The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday returned to Rio de Janeiro, with UFC 237, and the event did not disappoint. There were numerous highlights on the card, including a few impressive upsets that few saw coming, one of which will certainly have title implications in the featherweight division. In 12 scheduled bouts, three underdogs took home wins. They provide the material for this installment of Beating the Books.
Alexander Volkanovski (+125)
In a featherweight feature with obvious title implications, Volkanovski picked up the most significant win of his career with a unanimous decision over Brazilian hero Jose Aldo. Not only did Volkanovski manage to implement a strong clinch and keep Aldo pinned against the fence for a majority of the match, but he also neutralized the Nova Uniao star on the feet -- a feat the former champion’s two previous opponents, Jeremy Stephens and Renato Carneiro, failed to pull off. The victory over Aldo improves Volkanovski to 7-0 in the UFC and gives him a 17-fight winning streak that dates back to 2013. He was a +125 underdog and now sets his sights on a shot at featherweight titleholder Max Holloway later this year.
Laureano Staropoli (+105)
Staropoli rolled into Brazil and picked up a unanimous decision over former welterweight title contender Thiago Alves in a welterweight showcase. Despite his lack of UFC experience -- he entered the cage with only one Octagon appearance under his belt -- Staropoli was at ease against a fighter who has been competing at the highest level for more than a decade. The win moved the 26-year-old to 9-1 overall and 2-0 in the UFC and allowed him to gain a foothold in the welterweight division. Staropoli cashed as a modest +105 underdog.
Viviane Araujo (+240)
Despite making her UFC debut on short notice and well above her natural weight class, Araujo impressed with a brutal third-round knockout of Talita Bernardo. Araujo showed tremendous finishing ability on the regional scene in her march to the UFC, but based on her smaller size and stature, she was the clear underdog against a more physically imposing fighter in Bernardo. However, Araujo defied the odds and brutally finished Bernardo in her first outing inside the Octagon. She scored as a massive +240 dog.
Adam Martin is a mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2011. He is currently the lead odds analyst for Sherdog.com, as well as the lead staff writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com. Adam is also the co-host of “The Parting Shot Podcast” on iTunes. His favorite fight of all-time is Dan Henderson-Mauricio Rua, and he wishes Pride Fighting Championships never died. Adam is based out of Toronto, and he is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Centennial College. Get in touch with him on Twitter at @MMAdamMartin.