UFC Fortaleza: Moraes beats the runs, then beats Assuncao in Brazil

UFC Fight Night in Fortaleza, Brazil had a little bit of something for everyone as the card delivered thrills, spills and action on Brazil's Atlantic coast…

Moraes has the magic

Brazilian bantamweight star “Magic” Marlon Moraes shook off the runs, then finished perennial contender Raphael Assuncao at UFC Fortaleza before calling out reigning UFC bantamweight world champion TJ Dillashaw.

Moraes’ first-round submission finish of Assuncao saw him complete a stunning hat-trick of first-round finishes over legitimate bantamweight contenders, and put him at the front of the queue of challengers to face Dillashaw for his UFC bantamweight title. He also did it after suffering with a dose of diarrhoea during fight week.

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Moraes’ last three matchups saw him knock out Americans Aljamain Sterling and Jimmie Rivera, then submit Assuncao as he cemented his place as the top contender for the title.

Now it will be interesting to see whether he gets his shot next, or whether he will lose out to UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo, who hails from the same management stable as the Brazilian.

Cejudo knocked out Dillashaw in just 32 seconds at UFC Brooklyn to prevent him from becoming a two-division champion, and then called for a rematch for Dillashaw’s belt at 135lbs.

That would mean Moraes might have to sit and wait for his shot. But whether he’s going to be fighting next, or waiting for the Cejudo-Dillashaw rematch, Moraes has definitely earned that shot at bantamweight gold.

Aldo’s still got it…

Former two-time UFC featherweight world champ Jose Aldo went into his co-main event bout with Renato Moicano as the betting underdog, but we told you heading into the game that there was still plenty of life in the old dog yet.

Thankfully for us, Aldo proved us to be absolutely bang on, as he battered Moicano to a TKO stoppage in the second round.

Aldo is winding down his career, but he’s clearly not interested in winding down his performance level, as he showed in the second round as he came storming out of his corner, blitzed the rising star with strikes and didn’t stop until the referee ended the fight.

Aldo wants his next fight in Brazil and, if a certain Irishman’s tweet is any guide, there’s just a slim chance he might have the opportunity to have it against his nemesis, Conor McGregor.

I was front row at octagonside when Conor starched Jose in 13 seconds at UFC 194, and while that win was as decisive as it gets, I still wanted to see how that fight would have played out if McGregor hadn’t caught Aldo cold.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll get to see, more than three years on. Jose seems game…

Johnny Walker scares us all

The UFC’s light-heavyweight division has been criticised a little for not being as talent-rich as some of the other weight classes in the UFC. But the return of Jon Jones has helped give the division the (USADA-approved) shot in the arm it desperately needed.

Now it looks like it might also be the division that features the most exciting, wild, downright scary prospect to emerge in the UFC in recent months.

British-based Brazilian Johnny Walker is a huge character, and a huge threat to anyone at 205lbs. He danced his way to the octagon to Snap’s 90’s classic “Rhythm Is A Dancer” and proceeded to demolish former boxer – and former UFC heavyweight – Justin Ledet in just 15 seconds.

In that short space of time Walker managed to connect with a spectacular hook kick, then a spinning backfist as he sent Ledet crashing to the canvas.

Walker then narrowly missed with a soccer kick that, had it connected with Ledet’s head, would have sent it into Row Z and seen him instantly disqualified. But, he regained his sanity a split-second later and finished the fight with ground strikes.

He’s exciting, he’s unpredictable and he’s scary – all the qualities of a potential UFC star of the future.

All he has to do now is keep winning…

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