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Despite virtually every other major sporting entity putting plans on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday was determined to move forward with UFC Fight Night 170 in Brasilia, Brazil. The event was closed to the public and media.
Charles Oliveira held off Kevin Lee in the main event, as he dispatched “The Motown Phenom” with a guillotine choke in the third round. While “Do Bronx” extended his record for most submission victories in the UFC, his continued improvement in the striking department again stood out.
“I knew he was coming to strike, and when he gets tired, he comes with the takedowns,” Oliveira said through a translator on the ESPN+ post-fight show. “I was ready for both angles. He did a great job defending some of my takedowns, but I was happy that I was able to defend him in both rounds with the striking and takedowns.”
It was not a good weekend for Lee. The Grand Rapids, Michigan, native failed to make the 156-pound weight limit for the fight and in fact checked in two and half pounds north of the lightweight threshold. Lee then appeared to briefly lose consciousness after being forced to tap out. The 27-year-old woke up when Oliveira released the guillotine and briefly attempted to continue to fight, grabbing the Brazilian’s waste while trying to wrestle him. Top it all off, Lee protested the stoppage.
“He was so out of it when he tapped,” Oliveira said. “He didn’t realize he was tapping.”
Even with Oliveira’s explanation, fans and fellow fighters took to social media to criticize Lee. Perhaps the harshest criticism came from welterweight contender Jorge Masvidal, who blasted the Tristar Gym rep for his behavior.
“You should be cut for this bitch move,” Masvidal posted on Twitter. “Tap and try to continue? One of the lowest things you can do hoe ass bitch.” He continued his criticism in a follow-up tweet. “First bitch move: miss weight. Second bitch move: tap and try to continue. Disrespectful to the sport and that’s the lowest thing you can do.”
Meanwhile, two former Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champions were pitted against one another in the co-headliner, as Demian Maia took on Gilbert Burns. Some observers expected a grappler’s delight type of encounter, but Burns had other plans. He crushed Maia with a devastating left hook that sent the 42-year-old crashing to the canvas. He followed with a few ground strikes, prompting the stoppage 2:34 into Round 1.
“I think for you to become a legend, you need to be legends,” Burns said. “Demian is a legend. I heard his head hitting the floor hard. I thought the referee should have stopped it. He didn’t stop it, and I had to do my job, but it hurt me to have to do that.”
Maia did not agree with the stoppage.
“Unfortunately, the referree stopped it,” he said. “I thought I could go a little bit more, but it is what it is. I feel I was OK. I felt I was OK, but you don’t know. The referee said that he thought I was out, and that’s OK; that’s the sport. I was feeling good, I was getting good in the jiu-jitsu position, but he got me well with that hook.”
Following his 32nd professional appearance, Maia again pointed towards retirement once he fulfills the one fight remaining on his contract.
“I’ll come back to training and do one more fight, then that’s it,” Maia said. “I want to do one more then probably retire.”