UFC presented an entertaining card Saturday night from Fortaleza, Brazil capped off by two contrasting performances by two aging Brazilian MMA heroes.
The main event fight between Kelvin Gastelum and Vitor Belfort was quick with Gastelum winning by first round TKO. Belfort landed some shots of his own but ultimately couldn’t match the speed and power of his younger opponent.
Belfort told media at the post-fight press conference that he has one fight left on his UFC contract. He is hoping to fight on the June pay-per-view in Rio de Janeiro and then retire. Earlier in the week, Belfort was proposing the concept of a “legends” league for older fighters to be able to continue their careers without risking taking damage from younger fighters.
While Belfort didn’t fare well, another Brazilian MMA great had better luck.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua won a third round TKO over Gian Villante in the evening’s semi-main event. In our MMATorch.com live report, Matt Ecochard compared Shogun to his old self after the win. The 35-year-old has won three straight after losing four of his five prior fights and may be looking at a career resurgence in a UFC Light-Heavyweight division that is losing top contenders to suspension and free agency.
Belfort’s major league fighting career may be close to over, but Shogun may be gearing up for one last run.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: I’m very happy for Kelvin Gastelum’s success at middleweight as it validates the notion that fighters are cutting too much weight unnecessarily. Gastelum has knocked out two very dangerous fighters since the move and should make 185 his permanent home. It frightens me that he’s still talking about going back to 170. Gastelum at 170 was nowhere near as powerful and entertaining as he has been at 185. The wins over Tim Kennedy and now Vitor Belfort are more impressive than anything he accomplished at welterweight.
As for Belfort’s proposed Legends League, I don’t see that happening in UFC anytime soon. Besides, Bellator exists as a de facto legends league, so he’d fit in perfectly there right now.
SUNDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Performance of the night bonuses went to Gastelum, and Edson Barboza for his flying-knee knockout of Beneil Dariush, Michael Pazares for his submission over the now retired Josh Burkman, and to Paulo Henrique Costa for his TKO win to open the card over Gareth McClellen.
-Last night’s show drew an announced sellout crowd of 14,069 fans.
-Post fight press conference video HERE.
(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)