Marcelo Guimaraes choked Lucas Rota out to claim Jungle Fight's 185-pound title. | Photo: Colin Foster
ITU, Brazil -- A master of ground-and-pound and one of Brazil's toughest wrestlers, Marcelo "Magrao" Guimaraes kept his unbeaten record and became Jungle Fight's first-ever middleweight champion on Saturday night, submitting Lucas Rota in the main event of Jungle Fight 31.
Boos showered the Jose de Moraes Barros Gymnasium early, as the 28-year-old Guimaraes took Rota down and controlled him on the floor. Guimaraes' strategy didn't seem to change from his recent fights, until in the last moments of the first round he dove for a kneebar, showing sudden aggression.
In the second round, Rota took the initiative and tried to land a flying knee, but it was perfect defended by Guimaraes, who immediately took the former Anderson Silva training partner down again. Contrary to expectations, Guimaraes threatened with a kimura and an armbar before taking Rota's back, and sinking the rear-naked choke. Rota did not tap, but went unconscious, forcing referee Marcos Vinicius to rescue him at 3:07 of the second round.
Jungle Fight's first two champions -- former lightweight champion Yuri "Marajo" Alcantara and welterweight champion Erick Silva -- have both signed with the UFC. After the fight, the new champ asked for his own shot in the Octagon.
“I came to this fight to submit him or knock him out. I knew he was a BJJ brown belt and muay Thai specialist, but I'm a BJJ black belt," the new champion told Sherdog.com. "I did the right thing, to take him down and wait for the chance to submit. Now, I want to follow my friend Erick Silva's steps in the UFC."
"I believe Brazil needs more representatives at middleweight," added Guimaraes, now 7-0-1 in his MMA career.
A Junior dos Santos' training partner at Champion Team in Bahia, Kleber Orgulho took tough Brazilian heavyweight Edson "Conterraneo" Franca the distance, earning a unanimous decision.
Much better physically prepared than his opponent, the leaner Orgulho worked on his boxing, combining straights and uppercuts not unlike "Cigano" himself. In the second round, "Conterraneo" was completely exhausted and was easy prey for Orgulo's boxing.
However, the popular Franca, a construction worker by day, showed lots of heart to keep standing as Orgulho damaged him with repeated combinations. Franca dropped levels for takedowns, but they were all easily denied.
With the decision win, Orgulho moved his record to 7-3. Following the bout, Jungle Fight promoter Wallid Ismail announced that the Bahia, Brazil, native will drop to 205 pounds and take part in Jungle Fight's next title tournament, which will be in the light heavyweight division.
The event's other standout was Sao Paulo-based welterweight Gil de Freitas. After two straight losses, including a defeat to Erick Silva in Jungle Fight's welterweight title final, de Freitas showed surprising striking in his win over Marinho Rocha.
Usually known for his positional grappling, the Barbosa MMA product dropped Rocha early in the second round, and pounded away viciously until referee Douglas Ayres rescued Rocha just 37 seconds into the frame.
The crowd came to life when local Itu favorite Douglas Bertazini took on Brasilia native Joni Eduardo. Bertazini started slow, but the welterweight rallied behind the local crowd to earn the unanimous decision with his striking.
Peruvian lightweight Diego "Akita" Jauregui earned a hard-fought split decision over grappler Fernando Kioshi, avoiding Kioshi's early submissions and outstriking him on the feet to take the close nod from the judges.
In the opening bout of the evening, Assis' Joao Paulo Pereira overcame an early knockdown to sink a rear-naked choke on Marcelo Cruz in an exciting light heavyweight content. The end came at 3:37 of the first round.