The times, they are a changin.'
This Saturday night (Jan. 14, 2012), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for its first pay-per-view (PPV) mixed martial arts (MMA) event of the New Year, bringing a bevy of highly-entertaining match ups along for the ride.
UFC 142 will feature featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, defending his 145-belt belt for the fifth time in the main event when he faces unbeaten Alpha Male uber-wrestler, Chad Mendes, while the legendary Vitor Belfort will welcome the notoriously-enormous, Anthony Johnson, to the middleweight division.
As has become standard practice, these entertaining "Prelims" bouts will be viewable in their entirety, but things are a little bit different this time around.
Rather than the traditional arrangement of showing all of them on Facebook and the remaining two on Spike TV, the under card will begin with the fight of Felipe Arantes vs. Antonio Carvalho on the popular social networking site before switching over to the FX Channel.
Join us after the jump for the first part of our breakdown of the UFC 142 "Prelims:"
145 lbs.: Felipe Arantes vs. Antonio Carvalho
Chute Boxe prospect Felipe Arantes (13-4, 2 NC) made his Octagon debut at UFC 134, actually replacing his opponent this weekend, Antonio Carvalho, against Yuri Alcantara. While "Sertanejo" could not overcome the grappling prowess of "Marajo," he became only the fourth man to go the distance with the hard-hitting Jungle Fight champion. Arantes owns eight first-round stoppages and, prior to the Alcantara loss, was riding a nine-fight unbeaten streak.
He’ll look to dazzle his countrymen against his Canadian foe this Saturday.
Carvalho (13-4) first made waves in the MMA world with a stunning upset of Hatsu Hioki back in 2007, made all the more astonishing by the fact that he had only fought once in the previous 12 months -- a knockout loss to "Lion" Takeshi Inoue. After missing all of 2009, "Pato" returned to rattle off three straight victories and was set to debut in the UFC opposite Alcantara before injury forced him off the card. Against the hard-hitting Arantes, the grappling expert has a second chance to show the world why he’s considered one of Canada’s finest.
Carvalho has had trouble with big punchers in the past -- Inoue and Takaya both scored technical knockouts over the Canadian in the midst of a 2-4 patch in his career. Even though he hasn’t exactly faced the cream of the crop since returning, despite my best efforts, I just can’t convince myself to pick him to lose in this fight. While the Hioki win could be attributed to Hioki leaving his brain at home, as he is wont to do, Carvalho is still a solid striker with excellent grappling, while Arantes is a solid striker with … enough grappling. "Sertanejo" could definitely put Carvalho on Queer Street, but I don’t think he’ll get the chance. I expect a repeat of the Alcantara fight, with Arantes unable to generate offense, but sufficiently shrewd to avoid getting finished.
Prediction: Carvalho via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Ricardo Funch vs. Mike Pyle
Despite owning the pound-for-pound worst head of hair the UFC has ever seen, Ricardo Funch (8-2) was invited back to the UFC to replace the injured Paulo Thiago against Mike Pyle. Fighting out of Team Link, Funch’s first run in the organization was less-than-stellar, as he was soundly decisioned by Johny Hendricks before being manhandled and submitted by Claude Patrick. "Golden Boy" bounced back with a decision win under the Premier FC banner little more than one month ago and has a huge opportunity in front of him to force his way back into the crowded UFC welterweight division.
Pyle (21-8-1) was enjoying a late-career resurgence of sorts as he stepped into the cage at UFC 133 to face down blue-chip prospect Rory MacDonald. "Quicksand" had won three straight, including a stunning upset of John Hathaway at UFC 120. Unfortunately, MacDonald -- like most darned kids these days -- had no respect for his elders and pummeled Pyle into oblivion with ground-and-pound. At the ripe old age of 36, Pyle may need a victory to stay employed, and getting submission number 17 would definitely be a good argument for his remaining with the organization moving forward.
Funch has fought two people relatively similar to Pyle and failed both times. While Pyle has had trouble with guys who could match him in wrestling and/or packed huge power, Funch is neither. In addition, he’s taking this fight on short notice and still has horrible hair.
Yes, I can be petty.
In any case, he just doesn’t seem to present any stylistic difficulties for Pyle. Look for "Quicksand" to control him on the ground for a while before latching onto that excellent rear naked choke of his.
Prediction: Pyle via second round submission
Stop by tomorrow for Part 2 of our, "UFC 142 preview and predictions for 'Aldo vs Mendes' FX 'Prelims' fights," which comprise three more breakdowns. This edition was a little light because of the last minute injury to Fabio Maldonado, which forced the cancellation of his fight against Caio Magalhaes (Full details here).
See you then!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC 142, beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on FX scheduled for around 7 p.m. ET. In addition, we will also provide LIVE, real-time results of the main card action as it happens throughout the evening this upcoming weekend.