Nik Lentz dominated Diego Nunes in the Brazilian's back yard. | Photo: Gleidson Venga/

Nik Lentz let the air out of the balloon one takedown at a time and staked his claim as one of the world’s Top 10 featherweights.

Takedowns, ground-and-pound and suffocating grappling from the top carried the relentless Lentz to a one-sided unanimous decision over Diego Nunes at UFC on FX 7 “Belfort vs. Bisping” on Saturday at the Ibirapuera Arena in Sao Paulo, Brazil. All three cageside judges scored it for Lentz (23-5-2, 7-2-1 UFC): 30-28, 30-27 and 30-26.

Lentz, who looks like a new man at 145 pounds, controlled all but a few moments of the 15-minute bout. The 28-year-old American Top Team representative grounded Nunes (18-4, 3-3 UFC) repeatedly and compromised his guard with stunning ease. Knees, elbows and punches greeted the Brazilian on his back, as Lentz methodically moved towards victory. The scene repeated itself over and over again. Outside of a late flurry, Nunes was not a factor in the bout.

Castro Captures Narrow Decision

“The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” Season 1 finalist Godofredo Castro eked out a contentious split decision over Brazilian Top Team’s Milton Vieira in a preliminary featherweight affair. All three judges saw it 29-28, two of them siding with Castro (9-1, 1-1 UFC).

Castro did his best work in round two, where he swept into mount with a kimura, transitioned to his opponent’s back and remained there for the rest of the period, tying up Vieira with a body triangle. It was the only non-competitive stretch of the bout. Vieira (13-8-2, 0-1-1 UFC) struck for takedowns and ground-and-pound, while Castro answered with an active bottom game.

Markes Deals Craig First Defeat

Former Shooto champion Ronny Markes utilized a smothering clinch game and a handful of takedowns in capturing a unanimous verdict from the previously unbeaten Andrew Craig in a competitive undercard clash at 185 pounds. All three judges arrived at the same decision: 29-28 for Markes.

Markes controlled the first two rounds with clinches and takedowns, as he grounded and neutralized the well-rounded Texan. The Brazilian nearly finished it in round two, where he pinned Craig beneath him and locked up a tight kimura. However, the onetime Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder escaped and pushed the fight into a third round.

There, Craig had his chance. A clubbing right hand sent a dazed Markes to the canvas, having retreated to a seated position against the cage. Craig (8-1, 2-1 UFC) settled into top position and hammered away with punches and short elbows, but none of them landed with enough force to polish off the Brazilian.

Markes (14-1, 3-0 UFC) has won his last seven fights.

G. Venga/

Barboza blew Martins away in round one.

Barboza Strikes Wipe Out Martins

Onetime Ring of Combat champion Edson Barboza bounced back from his first professional setback, as he struck the previously unbeaten Lucas Martins into opening-round submission in a preliminary lightweight duel. Martins (12-1, 0-1 UFC) tapped out to punches 2:38 into round one, his UFC debut spoiled.

Barboza (11-1, 5-1 UFC) wasted no time in getting down to business. The 26-year-old whipped his trademark low kicks into Martins and found the mark more than once with his right cross. Barboza later sat down Martins with a quick left jab and pounced with purpose. He showered his fellow Brazilian with punches and hammerfists, leading to the submission.

Alcantara-Nobre Ends in No Contest

A volley of what referee Dan Miragliotta deemed to be illegal strikes from Iuri Alcantara resulted in a controversial no contest with Brazilian Top Team’s Pedro Nobre in an undercard matchup at 135 pounds.
The end came 2:11 into round one.

Alcantara (28-4, 2-1 UFC) was closing in on a stoppage, as he countered a single-leg takedown attempt with a rolling kimura and mounted himself on his fellow Brazilian’s back during the transition. In an instant, the flattened-out Nobre was defenseless. Punches and elbows fell next, and Miragliotta -- after issuing a stern warning for blows to the back of the head -- hit the pause button. Nobre (14-1-2, 0-0 UFC), who appeared to be in serious discomfort, did not rise to his feet until after the no contest was declared.

Alcantara Kneebar Taps Prado

Brazilian newcomer Ildemar Alcantara coaxed a tapout from Wagner Prado with a second-round kneebar in a preliminary middleweight clash. Alcantara (18-5, 1-0 UFC), who replaced an injured Roger Hollett on short notice, finished it 2:39 into round two.

Prado (8-2, 0-2 UFC) enjoyed some success with his hands in the first round, belting his countryman with a series of right hooks. However, Alcantara switched gears, measured his foe with kicks and scored with a pair of takedowns. In round two, Prado reversed into top position but showed no sense of urgency, allowing Alcantara to isolate his right leg. After a brief struggle, the 30-year-old settled on the right combination and secured the tapout.

Alcantara has won 12 of his last 13 bouts, including eight in a row.

Trinaldo Choke Submits Keith

Former Jungle Fight champion Francisco Trinaldo submitted C.J. Keith with a second-round arm-triangle choke in an undercard clash at 155 pounds. The 26-year-old Keith (8-2, 0-2 UFC) conceded defeat 1:50 into round two.

Trinaldo (12-2, 2-1 UFC) struck for takedowns in both rounds, answered a reversal from Keith with an attempted armbar and softened up the Californian with elbows from top position. In round two, the Brazilian delivered a belly-to-back suplex and transitioned immediately to the arm-triangle choke in half guard. Moments later, Keith was a beaten man.

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