UFC São Paulo Report: Błachowicz defeats Souza
By: Eric Marcotte
The UFC returned to the Ginásio do Ibirapuera, in São Paulo, Brazil, for their 22nd card of the year on ESPN+. In the main event, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza continued the recent trend of middleweight contenders testing the waters in the light heavyweight division. His opponent, Jan Błachowicz, had won 5 of his last 6 fights, including a highlight knockout in his last appearance, against former UFC middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold. Additionally, former UFC and PRIDE champion Maurício “Shogun” Rua, made his lone 2019 appearance inside the octagon against Paul Craig, who accepted the fight on short notice after Rua’s original opponent, Sam Alvey was forced to withdraw due to a hand injury.
Brendan Fitzgerald called the fights alongside UFC Hall of Famer Michael Bisping. Performance bonuses were awarded to Charles Olivera, Randy Brown, Ricardo Ramos, and James Krause. The reported attendance for the event was 10,344.
*Tracy Cortez def. Vanessa Melo by unanimous decision (30-27, 20-27, 29-28)
*Ariane Lipski def. Isabella De Padua by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)
*Douglas Silva de Andrade def. Renan Barao by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
*Randy Brown def. Warlley Alves by triangle choke at 1:22 of Round 2
*Francisco Trinaldo def. Bobby Green by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
*Ricardo Ramos def. Luiz Eduardo Garagorri by rear-naked choke at 3:57 of Round 1
*James Krause def. Sergio Moraes by KO at 4:19 of Round 3
*Wellington Turman def. Markus Perez by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Andre Muniz def. Antonio Arroyo by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Charles Olivera def. Jared Gordon by KO at 1:27 of Round 1
*Maurício Rua vs Paul Craig ends in a split draw (29-28, 28-29, 28-28)
*Jan Błachowicz def. Ronaldo Souza by split decision (48-47, 48-47, 47-48)
VANESSA MELO (10-6, 136) VS TRACY CORTEZ (6-1, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Both women originally missed weight by 0.5 lbs, but neither fighter was fined due to the identical misses. The commission later stated that the official scale was off by 0.7 lbs, and both Melo and Cortez made weight.
The opening round was a brawl. Cortez would on occasion throw a teep kick to the body, but this was primarily a boxing match between the two. Cortez landed the majority of the heavier shots and had a higher output of strikes. Melo connected with perhaps the most significant strike of the round, a quick hook that made Cortez slip. Nonetheless, I scored the round for Cortez.
Cortez switched up the game plan in the second round, utilizing her wrestling to control the action. She was unable to inflict any damage or threaten a submission but controlled every second of the round. 20-18 Cortez, going into the final round.
Both fighters landed some heavy hooks in the pocket. Melo threw a kick which was caught by Cortez, and she was taken to the ground. Melo did not have much to offer Cortez in the grappling department. Cortez landed some hard ground and pound strikes in the final minute and clearly won the round.
WINNER: Tracy Cortez by unanimous decision (30-27, 20-27, 29-28)
They were competitive on the feet, but when Cortez incorporated her wrestling she dominated and seemed to have Melo hurt near the end of the final round. This was her first fight in the UFC, and she has won her previous 7 bouts. Michael Bisping asked Cortez about her mother and brother (who have both passed away), in the post-fight interview, which naturally made Cortez quite emotional.
ARIANE LIPSKI (11-5, 125.5) VS ISABELA DE PADUA (5-1, 130.5) – FLYWEIGHT
De Padua accepted this fight on just over one day’s notice. She missed weight by 4 lbs and forfeited 30% of her purse.
Lipski came out extremely aggressive, rocked De Padua, then dropped her with a right hand. She swarmed De Padua with strikes on the ground, but De Padua eventually escaped and snatched a double leg takedown on Lipski, after returning to the feet. She controlled the remainder of the round, but the damage done by Lipski ensured that the round would be scored in her favor.
De Padua shot for the same double leg that gave her success in the first, but this time Lipski defended it well and assumed top control on the ground. De Padua threw an up kick as both fighters were clearly grounded and referee Fernando Portella halted the action and took a point away from De Padua. De Padua attempted a reverse triangle but was unable to get the finish. With the point reduction, I scored this round 10-8 Lipski.
Lipski started the round with an attempted head kick, which De Padua caught, and took Lipski down. Lipski attempted a leglock to no avail. Lipski eventually worked her way on top, into De Padua’s guard. The round was a bit of a coin-flip to score, but De Padua had the takedown and more control time, so I gave her the final round.
WINNER: Ariane Lipski by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)
Lipski desperately needed a win, but this was not the impressive performance she needed. This was a very tough fight against an opponent who took the fight on about a day’s notice. She did look impressive for the brief period of the first round in which they spent on the feet. This was Lipski’s first win in the UFC after dropping her previous two.
DOUGLAS SILVA DE ANDRADE (25-3, 1 NC, 145.5) VS RENAN BARAO (34-8, 1 NC, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
This was Barao’s return to the featherweight division, following four straight losses at bantamweight.
The first half of the round was spent on the feet, and both fighters did a good job of mixing up their attack but avoiding the big shots of the other. Barao timed a takedown well, but they were stood up without notice in about a minute. Silva de Andrade swarmed Barao with a flurry of punches that momentarily stunned him. Clean left hook lands from Silva de Andrade, and Barao returned with one of his own to end the round. I scored the first 10-9 Silva de Andrade.
A powerful jab from Silva de Andrade that spun Barao around. Silva de Andrade timed a hard uppercut as Barao shot in, but Barao powered through it and completed the takedown. The referee, Osiris Maia, stood Barao up for inactivity once more. Silva de Andrade defended a Barao takedown, and Maia brought in a doctor to check a cut on the left eyelid of Barao. It was determined that Barao could continue. 20-18, Silva de Andrade heading into the final round.
Barao was really hunting for the single leg in this round, but Silva de Andrade defended Barao’s attempts well and was still landing powerful shots. Barao was really tiring himself out with all of these takedowns. Elbow from Silva de Andrade rocked Barao, but he gave him space to recover. This was another strong round for Silva de Andrade, and I thought he won every round.
WINNER: Douglas Silva de Andrade def. Renan Barao by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Silva de Andrade physically resembles a 145lbs version of the 2013 Vitor Belfort. He dominated this fight and was still throwing heavy hands by the final bell. He is now 4-3 in the UFC.
Barao has now gone 2-8 in his last 10 fights. He has lost his last 5, and Barao is in serious danger of being cut. The trajectory of Renan Barao’s career since 2014 continues to be astonishing, as the once 32-1 (1) champion, rapidly approaches double-digit losses.
WARLLEY ALVES (13-3, 171) VS RANDY BROWN (11-3, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT
Alves caught the first kick Brown threw and rushed him to the ground. He worked his way back up but was immediately tossed back to the ground by Alves. Alves landed a pair of heavy punches to Brown, and as Brown rolled over, Alves grabbed his back and started searching for the rear-naked choke. Alves came close, but Brown displayed a lot of heart, escaping from the position and finishing the round with a takedown of his own.
Brown connected cleanly with a flying knee against the cage, but Alves just ate it and got to work with his grappling. Randy Brown threw up a triangle choke from his back, locked it in, and forced Alves to submit in the second round.
WINNER: Randy Brown by triangle choke at 1:22 of Round 2
This was a great finish for Randy Brown after nearly being submitted in the first. It has been a roller coaster for Brown since his UFC debut, but two straight finishes against tough competition will put him in a good position for his next fight. Brown called out Michael Chiesa in his post-fight interview.
FRANCISCO TRINALDO (23-7, 155) VS BOBBY GREEN (24-9-1, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Trinaldo appeared to drop Green with a left hand, and then Trinaldo just picked him up and aggressively threw him down to the ground. Trinaldo attempted a guillotine choke, which Green managed to escape from. Green controlled Trinaldo from on top for a couple of minutes. When Trinaldo worked his way back to the feet, he lifted Green up above his head and threw him back to the ground. Green ended up on top. Despite the control time, I gave the round to Trinaldo for the knockdown, takedowns and submission attempt.
Green did a great job of avoiding Trinaldo’s heavy strikes in the second round. The low kicks were landing for Trinaldo, but he was not throwing them consistently. Green taunted every time he got hit. While Green unquestionably looked like the better fighter in this round, he did not do enough offensively to ensure the judges would score the round in his favor. Nonetheless, I scored the round for Green.
Green took Trinaldo down following a head kick attempt and starting searching for a guillotine. After a brief scramble, Green took Trinaldo down to the ground once more, but Trinaldo worked his way up by grabbing Greens head and forcing him back with knees. Trinaldo swung heavy in the final few seconds, but Green avoided most of the strikes. Very close fight.
WINNER: Francisco Trinaldo by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
This was a very competitive fight. I narrowly gave the third round, and the fight, to Francisco Trinaldo, but this one could of went either way. I thought Green looked like the better fighter, especially in the last two rounds, but he just didn’t do enough offensively to get the nod. This was a good win for Trinaldo, following his previous fight against Alexander Hernandez, which remains my frontrunner for the worst fight of the year.
RICARDO RAMOS (13-2, 146) VS LUIZ EDUARDO GARAGORRI (13-0, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Ramos was comfortable on the feet early. He timed a body lock takedown perfectly and quickly took Garagorri’s back on the ground. He began to work for the rear-naked choke, and Garagorri got back to his feet with Ramos on his back. Ramos did not let go of the choke, and Garagorri fell to the ground in a last-ditch attempt to shake Ramos off. He was unsuccessful and was forced to submit.
WINNER: Ricardo Ramos by rear-naked choke at 3:57 of Round 1
Ramos has had a fairly successful run in the UFC thus far, and this was arguably his most dominant performance. At just 24 years of age, Ramos seems poised to ascend quickly in the featherweight division. This marked Garagorri’s first professional loss.
SERGIO MORAES (14-6, 1 NC, 171) VS JAMES KRAUSE (25-8, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Moraes managed to take Krause down within the first five seconds. Moraes controlled the vast majority of the round but was unable to do anything significant. Krause escaped the position with just over a minute remaining in the ground and landed some hard kicks to the leg. Moraes responded with a combination of strikes. 10-9 Moraes.
Krause was doing good work with his boxing in the second. Moraes appeared to be very tired. A trio of quick hooks dropped Moraes, but Krause did not pursue the finish, much to Michael Bisping’s annoyance. Krause connected with an uppercut, and Moraes sort of just flopped to the ground. He really looked exhausted by the final minute of the round. Krause dropped Moraes one more time towards the end of the round, but the fight was not stopped, and Moraes held on as time expired. 10-8 round for Krause.
Moraes was so tired. When he threw, he still threw with a degree of power, but he was taking a beating, and at times it looked as though he just wanted out of the fight. When he fell to the ground following a missed single leg, he just laid there for about ten seconds. Krause eventually landed a right cross that dropped Moraes, followed by a hammer fist that knocked him unconscious.
WINNER: James Krause by KO at 4:19 of Round 3
This was a fairly dominant fight for Krause after a close first round. Moraes looked off here and really took a beating. This could have been stopped after the second round. Krause is now on a six-fight win streak and seems deserving of a 15-20 ranked opponent.
MARKUS PEREZ (12-2, 186) VS WELLINGTON TURMAN (15-3, 186) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
This fight opened up the main card.
Turman outpowered Perez early, forcing him against the cage, before grabbing his back and attempting to drag him to the ground. Perez defended well and separated from the clinch with a spinning back fist. Both men were loading up on heavy strikes, but neither was able to connect with much. Perez attempted to channel Anderson Silva by standing against the cage and beckoning Turman forward, but he didn’t take the bait. I gave this round to Turman.
Perez missed on a spinning attack and ate a pair of hooks from Turman. Turman momentarily got Perez down to the ground, but it did not take long for Perez to pick himself back up along the cage. They exchanged short elbows in the clinch. Turman opened up a cut on the right eye of Perez. This was a good round for Turman, and I had him up 20-18, going into the final round.
Perez unloaded with kicks to the body to open the third. Perez wiped the blood from his eye, then licked the blood off of his glove. Turman completed a takedown attempt and worked into the guard of Perez. Perez eventually worked back to his feet. The fighters were exhausted but swung wildly to end the round.
WINNER: Wellington Turman by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Both of these guys swung hard and showcased a pair of iron chins. I was shocked this went the distance with some of the strikes that landed. I agreed with the decision, and Turman looked like a unit, but perhaps Perez was just a bit small for a division that has fighters like Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero. Turman is now 1-1 in the UFC.
ANTONIO ARROYO (9-2, 185) VS ANDRE MUNIZ (18-4, 186) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Arroyo opened with a kick to the body. He swarmed Muniz, and took him down, but got caught in an armbar attempt almost immediately. After about a minute, Arroyo powered out of it but was promptly taken down by Muniz. Muniz connected with a knee to the face of Arroyo, who appeared to be grounded and referee Camila Albuquerque separated them and paused the action. Bisping accused Arroyo of milking the knee, which the replay showed was more of a thigh to the face, and also showed that Arroyo was perhaps not in fact, a grounded opponent. Arroyo seemed to wobble Muniz with a front kick at the end of the round, but there was not enough time left to capitalize.
It did not take Muniz long to bring Arroyo to the ground in the second and quickly moved to his back. He was unable to get the choke but transitioned to top control, before losing the position. Instead of forcing Muniz back to the feet, Arroyo jumped into his guard, did nothing for two minutes, and when they were eventually stood up, they were so slow getting back to their feet that time expired. 20-18 Muniz going into the final round.
The less said about the third round the better. These guys were exhausted. The round was identical to the second, complete with Camila Albuquerque standing them up with seconds remaining in the round. I scored this fight for Andre Muniz.
WINNER: Andre Muniz by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
If you told me that every round of this fight was an hour-long, I might believe you. One of the worst fights of the year.
This was Muniz’s first fight in the UFC and is now on a five-fight win streak. His grappling looked impressive while he was fresh.
CHARLES OLIVERA (27-8, 155) VS JARED GORDON (15-3, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Big reaction for Charles Olivera from the hometown crowd.
Gordon attempted to take Olivera down early, but Olivera threatened an armbar and Gordon abandoned it. Olivera connected with a right hand that dropped Gordon as he moved in, and as Gordon recovered, Olivera hit him with a straight uppercut that just dropped him unconscious against the cage. The crowd lost their minds here.
WINNER: Charles Olivera by KO at 1:26 of Round 1
This was Olivera’s sixth straight win, as well as his sixth straight finish. He has looked incredible lately, and there is zero question that he should be facing ranked competition again at this point. His stand-up has massively improved and is showcasing genuine power. He called out Conor McGregor… which seems like an unlikely fight, but perhaps he realized that, as he then called out the last man to beat him, Paul Felder.
MAURICIO RUA (26-11, 206) VS PAUL CRAIG (12-4, 205) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Craig opened up with a series of kicks, a couple of which landed flush to the body. Craig appeared very confident on the feet early. Craig began teeing off on Shogun against the cage, as Rua put his guard up. Shogun survived the exchange, but this was a huge moment for Craig. Shogun attempted to bring Craig to the ground, but this was easily defended. Shogun was starting to find his range a bit as the round ended, but this was easily Paul Craig’s round.
Shogun ate a body kick from Craig, but caught the leg and brought him down to the ground. He began throwing down heavy hammer fists, and Craig grabbed Rua’s hands to keep him from throwing. Shogun repeatedly got up when he felt he could not advance, then would jump right back into Craig’s guard, trying to land that signature diving right hand. He eventually got it and ended the round dominantly. A pretty clear 19-19, going into the third.
Craig shot for a takedown, but Shogun defended the attempt and returned to the top position he spent the majority of the last round in. Craig refused to get up when every Shogun gave him an opportunity, instead beckoning Rua into his guard, but Shogun had no trouble controlling the action. They briefly stood and exchanged big shots towards the end of the round, and Craig completed a takedown to end the fight. I scored this one 29-28 Rua.
Result: Split Draw (29-28, 28-29, 28-28)
I can honestly see all three of those scorecards. I scored the fight for Shogun but had no issue with the result. I’m not sure I could say either fighter looked great, but Shogun was preparing for a very different opponent in Sam Alvey, and Paul Craig took this fight on two weeks’ notice. It is tough to predict what is next for either fighter, but there is no shortage of options outside of the top ten at 205lbs right now.
JAN BLACHOWICZ (24-8, 205) VS RONALDO SOUZA (26-7, 205) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
This marked Souza’s first fight in the light heavyweight division.
It did not take long for Jacare to shoot for a takedown, but Błachowicz defended it without much difficulty, and they began to wrestle in the clinch against the cage. Souza spent the majority of the round pressing Błachowicz against the cage. Jan was landing some decent short strikes in the clinch. Very uneventful round. 10-9 Souza on my scorecard.
Souza connected with a right hook as Błachowicz moved forwards. They exchanged looping rights and hard kicks to the leg. Jacare was once again unsuccessful on a single leg and they returned to the wrestling match against the cage. Jan landed a pair of strikes, and Jacare responded not long after with a right cross. Another uneventful round that I narrowly scored for Souza.
The calf kicks were Błachowicz’s best weapon thus far into the third. As Jacare forced Jan back into the clinch against the cage, the Brazilian audience voiced their discontent with this fight. Błachowicz landed a few more kicks to the leg. Souza shockingly re-engaged in the clinch against the cage. Not a good round. Scored this one for Błachowicz for his kicks to the leg.
The two fighters stood in the center of the octagon, but neither committed to anything. Souza backed Błachowicz against the fence. He held him there for some time. The crowd took out their cell-phones, turned on the flashlights and waved them in the air. Almost a beautiful moment, in a strange way. Jan landed a couple more kicks to the leg of Souza. Jacare attempted to call his own time out after a perceived groin strike, but neither referee Kevin MacDonald or Błachowicz was having any of it. Another round for Błachowicz I guess? 38-38 going into the final round. Jan Błachowicz appeared to have broken his foot at some point in the round.
Mercifully, the final round was upon us. Souza shot for a takedown. Błachowicz defended it. They wrestled against the cage. This sequence repeated. MacDonald separated them for the first time in the fight. Jan landed some kicks to the leg. Błachowicz threw an uppercut that knocked Jacare off balance. He might have slipped; it was hard to say. They both raised their hands as time expired. I scored this fight 48-47 Błachowicz, but if you threw any scorecard from 50-45 Souza to 50-45 Błachowicz at me, I would not argue.
WINNER: Jan Błachowicz by split decision (48-47, 48-47, 47-48)
Perhaps one of the worst five-round fights ever. Certainly, a strong contender for the worst fight of the year.
Błachowicz called out Jon Jones in his post-fight interview. I have a strong suspicion that the fight is not currently on the table. Błachowicz has won 5 of his last 6 fights.
Souza was booed by the Brazilian fans in his interview. This was his third UFC loss by split decision and the first time in his career that he has lost consecutive fights. At nearly 40 years of age with no clear path back to title contention, Jacare finds himself at somewhat of a crossroads in his career. He is certainly capable of more than what he showed here tonight, but his last two performances have been uninspired for the man that many considered the best middleweight in the world for a period.