Round 1: In what looks like a classic striker vs. grappler match-up, Michel and Nazare square off with Jacob Montalvo refereeing. Quick glove tap and left jabs from Nazare. Leg kicks and jabs, with Michel occasionally responding and clocking Nazare with a counter right and a front kick. Nazare drives in and clinches, goes for the single and Michel grabs the cage to avoid the takedown. Nazare clinched and firing the occasional knee as Michel sprawls and stalls. Still clinching and Nazare goes for a leg trip to no avail. Still firing knees to a mostly motionless Michel. More knees to the right thigh which is is pinking up. Nazare drives down for a takedown but Michel controls the wrist and back to the clinch. Michel starts to work free, but Nazare keeps the clinch strong. Montalvo steps in to break it up and they separate. Michel goes for another push kick to the face and misses. Nazare fires off a few weak jabs and drives for a takedown again. He's actually taking damage this time in the clinch due to Michel's stiff arms. Now back to the regular Greco-Roman clinch with wrist control by Michel keeping anything serious from happening. They break at the 2 minute mark and Nazare fires off kicks of his own only to have Michel do the same and try a spinning backfist that Nazare drives under. Nazare tries a single leg and superman punch but misses. Michel misses a few sloppy kicks and sort of lands another teep to the face as Nazare drives in. More slow clinch work at the one minute mark. Nazare not doing much, no knees, just moving around and finally gets the single leg and downs the stubborn Michel. A smash guard pass is stuffed and Michel trying to overhook the arms and keep Nazare low and tight. Rene goes for a few punches, but isn't landing anything big. Michel still doing a good job of neutralizing the passes and damage. Round ends. 10-9 Rene.
Round 2: Both are looking to stay on the edge of range and work in slowly. A few light strikes land for both from punches and leg kicks. Both actively shuffling, but Nazare starting to take more damage as he stands still. Michel bouncing around and showboating a bit. Nazare drives in for a double leg, but Michel stands tall and clinches Nazare up against the fence. Odd to see Michel with the advantage here. They separate and Michel fires off a few defended punches. Nazare looking a bit tired as Thiago lands body kicks. A single leg from Nazare gets Michel down to the ground after some spinning and Rene manages to nearly take Thiago's back in a scramble. Back to regular guard with his back up on the cage wall for Michel, while Nazare chills in the open guard and throws light body shots. Rene drives Michel down so his back is on the canvas instead of the cage and they are stood up after some light work from Rene. Back to the striking. Rene misses two high, slow kicks and fakes a takedown and eats a couple punches. Michel the better striker here and Nazare drives in for a double but takes more punishment. Another high kick misses and Rene looks tired. Michel tries a flying knee and Nazare snatches a leg and drives him down. A pass into side control comes to naught as Michel stands. Nazare looks like he's working some type of crucifix deal, but gets shrugged off and is visibly tired. Michel separates and starts unloading mostly defended shots on Nazare. Rene drives again into the clinch and Michel slowly works his way out. Michel being the aggressor in the striking and now fends off another Nazare takedown. Rene gets a takedown and is in the half guard of Thiago as the round ends. Wow. 10-10, I say, to make it 20-19 Nazare after Round 2.
Round 3: Glove tap to start. Michel looking fresher already. Again the sussing out of range and both fighters moving and throwing distance strikes. Nazare's strikes are visibly slower and Michel looks like he's being patient and working the left jab. Nazare tries another swinging front kick and a slow left kick that are easily evaded. Michel throws another leg kick and continues moving in and out of range. A takedown attempt is easily fended off and the two resume the striking inching out. Nazare does the swinging front kick again and lands two leg kicks whil etaking one punch in return. Michel lands a nice inside leg kick and is working the left punches and left leg kicks. Michel seems to be working to the righ and then coming back to the left to strike, which is working, but not landing heavy or often. Nazare kind of standing and tossing out random strikes that are defended. Michel tries a spinning back kick but it glances off the hip of Nazare. Rene drives in for a takedown and after some fumbling gets a nice double leg and is in the guard of Thiago. Thiago keeps the posture broken down and Rene tries standing to free himself or create space, but it's not happening. Some light punches being thrown, but nothing really landing for Rene. Michel still locking Nazare down and defending. Not much action here and Rene stands to try for a standing guard break. Now Nazare is in the half guard and has an elbow on Thiago's throat to keep him down. Some left punches being thrown, but nothing landing much. Thiago throws up a knee shield, but is stuck in regular half guard and defending the punches of Rene. Rene looks to move into mount with an arm triangle set-up as the round ends. 10-9 Nazare for the 30-28 decision as Bloody Elbow calls it.
The split decision goes to Thiago Michel. Not super controversial, as this was a very close and generally action-packed fight. Probably worth a review and subsequent re-scoring in the upcoming weeks.