Last weekend was a bit of a downer for the UFC as an organization. Despite a highly entertaining main event featuring a championship bout which itself featured the champion defending the title in his home state, the event was widely considered a ratings flop. It did pretty awful numbers on Fox, ranking as dead-last to second-last in terms of ratings depending on the varying reports that are making rounds on the internet. With that said, I’m going to take the UFC to task a little bit more than I usually do. They are following up a free card on Fox that did poorly with underwhelming results in live attendance and live viewership on television with a Pay Per View offering, that in my opinion and the opinion of several others leaves a lot to be desired in terms of name value.
UFC 163 takes place this weekend live from the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The main event features Brazil’s favorite Featherweight fighter as UFC Champion Jose Aldo defends his title against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung. The co-main event features a possible title eliminator at 205-pounds as Lyoto Machida takes on American wrestling standout Phil Davis. Other main card action features a Middleweight bout between Cezar Ferreira taking on Thiago Santos, as well another Middleweight bout between the returning Thales Leites and Tom Watson. The opening bout of the Pay Per View card features Flyweight action as John Lineker takes on Jose Tome.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Light Heavyweight Bout: Ednaldo Oliveira vs. Francimar Barroso
Quick Pick: Francimar Barroso via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Viscardi Andrade vs. Bristol Marunde
Viscardi Andrade is a 29-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was a competitor on the second season of TUF: Brazil. Andrade is a member of the Gracie Fusion Gym in Sao Paulo and holds a career record of 14-5, but is currently riding a 6-bout winning streak. Bristol Marunde is a 31-year-old fighter from Fairbanks, Alaska. He currently resides and trains in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Throwdown Training Center. After an unsuccessful debut in Strikeforce he appeared as a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter, eventually losing in the quarterfinals. He holds a professional MMA record of 12-8.
Quick Pick: Viscardi Andrade via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Rani Yahya vs. Josh Clopton
Rani Yahya is a 28-year-old fighter from Brasilia, Brazil. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who trains with the Constrictor Team in his hometown. He is a veteran of the WEC and the UFC who has international grappling experience. He holds a professional MMA record of 18-7. Josh “The Gentleman” Clopton is a 32-year-old fighter from San Francisco, California. Clopton was a competitor on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He trains with the Skrap Pack in California and holds a pro MMA record of 6-1-1.
Quick Pick: Rani Yahya via Submission in Round One
Preliminary Card (FX): Flyweight Bout: Ian McCall vs. Iliarde Santos
Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall is a 29-year-old fighter from Costa Mesa, California. Once considered the world’s number 1 Flyweight fighter, he has struggled against the top two competitors in the UFC’s Flyweight division going 0-2-1 against Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez. He is a member of Team Oyama in California and holds a professional record of 11-4-1. Iliarde Santos is a 32-year-old fighter from Para, Brazil. He is a member of the Ulisses Pereira Team in his hometown. He recently made his UFC debut at Bantamweight as an injury replacement and is getting a shot in his more natural weight class. He holds a pro record of 27-7-1 with 1 No Contest.
Quick Pick: Ian McCall via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Sergio Moraes vs. Neil Magny
Sergio “The Panther” Moraes is a 31-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Moraes is best known as a finalist from the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, although his position as finalist was as an injury replacement. He is a BJJ black belt who has trained with a number of teams in Brazil including Alliance Jiu Jitsu, Team Nogueira and Universidade da luta. He holds a pro record of 7-2. Neil Magny is a 25-year-old fighter from Brooklyn, New York. Magny was a cast member on the sixteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Magny trains with Miguel Torres’ team in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a career record of 8-1.
Quick Pick: Neil Magny via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Amanda Nunes vs. Sheila Gaff
Amanda “The Lioness of the Ring” Nunes is a 25-year-old fighter from Bahia, Brazil. She is a solid striker who has won the majority of her fights via stoppage. Nunes trains with the AMA Fight Club in New Jersey, but also trains at the MMA Masters Gym in her hometown. She holds a career record of 7-3. Sheila “The German Tank” Gaff is a 23-year-old fighter from Bad Hersfeld, Germany. She is a striker who has never backed down from a brawl during her bouts. Gaff is a member of the Arena Aschaffenburg in Aschaffenburg, Germany. She holds a career record of 10-5-1.
Quick Pick: Amanda Nunes via TKO in Round One
Preliminary Card (FX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Vinny Magalhaes vs. Anthony Perosh
Vinny “Pezao” Magalhaes is a 29-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil although he now lives in Portland, Oregon. Magalhaes is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who is the BJJ coach at Team Quest in Oregon and Nevada. Magalhaes was a cast member from the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Magalhaes holds a career record of 10-6 with 1 No Contest. Anthony “The Hippo” Perosh is a 41-year-old fighter from New South Wales, Australia. Perosh is a former Heavyweight fighter who is a BJJ black belt who trains with the Sinosic Perosh Martial Arts Gym in Australia. He holds a pro MMA record of 13-7.
Quick Pick: Vinny Magalhaes via Submission in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Flyweight Bout: John Lineker vs. Jose Tome
John “Hands of Stone” Lineker is a 23-year-old fighter from Parana, Brazil. Lineker is a former Jungle Fight Bantamweight Champion but has also competed for a number of other promotions including Shooto Brazil, Gladiators Fighting Championship and Nitrix MMA. Lineker is a former Bantamweight fighter and is fairly large for the Flyweight division, which has affected his cardio in the past. Lineker is a member of the EMPORIUM Gym in Parana. He is an aggressive and powerful striker with knockout power and strong combinations. He holds a career record of 21-6 including 12 stoppage victories.
Jose “No Chance” Tome is a 31-year-old fighter from Ceara, Brazil. Tome has compiled an impressive record, mostly on the Brazilian regional scene. Tome is an aggressive brawler who is fairly well rounded despite his tendency to engage in brawls. Tome is a member of the Renovacao Fight Team in his hometown. He has a strong chin but has somewhat porous striking defense. Despite decent striking skills, Tome’s best bout in this contest might be to try and control the bout on the ground. Tome holds a career record of 33-3 but has not been defeated since July of 2008, a span of 17 fights.
Analysis and Prediction: Tome has an impressive record from the Brazilian regional circuit, but this is certainly going to be one of the toughest tests of his career. Lineker is an extremely aggressive striker who throws nasty combinations and attacks the body relentlessly, the results often taking a serious toll on his opponent’s cardiovascular endurance. Tome is going to need to be aware of this and is going to need to counter punch aggressively when Lineker winds up some of his bigger punches. Tome likely holds a small advantage on the ground, but Lineker is quite big and strong so taking the fight to the ground might be easier said than done. In the end I think Lineker lands a couple of big combinations that stun Tome and lure him into a brawl, from there it’s lights out in round two. John Lineker via KO in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Thales Leites vs. Tom Watson
Thales Leites is a 31-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Leites is a former UFC Middleweight title challenger who has not fought in the UFC since UFC 101 in 2009. Leites is a talented grappler who holds a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. Leites trains with the Nova Uniao camp in Rio de Janeiro. Since being dropped from the UFC Leites has gone 6-1, with the lone loss coming to Matt Horwich, which he has since avenged. Leites holds a professional MMA record of 20-4.
Tom “Kong” Watson is a 31-year-old fighter from Southhampton, England. Watson trains with Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico but also spends time at the Reign Training Center in Orange County, California. Watson has fought for a number of major MMA promotions in Europe including Cage Rage, BAMMA as well as MFC in Canada. Watson is a talented striker who excels at close range, fighting from the clinch with knees and elbows effectively. Watson has shown a weakness against talented wrestlers and grapplers in the past and will hold a significant striking advantage in this bout if he can keep the bout standing. He holds a career record of 16-5.
Analysis and Prediction: Leites was less than impressive during his last go-round with the UFC but he has looked impressive on the regional scene since being released. His stand up is never going to be world beating but it looks like it has improved slightly since his first stint in the UFC. Watson however is a tough and durable striker who can absolutely batter Leites in the close quarters of a clinch. If Leites is going to move in for a takedown, he’ll need to be sure to set it up well, as Watson is physically strong and will be able to stuff long distance shots. This bout comes down to whether or not Leites can get Watson to the ground, I’ve never been overly impressed with Watson, so I think he eventually will. From there, he’ll find an opening and snag a submission late in the first, or sometime in the second. Thales Leites via Submission in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Cezar Ferreira vs. Thiago Santos
Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira is a 28-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Ferreira is best known from his appearances on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil where he was the eventual winner of the show. Ferreira is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who also excels in Capoeira. Despite being Brazilian, Ferreira now resides and trains in the USA with the Blackzillians at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida. Ferreira was originally schedule to face Clint Hester on this card, but an injury forced him to withdraw. Ferreira is an aggressive striker who mixes his combinations well, but has also been known to be somewhat overly aggressive at times. He holds a career record of 5-2.
Thiago “Marreta” Santos is a 29-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Santos is a member of the Tata Fight Team in Rio. Santos was a cast member on the second season of TUF: Brazil but fell short to the tournament’s winner Leonardo Santos. Santos is taking this bout as a late injury replacement for Clint Hester. Santos uses leg kicks well and will need to attack the legs and body repeatedly if he’s going to keep the extremely aggressive Ferreira at bay. Santos holds a professional MMA record of 8-1.
Analysis and Prediction: Ferreira is a tough and aggressive southpaw striker who trains with a team of excellent kickboxers at the Blackzillians, he’s certainly going to want to keep this fight on the feet. Santos is going to need to keep Ferreira away from him, a steady stream of leg kicks and jabs should be on the menu from him. He’ll also need to choose his shots widely, because at times Ferreira does leave himself open to big counter shots. Still, he packs one hell of a punch and is going to hold a decided size advantage. I think ‘Mutante’ gets the job done. Cesar Ferreira via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Lyoto Machida vs. Phil Davis
Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida is a 35-year-old fighter from Salvador, Brazil. Machida is one of the top Light Heavyweight fighters in the world who is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Machida is a 3rd dan black belt in Shotokan Karate and a black belt in BJJ, he is also the most prominent karate practitioner in modern MMA. Machida is a member of the Black House and is one of the most prominent training partners of Anderson Silva along with the Nogueira brothers. Machida is often described as elusive by UFC commentator Joe Rogan, known for his excellent and fluid footwork and striking defense. He also has excellent timing and is one of the Light Heavyweight division’s best counter-strikers. He holds a career record of 19-3.
Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis is a 28-year-old fighter from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Davis is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler from Penn State University. Since switching to MMA, Davis has reached the rank of purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has improved his striking considerably. Davis is a member of the Alliance MMA Gym in Chula Vista, California. Despite Davis’ improvements in his striking skills, he is still quite far behind the striking prowess of Machida. Davis is a smothering wrestler, but in his lone career loss against Rashad Evans, his takedowns were stuffed and his striking game devolved significantly. Despite his striking disadvantages he will own a five-inch reach advantage over Machida in this fight. Davis holds a career record of 11-1 with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: Davis needs to get this fight to the ground and he needs to do it in a hurry. He stands fairly little chance of having nearly a remote chance of success in the striking game. So the question becomes, can Davis take Machida down? He’s going to struggle mightily. Machida has excellent footwork, he uses angles well and is very quick making him difficult to take down. Davis will have a reach advantage in the bout, but he’ll still have a problem getting the better of the striking. I imagine that Machida takes this bout relatively slow to start, feinting and jabbing, prodding with kicks before eventually turning up the volume as time goes on. He could find a stoppage if Davis pushes the envelope too much when he gets desperate, but it’s more likely that Machida takes this one on points. Lyoto Machida via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): UFC Featherweight Championship Bout: Jose Aldo vs. Chan Sung Jung
Jose “Scarface” Aldo is a 26-year-old fighter from Manus, Brazil. Aldo is the reigning and defending UFC Featherweight Champion and was the final WEC Featherweight champion. Aldo holds a black belt in BJJ, but he is better known for his Muay Thai striking abilities. Aldo is a member of the Nova Uniao Gym training in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Aldo was originally scheduled to fight Anthony Pettis in this bout before a knee-injury forced Pettis to withdraw. Aldo is a well-rounded striker who is very aggressive with his leg kicks, knees to the body and flashy head kicks. Aldo also has big time power in his hands and has won the majority of his bouts via TKO. Aldo holds a nearly perfect professional record of 22-1.
“The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung is a 26-year-old fighter from Pohang, South Korea. Jung is a talented grappler who holds a green belt in Judo and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Despite these somewhat less than impressive belt credentials he is a creative and extremely talented grappler. Jung also holds a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and his striking style is very representative of that background. Before joining the WEC and UFC, Jung fought for a number of major Asian MMA promotions including Pancrase, KoreaFC, DEEP and Sengoku. Jung is a member of Korean Zombie MMA in his hometown and has also trained with the Korean Top Team in Seoul. He holds a career MMA record of 13-3.
Analysis and Prediction: This fight is a bit of a mismatch, but there are definitely a few ways for the upset to get pulled off. Aldo is the Featherweight division’s most devastating striker and is probably top five pound-for-pound in that category. Jung has decent striking, but he moves forward at a bit too much of a plodding pace to really challenge Aldo. Still, the Zombie is one of the more talented grapplers in the division and is extremely creative with his submission game, the problem for him will be getting Aldo to the floor. Aldo is massive and extremely strong, so much so that he’s been able to fend off talented wrestlers in his career. Jung will need to utilize trips and throws to take Aldo down.
Jung has struggled against strikers that are far inferior to Aldo, including being knocked cold by George Roop. Jung has a strong chin and can take a fair amount of punishment, but Aldo is simply the heaviest hitter that he’s ever faced. I expect a beat down from the champion, culminating in quite possibly a knockout of the night bonus check. Jose Aldo via KO in Round Three
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