Marlon Moraes’ long-awaited Ultimate Fighting Championship debut did not go according to plan, at least in the eyes of two judges.
Raphael Assuncao won for the ninth time in 10 outings, as he edged Moraes by split decision in the featured UFC 212 “Aldo vs. Holloway” prelim on Saturday at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro. Judges Guilherme Bravo and Phillipe Iorio struck 29-28 and 30-27 scorecards for Assuncao, while Fabio Alves saw it 29-28 for Moraes.
Neither man separated himself from the other in what was a closely contested matchup at 135 pounds. Moraes (18-5-1) leaned on a discernible speed advantage, countered effectively and fired off kicks to the body, head and legs. Assuncao (25-5) wobbled the former World Series of Fighting champion with a pair of right hands at the end of the first round, a shift in momentum that led to a tight middle frame that could have been scored either way. Round 3 was also difficult to call, though Moraes seemed to have an edge in output and damage.
The loss snapped Moraes’ 13-fight winning streak.
Surging Carlos Jr. Taps Spicely
American Top Team’s Antonio Carlos Jr. continued his recent surge at 185 pounds, as he submitted Eric Spicely with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their preliminary middleweight contest. Spicely (10-2) bowed out 3:49 into Round 2.
The two men jockeyed for leg locks for much of the first round before Carlos Jr. (8-2) advanced to the back and fished for a potential choke. It was a precursor for what was to come. “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3” winner pancaked into top position in the middle stanza, moved again to the back and secured his position with a body triangle. Carlos Jr. then snaked his arms into position for the squeeze and forced the tapout.
The 27-year-old Carlos Jr. has rattled off three straight victories since his March 2016 defeat to four-time Olympian Daniel Kelly.
Lopez Blasts Eduardo, Moves to 10-1
Matthew Lopez took care of Nova Uniao mainstay Johnny Eduardo with first-round punches in an undercard showdown at 135 pounds. Lopez (10-1) brought it to a close 2:57 into Round 1, as the Resurrection Fighting Alliance alum won for the second time in three appearances under the UFC banner.
Eduardo (28-11) rang the Arizona native’s bell with a few crisp right hands, but success proved fleeting. Lopez countered a low kick with a double-leg takedown, freed himself from an attempted heel hook and moved to an advantageous position. From there, he dropped a series of heavy hammerfists and unanswered left hands until referee Mario Yamasaki had seen enough.
Kelleher Guillotine Stuns Alcantara
Onetime Ring of Combat titleholder Brian Kelleher submitted the heavily favored Iuri Alcantara with a guillotine choke in the first round of their preliminary bantamweight tilt. A replacement for the injured Felipe Arantes, Kelleher (17-7) elicited the tapout 1:48 into Round 1.
Alcantara (34-8), who had not lost by submission since October 2009, was the aggressor form the outset. The 36-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt ripped into Kelleher with body kicks and straight left hands but shot for an ill-advised takedown. Alcantara was met immediately with the arm-in guillotine and tapped meekly, his modest two-fight winning streak at an end.
Kelleher, 30, has won seven bouts in a row.
Undefeated Pereira Downs Moyle
Former Bitetti Combat champion Viviane Pereira kept her professional record intact with a convincing unanimous decision over Jamie Moyle in a three-round undercard scrap at 115 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Pereira (13-0): 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.
Moyle (4-2) was powerless against an opponent who fired on all cylinders. Pereira controlled distance and chopped up the Syndicate MMA standout with accurate punching combinations, her attack spearheaded by a potent jab. The Brazilian also excelled in the clinch, where she battered Moyle’s body with knee strikes and kept her bottled up along the fence with underhooks and head control.
Chagas Choke Submits Wallhead
Luan Chagas submitted London Shootfighters rep “Judo” Jim Wallhead with a second-round rear-naked choke in a preliminary welterweight affair. Wallhead (29-11) conceded defeat 4:48 into Round 2, as the British Association of Mixed Martial Arts, M-1 Global and Bellator MMA veteran tapped for the first time in more than a decade.
Chagas (15-2-1) was superb. He fought effectively from orthodox and southpaw stances, countered beautifully and chewed up the Brit’s lead leg with inside and outside low kicks. Late in the second round, Chagas decked Wallhead with a left hook, pounced with punches and advanced immediately to the back, sinking the choke for the finish.
Wallhead, 33, remains winless in two starts inside the Octagon.
Unbeaten Figueiredo Sinks Beltran
Promotional newcomer Deiveson Figueiredo made a successful Octagon debut, as he disposed of Marco Beltran in their undercard pairing at 125 pounds. Referee Osiris Maia called a halt to the festivities in between the second and third rounds.
Figueiredo (12-0) executed multiple takedowns but turned up the heat in the middle stanza. There, the Marajo Brothers export dumped Beltran (8-5) to the mat and floated between full mount, back mount and half guard while threatening with an armbar, a rear-naked choke and a heel hook. After the two flyweights returned to their feet, Figueiredo clipped “The Ultimate Fighter Latin America” alum with a right uppercut, sent him to the canvas with follow-up punches and swarmed with ground-and-pound until the horn sounded, his offensive burst resulting in a nasty vertical gash on Beltran’s forehead. Maia waved it off soon after.