Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight bruisers Johny Hendricks and Paulo Borrachinha faced off last night (Nov. 4, 2017) at UFC 217 inside Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
“Big Rigg” didn’t have room for another loss. He won his first battle of the weekend at the scale on Friday, but after a couple years of inconsistent performances inside the cage, there was quite a bit of pressure on Hendricks to return to form. His UFC career likely depended on it.
The UFC did the former Welterweight champion no favors with the match up. Borrachinha entered as one of Brazil’s top prospects, a massive young fighter packing power and aggression in spades.
Borrachinha opened with pressure and hard right kicks, backing his foe up. Things were getting ugly for Hendricks fast, as the wrestler had a difficult time closing range into the pocket. His first takedown attempt came up short as well,
By the halfway point in the round, Hendricks’ back was on the fence. The Brazilian used his left hand to occupy his foe’s right, alternating between punishing right hands and right kicks. Hendricks tried his best to respond with punches and takedowns, but Borrachinha continued forward undeterred.
Hendricks began to land a bit in the final minute, but it was still a strong round from the prospect.
Hendricks looked fresh to start the second, but a counter right hand from his opponent stunned the former champion. Hendricks stumbled across the cage, and Borrachinha released combinations. Hammering away with brutal kicks, Borrachinha also put together punches-in-bunches, crushing his opponent with hooks from both hands.
To his credit, Hendricks really tried to hang in there. He stayed on his feet for most of the flurry, shooting whenever his knees did begin to give up. He really tried to weather the storm, but Borrachinha simply would not be denied.
This was a step up in competition, and Borrachinha has never looked better. He maintained the range he wanted, keeping Hendricks trapped with kicks. Those kicks were brutal, as each one — be it to the legs, body, or arms/head — had a clear impact on his opponent.
Slowly, the fight moved from kickboxing range to Hendricks’ back pressed to the fence. Once that happened, Borrachinha kept kicking but also stepped into heavy punches. Despite his aggression and pressure, Borrachinha was not sloppy: he just maintained a steady stream of brutal offense.
He looked a little tired, but for all the work those muscles did, it wasn’t bad at all.
Having scored three straight wins via knockout, it’s likely time for Borrachinha to face a top 15 foe. There’s no need to throw him to the elite just yet, but a bout with someone like Brad Tavares would make sense.
As for Hendricks, the biggest complaint has been listlessness. “Big Rigg” has looked unmotivated, win or lose. In this bout, that wasn’t the case, as Hendricks showed a lot of heart and did his best to score. After taking an eye poke in the second, Hendricks even waved off the referee because he didn’t want his opponent to rest.
It didn’t work out for him, but that’s an admirable display regardless.
Unfortunately, Hendricks is too small for Middleweight. The size disadvantage was just too much, as nothing Hendricks did really threw his opponent off his game. Until he gets his diet under control and returns to 170 lbs., consistent wins will be difficult.
Sadly, Hendricks has burned that bridge, leaving him without many options.
At UFC 217, Paulo Borrachinha stomped his opponent out in the second round. What’s next for the Brazilian prospect?
For complete UFC 217 “Bisping vs St. Pierre” results and play-by-play, click HERE!