At UFC Sao Paulo on Saturday, the televised prelims were kicked off with welterweight action between Brazil’s Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and American Max “Pain” Griffin.
With both fighters coming into the night off a win, it was Zaleski dos Santos who was on a serious roll, having won three straight leading up to Saturday’s bout.
Griffin worked to hold the center of the octagon early, and was the aggresive fighter early on. Thirty seconds in, both men launched jumping knees at almost the same time. This one seemed like it could get interesting. Dos Santos was soon finding a home for his jab, which opened up a cut on Max Griffin. Griffin would look for a takedown, but could not convert it.
Dos Santos would take advantage of an off-balance Griffin around the midway mark, landing some heavy strikes. He’d add a knee, but a Griffin counter right would stun the Brazilian, and Griffin would pounce, getting on top. He could not work in any damage, however, and opted to let his opponent back up.
With a minute to go the fight became a stand and bang brawl, with Griffin wobbled from a punch to the side of the head. Dos Santos would get him down, adding strikes and then taking the back while Griffin did what he could to defend. Back on the feet, a knee to the body and another flurry of strikes followed. The ref moved in at the end of the round, arms waving, but was simply waving off the round not the fight.
In the second, the big question was whether Griffin had recovered. Dos Santos was throwing more heavy strikes, adding in spinning back kicks and takedown attempts. Griffin looked to be buying time, on his heels early in the round. He’d then catch Dos Santos with a right hand that gave the Brazilian pause. An ill-advised spinning back kick attempt by Dos Santos led to a knockdown for Griffin, who then looked to add damage. Both men were swinging hard, but it was an impossible pace. Both men had slowed a step by round’s end, but the most remarkable thing was Griffin still being in it.
It would be a battle of technique vs. heart in the third. Griffin continued to push forward, while Dos Santos mixed in spinning kicks with his more varied arsenal. A right followed by a left hook did damage for Griffin, but Dos Santos escaped. For a fight that looked to be on the verge of being stopped at the end of round one, it was shocking to see the action to go the distance.
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos def. Max Griffin by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-28)