The UFC’s first Brazilian trip of 2019 proved to be a rousing success as a clear bantamweight number one contender was crowned in its main event.
With Marlon Moraes and Raphael Assuncao running back their split-decision fight from 2017, it was the former who put a decisive end on their second meeting as ‘Magic’ Moraes scored a first-round submission win.
UFC: Fortaleza also saw big wins for a pair of iconic figures. In the co-main event, Jose Aldo rolled back the years against rising star Renato Moicano as a barrage of punishing strikes caused a second-round TKO for the former featherweight champion. Meanwhile one fight earlier, Demian Maia put in a trademark performance en route to a first round rear-naked choke as his high-level grappling bamboozled and left Lyman Good feeling helpless with the 41-year-old on his back.
There were also big wins for the rest of the Brazilians on the main card as Charles Oliveira and Johnny Walker earned stoppage victories while Lívia Renata Souza opened up the main card with a split-decision win.
With a fun-packed card now in the books, here are five fights that the UFC should be making with the big winners of UFC Fight Night 144:
Marlon Moraes vs. TJ Dillashaw
When it comes to TJ Dillashaw’s next title defence, Marlon Moraes should be the only name put forward.
While flyweight champion Henry Cejudo holds a recent win over the 135 lbs title holder, the UFC needs to stop backlogging divisions for ‘super fights’ and get back to a proper meritocracy.
With three first-round finishes in a row and his only UFC loss – a contentious one at that – now rectified, Marlon Moraes should be getting a crack at UFC gold.
Jose Aldo vs. Brian Ortega
Jose Aldo rolled back the years to his WEC days against Renato Moicano as the Brazilian turned up the viciousness once he had hurt his opponent.
With a left hook that hurt Moicano, Aldo ramped up the volume and pressure with a barrage of knees, uppercuts and hooks.
While Aldo himself has said he has no aspirations of fighting for a title in the UFC, why not continue with Aldo’s one-man quest to prove he is the best featherweight om the planet not named Max Holloway.
With Brian Ortega suffering a handy loss to Holloway in his last fight, a bout with Jose Aldo would prove a big test for Ortega as he looks to get back into the win column.
Demian Maia vs. Michael Chiesa
After three losses in a row to the current top three in the welterweight division, Demian Maia put out a stark reminder that to beat the Brazilian grappling phenom, you have to be an elite fighter.
With zero strikes landed by either man, Maia quickly got the fight into his world and there was no turning back en route to his 10th UFC submission win.
While there is not much time left on Maia’s career, the 41-year old should be put in some fun match-ups and a fight with Michael Chiesa would be just that.
With Chiesa a talented grappler in his own right, a fight between Maia and Chiesa has the potential to be an intriguing grappling contest.
Charles Oliveira vs. Kevin Lee
From one grappling phenom to another, Charles Oliveira extended his own UFC record for submission wins as ‘Do Bronx’ snatched up his 13th submission win for the promotion.
Starting off the finishing sequence with an ‘Ong Bak’ elbow, Oliveira stunned David Teymur and rattled away with strikes before the opportunity for an anaconda choke presented itself.
With his latest win, Oliveira has made it 5 out of 6 since moving to lightweight and he has submitted each of conquered foes.
With Kevin Lee looking to get back onto winning ways in the lightweight division, a fight between Lee and Oliveira would provide a stern test for both men to overcome and see how they stack up in a crowded 155 lbs division.
Johnny Walker vs. Ion Cutelaba
Johnny Walker may well be a future star at light heavyweight.
Adding another highlight reel knockout to his résumé, Walker’s spinning back fist put Justin Ledet to the mat within 10 seconds of the opening bell before a missed soccer kick and a few more strikes on the mat saw the bout waved off.
Walker could easily fight someone like a Jimi Manuwa in the rankings next but a slow build will always do a fighter the world of good in the long run, so why not pair Walker with a fellow heavy hitter like Ion Cutelaba?
Cutelaba would provide a more testing opponent than Ledet and would make for a fun fight to boot.