Former UFC champions Lyoto Machida and Renan Barao successfully rebounded from their respective title fight defeats with big victories at UFC Fight Night 58 on Saturday night at the Jose Correa Arena in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
A Quick Win
Machida, a former UFC light heavyweight champion,scored the fastest finish of his impressive career. He knocked out #10 ranked C.B. Dollaway in just 62 seconds, hurting his American opponent with a devastating left kick to the body which virtually ended the fight. Machida’s kick landed perfectly on Dollaway’s liver, just below the right side of his rib cage. He grimaced in pain and as he fell down, the Dragon punched him out before the fight was halted.
It was Machida’s first fight since losing a close Fight of the Year candidate title match to Chris Weidman at UFC 175 last July. Machida improved his record to 22-5. It was only the 9th knockout of Machida’s career and his 11th stoppage overall. But it was the most impressive one to date because the Dragon was untouched. Fightmetric stats had Machida landing 12/19 strikes while Dollaway was unable to connect on a single strike.
On the other hand, Renan Barao needed three rounds to dispose of Mitch Gagnon’s challenge. The former UFC bantamweight champion submitted the tough Canadian via arm triangle choke at the 3:53 mark of the third round. Barao engaged Gagnon in a striking match and dropped his opponent with a counter left hook in round one. Gagnon proved to be a tough cookie and was able to withstand Barao’s attacks. Although he never put Barao in serious trouble, Gagnon was able to connect on left hooks and uppercuts as he kept on pressing forward. He even tried to take Barao down but was unsuccessful in 7 tries. According to fightmetric, Gagno outstruck Barao 66-64 in the fight but in the end, Barao proved to be too much of a classy fighter as he secured a deep choke that caused the tap out.
It was also Barao’s first fight since losing his bantamweight title to T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 173 last May. That loss snapped Barao’s 30 fight invincibility in the Octagon and was his first taste of defeat since his pro debut in 2005. Barao and Dillashaw were supposed to fight in a rematch at UFC 177 but Barao was hospitalized after fainting during the weigh-in as a result of weight cut. The submission was Barao’s 15th overall and it was his 23rd stoppage in 33 wins.
With their victories, the two former champions have returned to the winner’s circle and put themselves in a position to fight for the title again. Barao called out T.J. Dillashaw after the bout saying that he wants his belt back. Dillashaw was expected to defend the belt against another former champion, Dominick Cruz, the man from whom Barao took over as champion after Cruz was stripped of the title because of injury. But because of Cruz’s Monday announcement that he suffered another ACL tear, Barao ‘s victory though puts him on line to possibly face Dillashaw next.
Machida’s route to the title may be farther than Barao’s. Weidman will defend his middleweight belt against Vitor Belfort at UFC 184 in February. The number two contender Jacare Souza is likely next in line to fight for the belt. Immediately after Machida’s win, #5 ranked Luke Rockhold issued a challenge to Machida via twitter. Although Machida said he’ll leave that to UFC president Dana White, that seems to be the next logical big bout at middleweight and it should inch the Dragon closer to another shot at a title.
Between the two Brazilian former champions, who do you think will win a UFC, Ultimate Fighting Championship belt one more time?