Time to Impress in Natal (UFC Fight Night 38 Review)

ufc_fn38When trying to match the excitement from a legendary fight it can be a lot of pressure on the fighters. That is what Dan Henderson and Mauricio Rua were looking to do at UFC Fight Night 38 when they would square off in a rematch of a classic. At UFC 139 Henderson and Rua would put on a slugfest that is now considered one of the best fights in MMA history. After a few years both fighters would get the chance to redo the fight and bring about another classic. It is always a test when that type of pressure is on a fighter as it becomes a lot more than just trying to win a fight. Instead it turns into a chance to recreate the magic that would highlight their first fight. That can lead some fighters to go for the KO or try to enter a slugfest without timing their attacks properly. When a fighter is more calculated it does not mean that they are boring but instead picking their time to come forward and end the fight. That all goes out the window if the fighter is trying to create fireworks and more often than not they end up on the losing end of the exchange. All of that pressure to create another classic would have been big if either of these fighters were at the start or the middle of their careers but that was not the case at UFC Fight Night 38. The two fighters trying to create another legendary fight were likely more concerned about simply getting the win as both Henderson and Rua had not had the best times since they last fought. For Rua it has been a decent stretch with two wins and two losses to keep his hopes at another title run alive. The 32-year-old Brazilian still has some years left in the tank but two losses to Alexander Gustafsson and Chael Sonnen would hurt his chance of returning to the title conversation any time soon. Avenging his loss to Henderson would do something for him though and would create a two-fight winning streak that could enter him into the conversation for a packed title race in the Light Heavyweight division. For Henderson the fight was much more important as the 43-year-old Henderson is on a three fight losing streak since beating Rua and could be headed the way of Chuck Liddell. At the end of Liddell’s career he would continue to lose and continue to lose bad forcing the UFC to suggest his retirement rather than hurt his legend. Henderson may be close as he was knocked out for the first time in his career in his latest loss against Vitor Belfort. If he would suffer another loss at the hands of Rua, especially if it was an early finish, the UFC may have begun to suggest that he leaves before his legend is destroyed. Both fighters were looking to get the win for different reasons but both were important as the future of their careers was there. For Rua it was a chance to get out of the middle of the pack in the division while for Henderson it was about staving off potential forced retirement. The first fight was a stand up brawl but with both fighters knowing a bit more you could expect they would change their ways slightly. Henderson won the fight thanks to his standup last fight and so he would likely be ready to do it again but improve on taking less damage. For Rua the strategy should have been to look to take the fight to the ground where he had his success in their last fight. The strategies would have been made beforehand but when the cage door closes those plans can be gone fairly quickly. Whatever each fighter decided to do it was going to be a matchup of even fighters that many hoped would at least come close to their war from UFC 139 and they would not be disappointed. The fight was much of the same as their first time around as the strategies clearly went out of the window. Shogun would try to take the fight to the ground but could not get it there as Henderson would keep the fight standing. Once again it would turn out to be a brawl with both fighters taking the advantage at different times. As the fight moved on it seemed like Rua was gaining the advantage almost ending the fight in the second round with a big uppercut that dropped Henderson. Hendo would survive to fight another round which would prove to be beneficial as he would unleash a big right hand that would send Rua flying back. As Henderson attacked the downed Rua the referee would end the fight giving Henderson the win once again. The loss for Rua means another step backwards in what he was hoping would be the start of another title run. There is still time for him to come back and make another run despite this loss as he will return as a top fighter in the division. Meanwhile Henderson continues to extend his career ending a three fight win streak and showing that he can still finish fights. There is still work to do if he wants to get into the title conversation but another win over Rua is a good start in his attempt to fight for the UFC title.

As usual the UFC would load the card with Brazilian fighters to give the hometown crowd plenty to cheer about. That is an easy thing to do for the UFC as there are plenty of great fighters from the country but the UFC Fight Night 38 fight card would not feature many massive names. Aside from Mauricio Rua there were no major names from Brazil. Instead the UFC decided to highlight some of the young Brazilians who may eventually make an impact on the UFC. These fighters would look to take their chance at impressing the UFC and earning bigger fights on bigger cards. The first fight of the night would do exactly that as Godofredo Pepey would earn a first round KO over Noad Lahat to begin a night with plenty of chances to impress. Jussier Formiga would follow Pepey’s performance up with a first round submission of Scott Jorgensen earning him the cheers of the Brazilian fans and the attention of the UFC. Ronny Markes would completely squander his chance to impress again as he would miss weight and would lose his fight early. On the other hand Thiago Santos would impress in his destruction of Markes as he would not let the weight issue get to him and would end the fight with a first round TKO that would be the biggest win of his career against another promising Brazilian. The main card would see some impressive wins as well with Rony Jason earning a TKO win, however controversial it was, and Fabio Maldonado, not among the young guns of Brazil, would put on great performances for the UFC. The one fighter that many were looking to as the best bet to impress in his home country was Cezar Ferreira who seemed to be on his way to greatness. He would look to make that impression but instead it was his opponent CB Dollaway that would take advantage earning a first round TKO. Despite the loss by one of the favorites in the fight card the Brazilian fighters were successful and did make an impression. It was a night of great finishes and more often than not the Brazilians were on the winning side. The fight card was full of Brazilian fighters trying to make an impression and many did as the spiritual home of the UFC would deliver once again and will continue to deliver great fighters and great performances.


Fight Bonuses

Performance of the Night
It was Godofredo Pepey’s chance to impress the UFC and he would do it in a big way with an electrifying knockout to open the night against Noad Lahat that would earn him a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus

Performance of the Night
Dan Henderson’s career seemed to be winding down after three straight losses but his efforts would keep his career alive and would earn him a bonus that would continue his legend earning an extra $50,000 on the night

Fight of the Night
Although Mauricio Rua would take another loss at the hands of Dan Henderson he would not leave without something extra earning another Fight of the Night Bonus alongside Dan Henderson


Fight Results

Main Event:
Dan “Hendo” Henderson def. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
(TKO; Rd. 3)

Main Card:
CB “The Doberman” Dollaway def. Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira
(TKO; Rd. 1)

Leonardo Santos vs. “Stormin” Norman Parke
(Majority Draw)

Fabio Maldonado def. Gian Villante
(Unanimous Decision)

Michel “Tractor” Prazeres def. Mairbek “Beckan” Taisumov
(Unanimous Decision)

Rony Jason def. “Super” Steven Siler
(TKO; Rd. 1)

Thiago “Marreta” Santos def. Ronny Markes
(TKO; Rd. 1)

Jussier Formiga def. Scott “Young Guns” Jorgensen
(Submission; Rear Naked Choke, Rd. 1)

Kenny Robertson def. Thiago “Bodão” Perpétuo
(Submission; Rear Naked Choke, Rd. 1)

Hans Stringer def. Francimar “Bodao” Barraso
(Split Decision)

Godofredo Pepey def. Noad “Neo” Lahat
(KO; Rd. 1)


Upcoming Events 

UFC Fight Night 40: Nogueira vs. Nelson (Friday April 11th; 2:00 pm ET)
Abu Dhabi, UAE (du Arena)
Main Event: Minotauro Nogueira vs. Roy “Big Country” Nelson
Notable: Clay “The Carpenter” Guida vs. Tatsuya “The Crusher” Kawajiri
Notable: John “Doomsday” Howard vs. Ryan LaFlare

TUF Nations Finale (Wednesday April 16th; 7:00 pm ET)
Quebec City, Quebec (Collisee Pepsi)
Main Event: Michael “The Count” Bisping vs. Tim Kennedy
Notable: Chad Laprise vs. TBD [TUF Nations Welterweight Title]
Notable: TUF Nations Middleweight Championship [Matchup TBD]

UFC on Fox: Werdum vs. Browne (Saturday April 19th; 8:00 pm ET)
Orlando, Florida (Amway Center)
Main Event: Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum vs. Travis “Hapa” Browne
Notable: Miesha “Cupcake” Tate vs. Liz “Girlrilla” Carmouche
Notable: Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs. Edson “Junior” Barboza

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