Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) hosted its fifth mixed martial arts (MMA) event in Brazil this year last night (Sat., Nov. 7, 2015) inside Ibirapuera Gymnasium as UFC Fight Night 77 produced a slew of scintillating knockouts.
There were seven total fights on the action-packed main card in Sao Paulo, including the middleweight headliner, which was a trilogy tussle between legends Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson. "The Phenom" would go on to plaster "Hendo" in just over two minutes with a frightening head kick (highlights) and a series of follow-up bombs.
Then, in the co-main event, Glover Teixeira had Patrick Cummins searching for his whits throughout the entirety of their light heavyweight pairing. The former 205-pound title challenger repeatedly pelted the face of his American counterpart for little more than six minutes to secure a victory via strikes (highlights).
With UFC Fight Night 77 part of history, and the evening's marquee bouts recapped, it's now time to play matchmaker with our "Next Matches to Make."
HIGHLIGHTS! Thomas Almeida, Vitor Belfort Steal Sao Paulo Show With Killer KOs!
THOMAS ALMEIDA IS SCARY EVERYONE!
Thomas Almeida is for real, crushing Anthony Birchak at UFC Fight Night 77 last night (Sat., Nov. 7, 2015) inside Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to remain undefeated (20-0) and once again put the Bantamweight division on blast.
HIGHLIGHTS! Thomas Almeida, Vitor Belfort Steal Sao Paulo Show With Killer KOs!
Winner: Vitor Belfort
Who he should fight next: Gegard Mousasi
Belfort proved he is still as potent as ever with his head-kick knockout of the former Olympic wrestler and Strikeforce light heavyweight titleholder Henderson.
A win over an aging fighter, who's more than a step slower compared to himself, isn't going to impress anybody. Results like this were expected.
If Belfort commands respect, he's going to have to earn it with stoppages over quality threats. No disrespect to the legend Henderson, but the 45-year-old is holding onto past glory days.
The entire Top 5 of the middleweight division is booked through the end of the year, so it's likely Belfort is slotted opposite someone in the Top 10. More than likely, that will be perennial contender Gegard Mousasi.
The one-time Strikeforce light heavyweight kingpin has called out Belfort before and would present a stern test.
Mousasi has yet to establish himself in the ZUFFA ranks with a signature win and Belfort needs a credible name to face.
Michael Bisping doesn't appear to want none and Tim Kennedy is still sitting on the sidelines, but perhaps a "Spider" will come a crawling in 2016?
My money is on Mousasi.
Winner: Glover Teixeira
Who he should fight next: Alexander Gustafsson
After a complete romp over "Durkin," it's time to start feeding Teixeira sharks again.
The 36-year-old has ousted two opponents in-a-row inside of three rounds by way of ground and air. His wrestling, both offensive and defensive, as well as his striking, are no longer affected by past injuries.
Teixeira was previously expected to tangle with "The Mauler" last June, but the Swede was afflicted by injury.
Since then, Gustafsson lost in a hard-fought showing (video) against current 205-pound champion Daniel Cormier at the UFC 192 pay-per-view (PPV) last month.
He's proved he can hang with the big boys, but he cannot seem to get over the hump. A bout between two former title challengers makes sense as the higher-ups go to battle to sort out what's what in the Top 3.
Either that, or Teixeira takes a collision with the eager-to-fight Rashad Evans.
Winner: Thomas Almeida
Who he should fight next: John Lineker
Out of anyone fighting on this card, the young gun Almeida impressed the most.
"Thominhas" is on quite the run professionally; the 24-year-old has captured 20 straight overall and four straight in UFC. Almeida's jaw-dropping knockout (highlights) of Anthony Birchak was his third win via strikes in as many fights.
However, he's yet to face anyone in the Top 10 of the bantamweight division and that's a problem.
There are a couple of names available like the returning Raphael Assucao, former title challenger Michael McDonald and Takeya Mizugaki. "Mayday" is still undecided on his comeback, but Assuncao and Mizugaki make sense.
I just want to see him fight a new member of the weight class, who possesses "Hands of Stone." John Lineker, former contender at 125 pounds, recently scored a vicious stoppage over game leatherslinger Francisco Rivera back in September.
He's looking for a challenge, so send the upstart Almeida his way and watch the sparks fly. Can I get a hell yeah?
The winner: Alex Oliveira
Who he should fight next: Yancy Medeiros
Oliveira is such a joy to watch for his blistering movement and unorthodox strikes. He proved it one more time with his third Octagon 'W' over Piotr Hallmann.
The 27-year-old got off to a hot start, ravaging the face of the Polish fighter with uppercuts and wild punches. After he bloodied Hallmann in round one, "Cowboy" was somewhat grounded by the latter in the second frame and taken down.
Oliveira had a chance to take the back of the submission ace later, but displayed sloppy technique and lost position.
He then put the finishing touches on what he started in round three when a right missile planted Hallman on the canvas (highlights) and gave the dominant Oliveira his second UFC finish.
Having wins over Hallmann and former Strikeforce competitor K.J. Noons on your resume will help usher you towards the Top 15 of the lightweight or welterweight divisions, but he's not ready for a ranked member of either class yet.
The prolific striker still needs time to iron out holes in his ground game, which became very apparent last night and in a submission loss against Gilbert Burns back in March.
Oliveira has bounced around weight classes in his first four UFC outings and could feasibly make an impact in both, which makes choosing his next opponent tough.
A fight with "Frisson" would make my eyes gleam with happiness as it has the ability to be a thoroughly entertaining stand-up affair. If he happens to go the welterweight route once more, the names Tom Breese, Alan Jouban and Alex Garcia would be suitable opponents.
Winner: Rashid Magomedov
Who he should fight next: Adriano Martins
Magomedov put on a masterful striking clinic when he engaged with expert grappler Gilbert Burns.
The devastating Dagestani was on-point for the duration of their 15-minute bout, puzzling "Durinho" with lengthy combinations and a variety of kicks. Most importantly, "Highlander" was careful to set a relaxed pace and didn't overextend himself at any point in attempting to find a finish.
Over the course of the tilt, Magomedov began to counter the kicks of Burns with a pristine right hand. He also landed a trip and dropped the Blackzilians product with his accurate boxing.
The 31-year-old ran away with a shutout victory and can expect to see quality opponents in the near future.
Martins is on a tear in UFC, having gone 4-1 thus far with each of his four victories being finishes. The 33-year-old has also defeated two Dagestani standouts in a row, Rustam Khabilov and Islam Makhachev.
Not only would a fight with Martins provide a great backstory, but it would showcase two of the best up-and-coming strikers in the 155-pound division.
After one more win, let Magomedov challenge the Top 15.
Winner: Corey Anderson
Who he should fight next: Patrick Cummins
Anderson ousted the durable Fabio Maldonado the only way he knows how; in the most workmanlike way possible.
"Beastin 25/8" didn't give the 35-year-old much space from the get-go, connecting with solid technical strikes and multiple double-leg takedowns. Anderson also found success on the feet, damaging the face of Maldonado with slick punches.
His cardio was also stellar, having went 15-minutes with his foot on the gas pedal, but we didn't really learn much in this victory. We've only seen Anderson sent packing when he's gotten reckless, i.e. his knockout loss to Gian Villante last April.
However, after two victories inside the Top 15 of the light heavyweight division, the Illinois native will now look to make a leap into the Top 10. Perhaps he draws fellow grinder Cummins, or banger Jimi Manuwa, next.
My longshot prediction: Rashad Evans.
For more on the fallout behind UFC Fight Night 77: "Belfort vs. Henderson 3," include post-fight recaps and analysis, click here.