On the night of November 4, 2023, the Ibirapuera Gymnasium in São Paulo, Brazil, bore witness to a tactical battle in the Heavyweight division as Jailton Almeida squared off against Derrick Lewis at UFC São Paulo. On one side stood Derrick Lewis, a fighter with a reputation for thunderous power, and on the other, Jailton Almeida, a grappling maestro with an impressive streak within the octagon. The fight was poised as a classic striker versus grappler matchup—a narrative that has always captivated the fight world.
As the combatants engaged, Almeida’s strategy became evident. The Brazilian executed a perfectly timed high kick followed by a double leg takedown that would set the precedent for the remainder of the fight. His early mount and transition to an arm triangle attempt showcased a fluidity that belied the division’s standards for agility. Though Lewis managed to escape, it was clear that Almeida had come to impose his will on the mat.
Despite Lewis’s defensive fortitude, Almeida dominated the first round with his grappling prowess, spending a significant portion in the mount and signaling to the judges his control over the bout. The Black Beast’s spirited defenses were noteworthy, but Almeida’s consistent pressure seemed to foreshadow an inevitable submission that never came.
The rounds that followed echoed the first, with Almeida continuing his grappling clinic. The Brazilian’s capacity to repeatedly secure the mount and back positions against a competitor of Lewis’s caliber was a testament to his elite level of ground control. Yet, with every passing minute, it became increasingly apparent that Almeida was content with control over damage or finish—a decision that would draw criticism despite the technical mastery it displayed.
Almeida’s hesitance to fully engage in a ground-and-pound assault or to risk position for submission attempts against Lewis led to an oddly passive affair, with Almeida in mount for an estimated 18 of the 25 minutes. In a sport where fans and pundits often equate ground dominance with the expectation of a finish, the Brazilian’s approach was met with mixed reactions. The display of such dominance without the payoff of a finish left a complex narrative in its wake.
The fight served as a reminder that MMA can be as much a chess match as a brawl. Almeida’s calculated moves and Lewis’s resilience turned the fight into a spectacle of strategy over sheer violence. Yet, the lack of finishing aggression from Almeida’s corner perplexed many, considering his history of more dynamic ground striking.
After the final bell, the result was indisputable. Almeida had dominated Lewis to such an extent that two of the judges awarded him 10-8 rounds, signifying a lopsided affair. With this victory, Almeida not only extended his win streak but also solidified his position in the heavyweight rankings. However, the fight also raised questions about what is valued more in the sport—dominance or damage.
Earlier in the week, Almeida had spoken to Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports about his future ambitions, expressing a desire to be a standby for the UFC 295 co-main event. Yet, after a grueling 25 minutes in the octagon, doubts were cast about his readiness for such an opportunity.
The event’s co-main event contrasted starkly with the headliner, as Nicolas Dalby and Gabriel Bonfim delivered a display of stylistic divergence that thrilled the fans. Dalby’s second-round triumph by TKO was met with euphoria as he halted Bonfim’s previously undefeated record, aligning with the Danish fighter’s proclamation of making the bout a ‘dogfight.’
The rest of the card offered a gamut of outcomes that painted a vivid picture of the night’s action. Elves Brener’s knockout, Rodrigo Nascimento’s and Caio Borralho’s unanimous decision victories, and Vitor Petrino’s highlight-reel finish added layers to the narrative of UFC São Paulo. The event also gave a nod to the growing presence of women in the sport, with Eduarda Moura and Angela Hill earning decisive victories in their respective bouts.
However, it was the majority draw between Rinat Fakhretdinov and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos that stirred discussions on scoring in MMA, reminding fans and fighters alike of the sport’s unpredictability and the fine margins that can separate victory from stalemate.
UFC São Paulo Full Results
- In the Heavyweight division, Jailton Almeida defeated Derrick Lewis via a unanimous decision, with scores of 50-44, 50-44, and 50-45.
- The Welterweight clash saw Nicolas Dalby defeat Gabriel Bonfim through a TKO due to strikes at the 4:33 mark of the second round.
- Rodrigo Nascimento emerged victorious over Don’Tale Mayes in another Heavyweight bout, winning by unanimous decision with the judges scoring the contest 30-27, 29-28, and 29-28.
- Middleweight fighter Caio Borralho defeated Abus Magomedov, also by unanimous decision, with scores of 30-27 and two counts of 29-28 in his favor.
- At a Catchweight of 165 pounds, Elves Brener defeated Kaynan Kruschewsky, securing a knockout with a left hand just over four minutes into the first round.
- A Welterweight bout concluded with no victor as Rinat Fakhretdinov and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos fought to a majority draw, with scorecards reading 29-28 and two counts of 28-28.
- Vitor Petrino scored a knockout against Modestas Bukauskas, delivering a decisive left hook only 1:03 into the second round of their Light Heavyweight contest.
- Angela Hill defeated Denise Gomes in the Women’s Strawweight category by unanimous decision, with the judges all in agreement (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
- In the Women’s Catchweight bout at 119.5 pounds, Eduarda Moura defeated Montserrat Conejo Ruiz by TKO, with strikes leading to the stoppage at 2:14 of the second round.
- To round off the results, Marc Diakiese defeated Kauê Fernandes in a split decision during their Lightweight bout, with the final tallies being 29-28, 28-29, and 30-27.