Heavyweight contenders Gabriel Gonzaga and Brendan Schaub kicked off UFC 121’s main card in explosive fashion.

The first round clearly belonged to Schaub who’s fast, powerful striking got the better of Gonzaga, tagging him several times in the opening minutes. The TUF season 10 finalist then took things up a notch in the dying stages of the round, unleashing a flurry of punches that had Gonzaga backing up in defensive mode, and was knocked to the floor just as the bell sounded.

Schaub’s athleticism continued to pay dividends in the second round, consistently beating a tiring and confused Gonzaga to the punch. Aside from a handful of powerful leg kicks Gonzaga was offering nothing significant in return, and by the end that was evident in his increasingly bloodied face.

By the third round Schaub was cruising, content to work of his favorite strike, a crisp stepping jab which Gonzaga had no real answer for. The only positive for the Brazilian came right at the end of the fight as Schaub moved in for a takedown which he stuffed and then seized his back, but the bell sounded before he had a chance to fully lock in the choke.

There was little doubt about the winner and Schaub took a clean sweep on the judges scorecards, 30-27 all round.

This was a big step up in competition for Schaub and his performance validates his place as one to watch in the heavyweight division, now on a three fight winning streak.

As for Gonzaga, this was his third loss in four fights and there will be few positives he can take from this performance. The one time top contender may now be facing an uncertain future in the UFC.

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Ross launched MMA Insight (previously FightOfTheNight.com) in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.