UFC Fight Night 125 Results: The Real Winners and Losers
UFC Fight Night 125, which went down Saturday night from Belem, Brazil, was a nice little card as cable-TV MMA events go these days. Then it got hit with a double helping of 11th-hour drama.
First, the co-main event was scrapped after Friday's weigh-ins. Bantamweight Pedro Munhoz came in four pounds heavy and John Dodson, a converted flyweight who was staring down the barrel of a size disadvantage even before Munhoz failed to hit his mark, refused to take the fight anyway.
UFC brass added some PR insult to the injury when they initially indicated they would refuse to pay Dodson his show money, seemingly out of little more than good old spite. (Officials later backtracked a bit and said they'd pay Dodson an unspecified "part" of the purse.)
As if that wasn't enough, lightweight Michel Prazeres weighed in five pounds over the upper limit of 156 pounds. Opponent Desmond Green apparently agreed to take the fight nevertheless—on the condition that Prazeres weigh no more than 173 pounds. Green then found out on fight day that Prazeres was walking around at a crisp 180, according to a post on Green's Instagram account. He agreed to continue on and compete.
None of this is welcome news to a UFC slouching forward off of record-low ratings from last week's UFC on Fox 27. There was plenty of pressure on the shoulders of Lyoto Machida, the 39-year-old former champ seeking a final blast of glory, and Eryk Anders, the hard-hitting newcomer who seemed tailor-made to test the suddenly knockout-prone Brazilian.
As always, final statistics only tell part of the story. These are the real winners and losers from UFC Fight Night 125.
Winner: Lyoto Machida
Coming into this fight, Machida had lost three straight and four of five. The last two of those defeats were by knockout. His chin had grown brittle, but so had his footwork, the tool that made prime Machida so difficult to find with any clean strike.
Anders, meanwhile, had power and strength to burn. With six of his 10 pro wins by KO, Anders seemed a bad matchup for the faded Machida.
That was the conventional wisdom. Much, if not all, of that conventional wisdom held up Saturday night. Anders charged forward and bloodied and battered Machida, while Machida maintained distance and chipped away with low kicks and counters.
But the conventions ended with the scorecards. Machida took more damage but scored more points in the eyes of two of the three judges and took a split decision from Anders.
"He was a very tough fighter, but we got a win tonight," Machida told broadcaster Paul Felder in the cage after the fight.
The defining moment happened early in the third round, when a right knee from Anders opened up a huge and awkwardly located cut on Machida's face, pouring blood from his nose directly into his mouth, in fairly high volume. Machida was hittable throughout, with diminished quickness in his feet and no major power in his strikes. But he still got them off in typical Machida style, maintaining distance and attempting to circle while landing those kicks and trademark back-foot counters over and over.
Anders deserves credit for executing an effective game plan and keeping up the pace over five rounds, even if he did get a bit reckless at times. He's got a real future at middleweight, even if this was not the torch-passing many expected.
It's hard to tell if Machida is fully "back." He took plenty of punishment in a close fight and is still 39 years old. But Machida clearly feels he has more to give in the sport. During his post-fight interview, he called out another aging lion at middleweight—a Mr. Michael Bisping. With Bisping recently revealing he will not fight in London as he had hoped, that's a matchup that certainly bring a high nostalgia factor, at a minimum.
Winner: Valentina Shevchenko
Standing a solidly muscled 5'7", Priscila Cachoeira had a noticeable size advantage on the 5'5" Valentina Shevchenko.
But there was no doubt Shevchenko was the bigger fighter in Saturday's co-main event.
Shevchenko met the Brazilian in the center of the cage and easily outlanded her with sharp straights and hooks. However, knowing the heavy and heavy-hitting underdog had the quintessential puncher's chance, Shevchenko drove forward with a powerful trip takedown.
She then spent the rest of the round using her elbows to spray Cachoeira's blood around the canvas.
The fight could and probably should have been stopped at various points, either by referee Mario Yamasaki or the underdog's corner, but Cachoeira seemed just engaged enough to justify a continuation, as inhumane as that seemed given the immediate and obvious skill gaps. The first round ended, but the beating resumed in the second, with Shevchenko hammering from mount.
Finally, finally, in the final minute of the second round, Shevchenko locked on a rear-naked choke and Cachoeira tapped. Shevchenko rose to her feet, covered in Cachoeira's blood, leaving her opponent in a heap on the floor.
Cachoeira has an amazing back story, overcoming addiction to reach this point. She should be proud to call herself a UFC fighter. But she was thoroughly beaten by the woman who looks to be on a collision course with gold in the UFC's newest division.
Loser: Michel Prazeres
After he controlled Green for a unanimous-decision victory, the UFC broadcast team didn't give Prazeres an interview.
Maybe it was a coincidence. Or maybe it was a subtle screw-you to Prazeres for missing weight and then, at least according to Green, going back on his promise to meet Green on some kind of reasonable middle ground.
Prazeres used every ounce of that size discrepancy, too. Essentially weighing and looking like a middleweight, Prazeres repeatedly muscled Green to the ground, piled up top control and torqued his way to several submission attempts. It was a game Green survived each time, but he had visible trouble with the size discrepancy.
As a consolation prize, Green will receive 20 percent of Prazeres' total purse, including his win money. But it's not enough to level the playing field based on everything that happened. It would be nice to see the UFC insist Prazeres move up a weight class, as this is the second time he has missed weight in his last three contests. This is not the kind of heat that's good to generate.
Winner: Anthony Smith
Take nothing away from Thiago Santos. The middleweight soulcrusher did what he was expected to do, notching his fourth straight knockout victory. This one started when he buried his toes in Anthony Smith's liver like he was testing the virgin sands of a secluded beachfront. Smith staggered back and then collapsed in pain. A series of ground strikes later and the favored Santos had another key victory.
Santos is going places, but so is Smith. If there's a bigger gamer in the UFC today, it's still a close race. This is why stat lines don't tell the whole story. The stats don't tell you about the baseball bat Smith took to the face (it was really a flush spinning kick, but you get the idea) and shook off like a pesky gnat. They also don't tell you how hard Smith worked to regain his feet after taking what was clearly an excruciating body shot in the second.
When you combine it with his come-from-behind knockout of Hector Lombard in his last fight, this fight helped establish Smith as a notably tough customer. Yes, Virginia, there are moral victories. We saw one Saturday.
Winner: Polyana Viana
Not a bad UFC debut for Polyana Viana.
The Brazilian newcomer scored early when she tossed Maia Stevenson to the floor and immediately began searching for an armbar. Stevenson was game and eventually scrambled out of trouble, but Viana was not to be denied.
Not long after another takedown, Viana had mount. Then she had Stevenson's back. The fight-ending rear-naked choke came inside the first round.
The 25-year-old Viana is now 10-1 as a pro, although the quality of her competition is not exactly sparkling. It will be interesting to see how UFC matchmakers position her in the strawweight division.
Loser: Decisive Decision-Making
Referee Mario Yamasaki had one of his trademark performances in the co-main event, taking a very, ah, conservative stance toward the stoppage as Cachoeira lost half her blood supply to Shevchenko's fists and elbows.
Oh, but there was an even more noteworthy performance farther down the card.
It was Iuri Alcantara's fight from Jump Street. The only person who didn't seem to understand that was probably the one person who can't afford not to have that understanding.
Alcantara swarmed forward and tagged Joe Soto repeatedly, and it wasn't long until Soto hit the mat. As he did so, it was pretty clear Soto no longer knew where he was. It was quite the onslaught. Referee Osiris Maia hovered close by but strangely seemed to second-guess his own instinct to call a halt to the one-sided affair. He let it continue.
Soto took more punishment that probably wasn't necessary, and then Maia finally stepped in. The whole thing took one minute and six seconds.
A good win for Alcantara, fighting in front of his countrymen. But it's never fun to watch a fighter lose brain matter because a referee couldn't convince himself to take action.
UFC Fight Night 125 Full Card Results
Lyoto Machida def. Eryk Anders by split decision
Valentina Shevchenko def. Priscila Cachoeira by submission (rear-naked choke), 4:25, Rd. 2
Michel Prazeres def. Desmond Green by unanimous decision
Timothy Johnson def. Marcelo Golm by unanimous decision
Douglas Silva de Andrade def. Marlon Vera by unanimous decision
Thiago Santos def. Anthony Smith by TKO, 1:03, Rd. 2
Sergio Moraes def. Tim Means by split decision
Alan Patrick def. Damir Hadzovic by unanimous decision
Polyana Viana def. Maia Stevenson by submission (rear-naked choke), 3:50, Rd. 1
Iuri Alcantara def. Joe Soto by TKO, 1:06, Rd. 1
Deiveson Figureiredo def. Joseph Morales by TKO, 4:34, Rd. 2