The UFC’s return weekend to Brazil, UFC Sao Paulo, didn’t get off to the best of starts on Friday, as multiple fighters missed weight for their bouts, resulting in last minute cancellations.
As well as that, midway through the event, fans were notified of another fight cancellation as Rodolfo Vieira versus Armen Petroysan fell on the final hour.
Let’s take a look at what could be next for the winners on the night.
Originally slated to take on Curtis Blaydes, “Malhadinho” was dealt a late change of opponent a few weeks prior to his date in the Octagon. Fortunately for him, Derrick Lewis put his name in the hat and spared the event of losing a home country as the main event billing.
Despite Almeida dominating for five rounds and winning the fight on a decision, it’s a performance that has left a lot of fans scratching their heads. The Brazilian accumulated over 21 minutes of control time, but at no point did he look to advance to finish the fight. Throughout the five rounds, the 32-year-old landed just 38 significant strikes to the submissive Lewis.
Because of his performance, I find it unlikely that the UFC is going to scramble to turn him around rapidly, and they will likely assess their options for Almeida tentatively.
Almeida called for a fight with Ciryl Gane next, but Gane went on record after his win over Spivac, saying he only wants a fight with someone ahead of him in the rankings. Of course that may be wishful thinking, but it is unlikely that he accepts a fight with a grappling specialist who is multiple ranks below him.
That brings me back to Curtis Blaydes. Originally this was set to be an extremely intriguing affair, and was a relatively big step-up for Almeida. I say rebook that fight for when Blaydes is healthy and see if “Malhadinho” can impress the masses with a performance over “Razor” Blaydes.
Almeida’s Next Fight: Curtis Blaydes
The Dane, Dalby, pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year, finishing the high flying Gabriel Bonfim in the third round of their welterweight bout.
With that, the 38-year-old extended his win streak to four, taking out some solid opponents on his way. Unfortunately for “Danish Dynamite”, the turn of form in his career has likely come too late for him to emerge into the rankings. Having said that, there are still a multitude of fun fights for the energiser.
Someone who is in a similar position of sorts, is Gunnar Nelson. That to me, sounds like it could be fun.
Dalby’s Next Fight: Gunnar Nelson
Extending his win streak to three, Rodrigo Nascimento dominated Don’Tale Mayes, picking up a unanimous decision victory. The fight came as a rematch that really didn’t need to be made, but Nascimento put a stamp on the dull ‘rivalry’.
The Brazilians prior two wins came by way of split decision, but fortunately for him and the home crowd, this time it was more cut and dry.
Next for Nascimento, I could see the UFC matching him up with someone like Alexander Romanov or Blagoy Ivanov, to see if he can push to the next stage.
Nascimento’s Next Fight: Alexander Romanov
The enigmatic, Borralho, continued his unbeaten UFC run with an impressive win over the dangerous, Abus Magomedov.
With the Brazilian chaining together impressive performances, I wouldn’t be surprised if they started edging him towards the top 15 of the middleweight division. Optimistically after the fight, the 30-year-old called for a fight with Dricus Du Plessis, who has now been confirmed as Sean Strickland’s next opponent, booked for UFC 297.
It would make far more sense for Borralho’s next fight to be against someone like Nassourdine Imavov or Chris Curtis. Take your pick on which one. I am going to go with Nassourdine Imavov.
Borralho’s Next Fight: Nassourdine Imavov
Topping off a perfect 2023, Elves Brenner scored a picture perfect left hook knockout, finishing the debuting, Kaynan Kruschewsky.
It is unlikely we see the 26-year-old before the end of the year, unless he decides to step in on late notice against another lightweight. Originally, Brenner was scheduled to take on Esteban Ribovics, but the Argentinian pulled out of the bout late notice, leaving the UFC to book this catchweight bout.
If the UFC opt against re-booking Brenner and Ribovics, I wouldn’t mind seeing Brenner against someone like Thiago Moises.
Brenner’s Next Fight: Thiago Moises