Mr. Ventura? You've got a call ... and it sure as hell ain't nature again.
After taking home "Fight of the Night" back at UFC 99, Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin will lock horns once again in the UFC 147 main event thanks in large part to Vitor Belfort's broken left hand. In other pay-per-view (PPV) main card mixed martial arts (MMA) action, Fabricio Werdum will take on Mike Russow, while blue-chip Featherweight prospects Iuri Alcantara and Hacran Dias will collide in what is sure to be a fantastic scrap.
In addition, the show will serve as the finale for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil," with the Featherweight and Middleweight finals on the main card and the undercard loaded with the international show's talent.
Yesterday, we previewed the three bouts that comprise the Facebook/FX portion of the "Prelims" under card right here. Today, we share breakdowns of the remaining three that will air live -- and for free -- on FX from the Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Let's get cracking:
145 lbs.: Rodrigo Damm vs. Anistavio Medeiros de Figueiredo
After losing his debut to the well-traveled Luciano Azevedo, Rodrigo Damm (9-5) established himself as one of the top fighters outside the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), putting together eight straight wins that included a technical knockout of Jorge Masvidal. While Eiji Mitsuoka submitted him the very next fight, things didn’t really start going south until he ran into Gilbert Melendez, kicking off a 1-3 streak that saw him stopped by "El Nino," Maximo Blanco, and Justin Wilcox.
Undeterred, Damm pulled off a major upset in TUF: "Brazil" qualifiers, submitting top-ranked prospect Fabricio Guerrero and then defeating unbeaten John Teixeira, another up-and-comer. Unfortunately, he was forced out of his fight with Godofredo "Pepey" because of dehydration, likely caused by the repeated weight cutting.
Despite being the last overall pick, Anistavio Medeiros de Figueiredo (15-7) quickly made a name for himself in TUF: "Brazil" house, and not a good one. From gleefully plucking an enormous stringed instrument at 3 A.M. to just about running off with Arianny Celeste, "Gasparzinho" took to the role of class clown with gusto. Unfortunately for him, all the good cheer in the world couldn’t save him from top pick Rony "Jason," who busted his arm in short order with an armbar.
Thankfully, he’s since healed, and considering his heated feud with Damm, could make for one hell of a scrap on the under card.
Maybe it’s just my rather grievous dislike for "Gasparzinho" bleeding over into my rational mind, but I really don’t see many scenarios where he isn’t pretty much boned here. Damm is bigger, more experienced and more technically skilled. While he used his wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu exclusively on the show, he’s also got a very solid jab that managed to keep Blanco at bay.
I’m pretty sure he’ll still lose to anyone he can’t take down, but "Gasparzinho" isn’t one of those people. Damm is going to throw takedowns at the wall until something sticks, and then it’s only a matter of time.
Prediction: Damm via first round submission
185 lbs.: Francisco Drinaldo vs. Delson Heleno
A Jungle Fight champion and one of the premier prospects from Brazil, Francisco Drinaldo (10-1) missed out on his first chance at joining the UFC when Iuri Alcantara armbarred him for a comeback victory. "Massaranduba" has since continued terrorizing the lightweight (yup, lightweight) circuit, but because of his immense size, elected to fight at 185 pounds instead of cutting to 145 pounds.
The move looked like a good one in the qualifiers, when he pasted his opponent in less than 20 seconds, but former Light Heavyweight Thiago Perpetuo bullied him all over the ring and forced him to say "no mas" in the quarters.
Delson Heleno (23-6) was easily the most experienced competitor on the show, having fought several times for the International Fight League (IFL) at Welterweight and even beating Jake Ellenberger during that time. "Pe de Chumbo" entered the show having won 10 of his previous 11 bouts, and decisioned Gilberto Galvao to gain entry into the house.
Unfortunately -- despite his considerable grappling experience -- he was no match for ADCC veteran Sergio Moraes, who choked him out in short order.
What makes this fight interesting is that, while Heleno ordinarily fights at 170 pounds and Drinaldo at 155 pounds, I think Drinaldo may actually be bigger. Dude’s enormous and, I believe, the better striker of the two. He’s got a solid ground game, but I don’t think it’s in his best interest to mess around with Heleno on the ground.
Luckily for him, I don’t think it’ll get there.
Despite ordinarily operating 50 pounds south of Perpetuo, Drinaldo effectively broke even with him in the clinch before exhaustion set in. I don’t expect Heleno to have much more success.
Drinaldo is definitely best suited to lightweight, but I expect him to find a home for his big left hand in the first.
Prediction: Drinaldo via first round technical knockout
145 lbs.: Hugo Viana vs. John Teixeira da Conceicao
While he came into the show a complete unknown, Hugo Viana (5-0) had one of the most vicious entries into the TUF house in recent memory, annihilating the highly-touted Alexandre Ramos with elbows. He continued his assault on the other featherweights by defeating Marcos Vinicius "Vina" by decision and gave finalist Rony "Jason" everything he could handle.
"Wolverine" has no finishes in professional competition, but has proven his ferocity in the house.
John Teixeira da Conceicao (13-0-1) is another solid featherweight prospect based on the strength of his unbeaten record on powerful submission game, which has brought him nine wins. "Macapa" showed his skill in the qualifying rounds by armbarring Giovani Souza Jr. in short order. His momentum faltered in the quarters, however, as he succumbed to the relentless takedown attack of Rodrigo Damm and dropped a close three-round decision.
While I’m rather disappointed that two such promising fighters have to go head-to-head, this ought to be an excellent fight. Viana can get wild in the stand up, but he’s fast and aggressive, not to mention lethal from top position. Teixeira has a nasty grappling game and some decent striking to go along with it.
Honestly, this has a great chance of being "Fight of the Night" and strikes me as a pick-‘em. In the end, though, I believe Viana’s aggressiveness and takedown defense will win the day as he takes a close, but clear-cut decision.
Prediction: Viana via unanimous decision
Gotta love a rare UFC double-header.
Remember, MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC 147, beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook scheduled for around 6:45 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 Saturday night.