Middleweight action on the UFC 257 preliminary card on Saturday saw Hawaii’s Brad Tavares up against Antonio Carlos Junior of Brazil.
“Shoe Face,” as Carlos Junior is otherwise known, was looking to bounce back from consecutive losses to Ian Heinisch and Uriah Hall that had halted a promising five-fight win streak. Tavares, meanwhile, found himself in a similar spot. His own four-fight winning streak had been stopped in its tracks by champ-to-be Israel Adesanya; a subsequent bout against top prospect Edmen Shahbazyan didn’t go the Hawaiian’s way either.
Taveres kicked off the contest looking to jab and land leg kicks, although Carlos Junior landed a nice combination before going for a single leg takedown against the fence. But Taveres defended it well and fired a leg kick after it. Taveres landed a straight and searched for another, and Carlos Junior ducked into into a body lock takedown. Taveres managed to deny the entry of Carlos Junior to stay on his feet. Taveres escaped the clinch and went back to work with those leg kicks. Carlos Junior attempted a double leg this time but Taveres defended it without issue for the third time in the round. Seconds left in the round Carlos Junior landed an accidential low blow from a clinch knee which led to Mark Goddard calling a timeout for Tavares. Tavares recovered quickly and was able to fight on and ended the round with a body kick.
Tavares managed to land a nice counter early in the second frame before he followed up with a straight punch and Carlos Junior got a takedown off it, although Tavares managed to get up before Carlos Junior secured position. Tavares managed to find the range for his right hand and landed it at will. Carlos Junior’s jab did find its home on Tavares’ face though. Taveres defended another takedown late in the second and landed a massive right hand which stunned Carlos Junior. The action was halted, however, when Carlos Junior received a low blow kick from Tavares. That gave him a timeout he would happily take to clear his head. Carlos Junior was able to continue and advanced into the third round.
Hawaii is claiming Fight Island this time!
🌺 @BradTavares with a massive shot to close RD 2.
— UFC (@ufc) January 24, 2021
Once again in the beginning of the third frame Carlos Junior was looking for the takedown, but Taveres’ defense was holding up. Carlos Junior was maintaining control against the fence for a few minutes though, landing a few short shots before Mark Goddard separated them. Tavares landed a nice counter knee as Carlos Junior entered range, followed by a right hand. Carlos Junior once again attempted a takedown with a minute to go in the final frame, but Tavares survived and stuffed his tenth takedown within the fight. The fight ended in the clinch. Taveres’ takedown defense was excellent in the fight and was a massive key towards his success.
Like he was never gone! Welcome back, @BradTavares 🌺
— UFC (@ufc) January 24, 2021
Official Result: Brad Tavares def. Antonio Carlos Junior via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)