Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) put on a special Sunday night showcase last evening (Feb. 22, 2015) live on FOX Sports 1 from inside the Gigantinho Gymnasium in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Unfortunately for the Brazilian fans in attendance, they did not have much to cheer about as nearly all of their hometown fighters left the Octagon with losses in a legendary night for underdogs.
Frank Mir returned to the Octagon in violent fashion in the evening's main event (highlights here), as he knocked out Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in just under two minutes with a wicked combination followed up by hellacious elbows on the mat to finish the Brazilian off. With the victory, the former heavyweight champ snapped his four-fight losing streak, and could potentially be back on the road to the top.
In the co-main event, Michael Johnson put on a near-perfect performance against the dangerous striker Edson Barboza. After a year-long layoff, "The Menace" picked up right where he left off, pressuring his Brazilian counterpart for the entire 15 minute affair en route to an impressive unanimous decision victory.
With that quick overview of the night's marquee bouts, here are your biggest winners, as well as the runners-up from Porto Alegre.
Biggest Winner: Michael Johnson
What a night it was for "The Menace."
After being reinstated by UFC brass following an investigation into a "domestic dispute" that kept him out of action for a year, former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 12 runner-up returned in sensational fashion, putting on a dazzling performance en route to the unanimous decision victory over Edson Barboza.
Johnson proved early on that ring rust would be no issue, as he pushed an intense pace for 15 minutes while battering the hometown favorite. Although Barboza had a few bright spots with body kicks, the night undoubtedly belonged to "The Menace" when it was all said and done.
With his fourth straight victory, the Blackzilians product told Jon Anik in his post-fight interview that he wants a title shot by year's end, opting to call out former UFC champ Benson Henderson for a No. 1 contender's bout.
Sign me up!
In a night of the underdogs, no victory was as impressive as Frankie Saenz's unanimous decision win over No. 8 ranked Iuri Alcantara.
Sure Saenz was impressive in his Octagon debut, but that was a unanimous decision victory over Nolan Ticman -- a fighter nowhere near the level of "Marajo." Almost no one could have predicted the American would come into Brazil and beat the hometown favorite so handily.
In what UFC matchmakers likely believed was a showcase fight for a top-ranked bantamweight in his home country, Saenz shocked the MMA community and should earn a spot in the UFC rankings come Tuesday.
Considering the highly touted wrestler already owns a top 10 UFC victory, there is no reason to believe he won't be facing a ranked opponent his next time out as well.
One thing is for sure: No one will be doubting Saenz his next time out.
2015 has been good to Marion Reneau.
The 37-year old mother has two UFC victories in a span of seven weeks while most female MMA fighters on the UFC roster are desperately trying to get fights.
Reneau -- who was once rejected for a spot on TUF for being too old -- looked sensational at UFC Fight Night 61, submitting No. 10 ranked Jessica Andrade with a picturesque triangle choke just under two minutes into the very first round.
"The Bruiser" has now won five straight fights, and has showed off her striking and grappling prowess in back-to-back UFC victories. Talk about impressive!
Expect to see Reneau skyrocket up the rankings -- and after a short respite -- a fight with another top 10 opponent won't be far behind.
For the No. 8 ranked bantamweight in the world, Iuri Alcantara sure did not look impressive at UFC Fight Night 61 in front of his home crowd. The Brazilian was out-worked by a huge underdog in Frankie Saenz, as "Marajo" likely underestimated his opposition.
After a strong first round from the American, Alcantara was slowly waning in the second and third frame as Saenz's pressure only grew. Once again, the Brazilian's cardio failed him and a poor game plan sure did not help either.
By night's end, Alcantara did not look like a top 10 bantamweight, and Saenz made him pay dearly over the 15 minute affair. Who knows, maybe Saenz deserves that top 10 spot that Alcantara held?
The loss snapped a three fight winning streak for "Marajo," and it will undoubtedly be quite some time before he gets another showcase bout.
While I may be beating a dead horse here, I really hope "Bigfoot" Silva considers retirement following his knockout loss to Frank Mir in the main event of UFC Fight Night 61.
The No. 8 ranked heavyweight is clearly on the downside of his career, having gone winless in his last four fights -- three of which he was knocked out in the very first round.
While I certainly won't fault Silva for losing via knockout to UFC champ Cain Velasquez, it is hard to stomach watching the Brazilian get finished by two fighters long past their prime in Frank Mir and Andrei Arlovski. Simply put, "Bigfoot" does not have the chin to be fighting elite heavyweights anymore.
With six of his seven career losses coming via knockout, Silva has the choice to endure more brain damage or hang up his gloves knowing he fought -- and defeated -- some of the best heavyweights in MMA history.
Speaking of weak chins...
Cezar Ferreira once looked to be a legitimate prospect in UFC's middleweight division following his TUF Brazil victory, but following two knockout losses in his last three fights, it seems we have seen the ceiling for "Mutante."
Ferreira looked excellent early on against Sam Alvey, but once "Smile'n" laid a hand on the Brazilian it was all over. Alvey literally threw eight or so punches in the entirety of the fight after getting pummeled by Ferreira for a little over three minutes, and most of those punches were involved in the finishing sequence.
Who knows where "Mutante" goes from here, but if he can't keep his consciousness stable following a few heavy punches, he may not be in UFC for much longer.
That's a wrap!
For complete UFC Fight Night 61 results and coverage of all the night's action click here.