Bryan Barberena continues to defy expectations.
The MMA Lab fighter best known for beating Sage Northcutt in December will lose that tag if he keeps performing like he did on Saturday against Warlley Alves in the main card opener at UFC 198.
Barberena shook off a slow first round to rally over the final two and take the main-card opening in their welterweight fight. Barberena earned across-the-board scores of 29-28 and became the first foreigner on the evening to beat a Brazilian at the event in Curitiba.
"I'm used to being the underdog," said Barberena (12-3), who entered the night a 5-1 underdog. "One of these days they'll get it right and then I'll be on top. Until then, I'll keep showing you."
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Alves (10-1) the TUF: Brazil 3 champion, had his best round in the first, getting a guillotine from the outset. Barberena escaped, but for much of the rest of the round found himself on the wrong end of Alves' smooth mix of standup offense.
It was more of the same in the first half of the second round. But Barberena picked up momentum later in the round, landing punches in bunches, sending Alves scampering to safety, and turning things around to the point he edged out the round.
While both fighters tired in the third, Barberena kept pushing forward, throwing more, and landing more, which was enough to seal the deal as he earned his ninth win in his past 10 fights.