Raulian Paiva will go home with a win on his record and likely a bonus when it’s all said and done after engaging in a three-round war with Kyler Phillips in the UFC Vegas 32 main event.
When the fight got started, Paiva was nearly finished in the first round but he found a way to survive and then mounted an amazing comeback to hurt Phillips several times in the final 10 minutes to sway the judges to his favor. The final scores read 29-28, 29-28 and 28-28 with Paiva getting the majority decision in his bantamweight debut in the octagon.
“I knew in my heart I was going to win,” Paiva said following the emotional victory. “I was going to go the whole way and I was going to win. I didn’t come to America to play games. I know I am in the gym all day long to be a world champion.”
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With a chance to shine in the co-headlining spot, Phillips was the one headhunting from the first second of the fight as he came after Paiva with a variety of strikes on the feet. Phillips was loose on his feet as he was on target with almost everything he was throwing while Paiva was forced to throw a few haymakers to back him off.
While he wasn’t as accurate, Paiva was still keeping Phillips honest because he was coming so close to many of his power punches. Phillips backed him off again, however, after clubbing Paiva with a stiff right hand that put the Brazilian on rubber legs.
Phillips’ assault was just relentless and he nearly earned a finish at the close of the first round after he crushed Paiva with a huge inside elbow. He followed with a flurry of punches but Paiva was able to survive to the horn to make it back to his corner.
Because Phillips was so willing to engage on the feet, that allowed Paiva to respond with some stinging combinations of his own. At one point, Paiva cracked Phillips with a couple of really nasty punches that had “The Matrix” stumbling against the cage.
The back-and-forth battle continued with Phillips and Paiva both more than willing to eat a punch in order to deliver one in return, which left both fighters showing the wear and tear of the fight going into the third and final round.
Phillips was definitely running on fumes, which allowed Paiva to get more aggressive while throwing punches in succession. Even if he was exhausted, Phillips was still more than capable of returning fire but there just wasn’t as much pop behind his strikes.
With time running out, Paiva was just marching forward and throwing shots in wild exchanges with Phillips as the fighters tried to either get a last second knockout or do enough damage to get the win on the scorecards.
In the end, the judges favored Paiva, who has now won three fights in a row overall while making quite a statement to the 135-pound division with his performance on Saturday night. As for Phillips, he tastes defeat for the first time in the UFC after starting with three straight wins in the promotion.