Brazilian Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante and Croatian bruiser Igor Pokrajac met in a featured bout on Saturday night in front of a raucous crowd inside the Goiania Arena in Goiania, Brazil.
Heading into their UFC Fight Night 32 showdown, Feijao was 1-2 in his last three outings with defeats to fellow Brazilian Thiago Silva in his UFC debut, and MMA legend Dan Henderson at Strikeforce: Columbus in 2011. For Pokrajac, the once feared striking prospect, this bout was his chance to snap a two-fight losing streak, and in the process avoid the proverbial axe from the UFC brass.
Unfortunately for Pokrajac, this was a day for the Brazilians as Feijao pleased his countrymen with a first-round destruction of the Croat, and in the process earned his first win inside Octagon.
The action began with Pokrajac bringing the pressure. The hulking striker winged powerful hooks at his opponent’s head, and pressured Feijao against the cage. With both fighters engaged in the clinch, Pokrajac looked to employ his clinch work and wear the Brazilian down with a mix of dirty boxing and Thai knees.
Feijao remained composed and blocked the attacks appropriately, seemingly biding his time as he waited for a moment to strike.
During a flurry by Pokrajac, Feijao saw his opportunity; with his back against the cage, Feijao used Pokrajac’s momentum to secure a Thai clinch of his own. With the clinch secured, the Brazilian unleashed a set of bone shattering knees to the face, chest, and head of the 34-year-old. As Pokrjac folded under the onslaught, Feijao let go of the clinch, unloaded some power hooks, and his opponent fell to the mat, tapping out in the process in obvious pain.
The official end came at 1:18 of the first round for your winner via verbal submission, Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante.
Post-fight, Feijao took to the microphone to express his joy at earning his first UFC victory in front of the Brazilian faithful.
“This was for the crowd. I’d like to thank you all,” said Feijao through a translator. “I’d like to thank God. I’d like to thank my family. I’d like to thank my second family, Team Nogueira, because all of this was for you.”
When asked about Pokrajac’s early pressure and clinch fazed the 32-year-old vet, Feijao was confident in his pre-fight camp, and his all-star training partners on Team Nogueira.
“I was worried about his clinch, but I also knew I had my clinch,” said the Sao Paulo native. “I trained very much with Anderson (Silva) and Big Nog, and I knew I was going to have him in my clinch, and I really practiced this.”
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