Tonight is the night, Brazilian MMA fans! The UFC had no idea what to do with some of it’s best remaining Brazilian stars, so they put a bunch of them on this card. The prelims were mostly rising prospects and a few Brazilian veterans, but the main card? The names are notable, but some of the names are on the downturn. Anderson Silva was amongst those names, but he needed emergency gallbladder surgery this week, so his fight against Uriah Hall got cancelled. The card is still stacked from a name basis. As for how the fights will go? Nobody knows.
A few of the fights look like executions. Two of them for sure, with two others possibly being one-sided affairs as well. The headlining fight is intriguing, but this night isn’t about competitive fights, per se. No, it’s a coronation for Brazilian MMA, as evidenced by the fact that it’s stacked from a name basis, taking place in a sold-out 45,000 seat soccer stadium, etc. Hopefully, the main card is fun, and not one-sided and possibly depressing, even though that’ definitely possible.
Main card (10/9c, PPV)
Warlley Alves (10-0) vs. Brian Barbarena (11-3)
Opening up the card is a potential execution. No, it’s not the Cyborg fight, but still. It was supposed to be a televised prelim bout, but was bumped to the main card after Anderson Silva got hurt. Barbarena stunned the masses when he made young phenom Sage Northcutt tap out back in December. His reward? Brazilian submission ace Warlley Alves. He has a small shot, having won eight fights via knockout. However, Alves, the TUF: Brazil 3 Middleweight winner, is a potential future champion. Suffice to say, I’m picking Alves. Prediction: Alves via submission, round 1.
Shogun Rua (23-10) vs. Corey Anderson (8-1)
Ah, yes, the depressing fight. Shogun is a legend, but he should’ve retired by now. Luckily for him, Anderson is a decision machine. Maybe Rua lands the early ko? That’s doubtful though. The logical pick is Anderson via decision or ko. Regardless of what happens, especially if Shogun pulls of a surprise win. He should strongly consider retirement.
Head pick: Anderson via decision. Heart pick: Rua via ko, followed by a retirement.
Christianne Cyborg (15-1, 1NC) vs. Leslie Smith (8-6-1)
Big ups to Leslie Smith for taking this fight. She’s a warrior, no doubt. However, Cyborg is a monster who has to cut weight to make 145! Cyborg has nine first round finishes, and 13 total knockouts. Her only loss was her pro debut in May 2005. This one will hurt to watch. For Smith’s sake, hopefully it’s not too brutal. Prediction: Cyborg via knockout, round 1.
(2) Ronaldo Souza (22-4, 1NC) vs. (3) Vitor Belfort (25-11)
Souza deserves a title shot. However, the UFC is obsessed with unnecessary immediate rematches, so they re-booked Weidman/Rockhold and gave Jacare this fight. Clearly, this is basically a title eliminator for him, and if the submission ace gets the win, he’ll basically be guaranteed a title shot against the winner of next month’s championship winner.
Belfort is a known name who went on a reign of terror under TRT in 2013, but lost his first fight since then, a title fight against then champion Chris Weidman. He looked good early, but after getting taken down, he looked helpless and was finished in the first round. He defeated Dan Henderson in his follow-up fight in November, and if he can get an early barrage to connect, he may beat Jacare. Jacare deserves a title shot though, so I’ll go with him and conventional wisdom here. Prediction: Souza via submission, round 2
UFC Heavyweight Championship: (c) Fabricio Werdum (20-5-1) vs. (2) Stipe Miocic (14-2)
In the main event of the evening, UFC Heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum will look to defend his title against Cleveland’s Stipe Miocic. A lot of people seem to think Miocic will get it done. However, I am not one of them.
Honestly, I still believe Werdum is underrated. He’s a second-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and also possesses black belts in Judo and Muay Thai. He’s 10-1 since losing to Junior dos Santos in November 2008, with the loss coming in 2011 to Alistair Ocereem via decision, has 16 finishes to his credit, and has won six straight.
Miocic is very good, having gone 8-2 inside the octagon. He’s only been finished once, getting knocked out by Stefan Struve in 2012. He has good cardio, a powerful punch, and wrestling to boot. However, I see Werdum submitting him tonight. Prediction: Werdum via submission, round 2.