Rodolfo Vieira has plenty of room to grow but the grappling champion showed why he remains one of the best prospects on the roster after choking out Dustin Stoltzfus in the third round at UFC Vegas 31.
Coming off a surprising submission loss in his last outing, Vieira showcased much improved striking, better conditioning and then his world-class submission skills by latching onto a standing rear-naked choke, which led to Stoltzfus crashing to the canvas as he tapped out.
The official stoppage came at 1:54 in the third round.
“I’ve been working a lot on my fundamentals,” Vieira said about his win. “I’m feeling a lot better about this. I’m more relaxed in jiu-jitsu. In MMA, it took a little while to pick it up. Tonight, I started to feel comfortable.”
There was a much more measured pace from Vieira as the grappling champion tried to learn from past mistakes while trading punches with Stoltzfus on the feet. While Vieira landed a couple of hard shots, Stoltzfus started to get more and more comfortable on the feet while showcasing fast hand and better technical striking.
Both fighters were connecting with solid shots but Stoltzfus finished the opening round with a nice jumping knee that didn’t land flush but definitely seemed to catch Vieira off guard.
As the second round got started, Vieira was able to turn the tide first with a takedown and then establishing a slick jab that was consistently popping Stoltzfus in the nose. While Stoltzfus was able to connect with some good combinations of his own, he was still eating that same jab whenever Vieira decided to throw it.
Vieira was consistent with his striking but a scramble late in the fight led to a beautiful transition as the Brazilian jumped to take Stoltfus’ back against the cage and then sinking his arm under the chin to lock in the submission. The fighters eventually fell to the ground and the grimace on Stoltzfus’ face told the whole story as he tapped out immediate to end the contest.
Still very much a work in progress, Vieira seems to be learning on the job but improving with every fight as he moved to 8-1 overall with his victory on Saturday night.