What’s Next For The Winners at UFC Fortaleza?
By Myles Hutton
In the past weekend, the famous UFC octagon returned to Fortaleza, Brazil for the first time since 2017. This trip however, was headlined by two of the best bantamweights in the world: Raphael Assuncao and ‘Magic’ Marlon Moraes.
The co-main event saw one of the best featherweights of all time if not, the very best 145lbs champion in MMA history, Jose Aldo take on one of the hottest prospects coming out of Brazil and Miami’s American Top Team in Renato Moicano.
The entire card was stacked from start to finish with raw talent, from seasoned veterans to highly touted debutants, and even former title challengers and champions. In this article, I look at what’s next for the main card winners at UFC Fortaleza.
Main Event: Marlon Moraes def Raphael Assuncao via Submission- Guillotine Choke.
The rematch. When this bout first got announced by UFC officials and MMA sources, fight fans deemed it as a #1 contender fight. With some debate regarding flyweight king Henry Cejudo potentially moving up to bantamweight to rematch 135 lbs champ TJ Dillashaw in a champ vs champ matchup.
It was vital both fighters put on a great performance to persuade the boss Dana White that they deserve the next shot at the title, and Moraes did just that. Another first round finish, this time via submission, the Brazilian rose to the occasion yet, and in my opinion, almost certainly earned himself the next shot at Dillashaw. I believe this fight makes most sense because after losing his long-awaited debut to ‘one’ Raphael Assuncao by split decision, Moraes has finished his last 3 fights in the first round, and that’s one thing we don’t often see in the lower weight divisions, especially in cagy affairs with fighters at the top of their divisions, who can not afford to make mistakes which may cost them title shots in the near future.
Jose Aldo def Renato Moicano via TKO:
In most peoples eyes, the best featherweight of all time kicked off his 2019 campaign with an emphatic stoppage of fellow Brazilian prospect Renato Moicano. After losing two in a row to current champion Max Holloway, to then go on to finish his last 2 opponents by knockout. I personally feel like Aldo is still one of the best fighters in the UFC, even after his shocking defeats in recent years, however I think he needs one more fight before challenging the champion. Featherweight is currently stacked with huge talents with a variety of styles, and many people could argue that there are other fighters who deserve a title shot over Aldo. Due to this, I would match Aldo up against Brian Ortega. This fight would be fireworks, with both guys possessing great MMA in all departments.
Demian Maia def Lyman Good via Submission- Standing Rear Naked Choke
Perhaps the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner in the UFC today, when Demian Maia takes your back and wraps you up, it’s certainly game over. And he showed just that vs Lyman Good. Maia, who has recently struggled against top-level wrestlers in his previous outings, faced off against the experienced and powerful striker Good, in a fight which didn’t last long at all. Maia immediately looked for the single leg then once accomplished, slowly progressed to the back, locked in the choke and got the tap with his astonishing squeeze. In his post fight octagon interview with former middleweight champion Michael Bisping, 41-year-old BJJ ace Maia began to mention that he has 2 fights left on his contract, and retirement is certainly on the horizon. I believe a matchup against Michael Chiesa would be an awesome watch. Chiesa is widely known for his own submissions, but I feel like he would need to keep this one standing!
Charles Oliveira def David Teymur via Submission- Anaconda Choke
Yet another Brazilian Jiu Jitsu star, fighting out of.. yes you named it, Brazil! ‘Do Bronx’ faced tough Muay Thai kickboxer David Teymur, who was on an 8 fight winning streak before bumping into Oliveira. A traditional ‘Striker vs Grappler’ matchup, Oliveira definitely had the advantage in the grappling department on paper, but he does have an underrated striking game, simply because of his amazing background in BJJ. His opponents tend to avoid the ground at all costs and forget about his striking and clinch work, and this affected Teymur in this fight. The ‘Swede’ was rocked with a barrage of strikes before Oliveira locked in the finishing submission. He is known for his inconsistency when fighting ranked opponents, but I feel Oliveira is on the verge of having a number next to his name in his own right. A group matchup would be Oliveira vs Dagastan’s Islam Makhachev. Both have a tremendous grappling ability but in different ways; the winner of this bout would certainly be ranked and go on to face big names in the lightweight division in the near future.
Johnny Walker def Justin Ledet via KO
The best knockout of 2019 so far goes to fans favourite, Johnny Walker. Born in Brazil but fighting out of England and Thailand, Walker put the light heavyweight division on blast in his debut vs Khalil Rountree, knocking him out with a vicious elbow at UFC Buenos Aires.
This was followed by a huge ‘hype train’; fans were desperate to see him make the walk again. This man has everything, the height, the reach, the power in both hands, the flexibility in his kicks and even a BJJ brown belt. I am so eager to see him compete again soon, perhaps against a ranked opponent.
It would not surprise me to see the UFC start to push this man like they did to Darren Till vs Cowboy, giving him great opportunities which will help him grow and gain a huge name within the organisation. I’d love to see Walker face a grappler in his next outing, perhaps Aleksandar Rakic or Misha Cirkunov, who is a top 15 ranked fighter. Walker hasn’t been tested in his short UFC career so far, it would be good for him and his career if he was to deal with some type of adversity in his next fight.
Other fights to make after UFC Fortaleza:
Markus Pérez vs Khalid Murtazaliev
Thiago Alves vs Jordan Mein/Alex Morono
Jairzinho Rosenstruik vs Allen Crowder
Said Nurmagomedov vs Brad Katona/Tom Duquesnoy