This upcoming Saturday night (May 28, 2011) at UFC 130: "Rampage vs. Hamill," a trio of exciting preliminary bouts will be shown for free on the UFC facebook page at approximately 7 p.m. ET.
Lightweight Brazilian Gleison Tibau stepped in on three week's notice for an injured Cody McKenzie and he'll be matching up with fellow injury replacement Rafaello Oliveira, who's stepping in on even later notice, about eight days in place of the injured Bart Palaszewski.
Tibau is hoping to continue to build momentum in the division while Oliveira, just happy to be back in the UFC, is hoping to earn a defining victory and an opportunity to stay in the world's largest promotion long term this go-around.
Bantamweight prospect Michael McDonald makes his return to the UFC after a "Fight of the Night" performance in his Octagon debut against Edwin Figueroa. The incredibly young fighter will look to continue to develop and steadily progress through the promotion's ranks.
McDonald's opponent, Chris Cariaso earned a unanimous decision victory over Will Campuzano in his UFC debut at the second Fight for the Troops event and he's looking to continue to ride the momentum against the youngest fighter in the UFC.
Renan Barao was originally slated to face Demetrious Johnson in his UFC debut but he'll have to settle for the former WEC bantamweight champion Cole Escovedo. Barao is an incredibly accomplished Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) fighter with 12 submission victories in his young career. The Brazilian makes his debut with the promotion having remarkably not lost in his last 26 professional fights.
Cole Escovedo is the first ever WEC featherweight champion but he'll be making his UFC debut at bantamweight against Barao. After a rough stretch in his career against some of the best smaller fighters in the world, he earned a trip to the UFC after campaigning for a spot on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) as well as winning his last fight in just two and a half minutes.
Can Tibau and Oliveira put on a show despite stepping in on late notice? Will Michael McDonald continue his meteoric rise? Will a former champion finally derail Barao's incredible streak?
Let's find out:Gleison Tibau
Record: 22-7 overall, 8-5 in the UFC
Record: 14-3 overall, 1-2 in the UFC
Key Wins: John Gunderson (UFC 108), Bendy Casimir (Recife FC 2)
How they got here: Boy, this fight sure has changed from the original Bart Palaszewski - Cody McKenzie bout that was slated. First, McKenzie went down with an injury and then, just a few short days ago, Palaszewski was forced to back out. Brazilians Tibau and Oliviera were more than happy to step in on late notice, especially Oliviera, who is making his return to the UFC after winning four consecutive fights outside the promotion.
Gleison Tibau has consistently been a mid to upper tier lightweight but has never crossed over into contender status. Every time he gets close, he's been derailed by a Jim Miller or a Melvin Guillard. Tibau is widely regarded as one of the largest lightweights in the UFC and it's been reported he cuts up to 40 pounds to make the 155 pound limit. Tibau is coming off a huge split decision victory over Kurt Pellegrino at UFC 128 and he's looking to continue his momentum.
Rafaello Oliveira is looking for redemption. The "Tractor" was cut from the UFC after his second loss in the promotion just over a year ago but he earned his way back by consistently dominating the smaller shows. Rafaello is coming off a second round TKO victory of Ryan Bixler in Brazil about two months ago and he's hoping to even his record in the UFC and this time, stay for good.
How they get it done: Both of these men are accomplished grapplers with each holding a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Tibau is more of a top control guy while Oliveira is confident wherever the fight goes, even if put on his back. Tibau is one of the most compact lightweights in the UFC and if he can land a clean power strike standing or on the ground, it could be lights out for "Tractor."
Oliveira is going to have difficulty controlling Tibau on the ground and even getting the match to the ground under his own power. Expect Tibau to shoot early and shoot often, taking top control and looking to either ground and pound his way to victory or take advantage of an Oliveira mistake and finish the fight with a submission.
For Oliveira, his best chance to win this fight will be to force Tibau into the third round and hope the weight cut took a lot out of him. It's not a bad strategy at all considering that the massive lightweight took this fight on such short notice.
Fight "X-Factor:" The "X-Factor" in this fight is clearly Gleison Tibau's weight cut. If the Brazilian is able to do it properly, he's going have a significant size and strength advantage against Oliveira. If the cut takes too much out of him, he'll definitely have the potential to gas early and give "Tractor" an opportunity to earn the biggest victory of his career.
Bottom Line: Despite both fighters being late injury replacements, this should be a fun ground battle. Expect some sloppy stand-up portions until either fighter decides to take the fight to the mats but once this bout goes to the canvas, it should be very interesting.
Record: 12-1 overall, 1-0 in the UFC
Key Losses: Cole Escovedo (PFC 13: Validation)
Key Wins: Will Campuzano (UFC Fight for the Troops 2), Rafael Rebello (WEC 49)
How they got here: Michael McDonald is a superstar in the making. He made his WEC debut at just 19 years old, earning a victory over Clint Godfrey via submission in the first round. Before that, McDonald made waves with huge victories over former WEC champions and title challengers Cole Escovedo and Manny Tapio on back to back fights in Tachi Palace.
Cariaso hasn't built nearly the reputation as McDonald, but he's been steady throughout his career going 3-0 on Strikeforce undercards and grappling his way to decision victories against Will Campuzano and Rafael Rebello. The "Kamikze" will look to halt McDonald's momentum and take it for his own.
How they get it done: Michael McDonald is incredibly well-rounded. He has power standing in both hands and his feet and he's a competent grappler with his wrestling and submission skills. "Mayday" represents the new wave of mixed martial artists, being raised in all aspects of the sport and weak in none. McDonald pushes a fierce pace and aggressively looks for the finish. Expect him to try to hurt Cariaso standing and if that doesn't work, to take him to the ground and work his magic.
Cariaso, unlike McDonald, is used to fighting in deeper waters. seven of his 11 career victories have come by way of decision. McDonald faded in the third round of his UFC debut against Figueroa and Cariaso's best chance at derailing the prospect will be to take him into deep waters and try to earn a late finish. Cariaso also possesses above average grappling and he has the potential to win a top-control based decision as well.
Fight "X-Factor:" The "X-Factor" for this fight is the third round. Michael McDonald was taken to a decision for the first time in his career in his UFC debut and his pace slowed drastically. If he hasn't fixed his conditioning issues, Cariaso has a legitimate chance of turning the tides in this fight late and winning there. If Cariaso can frustrate McDonald early and often, this fight could be his for the taking.
Bottom line: Despite the "X-Factor" being the third round, this fight has severe potential to end early. Cariaso was submitted in the first round of his last WEC fight against Renan Barao and if McDonald can hurt him early with strikes, he can pull off a similar finish. This should be very entertaining.
Record: 25-1-1 overall, 0-0 in the UFC
Key wins: Chris Cariaso (WEC 53), Anthony Leone (WEC 49)
Key losses: none
Record: 17-6 overall, 0-0 in the UFC
Key wins: Michael McDonald (PFC 13: Validation), Bart Palaszewski (Ultimate Athlete 1), Yoshiro Maeda (Dream 13)
How they got here: Renan Barao is one of the biggest and brightest bantamweight prospects in the world. After losing his MMA debut, he's gone an incredible 26 consecutive fights without a loss, only mixing in a single draw. Barao made his WEC debut at WEC 49, submitting Anthony Leone and then he proceeded to submit Chris Cariaso in the first round at WEC 53. Barao was scheduled to fight "Mighty Mouse" Demetrious Johnson but Johnson got bumped up to fight Miguel Torres when Brad Pickett was injured.
Cole Escovedo was the first ever WEC featherweight champion. after successfully defending the title, he would go on to lose the strap to a young up-and-comer named Urijah Faber at WEC 19. Escovedo has faced a "who's who" of the top featherweight and bantamweight fighters in the world. While he's usually come out on the losing end to those fighters, his experience gained by stepping in against such top competition cannot be discounted.
How they get it done: There's no doubt what Renan Barao wants to do. The young Brazilian mega-prospect is one of the most talented young grapplers and submission experts in the world. Barao wants to take his opponent down and either beat on them or force them into an uncompromising position and force a submission with his incredible BJJ skills. Barao will look to take this fight to the ground at every opportunity he can find.
While Escovedo has some excellent wrestling, the striking is where he wins this match. Escovedo possesses some flashy strikes and he has some length that could frustrate Barao if he can stay on his feet and he definitely has knockout power as evidenced by his stoppage victories over Maeda and Michael McDonald. If Escovedo finds himself on his back, this could be a short night for the former champ.
Fight "X-Factor:" The "X-Factor" for this fight is definitely experience. Barao is currently riding an unbelievable streak, but he hasn't exactly faced top competition. Most of his matches were against lesser-known foes in Brazil. He's impresed in his brief run in the WEC, but Cole Escovedo is another kind of monster. Escovedo has faced the absolute best bantamweights and featherweights in the world and that experience is something that can't be glossed over. If Escovedo finds himself in a rough situation, his experience could pull him through where some of Barao's past foes may have wilted. Also don't discount just how badly Escovedo wants to make a good first impression with the Zuffa brass after campaigning to make his return. He'll do everything in his power to win this fight.
Bottom line: Regardless of who wins, this fight has the potential to be the best of the entire undercard. It could be over in 20 seconds or it could be a thrilling 15 minute decision. There are tons of possibilities and that makes this match my "can't miss" bout of the Facebook stream.
Who will come out on top at UFC 130? Let us know in the comment section below!