There’s a new flyweight on the scene in the form of Ortiz. He’s on a four-fight winning streak and had an impressive TKO over Tome, a man who’d finished 28 of the 33 opponents he’d beaten. A match-up like Darrell Montague would make sense and he’s available for action early next year when Ortiz should be foaming at the bit for a battle. Sicilia’s win was not only big in that it came against a regional star in his proverbial backyard or because it involved a brutal strike-based stoppage but rather due to the fact it saved his job. The Ultimate Fighter 15 alumnus had fallen in consecutive clashes entering the effort and would have almost certainly been cut if he’d lost to “Pepey”. He’s obviously not in position to make a main card but Sicilia’s brand of slugging and willingness to engage should earn him a good fight. Jeremy Stephens would be fun based on his similar traits, though a lesser-known competitor along the lines of Steven Siler or Max Holloway is probably a more realistic option. Martins is entering his prime and it’s showing in the cage. He’s earned six straight victories including his Armbar of Cruickshank (the first time “The Detroit Superstar” had been stopped in the UFC). There are countless options out there at lightweight for Martins but he definitely needs to beat a few more foes to establish himself as a legit threat. Still, with back-to-back wins over Cruickshank and Jorge Gurgel, giving Martins a match-up with an established vet like Mark Bocek would work on multiple levels. After seeing his career as a lightweight take a nosedive, Stephens dropped down to 145 pounds and hasn’t looked back. Rather, he’s looked fantastic. He brutalized Estevan Payan in his divisional debut and laid out a very game “Jason” last night in less than a minute. With his status as an longtime UFC competitor he should be thrust into the spotlight right away. Give him a featured fight, even co-headliner, with the winner of Diego Brando-Dustin Porier or Cub Swanson and call it a day. Thatch’s finish of Thiago was a submission as much as a knockout based on the Brazilian’s reaction to eating a vicious knee to the midsection. Regardless, Thatch moved himself a few rungs up the divisional ladder by taking out such a game adversary in such sensational fashion. If Dan Hardy gets cleared to compete in the near future fans could see a meeting of the Mohawks, though in truth “The Outlaw” is unlikely to return any time soon if ever while dealing with a heart condition. As such, Martin Kampmann would be an intriguing opponent. He’s technically sound and hungry for a win after two straight stumbles, but he also has a questionable chin and enough name value to serve as a stepping stone for Thatch if “Rukus” is indeed a star in the making. Pokrajac never had much of a chance against “Feijao” but it was nice to see Cavalcante perform up to expectations after getting starched by Thiago Silva in his Octagon debut. He’s still a threat to most of his peers based on a slick submission game often overshadowed by his powerful stand-up. Then again, he’s also a threat to test positive for PEDs based on a slip up while in Strikeforce. A fight with Fabio Maldonado would be fun or possibly Ryan Jimmo based on availability and mid-card standing. There don’t seem to be many better home field advantages in MMA than Brazil is for Belfort. He’s 4-0 in his last four fights there with finishes in each including, of course, his handling of Henderson. The head kick knockout marked the first time Henderson had been stopped with strikes in his career and cemented Belfort’s spot as the top contender at 185 pounds regardless of what happens between Anderson Silva-Chris Weidman in December. His stand-up has never looked better, though of course things could change outside the friendly confines of his proverbial backyard.
It’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to the evening’s biggest winners at
. After all, nine of the eleven efforts involved finishes including UFC Fight Night 32 Vitor Belfort’s historic knockout of Dan Henderson in the main event. There was also an upset or two as well as the emergence of names to watch in 2014 like Brandon Thatch and Jeremy Stephens. It was an excellent show from top to bottom, giving fans in Brazil and tuning in at home plenty to cheer about on Saturday night. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images)