Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight scrappers Warlley Alves and Bryan Barberena battled last night (Sat., May 14, 2016) at UFC 198 inside Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil.
Video highlights of their 170-pound scrap right here.
Alves is looking to be a major player in the welterweight division. Unbeaten as a professional, Alves entered this bout on a four-fight win streak inside the Octagon and was hoping to capitalize on his new spot on the main card.
Meanwhile, Barberena scored the biggest win of his career in his last bout, and it brought him plenty of exposure. Last night, he was hoping to build off that win and surge forward.
He did just that.
Alves attacked immediately, catching a kick and jumping on a guillotine choke. He failed to finish the submission but was able to work back to his feet quickly.
On the feet, Alves pushed his opponent into the fence and repeatedly scored with body kicks and crosses. Barberena hung tough and landed some of his own shots, but on the whole he definitely got the worst of most exchanges.
It was comfortably Alves' round.
The Brazilian started the round very aggressively, crushing his opponent's body with some serious kicks. However, Barberena was undeterred and kept walking his opponent down and throwing punches in bunches.
In the second half of the round, Barberena really began to take over. His opponent began to back up more often, allowing Barberena to score with hard shots as Alves covered up against the fence.
It was still a reasonably close round, but the American likely stole it.
As expected, Alves started the round quickly, but Barberena had little trouble landing and pushing into the fence in the clinch. That said, Alves seemed to be catching a second wind, as he was a bit more explosive and landed shots of his own.
Despite fatigue and a dozen body kicks, Barberena continued to push the pace and throw in combination. For the final minute or so of the fight, Barberena pushed forward and threw, but both men landed hard.
All in all, it was a close round to end a very competitive fight. However, Barberena's second half of the fight was quite strong, and it deserved to win him the fight.
The judges agreed.
Barberena has a very MMA Lab-style. He pushes forward for the entirety of the fight, strikes well in the clinch and in transition, and his style slows breaks opponents down.
It may not be pretty, but it's damn effective.
This was a very impressive performance by "Bam Bam." He took his opponent's best shots and defended the early guillotines, which set him up to score big in the second half of the fight.
In particular, Barberena's combinations were intelligent and effective. Once he got a read on on his opponent's defense, he did an excellent job of picking his shots and landing.
In the end, that volume likely won him the decision.
Following this win, Barberena has proved himself as a legit Welterweight prospect and should be treated as such. Perhaps it's a few fights too soon, but I'd love to see him scrap with prelims header-loser Matt Brown.
On the whole, this bout was a demonstration of Fight IQ. Barberena had it; Alves did not.
Alves came out and expended way too much energy immediately. He tried to blow his opponent -- a notoriously tough and game scrapper -- out of the water, and he seemed surprised when it didn't work out.
Instead of a first round finish, Alves just tired himself out.
Rather than brawl with the brawler, Alves should've stuck to his grappling. He scored with an early takedown but abandoned top position immediately. Had he held that position, the guillotine may have appeared on its own. At the very least, he would've spent less energy and been fresher in the second.
That's the type of small decision that could've drastically changed the fight.
Luckily, Alves is young and should learn from this. If he can improve his conditioning and shore up the defensive holes in his kickboxing, he could still be a force in the division.
Last night, Barberena out-worked his opponent en route to a decision victory. Just how high up the Welterweight ladder can he climb?
For complete UFC 198 "Werdum vs Miocic" results and play-by-play, click HERE!