Facing undefeated prospect Michael Kuiper was no easy task for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace Rafael ‘Sapo’ Natal, but he made the most of his fourth fight in the Octagon.
Powering forward with takedown after takedown in the first round, it looked like Natal may have done more harm than good in the long run because the exhausting pace he kept in the early going almost came back to bite him later in the fight.
Kuiper did a good job of staying away from danger areas with Natal, but despite his willpower he couldn’t stop the takedown, nor could he keep the Renzo Gracie trained fighter from tagging him on the jaw more than a few times as well.
Kuiper did fire back in the third with an uppercut that landed flush, sending Natal to his knees, and on instinct the Brazilian kicked into jiu-jitsu mode, which may have saved the fight for him.
“It was bad because it was the beginning of the round, everything was dark, but I came forward because my jiu-jitsu saved me again,” Natal said.
Natal fought back though and ended up with a nice slam takedown, and eventually moved into position for an arm triangle choke. Appearing to have the move locked up, Natal ran out of time before he could put Kuiper away, but he cinched up the unanimous decision win regardless.
“That’s my best submission, I tried to get him, but he’s very tough,” Natal said about the arm triangle attempt.
After a rocky start to his UFC career, Natal has now picked up wins in his last two bouts in a row.
Living up to hype is not an easy thing to do, but Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson certainly did his part to prove he’s the real deal with his debut at UFC 143.
Coming from a karate background, Thompson came to the UFC with a perfect 57-0 record in kickboxing and a 5-0 record in MMA, as well as being a training partner of UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
Confusing his opponent Dan Stittgen early with his karate stance, Thompson continued to throw kicks at will, backing him up and staying on the offensive.
As the time ticked away in the first round, a befuddled Stittgen tried to duck away from a roundhouse kick courtesy of Wonderboy, but the karate kid instead swung up at his head and connected flush on the jaw.
“Those lead leg round kicks, if you develop them, we use that a lot in karate and if you develop them they can pack a lot of power. People don’t see them,” Thompson said after the fight.
Stittgen crumbled to the mat and with one kick the world has now been introduced to Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.
“No words can really describe it,” said Thompson. “This is the best promotion in the world, I’m glad to be here.”