process. After controlling the pace and leaving unscathed (except for a foot injury he suffered which was due largely in part to a kick he threw at Okami), he finished "Thunder" impressively, dropping him and following up with vicious ground-and-pound that we are not used to seeing from "Jacare."
This win is even more bittersweet for the Brazilian because for one, he did it in front of his home crowd and secondly, having two Octagon wins and looking like a true, immediate title contender is somewhat rare these days, even though Souza was a former Strikeforce champion.
"Jacare" may need another showing to really cement that title shot, but he is not far by any stretch of the imagination. Beating a former title challenger and the always-tough Okami does enough to get people talking and judging by what happened Wednesday night (Sept. 4, 2013), the people are more than convinced.
The only thing left is to match him up with another aspirant who is in the same boat, which may be tough.
Teixeira may have been unhappy with his performance yet it was the greatest one of his short UFC career. Fighting off the onslaught of Bader, Teixiera showed his toughness, but he was getting tagged a little too much for his liking and was close to being stopped. Teixeira earned his fifth-straight UFC victory and has now won 20 fights in a row. He also earned "Knockout of The Night," making him $50,000 richer.
Nevertheless, Teixeira bounced back like only a true warrior could -- being hurt, on the verge of getting knocked out and overcoming that by taking advantage of Bader's sloppy openness and excitement to finish the fight. Teixeira showed that his wrestling was alright and he could take a few shots, even possessing some submission attempts but nothing too extravagant in that department.
Bader's quickness was something to note and if Teixiera had some problems with that, he certainly would against the likes of either Jon Jones or Alexander Gustafsson. There may be some rumblings that Teixeira has now beaten a top opponent, but there is no guarantee that he would do well in a championship bout. He is not far although to say he is super close may be jumping the gun.
It would be nice if he can get one more win over a quality opponent, since he did not leave that fight unmarked and has improvements to make.
Bader had Teixeira badly hurt, dropping the Brazilian and looked for the big overhead right to stun the Brazilian crowd. Bader may have been the one who was the most stunned by Teixeira's comeback.
"Darth" really was a little too overeager to land the money shot -- he was constantly throwing his right hand to look for the finish, which left him wide open for the killing. What hurts most about this loss is that Bader had Teixeira's number throughout the fight and the longer it could have gone, it may have favored the accomplished collegiate wrestler and The Ultimate Fighter alumni (TUF).
Forget that Bader is 1-2 in his last three -- does he have a problem reaching the next step in terms of finishing off the competitors that will propel him to the heights of the division?
Now Bader's fighting future is not exactly looming in dark territories, but he may fall into the cast of TUF winners who just cannot deliver in making themselves a pivotal force in the long run of their careers. Bader has fought some tough opposition in Jon Jones, Lyoto Machida, Tito Ortiz and Quinton Jackson, but he also is 1-3 with those opponents and beating the Vladimir Matyushenko and Jason Brilz-type fighters can only do so much.
Who can say if this is a major step back because Bader is not really taking big steps to begin with.
The loss to "Jacare" snapped Okami's three-fight win streak and marks the first time "Thunder" has lost a fight by first-round stoppage since 2003. Okami has been competing in the UFC since 2006 and has always maintained a good record at the highest level; competing for the middleweight championship two years ago and has been a perennial contender for the most part of his career.
Okami finds himself with a mediocre record (3-3) in his last six fights and he will presumably drop from the ranking system, which means he will now go back into the crop of sub-par middleweights and who knows how long it will take him to climb back up. Minus his technical knockout win over Buddy Roberts last year, Okami has four decision victories out of his last five and has become a points-fighter even though his rough and tough style was amongst the best in the company.
This is not to say Okami becomes a shadow of what he once was or that he is now underneath everyone -- although Okami does not really have the excitement factor going for him and this will hurt him moving forward as he tries to regain success in the division. He could handle most of the guys at 185 pounds, if not all of them besides the few who stand at the top of the mountain. However beating the mid-level fighters could only get you so far when you lose a big won to move forward with the eyes on the prize.
For our complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 28: "Teixeira vs. Bader" click here.