Rio de Janeiro’s Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza scored his second Octagon victory in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night at Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Wednesday night, knocking out longtime middleweight contender Yushin Okami in the first round and making a strong case for his inclusion in the 185-pound title picture.
A former Strikeforce champion, Souza went on the attack early, with a right hand momentarily stunning Okami. Souza unloaded on the Japanese contender, but Okami survived the assault and even went on to stuff a Jacare takedown attempt. Midway through the round though, the right landed again and Okami hit the deck hard. This time there would be no reprieve, with the follow-up barrage forcing referee Leon Roberts to intervene 2:47 into the opening frame.
With the win, Souza improves to 19-3 with 1 NC; Okami falls to 30-8.
See the post-fight interview for Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza
BENAVIDEZ vs. FORMIGA
Number one flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez cemented his place at the top of the contenders’ list with his third straight win and second consecutive knockout, stopping Jussier Formiga in the first round.
The 125-pounders patiently made their way through the early part of the first round trying to find their range in this important matchup, and Benavidez found it first, jarring Formiga with a quick right hand and then knocking his foe down with a left knee to the body. Formiga turtled up and took a series of unanswered blows before referee Mario Yamasaki finally stopped the fight at the 3:07 mark.
Benavidez moves to 19-3 with the win; Natal’s Formiga drops to 15-3.
See the post-fight interview for Joseph Benavidez
HALLMANN vs. TRINALDO
Polish debutant Piotr Hallman did what many would consider impossible: no, not beating Francisco Trinaldo in their lightweight match, but silencing the Brazil crowd with his second round submission victory.
The first stanza was one of the most dominant, yet competitive, rounds you will see, as Trinaldo not only punished and dropped Hallmann with kicks to the body, but he finished off the round with a takedown. Hallmann never stopped fighting back though, showing that he was not leaving Brazil without giving a supreme effort.
Hallmann got a takedown of his own to start the second, but Trinaldo got back to his feet with ease and almost locked in a kneebar on a subsequent takedown attempt. Yet as the round progressed, Trinaldo began tiring, allowing the Gdynia native to begin taking over with ground and pound from the top position. Then after softening his foe up, he finished matters with a kimura that produced a tap at 3:50 of round two.
With the win, Hallmann improves to 14-1; Brasilia’s Trinaldo falls to 13-3.
Check out Hallmann's highlights
NATAL vs. TROENG
Rafael Natal and Tor Troeng delivered an exciting three round ground battle in their middleweight matchup, but it may have been the striking of Brazil’s “Sapo” that secured his victory, as he used two knockdowns to help carry him to a three round unanimous decision win.
Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-29.
A right hand by Natal (17-4-1) knocked Troeng down in the opening minute of the fight, but the Swede recovered quickly. Unfortunately, having a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt like Natal on top of you isn’t the best place to be, but Troeng escaped the position effectively, only to be swept by the Brazilian. Troeng was impressive on the ground in his own right though, with the two trading positions on the ground in a technical display of grappling.
In the second, Natal let his striking do the talking with another big right hand that sent Troeng to the canvas. Troeng (16-5-1) weathered the storm yet again, but Natal was beginning to pull ahead in the fight, as he forced his opponent to defend more than attack.
Natal almost finished matters in the third with a standing guillotine choke, but the gutsy Swede wouldn’t give in, as he continued to battle while trying to make something happen. And while he wasn’t able to, his effort certainly warranted another look for the Ultimate Fighter 17 competitor.
Check out Natal's highlights
BAGAUTINOV vs. VINICIUS
Russia’s Ali Bagautinov picked up a knockout win in his first UFC bout, finishing off Brazil’s Marcos Vinicius in the third round of their flyweight match.
After a tense opening minute, Bagautinov fired off a flurry and was able to lock Vinicius up against the fence. As the two broke, Bagautinov dropped his foe to the mat with a right hand, and when a follow-up barrage didn’t finish the fight, he looked for a guillotine choke. Vinicius survived both attacks and was able to then take the Russian’s back, but he was unable to end his foe’s night from there, settling for the controlling position and a late takedown after Bagautinov escaped.
A flush left hand caught Vinicius early in round two, with another quick flurry leading to a Bagautinov takedown. Vinicius rose quickly but was sent down again, putting the UFC rookie in the top position again. Vinicius stayed busy from the bottom and eventually got back to his feet, but there was little action of note the rest of the way until a late takedown by Bagautinov.
The pace continued to dip in round three, but with under two minutes remaining, Bagautinov struck with another flush right hand, this one putting Vinicius on his back. Three subsequent shots brought in referee Mario Yamasaki to end the fight at the 3:28 mark.
With the win, Bagautinov improves to 11-2; Curitiba’s Vinicius falls to 20-6-1.
Check out Bagautinov's highlights
Jacare Makes Statement with KO of Okami - UFC Fight Night Main Card Results
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