The UFC returns to the airwaves of Pay Per View once again this weekend, as the promotion returns to the home of MMA once again in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Originally scheduled to be headlined by a Featherweight title bout between Jose Aldo and Frankie “The Answer” Edgar; the UFC was once again bitten by the injury bug. However, the UFC called upon one of their biggest stars and Middleweight Champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva stepped up to the plate to fight in front of his fellow countrymen, he’ll battle “The American Psycho” Stephan Bonnar in a Light Heavyweight tilt.
In the co-main event of the evening Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira also steps up to help the UFC by taking a late notice Heavyweight bout against Dave Herman. Four other bouts round out the Pay Per View main card, all of them featuring a Brazilian. In Light Heavyweight action rising star Glover Teixeira takes on former professional boxer Fabiano Maldonado. All-American Wrestler Jon Fitch battles Brazil’s top Welterweight prospect Erick Silva. Another Light Heavyweight bout features American wrestler Phil Davis re-matching Brazilian bomber Wagner Prado after their first bout ended after a controversial eye-poke. Kicking off the PPV portion of the event BJJ expert Demian Maia battles American wrestler Rick Story in a Welterweight bout.
Let’s get right into it.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Cristiano Marcello vs. Reza Madadi
Cristiano Marcello is a Brazilian fighter from Curitiba, Brazil. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who was formerly the head BJJ Coach at the famed Chute Boxe Academy. Marcello is a former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter Live and has also competed for many notable MMA promotions like Pride, Vale Tudo and Fury FC. Marcello holds a career record of 12-4. Reza “Mad Dog” Madadi is a Swedish-Iranian fighter from Stockholm, Sweden. Madadi is a wrestling specialist with strong ground skills. Although his striking looked a little bit subpar in his UFC debut, he’s still a better striker than Marcello. Madadi holds a career record of 12-2 and hasn’t lost since 2008.
Analysis and Prediction:: Marcello is an extremely talented grappler, in fact he’s probably in the top 15 or so % in pure grappling in the Lightweight division. However, there is one glaring problem with his game, he doesn’t have the wrestling ability to take the fight there without pulling guard. Madadi is a very strong wrestler and although he started somewhat slowly in his UFC debut, we can probably blame that on Octagon jitters. Marcello is a pretty awful striker and although Madadi isn’t exactly the second coming of Floyd Mayweather, he’s got a reach advantage and the speed to beat Marcello to the punch most of the time. Unless Madadi gets completely wild on the ground with Marcello, he can probably pound out a stoppage in the second round. Reza Madadi via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Luiz Cane vs. Chris Camozzi
Analysis and Prediction:: Luiz Cane was one of the top prospects in the Light Heavyweight division before he got rocked by a couple of heavy hitters in the upper echelon of 205’ers. Now he’s making the drop to Middleweight, and if there’s one thing I dislike it’s fighters making the drop after several losses. Camozzi is far from a top-tier Middleweight fighter, but he’s also not a fun match up for anyone. He’s tough and durable, having never been knocked out in his career. He’s also a big Middleweight, big enough that I think he may actually have a size and strength advantage against Cane. My guess is that no matter what Camozzi loses the first round, but if he can survive, he can probably start to turn the fight around in the second round. Clinches against the cage and dirty boxing will wear down Cane and once the Brazilian slows, Camozzi can take advantage and steal the last two rounds and the fight. Chris Camozzi via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Sergio Moraes vs. Renee Forte
Sergio “Serginho” Moraes is a 30-year-old Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was a cast-member on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Moraes has trained with a number of notable gyms in Brazil including Team Nogueira, Alliance Jiu Jitsu and Universidade da Luta (University of Fighting.) Moraes is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who relies heavily on his ground skills to win him fights. He has a career record of 6-2 including five wins via Submission. Renee Forte is another cast-member of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Forte is also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu expert, who has finished four career opponents. Forte holds a career record of 7-1, but looked rather unimpressive during his relatively short run on the show.
Analysis and Prediction:: I hate to be overly negative in these reviews, but in my opinion Forte just isn’t UFC caliber. He looked overmatched during his season of The Ultimate Fighter and his striking skills were almost non-existent. He is capable and talented on the ground, but that’s not going to be enough to get by in the UFC. Moraes himself showed some pretty sloppy striking during his time on the show. However, he is a BJJ expert and a former ADCC competitor, he’s significantly better than Forte on the ground. Moraes is a better striker, but the fight won’t be there long. He likely lands a quick takedown and from top control he works himself into a dominant position and ends this one in the first round. Sergio Moraes via Submission in Round One
Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Diego Brandao vs. Joey Gambino
Diego “Ceara” Brandao is a Brazilian fighter from Fortaleza, Brazil. He was the winner of the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Brandao is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who trains out of Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Brandao is a highly aggressive Muay Thai striker who has twelve stoppage victories on his resume. He holds a career record of 14-8. Joey “The Raging” Warrior Gambino is an American fighter from Port Charlotte, Florida. He now trains out of his Team Raging Warriors Gym in Saugerties, New York. Before making his UFC debut Gambino was ranked as one of the top prospects in the world at Featherweight. Gambino is a talented wrestler who uses takedowns and top control to earn points against his opponents. He holds a career record of 9-1.
Analysis and Prediction:: Gambino has only one loss in the UFC and it came at the hands of Steven Siler, who has turned out to be significantly better than his showing on TUF. Gambino is a talented wrestler who entered the UFC with a ton of hype. He’s not the first top prospect who’s fallen flat in their UFC debut and he won’t be the last, the question is how he can rebound. He’s drawn a stiff test for his return to the cage. Brandao is a TUF winner, who is extremely aggressive both striking and on the ground. Brandao has two big problems, cardio and striking defense. He works with a smart camp in New Mexico, they have surely done a lot of work on his striking defense. Cardio might be another issue, he just needs to pace himself a little more and not go for the throat every time he senses blood. A more measured approach to his aggression should save his cardio a bit, but against Gambino in might not matter. Brandao and Coach Jackson have surely watched the Siler-Gambino fight. Expect a similar game plan from Brandao. He gets top control and pounds his way to back mount, before securing a Rear Naked Choke. Diego Brandao via Submission in Round One
Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Gleison Tibau vs. Francisco Trinaldo
Gleison Tibau is a Brazilian fighter who now resides and trains in Coconut Creek, Florida with the American Top Team Gym. Tibau is one of the largest lightweights in the UFC, with rumors saying that he often weighs up to 185-pounds by fight time after weighing in at 155-pounds the day before. Tibau holds a career record of 25-8. Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo is a 34-year-old Brazilian fighter who was a cast-member on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Although he competed as a Middleweight on the show, Trinaldo has actually spent most of his career competing at Lightweight, however, this may be the first time he’s cut this much weight in a significant amount of time, so there may be some effects from a hard cut on his cardio. Trinaldo is a member of the Constrictor Team in Brazil and an occasional member of Brazilian Top Team. He holds a career record of 11-1.
Analysis and Prediction:: Trinaldo is a Lightweight fighter, despite having fought at Middleweight on the show. What concerns me is how he deals with cutting weight after fighting at 185-pounds for so long. Tibau is a massive Lightweight, but he’s never really had issues making weight and it rarely affects his performances come fight night. Trinaldo showed good takedown defense against Delson Heleno in their bout. Tibau is a more capable wrestler than Heleno and despite being a Lightweight he’s probably close to the same size. This fight relies on how well Trinaldo handles the weight cut. He has the talent to sprawl and brawl against Tibau, but if he’s anything but 100% this fight swings more and more in Tibau’s favor. I think he takes a Unanimous Decision. Gleison Tibau via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Rony Mariano Bezerra vs. Sam Sicilia
Rony “Jason” Mariano Bezerra is a 28-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Bezerra was the Featherweight winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Even with all those credentials it still wasn’t quite enough to get him on the main card of this stacked show. Bezerra is a talented striker who showcased impressive ground skills as well as he ran through the TUF house on his way to the finals. Bezerra holds a career record of 11-3. Sam Sicilia is an American fighter from Spokane, Washington. He was a competitor on the live season of The Ultimate Fighter. Sicilia is a decent wrestler who prefers to use his wrestling to keep the fight standing, but who also packs significant power in his hands. Sicilia owns a career record of 11-1.
Analysis and Prediction:: Rony Bezerra is going to hold a six-inch reach advantage for this fight and it’s probably going to get worse for Sicilia from there. For one he doesn’t really set up his strikes well, instead he throws looping wild punches that leave him wide open to counters. Although his striking wasn’t the best on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, Bezerra is able to counter relatively effectively, it should help against someone who telegraphs his shots like Sicilia. Add to that the fact that Bezerra is a more talented grappler with the wrestling skills to control this bout on the mat and he’s got fifteen minutes to earn a submission if he’s smart. I think he plays this one safe and earns the submission on the ground. However, if he gets reckless and trades with Sicilia he might get his chin-checked. Bezerra was rocked in two of his fights on TUF: Brazil and Sicilia was dropping guys at Lightweight, if he catches Bezerra on the chin, he’s probably got the upset in the bag. As it is, I think Bezerra snatches a submission in the first round. Rony Mariano Bezerra via Submission in Round One
Main Card (PPV): Welterweight Bout: Demian Maia vs. Rick Story
Demian Maia is a Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is a 3rd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is one of the top practitioners of the sport. Maia is a member of the Wand Fight Team training out of Sao Paulo. It has been under the tutelage of head coach Wanderlei Silva where Maia has rapidly improved his striking skills. He is still not a world-beater in the striking department, but he throws tight and technical combinations, with solid defense and footwork. Maia is a former ADCC Submission Wrestling World Champion, winning the 87 kg division in 2007. The former Middleweight title hopeful is 1-0 since dropping to the Welterweight division. Maia owns a career record of 16-4.
Rick “The Horror” Story is an American fighter from Tacoma. Washington. Story is a wrestler, often relying on takedowns and top control to win rounds against his opponents. Story was once considered a top prospect in the Welterweight division, but back-to-back defeats to Charlie Brenneman and Martin Kampmann significantly slowed that hype train. Story is a member of the Brave Legion Gym in Vancouver, Washington. Story holds notable career victories over Thiago Alves and Johnny Hendricks. Story holds a professional record of 14-5.
Analysis and Prediction:: Maia has been rapidly improving his all around MMA game, especially his striking skills. Despite that, his best chance at finishing any bout is still likely going to be to snag a submission on the ground. It’s hard to draw any conclusions by a bout like Maia’s versus Dong Hyun Kim that ended with a strange injury. But if there’s one thing that you can take from the fight, it’s how well Maia was doing against a smothering wrestler like Kim, he was actually working towards taking his back before the injury occurred. Kim is a significantly larger and more smothering wrestler than Story is, if he couldn’t get Maia to the ground easily, I don’t think Story can. In a striking battle, I’d probably actually favor Maia. He’s more technically sound and has been rapidly improving his striking. Story prefers to swing wildly and his defense isn’t the greatest. If Story wants to win this one, he’s going to need to grind away for all three rounds. That’s a lot of time on the ground with one of the best BJJ talents in the Welterweight division. Maia eventually snags a submission late. Demian Maia via Submission in Round Three
Main Card (PPV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Phil Davis vs. Wagner Prado
Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis is an American fighter from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Davis is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Penn State University, where he won the NCAA title in 2008. Davis has been improving his striking skills throughout his career, but his striking is still somewhat stiff and robotic. Davis is also a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training under coach Lloyd Irvin. Davis is a current member of the Alliance MMA Gym in Chula Vista, California. Davis holds a career record of 9-1, with 1 No Contest, with his only career loss coming against Rashad Evans.
Wagner “Caldeirao” Prado is a 24-year-old Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Prado made his UFC debut in his last bout against Davis, but the fight ended in a No Contest after an inadvertent eye-poke left him unable to continue against Davis. Prado is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but his biggest strength is his explosive Muay Thai skills, along with the big power that he packs into his strikes. Prado is a very large and muscular fighter, although he will likely be outmuscled in the clinch against a wrestler as strong as Davis. Prado holds an undefeated professional record of 8-0, with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction:: The easy pick in this bout is certainly Davis. His wrestling is smothering and his ground skills have been rapidly improving. His striking still leaves a bit to be desired. In his bout against Rashad Evans he was a step behind the entire fight. Davis also carries his hands a bit too low at times and he often gets caught flat-footed while he’s preparing to make a move; either shooting for a takedown or closing the distance to clinch up. Prado is relatively untested and we didn’t see a whole lot of him in his first bout with Davis before the eye poke. He’s still a massive Light Heavyweight who has big power in his hands and a whole lot of nasty in his uppercuts. If Davis plays this smart he works for a takedown as soon as possible, as his top control is excellent and his ground and pound strong. But if he decides to test himself against Prado, it could be upset time. I predicted a Prado upset last time, and I still think he can pull it off. Davis seems like he wants to prove something to himself and that could turn into a problem for him. Wagner Prado via TKO in Round One
Main Card (PPV): Welterweight Bout: Jon Fitch vs. Erick Silva
Jon Fitch is a UFC veteran of over 16 career bouts inside the UFC’s Octagon. Fitch is a member of the famed American Kickboxing Academy training out of San Jose, California. Fitch is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Purdue University. Fitch also holds a black belt in Guerrilla Jiu Jitsu (a combination of BJJ, Judo and Wrestling.) Fitch is known for his less than fan-friendly style, consisting mainly of takedowns and smothering top control, Fitch is one of the best wrestlers in the Welterweight division. Fitch has not been overly active in the past year and a half, suffering a shoulder injury as well as a torn MCL, which has kept him out of the cage since December 2011. Fitch holds a career record of 23-4-1, with 1 No Contest.
Erick “Indio” Silva is a Brazilian fighter from Vila Velha, Brazil. Silva was the inaugural Jungle Fight Welterweight Champion, a title that he never actually lost. Silva is an extremely quick and aggressive striker with excellent Muay Thai skills. In addition to his excellent stand up skills, Silva is no slouch on the ground holding black belts in both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo. Silva is a member of the Team Nogueira Gym in Brazil. Silva holds a career record of 14-2 with 1 No Contest, although one of those losses is in extremely controversial fashion as he was defeated via Disqualification in a bout he was dominating.
Analysis and Prediction:: Silva is a top prospect at 170-pounds. He is highly aggressive, extremely quick and agile and very creative. He really should be 3-0 inside the UFC, since his lone loss was via DQ in a bout that he had in the bag. Despite that, there’s not a whole lot of tape to glean anything from, since no opponent has gotten out of the first round with him. Likewise for Fitch he has been extremely inactive since a knee injury and shoulder injury have kept him sidelined for most of the year. His last bout was in December of 2011 and it lasted only twelve seconds. Many people believe that the fight against Hendricks was the beginning of a slide for Fitch, but I think it’s hard to make that assumption after only twelve seconds. Likewise, it’s hard to tell exactly how good Silva is from his brief body of work. Fitch has shown that he can fight for three hard rounds, Silva we don’t know that about. Another interesting aspect of this fight may be the crowd reaction to Fitch’s ground based attack, and how the referee reacts to the crowd noise. I’ll bank on what I know best, and that’s Fitch’s ground game can deal with anyone not named GSP. Silva might be good enough to frustrate Fitch on the ground and work for a decision, but I just think Fitch grinds away for another less than entertaining decision victory. Jon Fitch via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (PPV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Glover Teixeira vs. Fabio Maldonado
Glover Teixeira is a Brazilian fighter from Minas Gerais, Brazil. Before recently joining the UFC he was one of the top Light Heavyweight prospects in the world, not fighting in the UFC. Despite his Brazilian heritage, Teixeira now trains and resides in California, training at The Pit in San Luis Obispo. Teixeira is a black belt in BJJ who also has strong striking skills. Teixeira was originally scheduled to face Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in this bout, but an injury to Jackson forced a change in opponent. Teixeira holds a career record of 18-2, with 16 stoppage victories.
Fabio Maldonado is a 32-year-old Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Maldonado is a former professional boxer competing in Brazil. As a professional boxer, he held a record of 22-0 with 21 knockout victories. Maldonado is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, training with the Team Nogueira Gym. As one might expect based on his past as a professional boxer, Maldonado is a competent striker with decent footwork, although at times he struggles with his striking defense. Maldonado asked for this bout when Quinton Jackson was injured, but is entering the bout after back-to-back losses and is likely fighting for his job in this bout. He holds a career record of 18-5, with 15 stoppage victories.
Analysis and Prediction:: Teixeira has long been considered one of the top Light Heavyweight prospects in the world that wasn’t fighting in the UFC. In his UFC debut he proved why as he absolutely obliterated Kyle Kingsbury standing, before taking control on the mat and earning a quick submission victory. Maldonado on the other hand lost a grinding decision to Kingsbury, mainly because he was unable to stop the takedown. While MMA Math doesn’t always work out, this is one case where it is likely very important. Despite his past as a professional boxer, Maldonado’s striking defense is pretty bad. He keeps his hands low and his footwork is less than impressive, overall he’s just far too hittable. On the ground Maldonado has BJJ skills, but he’s never shown them in a fight. Teixeira is a handful on the ground and his mixture of ground and pound and submission awareness will be far too much for Maldonado to handle. I expect to see an early takedown, a bit of positional groundwork and then ground and pound to finish this bout early. Glover Teixeira via TKO in Round One
Main Card (PPV): Heavyweight Bout: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Dave Herman
Antonio “Minotauro” Rodrigo Nogueira is a Brazilian fighter from Bahia, Brazil. He is a legend in the sport of MMA, and is one of the most popular MMA fighters of all time. He is best known for his battles under the PRIDE FC banner in Japan in the early 2000s, where he was the first Heavyweight Champion in the promotion. Nogueira is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a black belt in Judo and is one of the top ground fighters in the Heavyweight division. Nogueira is also a talented striker, with excellent technical boxing skills, although he has slowed somewhat considerably as his career has advanced. He is a member of the Black House MMA Gym and the head trainer of Team Nogueira. He holds a professional record of 33-7-1, with 1 No Contest.
Dave “Pee Wee” Herman is an American fighter from Columbia City, Indiana. Herman won the first fifteen bouts of his professional career, all but one of them via stoppage in the first round and had considerable hype behind him. Herman is a big power puncher who has won 15 of his career bouts via some form of knockout. Herman trains at the Team Quest Gym in Temecula, California. Herman has shown somewhat questionable cardio in the past, slowing significantly in almost all of his bouts that have made it past the first round. Herman is an aggressive striker who is willing to trade blows with anyone, this has caused him problems in his last two bouts, both of which ended with him on the wrong side of a Knockout punch. Herman is still a dangerous fighter with big power, who owns a professional record of 21-4.
Analysis and Prediction:: Big Nog was actually doing extremely well in his bout against Frank Mir. His striking looked good, his combinations were crisp, he was keeping his hands up to defend himself, and then he rocked Frank Mir with a straight punch, that’s where it went downhill for him. Instead of going for a TKO win by ground and pound, he went for a submission, got reversed and got his arm broken. Both men expect that they can hurt each other standing and since they’re both Heavyweights with questionable chins, that’s probably true. Herman looked less than impressive in his loss to Nelson, but he was doing well in the first round of his fight against Stefan Struve, but the wheels fell off in the second round. Nogueira has way more ways to win. He’s way better than Herman on the ground and if he can work the fight there, it’s likely that he can earn a submission. However, Nogueira has looked slow in some of his most recent bouts and a career of getting pummeled has got to catch up to him at some point. Nogueira is the rightful favorite, but Herman is certainly a live underdog as long as this fight stays standing. To make it interesting I’ll pick Herman to steal the upset and shock the crowd. Dave Herman via KO in Round One
Main Card (PPV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Anderson Silva vs. Stephan Bonnar
Anderson “The Spider” Silva is a Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo. He is one of the pound for pound greatest fighters of all time. Although this bout is in the Light Heavyweight division, he is the reigning UFC Middleweight Champion. After an injury scrapped the main event of this card, Silva stepped up to take on an opponent at Light Heavyweight on short notice. Silva holds a number of UFC records including the longest winning streak, most title defenses and longest title reign. Silva is one of, if not the most dynamic striker in all of Mixed Martial Arts. He is an extremely technical and tactical fighter whose counter punching skills and striking defense are among the best in the world. Silva is a member of the Black House Gym in Torrance, California. In addition to his excellent striking skills, Silva is extremely talented in the grappling realm. Silva holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a black belt in Judo and a black belt in Tae Kwan Do. He holds a career record of 32-4 and has not lost since 2006.
Stephan “The American Psycho” Bonnar is a 25-year-old fighter from Munster, Indiana. He is actually returning from a brief retirement to take this bout, but is entering the fight on a three fight-winning streak. Like Silva, Bonnar is a black belt in BJJ and Tae Kwan Do, as well as holding a black belt in Kyrpa Karate. Bonnar is most notable as being a part of one of the most popular fights in MMA history; his first bout against Forrest Griffin at the first Ultimate Fighter Finale. Bonnar has spent time in Thailand training Muay Thai, but his best fighting is done on the ground, when he can take down his opponents and control them from top position. Bonnar is a member of the One Kick Nick’s Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bonnar holds a career record of 14-7.
Analysis and Prediction:: Bonnar has a couple of things going for him in this fight. He’s a large Light Heavyweight fighter, his ground skills and wrestling skills are relatively under rated and he’s tough as nails, having never been knocked out in his career. With that said, Silva also has a few things going for him in this bout he’s an extremely powerful puncher, he’s one of the most dynamic counter-strikers in the sport and he’s on a sixteen fight winning-streak.
Really, Bonnar’s best game plan is to put his head down, throw a haymaker and move forward. He should have a size advantage against Silva and his best chance is to make Silva fight ugly. The longer the two men stand at range is longer that Silva has to get comfortable and establish range. Silva is an extremely accurate striker who moves well and he has made significantly better strikers than Bonnar look foolish inside the ring. Silva is going to need to keep the fight at range, constantly circling to avoid getting pressed against the cage. Silva is a master at controlling the octagon, and using his movement to keep the bout at a range where he wants it. Sonnen found some success by simply blitzing Silva, but as soon as he slowed down and tried to set up his advances with strikes he was reversed, knocked down and knocked out by the Middleweight Champion.
Silva is the pound for pound best fighter in the world for a reason. The likely outcome of this fight is that he earns a late TKO or a dominant decision. I would expect that fighting in front of his home crowd, he’s willing to go after it a little bit more. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing for Bonnar remains to be seen. I’ve already called a couple of upsets on this one, and I’d love to predict another one, just to act like a genius if it happens to go down, but I really don’t think it’s going to. Bonnar does have a chance in this bout, maybe better than a lot of people are giving him credit for, but he’s still a pretty sizeable underdog to the pound for pound champion. Anderson Silva via Unanimous Decision
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