Jailton Almeida had a UFC record of 21 minutes, 10 seconds of control time, was six of 15 on takedowns and had four submission attempts in his five-round bout with Derrick Lewis in the main event of UFC Sao Paulo in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
It wasn’t, though, until there was 45 seconds left in the bout when Almeida got a double leg and slammed Lewis, that he no longer had to worry about getting knocked out.
Lewis was dominated in the grappling department by Almeida, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, but that wasn’t unexpected, particularly with Lewis taking the fight on short notice.
But though Almeida repeatedly had Lewis on his back and controlled him for more than 84% of the time, Lewis remained dangerous. The few times Lewis got up, he was throwing in desperation and caught Almeida with a few shots. Lewis actually landed 20 of the 39 significant strikes he threw.
Lewis is the UFC’s all-time knockout leader, and generally when he lands better than 50% of his significant strikes, he wins. But Almeida took what he gave out and won a wide decision. Judges had it 50-44 twice and 50-45 for the Brazilian, who called out former interim champion Ciryl Gane. Yahoo Sports gave Almeida 10-8 scores in each of the first three rounds and had it 50-42 for Almeida.
“We knew he has heavy hands and we had 15 or 20 days to come up with a strategy for this fight,” Almeida said in the Octagon. “We were able to do that and keep him down. And the point is his right hand, I was touched and I really didn’t feel it.”
He would have felt it without question if Lewis were on his feet for any appreciable length of time. But though he stopped a number of takedown attempts, once Almeida got him there, he was pinned and struggled to get up.
Almeida will now move into the upper echelon of the heavyweight division and the fighters there will be more well-rounded than the hard-hitting Lewis. So though Almeida was dominant, he leaves the Octagon in front of a sell-out crowd of 10,792 with plenty to work to do on in his own game.
Dalby overcomes Bonfim’s frenetic pace
Nicolas Dalby and his team expected unbeaten Gabriel Bonfim to race out of his corner at the opening bell and fight at a frenetic pace. And that’s just what Bonfim, who entered the bout 15-0, did.
Dalby fought the same way for much of the time and even though Bonfim got the better of it in the first round and for much of the second, Bonfim kept at it.
And when, as Dalby and Co. expected, Bonfim tired, Dalby was there to take advantage. He pinned Bonfim against the cage and landed a series of knees to the head. That last one sent Bonfim slumping to the mat.
Dalby immediately was on him and after a half-dozen or so left hands, referee Jason Herzog jumped in to stop it at 4:33 of the second. The loss dropped Bonfim from the ranks of the unbeaten and showed that Dalby can be a force in the welterweight division.
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“It’s not that I think I’m invincible, but when my mind is set to the task, there’s nothing to stop me,” Dalby said.
He sported a welt that was dripping blood under his left eye, the only real signal that he’d been in a heated battle for nearly 10 full minutes.
He said that while the pace was extreme, he wasn’t having difficulty with it.
“He’s a tough dude and we knew he’d come out guns blazing,” Dalby said. “And he sure did. His top control was pretty good. But I did what I do and I turned it into a dog fight and I got the victory.
Fakhretdinov, dos Santos battle to amazing draw
Rinat Fakhretdinov brought a 20-fight winning streak into his bout with Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, and while he left with a 21-fight unbeaten streak, the winning streak went by the wayside.
Fakhretdinov stormed out of his corner at the opening bell and dropped dos Santos with a right uppercut, left hook combination a little over 10 seconds into the fight. He had dos Santos on the way out, but the veteran managed to survive.
When the final round came, dos Santos picked up an already quick pace and started landing hard shots. He cracked Fakhretdinov with a kick to the liver that bent Fakhretdinov in half and then sent him down. Dos Santos nearly finished him with strikes, but then transitioned to a rear naked choke.
It appeared to be in tight and it seemed that dos Santos was about to score the most improbable of victories until, somehow, Fakhretdinov managed to escape in the waning seconds.
All three judges gave Fakhretdinov the first round, and Hallison Pontes and Sal D’Amato each gave dos Santos a 10-8 in the third. Pontes and D’Amato had it 28-28, accounting for the majority draw, but Fabio Alves had it 29-28 for dos Santos.
Brener with a massive face-plant KO of Kruschewsky
Elves Brener had a knockout in his last fight and had won two by KO in his first 18 professional MMA bouts. There was little in his background to suggest he’d end his fight at UFC Sao Paulo against Kaynan Kruschewsky with one of the best knockouts of the year.
Fighting out of the southpaw stance, Brener closed the distance on Kruschewsky and fired a right. He followed it with an overhand left that landed just above Kruschewsky’s ear.
Kruschewsky did a face plant, falling straight down onto his face, and it was obvious the fight was instantly over at 4:01 of the first round.
Brener is shooting high and said he hopes to face a Top 15 opponent in his next outing.
“You know, I’ve got jiu-jitsu from the Amazon, I’ve got wrestling and I’ve got Muay Thai from Chute Boxe,” he said. “I’m ready.”
Petrino uses check hook to finish Bukauskas
Vitor Petrino and Modestas Bukauskas didn’t do much in the opening round of their light heavyweight bout, but Petrino sure changed that in the second.
Both fighters picked up the pace when the bell rang to begin Round 2 and were firing hard shots at each other. As the fighters were in the center of the Octagon, Bukauskas threw a jab at nearly the same time as Petrino opted for a check hook.
Both landed at the same time, but Petrino’s had a huge amount of force and connected right on the chin. Bukauskas went down and it was over at 1:03 of the second.
“The strategy was to put on a show,” said Petrino, who earned a UFC contract following a 2022 win on "Dana White’s Contender Series." “I wanted to knock him out as soon as possible so I could enjoy this crowd and being here with everyone.”
Veteran Hill slows the roll of prospect Gomes
Veteran Angela Hill is ranked 12th at strawweight and has long had an attitude that she’ll fight anyone, anywhere at any time. On Saturday, she went to Brazil to face native Denise Gomes, a highly touted prospect.
And the first five minutes didn’t look great for Hill. Gomes was giving her problems, getting off first often, and took her down.
Hill turned the tide in the second and then really picked up the pace in the third. Gomes didn’t have an answer and the affable veteran won a unanimous decision by scores of 29-28 twice and 30-27. Yahoo Sports had it 29-28 for Hill.
“It was great,” Hill said of the experience of fighting in Brazil. “It was so energetic. I’ve never had a crowd that loud that early in the night. The girl is tough and it forced me to be tough back.”