By Eddie Graveline, FullContactWriter.com
With all of the brilliantly talented MMA fighters coming from Brazil, plus the UFC's mission of global expansion, it was really just a matter of time before trips to Rio became commonplace. The UFC made its second visit to Rio in just a few months on Saturday night and of course, featured some incredible talent on the fight card.
Headlining the event was a Featherweight Championship bout between the seemingly unbeatable Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes. Would Mendes be able to finish the job his teammate, Urijah Faber, wasn't, or would Aldo add him to the long list of top tier fighters that he's made look silly? Would Anthony "Rumble" Johnson be able to overpower the vastly experienced Vitor Belfort in front of a hostile crowd? All of those questions and more were answered when the fights got going. Keep reading for all the details.
Edson Barboza KO'd Terry Etim with a head kick in the third round. I thought this was an interesting match-up, because both of these guys are well-rounded, exciting, young fighters. The first two rounds weren't super exciting, though. Both guys fought tactically and they were basically on their feet the entire time. Barboza seemed to have a narrow edge, because of the combinations and leg kicks he was throwing, but a big third round could have potentially swayed the fight either way. Unfortunately for Etim, Barboza wasn't going to let him end the fight concious. A couple of minutes in, Barboza landed an unbelievable spinning heel kick that connected solidly with Etim's jaw. It was lights out immediately and honestly, one of the most impressive and devastating knock outs the UFC has ever seen.
Carlo Prater defeated Erick Silva due to disqualification in the first round. This one didn't last long at all. The first engagement saw Silva land a knee that dropped Prater. Silva pounced and finished him off with strikes to the head. It seemed like a clear victory, but then referee Mario Yamasaki disqualified Silva for strikes to the back of the head. The replays showed almost all of the strikes were to the side of Prater's head, with maybe one hitting directly on the back. Nevertheless, the decision was made and that was that, pending the possibility of an appeal.
Rousimar Palhares submitted Mike Massenzio via heel hook in the first round. This was another really quick fight. Massenzio tried to wade in a little bit with some leg kicks, but Palhares basically jumped on him and pulled him down. He isolated a leg immediately and sunk the heel hook in before Massenzio could even react. The tap came quickly, but even at that, Massenzio's knee was in obvious pain afterward.
Vitor Belfort submitted Anthony Johnson via rear naked choke in the first round. Johson was making a notable step up in competition in this fight, but he looked ready. In fact, he was the aggressor for most of the first round. He got some take downs and was able to do some damage with ground and pound while he had Belfort on his back. But something happened later in the round when Johnson tried to shoot again. Belfort landed some punches while Johnson's head was down and that slowed him enough to allow Belfort to transition to his back and start flattening him out. Belfort landed more punches to the side of Johnson's head, got him completely flattened out and forced him to tap just before time ran out in the round.
Jose Aldo TKO'd Chad Mendes in the first round. I say it every time he fights, but never pick against Aldo. That's not to say that I didn't talk myself into thinking that Mendes had a legitimate shot in this fight, which I believe he did, but Aldo always finds a way. Mendes traded punches and leg kicks with Aldo for most of the first round. He tried several take downs, but was never able to get one. He looked like he was going to be able to slam Aldo once, but the champ grabbed ahold of the fence just long enough to thwart it. They clinched against the cage for a bit, then Mendes dropped to try and grab a leg again. As he did that, Aldo spun around and blasted him with a knee that knocked him out cold. Aldo added a couple of punches before the ref stopped the fight with literally a second or two left on the clock. I thought that Mendes might be at the perfect place in his career to take on this challenge, but Aldo continues to be an unsolvable puzzle for the rest of the featherweights in the UFC.