Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Leonardo Santos and Tony Martin slugged it out last night (March 21, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 62 inside Ginasio do Maracanazinho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Technically undefeated inside the Octagon, Santos needed to make an impact in this fight. At 35 years old, it was now-or-never for the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace to announce himself as a player in the division.
After a pair of losses, Martin earned his first UFC victory by submitting a veteran grappler in Fabricio Camoes. Last night, he looked to pull off a repeat performance on his opponent's home turf.
Early on, Santos made it clear that he was the more experienced striker. Landing some quality low kicks, Santos was committing to his punches quite well and looking to counter whenever Martin stepped forward.
After many of the initial exchanges didn't go his way, Martin sought the clinch. He nearly secured top position with an overhook counter to a trip, but Santos defended it well. For a minute or so, the two fighters traded positions in the clinch before the referee separated the fighters.
For the final minute, Martin landed some decent strikes, leaving the opening round quite difficult to score.
After a minute and a half of fairly even striking, Santos scored a gorgeous trip takedown. Martin recovered guard quickly, but the Brazilian passed right through Martin's butterfly guard into mount.
From there, it was elementary. Santos allowed Martin to roll up and give up back mount. Less than a minute later, the jiu-jitsu expert was squeezing on the American's neck, and the fight was over.
This was easily Santos' best performance in the UFC. The first round was quite close, but Santos' striking looked better than ever. Plus, his opponent is notoriously tough in the first round, so it's no surprise that the first frame was so closely contested.
Once Santos brought the fight to the mat -- in brilliant fashion, by the way -- it was over. Santos hasn't had many opportunities to demonstrate just how good his jiu-jitsu is yet, but he proved how dangerous he is last night.
After this win, Santos deserves a slight step up in competition, perhaps against another up-and-comer. For example, a match up with fellow The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner and grappler Michael Chiesa could work.
This was a pretty standard performance for Martin, as his losing record inside the Octagon indicates. His striking did look improved, but he never got his grappling game going. When that happens, it's basically game over for the jiu-jitsu fighter.
Additionally, things began to fall apart for Martin after the first round, another constant in his fights. This is almost certainly due to his large weight cut, a problem which will keep him from rising through the ranks unless fixed.
At this point, a couple fights outside of the Octagon may do Martin good. He's obviously talented but still young in age and career. If the UFC does keep him around, he needs to be matched up with a lower tier lightweight.
At UFC Fight Night 62, Leonardo Santos tapped out Tony Martin. How high can Santos climb in the talent-rich lightweight division?
For complete UFC Fight Night 62 "Maia vs LaFlare" results and play-by-play, click HERE!