Silence Falls in Curitiba

ufc-198The UFC’s world tour continues as they just left Rotterdam where they featured some great Dutch fighters and now back to Brazil in a record breaking card.

Brazil has long been a centre for the sport as it was always the place that the UFC went when they weren’t in the USA.

At UFC 198 they decided to travel to Curitiba, long considered a major fight centre in the country as one of the original cities to produce fighters

The night was a big one for Brazilian MMA as the UFC hadn’t been to Brazil since November instead deciding to go throughout the USA and Europe.

The UFC returned in a big way as they went to Arena da Baixada, the first time they have ever held an event in a soccer stadium.

They were going for a big comeback to the country and they did well selling out within the first hour to get the biggest crowd ever in Brazil and the third largest crowd in UFC history.

It helped that they stacked the card with big fights that included at least one Brazilian in every fight.

One of the biggest fights was the UFC debut of a superstar in Brazil and the woman who could go down as the greatest female fighter in the history of the UFC, although her legacy could be tarnished with multiple failed drug tests.

Cristiane Justino has run through every promotion she has been a part of as the most vicious striker in the women’s game.

Better known as Cyborg, Justino has rarely seen much of a challenge in her fights and signed a Zuffa contract with Invicta only to become the featherweight champion.

Although she is a draw there is no featherweight division for women in the UFC and there simply is not enough talent at that weight to justify creating one.

Instead, Cyborg moved into the UFC at a catchweight against the only woman to accept the fight, Leslie Smith.

It was going to be a challenge for Smith to fight one of the greatest women’s fighters ever in a hostile environment but she took the challenge.

A win would launch her into stardom as only the second fighter to beat Cyborg and the first since 2005.

Of course, the sell-out crowd was firmly behind the Brazilian hoping to see their home favourite get another win this time in the biggest MMA promotion in the world.

It turned out to be what most people thought it would be as Cyborg made quick work of Leslie Smith with superior boxing.

There has to be something said to the fact that Smith accepted a fight that no other woman reportedly wanted but she didn’t have what it took to beat the best in the world.

Once Cyborg got going Smith couldn’t land punches and she took some big shots before the referee jumped in to stop the fight.

It was what most people expected and if the UFC can find other fighters to take catchweight fights against Cyborg she might just run through the best of the best in the UFC.

After Cyborg’s debut, the Brazilian crowd was treated to two more fights but were all focusing on the main event where one of only two Brazilian UFC champions was set to defend his belt.

It wasn’t long ago that Brazilians ruled the championship list but after Fabricio Werdum took the heavyweight belt in 2015 Brazil stood at just two champions.

The Brazilian fans were hoping to make the heavyweight reign last and after waiting they finally got to see Werdum defend his belt for the first time.

He was set to take on American, Stipe Miocic who forced the UFC to give him his shot after two straight wins against Andrei Arlovski and Mark Hunt.

Particularly after the fight against Arlovski where Miocic destroyed the former champion in under a minute, Miocic went to octagon side where Dana white was sitting and demanded a shot.

Although he wasn’t set to get his shot after that fight, the UFC originally scheduled a Cain Velasquez rematch for Werdum, injuries put him in line.

Even after Werdum was injured delaying the fight, Miocic was willing to wait and get his shot in Brazil.

Just like for Smith against Justino it was going to be a test for Miocic who had to take on a champion that was only now finding his boxing ability and counts among the best BJJ practitioners in the UFC.mma-sidebar.fw

The World Champion in BJJ was set to defend his belt for the first time and get the lethargic heavyweight division started up again in front of a sold out stadium all behind their Brazilian champion.

The fight started out well enough as Werdum was doing what he wanted with Miocic not really getting much going.

Then Werdum began getting more comfortable and started coming forward to challenge Miocic but it turned out to be his undoing.

In his first exchange, Miocic caught him and it seemed like Werdum was looking to get that back with his second run forward.

That is when Miocic launched a great hook that dropped Werdum immediately and ended the fight bringing an eerie silence to the record crowd.

For the heavyweight division, it makes things a lot more interesting as Miocic begins his reign and has plenty of challengers to get through.

One of those challengers will be Werdum who is sure to be back in the title conversation sooner rather than later.

After a night of showcasing Brazilian talent where almost every Brazilian won the night ended with a quiet crowd after one of the two Brazilian champions lost his belt.

It was still a great night where Brazil showed that their passion for the sport will never wane no matter how long it takes to get back to the country.

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Comments
One Response to “Silence Falls in Curitiba”
  1. This is one of the better MMA write-ups I’ve come across in a while. Looks like you’ve got lots of solid hockey coverage on the blog too. Looking forward to following!

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