For one night in Belem, Brazil, Lyoto Machida showed enough glimpses of "the Dragon" to hand highly touted prospect Eryk Anders (10-1) his first loss. The Brazilian defeated the former Alabama Crimson Tide football player via split decision.
Machida took the early lead with a steady barrage of leg kicks. The Dragon continued to chip away at his opponent's leg even after he put him on the ground. Bloody Elbow noted the lack of experience Anders showed in the first round:
Bloody Elbow @BloodyElbow
Anders staying on his back, showing his lack of experience. Letting Machida kick his legs. #UFCBelem2018-2-4 05:53:04
UFC Canada provided a look at the highlight leg kick:
UFC Canada @UFC_CA
Hard leg kick from @LyotoMachidaFW puts Anders on the mat at #UFCBelem https://t.co/XE7wa1UjzK2018-2-4 05:54:00
The second round saw Anders find a little more comfort. He landed a scoring left hand early but couldn't rediscover that kind of success for the rest of the frame. Machida stayed on his horse and forced Anders to track him down:
He found an opening! @ErykAnders #UFCBelem https://t.co/w7P6rsLRCG2018-2-4 05:57:42
Sherdog scored the round for Anders as the fight moved at a glacial pace:
Anders might've landed four hard punches that round but it might've been enough to offset Machida's volume (such as it is) 19-19 #UFCBelem2018-2-4 06:03:43
Anders kept landing the more powerful strikes in the third round's early going. The 30-year-old middleweight opened the frame with a successful takedown and bloodied the Dragon's eye with a knee as he got to his feet from the takedown.
Aaron Bronsteter of TSN scored the round for Anders, but it once again came down to Machida's volume against the damage Anders caused:
Aaron Bronsteter @aaronbronsteter
Have it 29-28 Anders, but as is usually the case with Machida fights, this is a tough one to score.2018-2-4 06:07:56
Heading into the fifth, the scoring didn't get any clearer. Anders had his moments in the fourth, scoring a takedown and controlling the Dragon along the cage. But previous frames made it hard to score, as the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Adam Hill noted:
Adam Hill @AdamHillLVRJ
I see a lot of people that have this 3-1 Anders and I don't totally disagree, but it very well could be 2-2. Wouldn't be surprised at all if Machida takes this fight should he win the 5th2018-2-4 06:15:32
The fifth and final round looked much like the rest of the fight. Anders was the aggressor, but Machida's counterstriking was more effective. Ultimately, the Dragon did enough to get the nod on two of the judges' scorecards.
It's a big win for Machida, as it snaps a three-fight losing streak. Per USA Today's Chamatkar Sandhu, the Dragon utilized the opportunity to call out Michael Bisping for what would be a battle of fighters who have to be mulling retirement after every bout:
Chamatkar Sandhu @SandhuMMA
Lyoto Machida calls out Michael Bisping. That would be a fitting retirement fight for both men. #UFCBelem2018-2-4 06:26:06
For Anders, the decision is disappointing, but this is not the end of the line. As MMA journalist E. Spencer Kyte noted, this will be a launching pad for the rest of his career:
E. Spencer Kyte @spencerkyte
Regardless of outcome, this is a very good performance and tremendous learning experience for Anders. 10 fights in, third in UFC, going 25 minutes with a former champ in his hometown. Win or lose, he’ll be better because of this fight. #UFCBelem2018-2-4 06:19:44
The night was heavy on Brazilian prospects. Thiago Santos and Douglas Silva de Andrade highlighted those who came out on top while representing their home country. Here's a look at the complete results along with a closer peek at all the main-card action:
- Lyoto Machida def. Eryk Anders via split decision
- Valentina Shevchenko def. Priscila Cachoeira via sub (RNC) (R2, 4:25)
- Michel Prazeres def. Desmond Green via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Tim Johnson def. Marcelo Golm via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Douglas Silva de Andrade def. Marlon Vera via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 20-27)
- Thiago Santos def. Anthony Smith via second-round TKO (1:03)
- Sergio Moraes def. Tim Means via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Alan Patrick def. Damir Hadzovic via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-27, 20-27)
- Polyana Viana def. Maia Stevenson via submission (RNC) (R1, 3:50)
- Iuri Alcantra def. Joe Soto via first-round KO (1:06)
- Deiveson Figueiredo def. Joseph Morales via second-round TKO (4:34)
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Priscila Cachoeira
The co-main event provided an opportunity for Valentina Shevchenko to bounce back from her failed bid for the women's bantamweight championship, this time as a flyweight. She took full advantage by defeating UFC newcomer Priscila Cachoeira via a second-round rear-naked-choke in a lopsided fight.
Shevchenko dominated the early exchanges before taking down her opponent and bludgeoning her with an array of elbows and strikes on the ground. Although Cachoeira survived the round, she had nothing to offer the former title contender.
The second frame was more of the same, but Shevchenko eventually sunk in a fight-ending rear-naked choke. The UFC summed up the bout in a seven-second clip:
Describe @BulletValentina's performance in one word. #UFCBelem https://t.co/uiAebF4V3M2018-2-4 05:29:42
It was a reminder that even though Shevchenko is a decorated kickboxer and muay thai competitor, she is also more than capable of handling herself on the ground.
This was an interesting piece of booking, as Shevchenko got a fight to show off her skills against a Brazilian in Brazil.
However, she looked phenomenal at 125 pounds. It appears as though UFC's newest division has a legitimate title contender in Shevchenko, and she declared her interest in competing for the belt in her post-fight interview:
"Nicco, let's do it." @BulletValentina wants a shot at the belt. #UFCBelem https://t.co/Shf8IZrHZz2018-2-4 05:38:24
Michel Prazeres vs. Desmond Green
Desmond Green took a risk when he agreed to take this fight even though his opponent, Michel Prazeres, failed to make weight. He attempted to outwrestle a larger man, and it didn't work out, as "Tractor" took the unanimous decision.
The fight, which was contested at 161 pounds instead of the 155-pound limit, was decided by Prazeres' grappling ability. He consistently got Green onto the mat and threatened to end the bout with submission attempts.
Prazeres is an interesting fighter. He has skills, as the win was his sixth straight inside the Octagon after a loss to Kevin Lee in 2015.
However, he's also missed weight in three of his last four fights.
That means that he likely will be headed to welterweight, as the UFC doesn't look kindly upon fighters who can't make weight.
Yet another scale mishap overshadowed what could have been a great display of Prazeres' talent. If he can continue to be a dangerous grappler at welterweight, he could be successful.
Tim Johnson vs. Marcelo Golm
Tim Johnson wasn't about to let Brazilian fighters have a perfect night. The home competitors were undefeated up to the card's eighth bout, but Johnson ended the streak with a decision win over Marcelo Golm.
Golm's undefeated record wasn't a problem for Johnson. The No. 15 heavyweight chipped away at his opponent with strong boxing and a clinch game. He even landed a spinning elbow while Golm was pinned against the fence:
FOX Sports: UFC @UFCONFOX
Tim Johnson breaks the Brazilian win streak with the unanimous decision victory over Marcelo Golm! #UFCBelem https://t.co/7E279krlAG2018-2-4 04:36:35
While Johnson couldn't draw the finish, he did win the fight on all three judges' scorecards, taking all three rounds on one of them.
All of Golm's previous fights ended in the first round. Just two fights into his UFC career, it turned out that Johnson was too much, too soon.
The Brazilian's ability to rebound should be interesting to watch, as he's only 25 in a division that is seriously lacking youth.
Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Marlon Vera
Douglas Silva de Andrade got back on the right track after a loss to Rob Font last time out. The Brazilian outscored Marlon "Chito" Vera at every turn to take a unanimous decision.
The fight played out like a kickboxing battle. Vera made it competitive, but Silva de Andrade's aggression and footwork made it hard for Vera to come out on top.
The two fought to the end, with the final exchange highlighting the fight:
UFC Canada @UFC_CA
Great fight! Douglas Silva de Andrade & @ChitoVeraUFC go to the final bell at #UFCBelem https://t.co/igKOYbif442018-2-4 04:01:28
The win makes Silva de Andrade's UFC record 3-2. His next fight will go a long way toward determining whether he's a prospect with potential or simply a strong fighter who can boost a card in Brazil.
For now, he proved he's better than Vera, who came into the bout unranked off a loss to John Lineker.
Thiago Santos vs. Anthony Smith
Who doesn't love a middleweight brawl?
Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith started off the main card right for the Brazilian crowd. Santos scored the second-round TKO finish, but not before a crowd-pleasing, violent fight.
Santos scored some knockdowns in the first frame, including this nifty head kick the UFC passed along:
😳 😳 😳 @TMarretaMMA #UFCBelem https://t.co/t0p1ci1b7P2018-2-4 03:18:28
In the end, Santos scored an emphatic win in his home country and solidified his status as a Top 15 middleweight. He now has four finishes in a row. Smith, meanwhile, showed a lot of toughness but had a three-fight win streak snapped.
That's a bad development for someone who defeated Hector Lombard his last time out.