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Top 5 Performances from UFC Fight Night 28

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Top 5 performers at UFC Fight Night 28

Ronaldo Souza
Jason Silva USA TODAY Sports

While the UFC’s biggest event of the month won’t come until September 21 in Toronto at UFC 165, the organization did wrap up a whirlwind of three live televised events in eight days on Wednesday in Brazil. UFC Fight Night 28 unfortunately didn’t produce much excitement in the preliminary portion of the evening, but that certainly changed on what proved to be an action-packed main card. In fact, the six bout main card more than made up for the drudgery of sitting through a string of relatively uneventful early fights.

There were a number of important matchups that saw a new light heavyweight title challenger found, a likely flyweight title challenger emerge and a real superstar performance from a highly-regarded middleweight. We were also treated to a thrilling Fight of the Night, and witnessed a dramatic come-from-behind rally. As always, the speculation immediately begins as to what could possibly be next for the victors on the evening and how those on the losing end can revive their careers, if that’s possible.

As we always like to do after any UFC event, I will take a look at the performances that were highlights of the event and thus receive my top-five best performance designations. Many of these performances produced dominant stoppages and to be honest, some of the names mentioned may not be too familiar to the casual fan. However, if these fighters continue to perform in the future the way they did in Brazil at UFC Fight Night 28, we will get to know them a lot better moving forward.

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5. Rafael Natal

Rafael Natal
Jason Silva USA TODAY Sports

Natal made it three-straight victories in the Octagon with an exciting decision win over Tor Troeng. The Swede showed a ton of heart in surviving a couple of huge right hands from the Brazilian, especially a powerful shot in the second frame that looked as though it had ended the fight. The bout went the distance and Natal was a deserving unanimous decision winner. He tried his best to get a finish, including slapping on a guillotine choke in the final round, but Troeng was one tough hombre. The bout received Fight of the Night honors, and Natal is now hoping to receive a top-10 contender moving forward.

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4. Ali Bagautinov

Ali Bagautinov
Jason Silva USA TODAY Sports

The muscle-bound flyweight showed plenty of power in finishing Marcos Vinicius in the third and final round after landing a devastating right hand and following up with strikes. While the second round of the fight was a bore, Bagautinov definitely impressed with his solid standup game in both the opening stanza and during the finishing volley of the fight. The decorated Combat Sambo fighter has reeled off nine consecutive MMA victories and definitely lived up to his “Puncher” moniker against Vinicius. I think anytime you get somebody in the 125-pound weight class with that kind of finishing ability, you take notice and want to see them again.

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3. Joseph Benavidez

Joseph Benavidez
Jason Silva USA TODAY Sports

Benavidez continued to show why he should be next to fight flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson after blitzing Jussier Formiga in the opening round. Benavidez continued the very impressive string of victories for Team Alpha Male as he ended Formiga’s night with a solid combination of punches, followed by a brutal knee to the midsection. Benavidez lost a close decision to “Mighty Mouse” in their title fight at UFC 152, and is hoping his stellar striking under coach Duane Ludwig will be the difference in a rematch which he’s most deserving of.

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2. Glover Teixeira

Glover Teixeira
Jason Silva USA TODAY Sports

The powerful light heavyweight did what he needed to do to secure his title shot against the winner of this month’s championship fight between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson. While he did get briefly rocked by Ryan Bader, Teixeira swung the momentum in his favor with a brutal right-left combination and finished Bader in the very first round. He’s a perfect 5-0 in the UFC and has shown all the advanced hype surrounding him has been warranted.

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1. Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza

Ronaldo Souza
Jason Silva USA TODAY Sports

If anyone emerged as the biggest winner on the night, it had to be the former Strikeforce middleweight champion. His first-round destruction of top-10 UFC veteran Yushin Okami was a sight to behold. “Jacare” made a clear statement to the 185-pound division. The fact that Souza’s striking game, especially his powerful right hand, is now such a complement to an already amazing submission game, makes him an extremely dangerous fighter for anyone as “Thunder” found out.

Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports