The second UFC event this weekend is a Pay Per View offering from Brazil. Originally scheduled to be headlined by Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen 2, the inability to secure a national soccer stadium began a downward spiral for this card. The card then shifted to an indoor venue, the Estadio Journalista Felipe Drumond in Belo Horizonte, Brazil for Saturday June 23, 2012. The new main event was announced as a battle between the two coaches of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil; Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort. Unfortunately for the UFC the injury-bug then proceeded to continue reeking havoc on the card.
A broken hand suffered in training forced Vitor Belfort to withdraw and brought in late replacement Rich Franklin, a man who has already defeated Silva once in his career. Another major injury took out Daniel Sarafian a Middleweight finalist on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil. He is now being replaced by the man he defeated in the semi-finals Sergio Moraes. The undercard; which will be aired on both FX and Facebook is filled with mostly unknown talents from the Ultimate Fighter Brazil show, however, this has been an impressive season for the Portuguese language show and many of these fighters are great talents. Despite this card lacking in name value recognition, it will likely be one of the more entertaining cards of the year, it’s unfortunate that many casual fans will likely pass, due to lack of star power.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Felipe Arantes vs. Milton Vieira
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Marcos Vinicius Pancini vs. Wagner Campos
Marcos Vinicius “Vina” Pancini is a Brazilian fighter, who like his opponent had little success on the show. He will enjoy a size and strength advantage and should be able to punish his opponent in close quarters and inside the clinch. Pancini is also notable for his 100% finishing rate in pro competition, where he holds a record of 19-3-1. Wagner “Galeto” Campos is a Brazilian fighter who failed to get much going during his time on the show. He is actually undersized for the weight class and has a history of fighting ten pounds south of Featherweight in the Bantamweight division. He was Team Wanderlei’s final Featherweight pick on the show, and his results showed it. He holds a career record of 11-3. Marcos Vinicius Pancini via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (FX): Middleweight Bout: Thiago Perpetuo vs. Leonardo Mafra Texeira
Thiago de Oliveira Perpetuo is a former Light Heavyweight fighter who dropped to Middleweight for the show. He is a talented grappler who has absolutely vicious ground and pound skills. He relies on his grappling skills in nearly all of his bouts and has a career record of 8-1-1. Leonardo Mafra “Macarro” Texeira is actually fairly undersized for 185 pounds, and has fought at Welterweight in the past. He was Team Wanderlei’s last pick in the Middleweight division, despite having a highly entertaining fight style. He holds a career record of 5-0, but he’s fighting a guy who will likely have 20-30 pounds on him come fight night, that’s just too much. Thiago Perpetuo via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: John Teixeira vs. Hugo Viana
John “Macapa” Texeira is an undefeated Featherweight prospect that is a high-level grappler. He sets a relentless pace on the mat, constantly threatening with submission attempts and scrambling around, although his striking has at times looked fairly mediocre. He holds a career record of 13-0-1. Hugo “Wolverine” Viana entered the show as a dark horse, but became one of the more popular and dangerous fighters on the show. He was a semi-finalist on the show and showed flashes of extreme aggression with his knockout of Alexandre Ramos to get into the house. He is another top prospect with a perfect professional record of 5-0. Hugo Viana via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Middleweight Bout: Delson Heleno vs. Francisco Drinaldo
Delson “Pe de Chumbo” Heleno was one of the more veteran fighters on the Brazilian season of The Ultimate Fighter with nearly 30 career bouts. He has fought in big time organizations in the past like the IFL, but usually fights at 170 pounds. He holds a career record of 23-6. Francisco “Massaranduba” Drinaldo is a former Jungle Fight Champion in the Lightweight division. Despite usually fighting at 155 pounds, he decided to enter the show as a Middleweight because he couldn’t physically lose another ten pounds. He holds a career record of 10-1. Francisco Drinaldo via TKO in Round Three
Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Anistavio Medeiros vs. Rodrigo Damm
Anistavio “Gasparzinho” Medeiros was the final overall pick in the Featherweight division of the show. He is most notable for his strange antics and behavior inside the house, basically making him the Brazilian version of Junie Browning. He holds a career record of 15-7. Rodrigo Damm was one of the top fighters heading into the TUF Brazil house and was easily the biggest “name” talent on the show. He actually never lost on the show, but was eliminated when he was not cleared to fight due to Dehydration issues from repeated weight cuts on the show. He is a talented, well-rounded fighter with a career record of 9-5, against some very big name talent. Rodrigo Damm via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Featherweight Bout: Yuri Alcantara vs. Hacran Dias
Yuri “Marajo” Alcantara is a Brazilian fighter from Marajo, Brazil. He is a member of the Pattaya Fight Team in Brazil who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Alcantara is a former Jungle Fight Lightweight Champion. Alcantara is an extremely aggressive and talented striker. He is constantly moving forward and is very accurate with his strikes, which he varies well switching between kicks and punches very well. He also has a number of flashy moves, most notable the spinning back elbow he landed against Michihiro Omigawa. Alcantara also has considerable ground skills and actually looked to have impressive takedowns in his bout against Felipe Arantas. He holds a career record of 28-3.
Hacran “Barnabe” Dias is a Brazilian fighter from Rio de Janeiro. He is making his UFC debut in this bout, but comes with an impressive resume and is riding an impressive winning streak. Dias was originally scheduled to be a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, but was instead passed over for the show and offered an immediate contract. A member of the Nova Uniao camp Dias is a talented grappler who has controlled any opponent on the mat that he’s been able to takedown. Therein might lie his problem, as he sometimes struggles against fighters that he cannot take down. He has a career record of 20-1-1.
Analysis and Prediction: Dias is an extremely talented grappler and probably holds the edge on the ground if he can get on top of Alcantara. The problem is he’s got to get close to Alcantara to earn a takedown and his striking is definitely below the level of Alcantara. After that, Alcantara is a talented grappler himself who has shown impressive wrestling skills for a non-American, all these things are turning into big problems for Dias. He remains a talented prospect with tons of upside, but this is a tough fight for him and a tough go for his UFC debut. Yuri Alcantara via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Fabricio Werdum vs. Mike Russow
Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum is a Brazilian fighter from Porto Alegre. Werdum is probably the most talented grappler in the UFC’s Heavyweight division from a pure BJJ point of view. He is a 2nd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a black belt in Judo and a black belt in Muay Thai. He is a member of the Kings MMA Gym in Porto Alegre and is a former Abu Dhabi Combat Club submission-grappling champion. Despite his impressive grappling credentials, he has made significant improvements to his striking game and showed off his new striking skills in his last bout against Roy Nelson, where he basically used ‘Big Country’ as a walking, breathing punching bag. Werdum is probably best known to the casual fan as the man who started Fedor Emelianenko’s Strikeforce losing skid. He holds a career MMA record of 15-5-1.
Mike Russow is an American fighter, one of only two on the card. He is a former Police officer from Chicago, Illinois. He is now a member of the DeathClutch Gym training out of Alexandria, Minnesota. Russow is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler who is currently riding an eleven fight-winning streak. He is the epitome of a grinding Heavyweight fighter. He uses takedowns and top control, sprinkled with ground and pound to control and outwork his opponents. His striking is rather basic and he’s a touch on the slow side, but he does have big one-shot knockout ability in both of his hands, which he showed in his huge comeback victory over Todd Duffee in May 2010. He has a career record of 15-1, with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: Russow is undefeated in the UFC, but probably gets less respect than half of the guys in the Heavyweight division. Some of this is due to his rather fan unfriendly style of wrestling and top control, as well as a somewhat lackluster appearance and personality, but he is still a very talented fighter. The problem for him is he’s screwed anywhere this fight goes. Werdum is more athletic and quicker than he is and has better striking skills. On the mat, Werdum is as dangerous as they come, with dangerous grappling, so taking him down isn’t a great solution for Russow either. He hits hard enough to always have a chance, but it’s not a big one. Fabricio Werdum via TKO in Round Three
Main Card (Pay Per View): The Ultimate Fighter Brazil Featherweight Tournament Finals: Godofredo Castro vs. Rony Mariano Bezerra
Godofredo “Pepey” Castro is a Brazilian fighter from Fortaleza, Brazil. He is a member of the Marcio Cupim Team in his hometown of Fortaleza. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu whose entire MMA game revolves around his ability to get the bout to the floor. He is dangerous from both top position as well as bottom position, but I believe that he allows himself to fight off his back for too long during some bouts. His stand up is fairly bad to be brutally honest. He’s probably improved since the show, but on the show his striking featured him pawing jabs lazily, before spamming takedowns from across the cage. Against a talented striker like Bezerra that’s not going to fly. Castro holds a career record of 10-3.
Rony “Jason” Mariano Bezerra was the number one pick on the show and was one of the most impressive fighters throughout. He is an extremely talented fighter who has big fight experience against the likes of Renan Barao and Felipe Arantes. He holds the notable distinction of finishing all of his opponents. Bezerra is a member of the Team Nogueira Gym in Brazil, where he trains with a very talented team. He has dynamic striking skills, is very quick and is a talented grappler in his own right. Add to that the fact that he wears a sweet Jason mask out to the cage and you’ve got a fighter I can support.
Analysis and Prediction: What this comes down to for me is “Pepey’s” limited ability to strike. If he can’t find a better way to close the distance he’s going to get peppered by Bezerra who is a competent grappler with solid takedown defense. Shooting from outside won’t work, so that means Castro needs to get close and that puts him in significant danger. Cardio could be a problem for Bezerra but it’s only a three round fight, so long as he controls himself and the pacing of the bout, he should be able to notch a late stoppage. Rony Bezerra via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): The Ultimate Fighter Brazil Middleweight Tournament Finals: Cezar Ferreira vs. Sergio Moraes
Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira is a Brazilian fighter from Belo Horiztone, so he will be fighting in front of a hometown crowd. Despite his Brazilian heritage he actually trains in the United States with his coach from the show Vitor Belfort at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ferreira holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and actually began wrestling and grappling in his early childhood. Ferreira is also a dangerous, albeit sometimes careless striker who can deliver big pop in his punches. During his time on the show he often used his striking to set up the finishes, as he stopped all of his opponents (two by submission, one by knockout.) Mutante holds a career record of 4-2.
Sergio “Serginho” Moraes is fighting on his second life come Saturday night. The 29-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil actually lost in the semi-finals of the show. However, an injury to the man that defeated him for the spot in the finals Daniel Sarafian opened the door for him to return to a slot in the finals. Moraes is a very talented grappler with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, who is actually a Jiu Jitsu coach at the Team Nogueira/Black House Gym in California. In the house he showed solid submissions, defeating both his opponents by submission. However, in his bout against Sarafian he was somewhat exposed as a poor striker as he was knocked out cold by Sarafian. He holds a career record of 6-1.
Analysis and Prediction: This is a fight, which will be very different depending on where it spends the most time. Ferreira is the more talented striker, with more power. It’s not so much that Moraes is a bad striker, just that he’s tentative and doesn’t pick his spots well. On the ground Moraes is the more capable and more dangerous black belt. The thing for me is I don’t think Moraes is so much better on the ground against a decent grappler like Ferreira as he is overmatched on the feet. Ferreira takes this one by late TKO. Cezar Ferreira via TKO in Round Three
Main Card (Pay Per View): 190-Pound Catchweight Bout: Wanderlei Silva vs. Rich Franklin
Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva is a Brazilian fighter and one of the legends in the sport of MMA. For years he dominated the Light Heavyweight division in PRIDE FC over in Japan and he was well known for his relentless aggression and ability to withstand huge punishment in order to dish out his own. Fast-forward five years and Wanderlei is no longer the same fighter. He can’t take the same kind of punishment that he used to, although he still likes to engage in the same kind of firefights that made him famous in Japan, even if they aren’t necessarily to his advantage any longer. Even though his chin is deteriorating and his body is beginning to slow down, he is still a handful for any fighter to deal with. His balls to the wall approach to fighting and his ability to land a one-punch knockout forces all of his opponents to be on their toes at all times. Wanderlei also has underrated ground skills, holding a black belt in BJJ. The member of the Reign Training Center and the head of the Wand Fight Team owns a professional record of 34-11-1 with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: These two fought in 2009, with Franklin winning a Unanimous Decision that was never really contested or debated. Usually I like to delve deep into main events, but I’m not sure this fight warrants a whole lot of detail. Like Eric said in a column earlier this week, there have been worse main events in UFC history, although I’m not so sure all ten of them on his list were worse (sorry Eric.) However, this is still a rematch that no one really wanted, including fans and both fighters involved, but the damned injury bug gave it to use anyways.
In their first fight Franklin was faster and more technically sound on the feet. Wanderlei was able to win the second round with his trademark aggression but Franklin stayed composed and won the third round, in addition to the first, which he won handily and took the decision. Since that fight Silva has looked slower and less impressive. Rich definitely isn’t getting any younger and although his results have been mixed since their last fight, I think Rich has had the tougher schedule.
In a five-round fight I think Rich’s trademark cardio becomes a big factor. Wanderlei can still win exchanges and rounds with his crazy balls out aggression, but throwing every punch to kill and running around the cage takes the toll on the gas tank. Rich on the other hand has cardio to fight for days and can fight in a much more composed manner. Expect the more technically proficient Franklin to win the exchanges from the outside and use some well-timed takedowns to wear out Wanderlei before finishing him in the later rounds. Rich Franklin via TKO in Round Four
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