by Vito Basile
Saturday had a very somber feel to it. As I turned on ESPN to watch the prelims and main card of UFC Brasilia, it was hard to not notice the empty seats and minimal lighting in the arena. It was a very different feeling, hearing the fighters breathing heavily, or hearing every single word that both corners were telling their respective fighters. This isn’t a complaint by any means, because a sport that I love is still is pressing forward for now, despite what’s going on the world. Let’s move away from the empty arena talk and get into the most important part: the fights.
Let’s start with the Amanda Ribas v. Randa Markos fight. Ribas (9-1), who was on a 4-fight win streak coming into the fight, looked dominant against Markos (10-8). Markos isn’t what you would call a world beater by any means, but she’s a veteran of the UFC and has fought higher level competition. In this fight, it went to decision in favor of Ribas, and the fight didn’t feel as close as the scorecards showed. If you’re a “box score” watcher (someone who only reviews or checks the match or game through the box score without watching the fight), then you would say that this was a closer match-up than it was. Ribas threw triple the amount of strikes that Markos threw, which lead to her ultimately winning by decision.
One of the biggest match-ups on the card, Jonny Walker v. Nikita Krylov, became a disappointment for Walker fans everywhere. Walker (17-4) has struggled against upper echelon talent in the UFC. Walker, 3-2 in his last five fights, looked like a force to be reckon with until he ran into Corey Anderson, getting finished in the first round of his last bout. Anderson recently got finished by #1 contender and light heavyweight Jan Blachowicz. Walker surely has the talent to become a top light heavyweight contender, but due to his loss to Krylov, it’s going to be a long road back to where he wants to be. The upside is that he’s only 27, and he hasn’t gotten to his prime yet. Walker may just need a change in camp; someone who can better utilize his talents. Krylov (27-7), 3-2 in his last five fights, looks to move up the light heavyweight rankings. Could a match between Corey Anderson or Dominick Cruz be in order? Or maybe Thiago Santos when he returns from injuries? We’ll have to wait and see.
The main event of the evening was Kevin Lee v. Charles Oliviera. Lee (18-5) rose through the rankings and became a fan favorite after his quick victory over Gillespie. Lee had many people speculating that with a win over Oliviera, he could’ve been in line for a contender fight. With the loss though, Lee will now fall out of the top 10 and try to figure out where he went wrong. Lee didn’t look great against Oliviera, but he did have some moments where he displayed some great take down defense, as well as a couple takedowns. His striking was severely lacking any sort of substance, though, as Oliviera looked like the better striker in the match-up. Oliviera (28-8), on the other hand, proved why he belongs in the Top 10 and deserves a shot a big fight with a guy like Justin Gaethje or Dustin Poirier to get in line for that stacked lightweight division. Oliviera landed fewer punches than Lee, but his strikes wobbled Lee a few times, and it just looked like Lee was never able to regain his legs. Oliviera, known for his submissions, finished the fight with a guillotine when Lee attempted a double leg takedown. Oliviera was able to get it nice and snug finish the fight.
Next week is UFC Fight Night, which has been moved away from its original location of London, England to the U.S. The card has been scratched and none of the original fights will take place, including the main event of Tyron Woodley and Leon Edwards. Speculation from insider Ariel Helwani is that the main event could possibly be Woodley v. Covington, which would be an epic fight, but I’m not sure if I want to see it when one fighter has only had a 6-day camp. Look out for my update on UFC Fight Night next week, and the adjustments that have been made to the card.