Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is heading south for the winter to bring mixed martial arts (MMA) fans the UFC 142: "Aldo vs. Mendes" pay-per-view event on Saturday night (Jan. 14, 2012) live from the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC 142, beginning with the PPV telecast at 10 p.m. ET on Jan. 14. In addition, we will deliver up-to-the-minute quick results of all the under card action much earlier on fight night.
Much of the hoopla surrounding tomorrow night's brouhaha is the featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes. And by "hoopla," I mean the three or four people that actually remember we have a UFC event in just over 24 hours.
Not a lot of buzz heading into Rio, but that doesn't necessarily mean we won't get a night of exciting fights.
Chief among them is the 185-pound co-main event, which features former division contender Vitor Belfort going punch-for-punch with former welterweight Anthony Johnson, who probably got tired of cutting 80 pounds two hours before the weigh ins and decided to give middleweight a try.
Will "The Phenom" make him regret it?
There's a couple of other main card bouts worth dissecting and that, of course, is where I come in. Will the hometown boys make it a near-sweep like they did back at UFC 134?
Let's find out.145 lbs.: Jose Aldo (20-1) vs. Chad Mendes (11-0)
Nostradumbass predicts: I was trying to think of a witty opening for this featherweight title fight, but it's just so black-and-white to me that I really can't do much with it other than state what I believe to be an irrefutable fact: Jose Aldo is getting steamrolled in tomorrow night's headliner.
And why they get KTFO when they don't.
To that end, Chad Mendes has the kind of double-leg takedown that is so powerful and so effective, if he wants it, he gets it. Think about how strong and how powerful Mendes is, then remember that all he has to do is take 145-pounds (or whatever the rehydrated weight is) and drag it to the ground.
When your physical conditioning is "Money," it's as easy as it gets.
Let's not forget that Aldo has the perfect body type for the double. Tall, lanky and that leg kick he used so effectively against Urijah Faber? How many of those do you think he's going to rattle off before getting planted? The last place you want to be against a former NCAA Division I All-American and Pac-10 wrestler is on one leg.
"Junior" is lighting fast and has the best stand-up in the division. In fact, he may be one of the best strikers in the entire sport. But that doesn't mean squat when you're on your back trying not to get your face caved in. Especially when you struggle to make the weight cut like Aldo does and tire in the championship rounds.
Mendes? He'll cruise into UFC 142 fresh as a daisy. And he's going to put a clinic on the young Brazilian that will undoubtedly send the boo-birds into a chorus of groans. But no amount of collective hissing can stop the fact that Chad Mendes is leaving Rio as the new 145-pound champion.
Prediction: Mendes def. Aldo via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: Having Anthony Johnson move to middleweight is a fantastic idea, because it injects new life into a division that, quite frankly, has begun to stagnate. Oh look, it's Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen arguing over who loses to Anderson Silva next.
Having a new person to "Rumble" with is great for the fans, which is why I wish they had paired him off with someone a little lower on the totem pole for his debut.
Do I think Johnson has the chops to beat Belfort? No doubt.
Unfortunately it's very difficult to pick a fighter in a weight class you've never seen them compete in. And without taking a digital dump on his resume, let's be honest, beating up Kevin Burns and Luigi Fioravanti isn't going to convince the jury you're a lethal weapon.
Decent wins, but keep in mind Belfort is out there fighting guys like Dan Henderson, Anderson Silva and Alistair-freaking-Overeem. Kinda hard to overlook the experience factor.
I also can't overlook Johnson's physical problems. He has a well-documented history of knee issues, severe enough to require surgery, and there was a dirty rumor that all the extra weight he wasn't accustomed to training with re-aggravated his fragile joint in recent weeks.
In the end, there are just too many unanswered questions I have about Johnson to pick him. Belfort's proven he can hang with the best of them and he's also proven he's ridiculously fast with his hands. It wouldn't surprise me to see him put "Rumble" down early in the opening frame.
Prediction: Belfort def. Johnson via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: Wow, who did Mike Massenzio piss off in the ZUFFA front office to get this match up? I mean seriously, this is like the one guy in the division nobody wants to fight. Aside from the submission, you just never know when he's gonna go off the deep end and try to murder somebody inside the cage.
Hopefully Palhares remembers to take his pills on Saturday morning with breakfast, so that Mikey Mass only has one thing on his mind and that's the heel hook. All kidding aside, "Toquinho" will tear your fucking leg off unless the ref hits him over the head with an aluminum baseball bat.
Massenzio's best chance to win is on the feet, but with only two (T)KO finishes in 13 wins I'm not sure that's likely. He's also just 2-3 in his last five fights and hasn't really made himself stand out from the pack in any of his recent performances.
It's only a matter of time until this thing goes to the floor and when it does, that's a wrap. Palhares very rarely lets a submission get away because his upper body is so damn powerful. Just ask Dave Branch or Tomasz Drwal -- or that guy who walked out of Abu Dhabi on crutches.
I suppose the best thing Massenzio can do is keep the Brazilian primate at bay by working the outside and hope he self-destructs, tries to call time out, or just inexplicably decides to declare himself the winner before the fight even ends.
The bottom line is this: Palhares, 6-2 in the UFC, usually only loses if he goes mental. If he's focused, Massenzio is going to be in a lot of pain on Saturday night -- and beyond.
Prediction: Palhares def. Massenzio via submission
With reigning division champion Georges St. Pierre on the sidelines until further notice, the UFC welterweight division is undergoing a bit of restructuring, with special emphasis on the 170-pound up-and-comers like Rory MacDonald, expected to lead the charge into 2012 and beyond.
Count Erick Silva among those people.
The Brazilian phenom is one of the big names coming out of Brazil this year and if you've never seen him inside the Octagon, no one can really blame you. He only needed 40 seconds to stiffen Luis Ramos at UFC 134 last August.
While "Indio" hasn't beaten any household names, he's done just about everything else, including his mockery of the Jungle Fight competition in his 2010 fight campaign.
I think this is going to be a quick night for him.
While Prater is a wily veteran with a ton of experience, he's taking this bout on extremely short notice. I like that he was active in 2011, winning four straight fights, but inconsistency has plagued him over the course of his career. When a fighter has amassed a 40-fight resume like "Neo" has, you can get a pretty good sense of where they're headed.
For Prater, it's straight to the locker room.
Prediction: Silva def. Prater via unanimous decision
You're probably looking at "Fight of the Night" in this one. Terry Etim is a gamer and his 12 submissions in 15 wins can be a bit deceiving, because this kid can strike, too.
Better than Barboza?
Maybe not, but good enough to keep him in the game. The problem is the Brazilian is just too fast and incredibly fluid in the stand-up, usually beating the snot out of people with his dreaded leg kicks. If Etim can grab a hold of one and wrestle his foe to the ground, things could get interesting.
Both competitors were mopping the floor with the regional talent prior to coming to the UFC and a win here could do a lot to further advance them up the 155-pound ladder.
I have Barboza better on the feet and Etim better on the ground, but without the kind of high-level wrestling that you need to get it south, I have to to give the contest, and ultimately the decision, to Barboza.
Prediction: Barboza def. Etim via unanimous decision
That's a wrap, folks.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC 142 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Aldo vs. Mendes."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.