It was two in a row in Rio for Florianopolis lightweight Thiago Tavares, as he earned a close, but unanimous decision over Sam Stout in UFC 142 preliminary action at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Saturday night. See post-fight interview
“Sam Stout was the toughest opponent I’ve ever faced and this is the biggest win of my career," said Tavares. "I thought about this fight for a long time. I have to be honest: of all the ways I saw this fight going, I never expected to beat him striking. I tried to take the fight to the ground, but he has great takedown defense. The fight stayed on the feet and I was able to win there. I want another big name next.”
“I thought I took rounds two and three, but I just struggled to find my rhythm," said Stout. "My head wasn’t in it in the first round. I had a slow start and I have no one to blame but myself for that.”
Tavares, who stopped Spencer Fisher at UFC 134 in Rio last August, closed the distance almost as soon as the bout started, getting Stout to the mat with relative ease. Stout fought hard to get back to his feet and succeeded, but a few moments later he was grounded twice more in succession. Stout kept getting up, but Tavares was piling up the points. With a little over a minute left, Stout was able to score with some shots to the head, but Tavares fired back and stayed busy, even when his last takedown attempt of the round came up short.
Stout was able to keep it standing for much of the second round, but it was Tavares still holding the edge, as his darting movement and quick counters kept him in the lead, with a kick to the side of the head opening a cut around Stout’s left ear. Slowly, but surely, Stout was getting his rhythm, and with kicks and punches to the body and the occasional punch upstairs, the Canadian was letting Tavares know he was in a fight.
An inadvertent low kick by Stout sent Tavares to the mat and brought a brief halt to the action in the opening minute of the final round, but both picked up where they left off in the second, with solid standup work being done by both men. Stout’s takedown defense was impressive throughout the final frame, his quick punches to the head brought blood from Tavares’ nose, and a late series of right hands hurt the Brazilian, but it was not enough for him to pull out the victory.
With the win, Tavares improves to 21-4-1; Stout falls to 18-7-1. The bout was Stout's first since the sudden death of his brother in law and longtime trainer Shawn Tompkins.
“This was my first fight without Shawn," said Stout. "It was definitely an adjustment not having him in my corner. I hope Shawn would be proud.”
GONZAGA vs. OLIVEIRA
After a 15 month absence, former world title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga returned to the Octagon and got back in the UFC win column, submitting previously unbeaten newcomer Ednaldo Oliveira in the first round. See post-fight interview
“It felt great to be back in the Octagon,” said Gonzaga. “I showed that I still have my BJJ skills in there tonight. My time away from the UFC was good for me. I dealt with some personal business in my life and came back refocused. Before, I was training well, but my mind just wasn’t in it. Now, I’m back, I feel great. I’m focused and I showed that.”
There was little action in the first two minutes, with Rio de Janeiro native Gonzaga ending the dry spell with two thudding takedowns of the newcomer. After the second takedown, Gonzaga was able to keep the action on the mat, and despite Oliveira’s efforts, he was not able to escape, allowing Gonzaga to take his back and end matters with a rear naked choke that produced a tap out at the 3:22 mark.
With the win, Gonzaga improves to 13-6; Oliveira falls to 13-1-1 with 1 NC.
ALCANTARA vs. OMIGAWA
A gritty effort from ultra-tough Japanese veteran Michihiro Omigawa wasn’t enough to overcome a well-rounded attack from Brazil’s Yuri Alcantara, as “Marajo” won an impressive three round unanimous decision in featherweight action. See post-fight interview
“This was like the World Cup for me tonight,” said Alcantara, who has now won 13 straight. “To fight against a veteran like him was a true honor. I hope this win proved to the UFC that I’m ready for the main card. I felt like a complete fighter in there tonight.”
Scores for Alcantara were 30-27 twice, and 29-28.
Omigawa (13-11-1) ate a knee to the body as soon as the two finished touching gloves, and he kept his hands low, apparently favoring his lower torso. Alcantara (26-3) continued to score well as the round progressed, this time from long range, with Omigawa bouncing around but unable to close the distance on his foe. With a little less than two minutes left, Omigawa was rocked with an elbow to the head, and though Alcantara got the dominant position on the mat, he was soon reversed by the Japanese fighter, who finally found the real estate of the fight to his liking. But just before the bell rang, Alcantara locked up an armbar and torqued it, with only the bell keeping the bout from being finished.
Omigawa courageously came out of his corner for round two, but was hurt again by a punch in the second minute, pushing the bout to the canvas. The two scrambled, with Alcantara taking Omigawa’s back. Omigawa tried his best to get out of trouble, and with under two minutes remaining, he was bloodied around his ear, but out of immediate danger as he got to his back. Alcantara ended the round with more ground strikes, adding to his lead.
Both fighters were understandably winded as the third round opened, but that didn’t stop them from continuing to scrap, with each solid shot looking to be the one that could turn the tide for Omigawa or give Alcantara the finish. Omigawa got the bout to the mat with under two minutes left and scored well with punches and elbows, but the bout was stood up by referee Leon Roberts with under 20 seconds left, leaving Alcantara the opening for a final takedown before the final bell tolled.
PYLE vs. FUNCH
Welterweight veteran Mike Pyle spoiled the Octagon return of Ricardo Funch, stopping the late replacement via strikes in the first round. See post-fight interview
“After my last fight, I took a step back and readjusted some things in my training,” said Pyle, who lost at UFC 133 to Rory MacDonald. “I knew that I had to really take a look at my whole MMA game and I think you saw some of the adjustments and improvements tonight. My striking and my overall game have evolved. This was an important fight for me in my career and I appreciate Ricardo taking this fight on short notice.”
Funch, 8-3, was replacing Paulo Thiago, who was forced from the bout due to injury.
After taking some time to find his range, Pyle (22-8-1) struck first and made the most of it, wobbling Funch with a straight right. Pyle moved in for the finish, dropping his foe with a right knee. The follow up barrage of strikes brought in referee Mario Yamasaki to halt the bout at the 1:22 mark.
ARANTES vs. CARVALHO
Brazilian featherweight prospect Felipe Arantes got the night off to a good start for the home team, earning a three round unanimous decision win over debuting Canadian Antonio Carvalho. See post-fight interview
“I’m very happy with this win because I went out there and proved to the people of Brazil that I belong in the Octagon,” said Arantes. “He was a very tough opponent. I had a tough camp and battled some injuries, but I was able to get in there tonight and control the striking and win.”
All three judges scored it 29-28.
A wild exchange resulted in Arantes losing his balance and falling to the mat in the opening moments, with Carvalho quickly taking advantage but unable to secure a submission. Midway through the round, Arantes escaped the grasp of his foe and got his offense into gear, scoring mainly with kicks as he kept the bout standing for the remainder of the first five minutes.
There was more solid standup action in the second frame, but the action favored the Brazilian, a standup specialist who calmly potshotted in between the rawer rushes of Carvalho.
In the second minute of the final round, Carvalho got the bout back to the mat, which is right where he wanted it, but Arantes reversed position and got into his opponent’s guard, opening a cut under Carvalho’s left eye with his ground strikes. Arantes smoothly got back to his feet with a minute left, and he finished strong, capping off a solid performance that earned him his first UFC win.
With the win, Arantes improves to 14-4 with 2 NC; Carvalho falls to 13-5.