UFC Sao Paulo: Five Things We Learned
UFC Sao Paulo will be remembered as a strange night of fights. From an entertainment perspective, it was quality; however, it was not a typical fight card. The event saw unpredictable outcomes, bizarre fights, and several cancellations. Thankfully, UFC Sao Paulo’s strangeness leaves us with several unique results and important lessons. Let’s break down the five biggest things we learned at the event.
Jailton Almeida needs to add to his skill set:
The UFC Sao Paulo main event headlines the card’s strange fights and bizarre results. Jailton Almeida dominantly out-grappled Derrick Lewis on his way to a unanimous decision victory. The fact that the bout escaped the first round was a surprise. It was an even bigger shock to see it go 25 minutes.
Almeida used his wrestling to dominantly grapple Lewis for five rounds. In total, he logged 21 minutes of control time, according to UFC Stats.
This bout can be viewed in two ways. The first is that Almeida impressed as he controlled Lewis for the entire fight. The other point of view is that it is a disappointment Almeida was unable to finish the fight. Both opinions are reasonable.
Regardless of how you view Almeida’s performance, it is clear that he needs to add layers to his grappling. From a technical perspective, Almeida is one of the cleanest grapplers in the heavyweight division.
The issue is that he struggled to finish the fight once he established dominant positioning. Lewis defended rear-naked chokes and arm triangles throughout the first two rounds. That led to Almeida prioritizing control in the later rounds. In the future, I’d like to see Almeida add better ground and pound to his approach. Hopefully, this serves as a lesson for the elite prospect.
Nicolas Dalby has unreal durability:
The UFC Sao Paulo co-main resulted in a sizeable upset as Nicolas Dalby stopped Gabriel Bonfim in the second round.
Bonfim has proven to be an elite finisher with powerful boxing and elite submission ability. In this fight, Dalby fought off Bonfim’s finishing ability. On the feet, he ate some massive shots; in grappling exchanges, he fought off submission attempts and survived damaging ground and pound.
In the second round, Dalby managed to pick up the pace while Bonfim began to fade. Ultimately, he backed Bonfim up against the fence and unloaded with heavy shots, allowing him to land knees the finish the fight.
Dalby deserves recognition as one of the toughest fighters in the UFC. The Dane has never been officially stopped in his MMA career. In this fight, he leveraged his durability to stop one of the best welterweight prospects in the UFC. Dalby deserves some negotiation for that type of performance.
Gabriel Bonfim needs to slow down:
As discussed, Gabriel Bonfim was on the wrong side of a sizeable upset. The loss was the first in his 16-fight MMA career. As cliche as it sounds, this can be turned into a learning experience for the 26-year-old prospect.
The second this fight began, Bonfim chased a finish. It was simply an unsustainable pace. It was only a matter of time before he got tired.
I am not sure if I am ready to say that Bonfim has poor cardio. Yes, he gassed out in this fight; however, he was fighting at an unreasonable pace. Instead, I think Bonfim needs to be wiser about how he uses his cardio.
As Bonfim progresses, he will need to focus on his pacing. If he can get that under control, his potential will greatly increase.
Caio Borralho continues to win:
The UFC Sao Paulo bout between Caio Borralho and Abus Magomedov was one of the most important fights on the card. With both fighters sitting just outside the middleweight rankings, a win could find them fighting a ranked opponent.
Borralho was the fighter to get his hand raised as he earned a decision victory. The win pushed his UFC record to 5-0 and further proved he is one of the top prospects in the sport.
Borralho fought an interesting game plan. In the first round, he fought at a fairly slow pace as he waited for Magomedov to gas out. The second round was fought at a slightly faster pace. In the final round, Magomedov was tired which allowed Borralho to unload and nearly finish the fight.
I called this an interesting game plan because it was not what I was expecting. It was a surprise to see Borralho trade with Magomedov for the majority of the fight. In theory, he is the better grappler of the two. It was also a surprise to see him not push the pace early. Regardless, he walked away victorious.
This win likely secures Borralho a ranked opponent. It will likely be someone sitting between the No. 10 and 15 spots. Still, Borralho’s win streak has him moving up the divisional ladder.
Abus Magomedov will struggle with pacing
UFC Sao Paulo produces poor results for Abus Magomedov. As we just discussed, he gassed out in the third round against Caio Borralho and suffered a defeat. I think it is time to be worried about Magomedov.
Magomedov has now lost two consecutive fights because of his cardio. Previously, he dropped a fight to Sean Strickland because the champion outpaced him. In that bout, Magomedov spent all his energy in the first round and was finished in the second.
I am even more concerned for Magomedov after his Borralho fight. Despite the bout being fought at a fairly slow pace, Magomedov gassed out. That is a much worse look. Despite turning down his pace, he still gassed out. It seems like Magomedov has serious cardio limitations.
As Magomedov moves forward, I am not sure how he will win if he does not land an early knockout. If he does not magically fix his cardio, his peak will be limited.
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