It was a good night for South American fighters at UFC Vegas 53, and for Brazilian athletes in particular.
The Fight Night card, much maligned ahead of the event, proved action-packed from start to finish. Four finishes in five preliminary card fights started the night strong, and the action thankfully carried over to the main card on ESPN.
For the most part, even the few fights that went the distance entertained. Andrei Arlovski vs. Jake Collier, the evening’s co-main event, was more entertaining than it had any right to be, with “The Pitbull” proving that at age 43, his chin remains intact. He ate a number of hard shots from Collier, but in the end walked out with a split decision win. That, by the way, was UFC fight number 38 for Arlovski, placing him second all-time behind Jim Miller.
Earlier on the card, Natan Levy and Mike Breeden fought in a fun lightweight scrap that had Fight of the Night potential. At least until the main event between Rob Font and Marlon Vera rolled around. That bantamweight showdown blew just about everyone’s socks off; if you weren’t entertained, you were probably dead.
Font started strong in the opening round, falling back on his boxing and pouring on considerable volume. Vera, however, survived, and from rounds two to four, dropped Font at the end of each round. While he couldn’t find the finish, Font would enter round five looking something like Frankenstein’s monster. More impressively, each one of those knockdowns by Vera had been from a different method.
Ecuador’s Vera would come away with the unanimous decision win, and doubled up on Fight of the Night. That’s after Font came in heavy at Friday’s weigh-in. As a result, Vera gets his opponent’s bonus on top of his own.
Performance of the Night bonuses at UFC Vegas 53 went to Joanderson Brito and Francisco Figueiredo. The Brazilian pair both showed up and showed out, with Figueiredo submitting Alex Da Silva with a kneebar early in the first round of their flyweight fight.
Featherweight Brito, meanwhile, made short work of 145 pound staple Andre Fili on the main card, securing the TKO finish in just 41 seconds.
Brito and Figueiredo will pocket an additional $50,000 for their efforts. Vera, meanwhile, gets a full $100,000.