UFC rookies made a big impression in UFC Fight Night preliminary card action at the Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on Wednesday, with debutants Kevin Souza, Elias Silverio, and Ivan Jorge all picking up wins.
SOUZA vs. ARANTES
UFC first timer Kevin Souza was impressive in his Octagon debut, winning a close split decision over Felipe Arantes in a featherweight bout.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Florianopolis’ Souza, now 17-3. Sao Paulo’s Arantes falls to 15-5-1 with 2 NC.
Souza showed no sign of the first-time UFC jitters, calmly and smoothly moving around the Octagon as he peppered Arantes from long range. Arantes adapted well though, taking Souza to the canvas with two minutes left in order to level the playing field against his taller foe and rip off some ground and pound. A late submission attempt by Arantes came up short, but a point had been made.
Souza bounced back in the second with a strong standup effort as well as some helpful takedown defense, leaving Arantes unable to close the distance or get the fight to the canvas again.
Continuing to control the action, Souza rocked Arantes with a right hand two minutes into the third round, yet the follow-up assault by the newcomer was met with a takedown by Arantes, who needed this turnaround to get back into the fight. But as the final 90 seconds approached, Souza was free of Arantes’ clutches and back to sticking and moving. Arantes did get another takedown in the final minute, but it was too little too late for him to pull out the win.
MARTINS vs. HERNANDEZ
Minas Gerais’ Lucas Martins continued to impress, following up a Fight of the Night effort at lightweight against Jeremy Larsen with a first round submission win over newcomer Junior Hernandez at bantamweight, announcing his arrival to the division in style.
After a brief feeling out process, a firefight broke out between the two bantamweights, and after Martins (13-1) landed a couple hard shots, Hernandez (14-5) waved him in. Martins eagerly accepted the challenge, dropping Hernandez with a right hand. Martins moved in for the rear naked choke immediately, and despite a courageous effort by the American to escape, he was soon put to sleep, bringing in referee Herb Dean to halt the bout. The time was 1:10.
See the post-fight interview for Lucas Martins
SILVERIO vs. ZEFERINO
Late notice notwithstanding, Elias Silverio made his UFC debut a successful one, winning a three round unanimous decision over fellow Brazilian Joao Zeferino.
Scores were 29-28 and 30-27 twice for Silverio, now 9-0; Zeferino falls to 13-6.
Silverio did his best to make a fight out of it in the opening round, holding off Zeferino’s takedown attempts while pressing the action when loose of his foe’s grip. Zeferino did land the best shot of the round in the closing seconds though, as he struck with a high kick to the head.
A hard right in the third minute of the second round jarred Zeferino, drawing a roar from the crowd, and after a stalemate stalled the action and forced a restart from referee Mario Yamasaki, Silverio continued to score well until Zeferino put him on his back.
Silverio went on the attack to kick off the final round, both on the feet and the mat, but an illegal upkick to the head by Zeferino brought a brief halt to the bout. Silverio responded with a takedown moments later, and he continued to control the action the rest of the way to pick up his first UFC win.
JORGE vs. WISNIEWSKI
Late replacement and Octagon newcomer Ivan Jorge kept Indiana’s Keith Wisniewski winless in the UFC, scoring a unanimous decision victory in welterweight action.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 30-27.
Wisniewski (28-13-1) had a strong first round, scoring well with knees in the clinch while keeping Jorge from taking the fight to the mat.
There was more of the same in the second, with Jorge’s unsuccessful takedown attempts leading to a stall that brought in referee Mario Yamasaki to restart the action midway through the frame. With 1:25 left, Jorge got the fight to the canvas, but only for a couple seconds, as Wisniewski easily got to his feet.
A low knee by Jorge midway through the final round brought a brief halt to the action and also appeared to fire up the Brazilian, who fired away with more knees and some punches to the body, forcing Wisniewski to hold on and wait for the final bell to toll. It was a surge that proved to be a deciding one on the scorecards for Jorge, now 25-3. The loss was Wisniewski’s fourth in the UFC.
SPENCER vs. VILLEFORT
In the welterweight opener, Sean Spencer earned his first UFC victory and did it on foreign soil, outpointing Brasilia native Yuri Villefort over three rounds.
The split decision read 30-27, 29-28, and 28-29 for Spencer.
Spencer’s striking was sharp from the outset, but as the round progressed, Villefort began to land some hard shots of his own. It was the Texan who controlled much of the frame though, as his movement and striking accuracy kept him a step ahead of the Brazilian.
Looking to turn things around, Villefort got a takedown as soon as the second opened, but Spencer returned to his feet just as fast, allowing him to get back to his striking attack. Yet Villefort’s leg kicks soon began to pay dividends, slowing his foe down and allowing him to get off more punches upstairs.
Ignoring the abuse his left leg was taking, Spencer impressed in the final round, staying busy and keeping the fatigued Villefort from making a final surge that could have rescued the fight for him.
With the win, Spencer ups his record to 10-2; Villefort falls to 6-3.