Two of Brazil's best young middleweights will be fighting for a six figure contract this Saturday night (June 23, 2012) as Cezar Ferreira battles Sergio Moraes to decide the middleweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil at UFC 147 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Cezar Ferreira is a Vitor Belfort protege and he looked like a miniature "Phenom" on this most recent season. "Mutante" crushed all three of his opponents on the show, easily advancing to the finals and he's hoping to make a huge splash in the UFC's middleweight division.
Before that can happen, he'll have to battle Sergio Moraes. Moraes is an undersized middleweight with some serious grappling prowess. He had his way with everyone he dragged to the ground, but he was knocked out in the semifinals. An injury to Daniel Sarafian opened the door for Moraes to battle "Mutante" in the finals.
Will Ferreira continue his path of destruction? Can Moraes play spoiler and pull off the huge upset against his significant larger foe? What's the key to victory for both men?
Let's find out:
Record: 4-2 overall, 0-0 in the UFC
Key Wins: none
Key Losses: Antonio Braga Neto (XFC Brazil 1)
How he got here: Ferreira, or "Mutante" as he was known on the show, grew up wrestling and training in jiu-jitsu. He was actually a protege of Vitor Belfort, who took him in helped him develop his skills. "Mutante" split his first two fights and took a leave of absence from fighting for three years.
Upon his return, he won three straight bouts via stoppage and actually moved to America to train at Xtreme Couture alongside Belfort. He lost his last bout to Elvis Mutapcic before trying out for The Ultimate Fighter Brazil.
Once on the show, he submitted his opponent to get in the house and was the first pick for Team Belfort at middleweight. He backed up his selection by submitting his first opponent in the quarterfinals and then knocking out Thiago "Bodao" Perpetuo to advance to the finale.
He was originally slated to battle Daniel Sarafian, but an injury allowed Sergio Moraes to step in as his opponent instead.
How he gets it done: Ferreira is significantly larger and a much better striker than Moraes. If he wants to win, he has to use those advantages extensively. "Mutante" can either lean on Ferreira in the clinch and wear Moraes out or he can just use his wrestling in reverse to keep the fight standing.
Moraes is coming off a brutal knockout against Sarafian in the semifinals so it's not beyond the realm of imagination that he could get put to sleep against Ferreira as well.
Record: 6-1 overall, 0-0 in the UFC
Key Wins: none
Key Losses: Brett Cooper (Jungle Fight 15)
How he got here: Sergio Moraes is an incredibly gifted grappler. He was a four time world champion, even notably defeating Kron Gracie in the 2008 world championship. He's even become a coach for Team Nogueira in San Diego, California.
While he had dabbled in mixed martial arts, he began training extensively in MMA, fighting regularly since 2009 and even scoring a first round submission victory while competing in Bellator Fighting Championships. Moraes also began fighting in Jungle Fight, having mixed results with two submission victories and also being knocked out badly.
Moraes tried out for The Ultimate Fighter Brazil and made it onto the cast, defeating Thiago Rela via heel hook to get into the house and then choking out fellow black belt Delson Helano to advance to the semifinals.
Once there, he was brutally knocked out by Sarafian, but an injury to Sarafian opened up the door for him to compete for the six figure contract against "Mutante."
How he gets it done: There's nothing more important for Moraes than getting this fight to the ground. He's got a huge size disadvantage and is nowhere near the striker that Ferreira is. If this fight stays on the feet for too long, he's going to have a bad time.
"Mutante" is a strong grappler himself, but Moraes probably has the best jiu-jitsu on the cast. He choked out the bigger Helano, who was also a champion Brazilian jiu-jitsu player so he's not going to slow down just because an opponent is also capable on the canvas.
Closing the distance is key for Moraes as he can't afford to stand in the pocket with Ferreira for extended periods of time. He has to get this fight to the ground no matter what, whether it's pulling guard, shooting for desperate takedowns or working for trips. That's the only way he's got a chance to win.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest factor in this fight has to be size. Moraes has all the skill in the world as a grappler, but he's incredibly small for a middleweight. Once this show is over, he'll easily go to welterweight and potentially even lightweight. Ferreira, on the other hand, is a normal sized 185-er. If he actually uses his size correctly with a big reach and power advantage, Moraes could be in for a long (or very short) evening.
Bottom Line: Moraes doesn't have much on the feet so if he can't score takedowns, this could get ugly in a hurry. This bout is a pretty big mismatch in my opinion as the Sarafian fight actually would have been a great finals. Who knows, though. If Ferreira makes a mistake or Moraes plays it extra aggressive, he might just pull it out. That being said, I expect a one-sided drubbing from Ferreira.
Who will come out on top at UFC 147? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!