Matheus Nicolau is sending notice to the flyweight division that a new contender has arrived.
At UFC Vegas 39 on Saturday in Las Vegas, Nicolau survived some awkward offense from Tim Elliott and delivered his own potent attacks that saw him showcase effective striking and some late ground-and-pound to ensure he went go home with a win on his record.
When the fight ended, all three judges scored the fight 29-28 for Nicolau, who has now won four fights in a row overall including back-to-back victories in the UFC.
“They put me in the bad, bad positions everyday so I could overcome the first round,” Nicolau said while paying tribute to his coaches and teammates after the fight. “I made some adjustments from the first to the second [round] and I think that’s why I could overcome his game and became victorious this night.”
Always unorthodox in the cage, Elliott was moving and throwing shots at Nicolau from inside and outside while rarely giving him a moment to catch his breath. Elliott’s awkward movement gave Nicolau problems early as the Brazilian tried to stand his ground in order to deliver some offense of his own in return.
The ability to finally predict which direction Elliott was moving allowed Nicolau to start connecting with some strong punches of his own, which typically included slick left-right combinations. Nicolau was consistently digging to the body, going back up to the head, then circling away before Elliott could do much in return.
A close fight through two rounds, Elliott really started pouring on the pressure in the third round, almost jumping into his punches then grabbing onto Nicolau to look for the takedown. Nicolau was effective in eventually slipping free, which allowed him to reset in the center of the cage and snatch a takedown of his own to put Elliott on his back.
Nicolau peppered away with punches to the body as he controlled Elliott on the ground for the better part of two minutes, which helped him secure the victory with the judges.
“I want to become champion,” Nicolau said. “I don’t have an exact name in my mind [to call out]. Anyone that is ranked on top of me, I am ready to go.”