What mattered most at UFC Fight Night 231 at Ginasio Do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo? Here are a few post-fight musings …
Angela Hill ties strawweight wins record
Angela Hill put herself in a tie at the top of the list for most victories in UFC strawweight history when she outworked Denise Gomes over the course of three rounds for a unanimous decision.
Although the quality of Hill’s resume doesn’t match the two other names she’s tied with in former 115-pound champions Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Carla Esparza, she got there in her own way, and that’s with persistence and endurance.
Hill (16-13 MMA, 11-13 UFC) is the most active fighter in the history of the weight class – and leads the second person on the list by five appearances. She the Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone of strawweights if there ever was one, and that type of work etches its own place in history.
“Overkill” is about a serviceable a female fighter as the UFC has ever had. She’s not in the business of turning down fights no matter the circumstances, and she’s likely to remain a mainstay as long as she wants to keep going, especially because she’s performing at a fairly consistent level.
Caio Borralho's callout falls flat
This is by no means a criticism of Caio Borralho, but it feels like he could’ve been slightly more realistic with his post-fight callout after earning a unanimous decision win over Abus Magomedov.
Borralho (15-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) extended his winning streak to 14 fights overall, including five-straight to start his UFC tenure. He gave the Brazil crowd a rare effort on the night to get excited for, then afterward delivered a high-energy post-fight interview with Michael Bisping.
In that interview he directed a callout at Dricus Du Plessis, in a fight he argued would set him up for a shot at UFC middleweight gold. That plan seems perfect from his perspective, and if he got his wish, might work out the way he’s imagining. He’s said Du Plessis’ name on multiple occasions in the past, but at this moment in time, Borralho should be nowhere on DDP’s radar.
That’s no disrespect to the Brazilian, it’s just the reality. Du Plessis should be a strong candidate as the next title challenger to middleweight champion Sean Strickland, and at worst, he’s looking at a title eliminator against someone ranked far higher than Borralho.
It would’ve been nice to seem him take aim at someone more in his ballpark that’s still a step up, but it’s not a big deal. With his performances he’s earned that step up, anyway.
Nicolas Dalby pulls off a stunner
Nicolas Dalby delivered the high point of the card when he derailed the hype around unbeaten Brazilian standout Gabriel Bonfim with a thrilling comeback second-round TKO.
It was the biggest betting upset of the night, with Dalby (23-4-1 MMA, 7-3-1 UFC) being discounted as a mere stepping stone in Bonfim’s rise to glory. The durable Danish fighter had other plans, though, as he survived the early onslaught then put pressure on Bonfim in the second frame until he folded to a vicious series of knees.
Although Dalby has had his ups and downs during his career, he is on an overlooked run at welterweight with just one loss in his past 12 fights. That warrants the step up in competition he called for, especially given the nature of this win, and how it was his first finish inside the octagon.
No matter who Dalby gets put in there with, he’s going to be a tough out. He’s never been finished officially in a fight, and that means opponent will have to put him out if they want the pressure to stop. It’s impressive for a man who is just 11 days away from his 39th birthday.
Derrick Lewis shows improvements in defeat
We can spare all the gloom and doom about Derrick Lewis’ future and how he’s 1-4 in his past five fights for another story. His place in the heavyweight division should be obvious to anyone with common sense, but this performance, however lopsided it may have been, showed he’s not just here for the paycheck.
Lewis (27-12 MMA, 18-10 UFC) could’ve called it a day on countless occasions over the course of his 25-minute mauling at the hands of Almeida. He could’ve given up an easy submission or covered up for a TKO and taken the quicker route to his inevitable defeat – and don’t kid yourself if you think there aren’t people who expected that given how some of his other losses have gone.
Instead, Lewis did his best to remain composed and survive through every position. He held on to the fleeting chance of scoring a miraculous knockout during one of his few moments on the feet, and that got him to the scorecards without being finished.
It would’ve made everyone’s night a lot shorter and less agonizing if he’d just took the easy way out, but he didn’t, and that should silence anyone who questions the motives of “The Black Beast.”
Jailton Almeida gains experience, but loses stock
Since we’re keeping positive coming out of the lacklustre main event, let’s shift that to Jailton Almeida, who is going to get some critical feedback for his lack of killer instinct against Lewis, but will get a win out of this experience in the big picture.
Although it didn’t look great that Almeida (19-2 MMA, 6-0 UFC) spent much of the five-round headliner sitting on Lewis, the fact he went five rounds for the first time is only going to benefit the 32-year-old. He needed this if he wants to truly make a title run, the only downside is, it wasn’t a bout where he was pushed much in terms of pace.
He had to hold down a man nearly 30 pounds heavier than him down round-after-round, though, and that’s not easy. It certainly seemed like he could’ve and should’ve finished Lewis many times, though. He appeared lost when his variety of attacks failed to set up the stoppage, and someone at this level should have a deeper bag of tactics.
Almeida passed over many chances to open up with his ground strikes, which Lewis didn’t seem to like in the few times he took them. It’s not what the fans or UFC brass want to see out of someone who has star and championship potential, so, fair or not, his reputation maybe took a bit of a hit here.
That’s not the worst thing in the world, though, and gives Almeida a chance to build more currency around his name. The original main event for this card with Curtis Blaydes was perfect matchmaking, and many, including myself, want to see that revisited coming out of what we saw with Lewis.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 231.