It’s another free fight weekend and once again this card is coming from the UFC’s favorite South American home of Brazil. This Saturday, June the 8th the UFC presents UFC on Fuel TV 10: Nogueira vs. Werdum. The event serves as the finale of the second season of the Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Despite being loaded with mostly local talent, the main card actually serves up some interesting bouts. In the main event of the evening Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira battles Fabricio Werdum in a battle of the show’s coaches, which will be a rematch from their PRIDE FC bout in 2006.
Other main card action includes the finale of the Welterweight tournament to crown the winner of the second season of TUF: Brazil, although the tournament will be marked with an asterisk as rightful finalist Santiago Ponzinibbio suffered a broken hand and was unable to get clearance to fight at the finale. He is being replaced by the man he defeated in the semi-finals Leonardo Santos, who will battle William Macario. A Light Heavyweight bout between Brazilian bangers Thiago Silva and Rafael Cavalcante is on the docket, as is a Middleweight bout between Daniel Sarafian and Eddie Mendez. Brazil’s top Welterweight prospect Erick Silva battles Jason High and the main card opens with a Featherweight tilt between TUF: Brazil Featherweight Champion Rony Jason taking on Mike Wilkinson.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Antonio Braga Neto vs. Anthony Smith
[adinserter block=”1″]Antonio Braga Neto is a 25-year-old fighter from Espirito Santo, Brazil. He holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is a gold medalist in a number of major Jiu Jitsu competitions including the World Jiu Jitsu Championships. He is a member of the Evolve MMA Gym training in Singapore. He holds a professional record of 8-1 with 1 No Contest. Anthony “Lionheart” Smith is a 24-year-old fighter from Corpus Christi, Texas. He trains with the Disorderly Conduct Fight Team in Omaha, Nebraska. He has fought most of his recent fights in the Strikeforce organization and will be making his UFC debut. He holds a professional record of 17-9.
Quick Pick: Antonio Braga Neto via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Caio Magalhaes vs. Karlos Vemola
Caio “Hellboy” Magalhaes is a 25-year-old fighter from Sobral, Ceara, Brazil. He is a member of the famed Nova Uniao camp training in Fortaleza, Brazil. He holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who does his best work on the ground. He holds a professional record of 5-1, with the lone loss coming in his UFC debut. Karlos “The Terminator” Vemola is a 27-year-old fighter from Olomouc, Czechoslovakia. He is claimed to be a Czech Republic National Amateur Wrestling Champion, but a recent report has cast doubt on that claim. He trains with the London Shootfighters Gym in London, England. He holds a career record of 9-3.
Quick Pick: Karlos Vemola via TKO in Round Three
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Rodrigo Damm vs. Mizuto Hirota
Rodrigo Damm is a 33-year-old fighter from Vila Velha, Brazil. He was a cast member on the first season of TUF: Brazil. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and was also a member of the Brazilian national wrestling team. He trains with the Alliance Jiu Jitsu Team in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His professional MMA record is 10-6. Mizuto “Pugnus” Hirota is a 32-year-old fighter from Nagasaki, Japan. He has fought for a number of major Asian MMA promotions including World Victory Road and DEEP. He is a member of the Gutsman Shooto Dojo in Tokyo, Japan. He holds a career record of 14-6-1.
Quick Pick: Mizuto Hirota via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Ildemar Alcantara vs. Leandro Silva
Ildemar “Marajo” Alcantara is a fighter from Soure, Para, Brazil. He is the brother of UFC fighter Yuri Alcantara and trains with his brother at the Marajo Brothers Fight Team. He is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who will be making his Welterweight debut after starting his UFC career at 205 pounds in his last bout. He holds a career record of 18-5. Leandro “Buscape” Silva was a part of the second season of TUF: Brazil but lost in the qualifying round. He is a member of the Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil and is a talented grappler with excellent Jiu Jitsu credentials. He holds a perfect professional record of 11-0, although he will be moving up in weight for this bout.
Quick Pick: Ildemar Alcantara via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Godofredo Castro vs. Felipe Arantes
Godofredo “Pepey” Castro is a 25-year-old fighter from Fortaleza, Brazil. He was a cast member on the first season of TUF: Brazil, where he was the runner up in the Featherweight class. He is a member of the Marico Cupim Team who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. His professional record stands at 9-1, with the lone loss to TUF: Brazil champion Rony Jason. Felipe “Sertanejo” Arantes is a 25-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is a talented kick boxer with a background in Muay Thai, he has since added a purple belt in BJJ. He is a member of the Macaco Gold Fight Team in New Jersey. His professional record is 14-4-1 with 2 No Contests.
Quick Pick: Felipe Arantes via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Ronny Markes vs. Derek Brunson
Ronny Markes is a 25-year-old fighter from Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. He is a member of the famed Nova Uniao Gym in Rio de Janeiro. He is one of the top young fighters from Brazil in the Middleweight division. He holds a near perfect professional record of 14-1, including a 3-0 mark in the UFC. Derek Brunson is a 29-year-old fighter from Wilmington, North Carolina. He is a former NCAA Division 2 Wrestler from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. He trains with the Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy in North Carolina. His professional MMA record currently stands at 10-2.
Quick Pick: Ronny Markes via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Raphael Assuncao vs. Vaughan Lee
Raphael Assuncao is a 30-year-old fighter from Recife, Brazil. He now trains in the United States at the Ascension MMA Gym in Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a black belt in BJJ and is a very talented grappler. He holds a professional record of 18-4, and is currently riding a 3-fight winning streak since dropping to Bantamweight. Vaughan Lee is a 30-year-old fighter from Birmingham, England. Lee trains at the Ultimate Training Center in his hometown. He has fought for a number of notable British promotions including Cage Rage and Fight UK. He holds a professional record of 13-8-1.
Quick Pick: Raphael Assuncao via Submission in Round Three
Main Card (Fuel TV): Featherweight Bout: Rony Mariano Bezerra vs. Mike Wilkinson
Rony “Jason” Mariano Bezerra is a 29-year-old fighter from Ceara, Brazil. He is best known as the Featherweight winner on the first season of TUF: Brazil. He is a member of the Team Nogueira Fight Team training in Quixada, Ceara, Brazil. HE is a black belt in BJJ and also holds an orange belt in Judo. He is an accurate and highly capable striker who owns most of his victories via stoppage. He holds a career record of 12-3. Mike “The Warrior” Wilkinson is a 25-year-old fighter from Wigan, England. He was a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes as a member of Team UK. He trains at the Atherton Submission Wrestling Gym in his hometown. He holds a perfect professional record of 8-0.
Analysis and Prediction: Wilkinson seems to me like a poor man’s Chael Sonnen. He relies a lot on his wrestling and everyone knows it, the thing is, his wrestling isn’t that good and his striking is awful. He flails punches far too often and leaves himself susceptible to counter shots. Against Jason that’s going to be painful. I expect the Brazilian to use his reach advantage to punish Wilkinson from the outside with jabs and leg kicks to slow the wrestler. He traps Wilkinson in a clinch late in the first round and finishes him in violent fashion from there. Rony Mariano Bezerra via TKO in Round One
Main Card (Fuel TV): Welterweight Bout: Erick Silva vs. Jason High
Erick “Indio” Silva is a 28-year-old fighter from Vila Velha, Brazil. He is a member of the X-Gym and Team Nogueira in Brazil. He is one of the top young talents from Brazil, and is former Jungle Fight Welterweight Champion. He holds black belts in both Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. His career MMA record stands at 18-3 with 1 No Contest. Jason “The Bandit” High is a 31-year-old fighter from Kansas City, Missouri. He has fought for a number of major MMA promotions throughout his career including DREAM, Strikeforce, Affliction and will be making his return to the UFC for the first time since 2010. High trains at The Bodyshop Fitness Gym in Lakewood, California. He holds a professional record of 16-3.
Analysis and Prediction: I would assume that High will try to implement a game plan similar to that of Jon Fitch. However, he’s not nearly as talented of a wrestler as Fitch and even Fitch didn’t enjoy continuous success with his strategy. I expect High to shoot early and often, not allowing the young Brazilian to get comfortable in the cage. I think eventually Silva lands a bomb as he times High shooting for a takedown and stops the action in the second. Erick Silva via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (Fuel TV): Middleweight Bout: Daniel Sarafian vs. Eddie Mendez
Daniel Sarafian is a 30-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is a member of Demian Maia’s BJJ Academy where he holds a black belt in BJJ. He was a member of the first season of TUF: Brazil. Sarafian was a finalist on TUF: Brazil but was forced from the finale due to injury. He holds a pro record of 7-3, including a loss to CB Dollaway in his UFC debut. Eddie Mendez is a fighter from Sun Valley, California who will be making his UFC debut. He’s fought mostly on the regional California circuit and appears to be a well-rounded fighter who doesn’t excel in any particular area. He holds a career record of 7-1-1 with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: Sarafian seems like he’s getting a softball in this one. Mendez hasn’t faced anyone nearly as talented as Sarafian and he’s going into a hostile environment in Brazil, to make his UFC debut. The deck certainly appears to be stacked in Sarafian’s favor. I expect he takes advantage. He drops Mendez on the feet, before sinking in a rear naked choke for the victory. Daniel Sarafian via Submission in Round One
Main Card (Fuel TV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Thiago Silva vs. Rafael Cavalcante
Thiago Silva is a 30-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but has rarely shown his grappling credentials inside the octagon, usually preferring to stand and trade with his opponents. He is a former Chute Boxe member, but he now trains in the USA with the Blackzillians at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida. Silva holds a career record of 14-3 with 2 No Contests, after some of his more recent bouts have been marred by failed drug tests. Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante is a 32-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Cavalcante is a black belt in BJJ who trains with Team X Jiu Jitsu in Sao Paulo as well as with the Black House team. He is an aggressive Muay Thai kick boxer who is a former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion. HE holds a career record of 11-3 with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: Both of these guys have struggled with failed drug tests in the past, so perhaps it’s no wonder they’re fighting in Brazil, where the athletic commission is notoriously easy-going. Still this fight should offer some fireworks as both of these guys love to stand in the pocket and trade. Neither one of these two will shoot for takedowns so we could be looking at a potential Fight of the Night winner here. Still, from everything I’ve seen of both guys, Silva just looks entirely too hittable in my opinion. That costs him against a power puncher like Cavalcante. Rafael Cavalcante via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (Fuel TV): TUF: Brazil Season 2 Welterweight Finale Bout: William Macario vs. Leonardo Santos
William “Patolino” Macario is a 21-year-old fighter from Brazil. He is a member of the Pejor Fight Team who holds a perfect professional record, including six finishes (five in the first round.) He is a talented striker who is fearless and constantly walks down his opponents, from there he is excellent in the clinch either pummeling away at foes or taking the action to the ground. He holds a career record of 6-0. Leonardo Santos is a 33-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a member of the Nova Uniao Gym where he holds a black belt in BJJ and is one of the top grapplers in the world for his weight. His brother Wagney Fabiano is also an MMA fighter. He lost in the semi-finals to Santiago Ponzinibbio but has replaced him in the finals due to injury. He holds a career record of 11-3.
Analysis and Prediction: Macario looked impressive on the show, but like many pundits have pointed out, his opposition prior to joining the show was less than impressive. Santos on the other hand has fought some tough fighters and has battled in hostile arenas in the past, simply due to experience, the edge has to go to Santos. He’s also the more capable grappler, although Macario has an innate ability to hurt and finish his opponents quickly. In the end, I think the jitters get to the young fighter and he makes a mental error on the mat, against a grappler as talented as Santos that spells doom. Leonardo Santos via Submission in Round Two
Main Card (Fuel TV): Heavyweight Bout: Fabricio Werdum vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum is a 35-year-old fighter from Porto Alegre, Brazil. He holds black belts in Judo, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Werdum has won a number of major grappling and Jiu Jitsu tournaments including being a two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Champion. Werdum is most notable for his upset victory over Fedor Emelianenko, becoming the first fighter to notch a legitimate victory over Fedor. Despite having a reputation as simply a grappler, his Muay Thai has improved significantly over the years and he is a dangerous fighter both on the ground and standing. He holds a professional MMA record of 16-5-1.
[adinserter block=”2″]Antonio “Minotauro” Rodrigo Nogueira is a 37-year-old fighter from Bahia, Brazil and is a legend of the sport of MMA. He is a member of the Black House Gym and is one of the lead trainers of Team Nogueira. He holds a black belt in both Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Nogueira is best known for his time in Japan fighting for the PRIDE Fighting Championships, where he was the first ever PRIDE Heavyweight Champion. Nogueira has also held the UFC’s Interim Heavyweight Championship title, being the only man to hold both the PRIDE and UFC Heavyweight titles. He is a talented boxer with excellent straight punches and a strong jab. He holds a decorated professional MMA record of 34-7-1 with 1 No Contest, compiled against some of the best fighters in the world.
Analysis and Prediction: This fight is actually a rematch of a July 2006 bout between these two men in PRIDE. However, a lot has changed since then. Nogueira’s boxing is still crisp, but his footwork and head movement have slowed significantly, the miles of wear and tear from a life in combat sports catching up with him. Also, his iron chin has started to fail him in recent bouts, having been rocked in a number of bouts, as well as being TKO’ed twice in his last three losses. Werdum on the other hand has been improving his striking skills and is no longer a one-dimensional grappler. Werdum looked very impressive in his last UFC bout against Roy Nelson as he absolutely battered Big Country on the feet and in the clinch.
Both of these guys are lights out on the ground, so let’s call it a wash there. I think Werdum knows his advantage lies in the clinch and I think he pressures Nogueira until he gets it. I expect to see a strong jab as he closes the distance and wraps Nogueira up in a Thai Plum. From there it’s elbows, knees to the body and uppercuts that eventually seal the deal. Fabricio Werdum via TKO in Round Two
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