Before I get into the PPV nobody is going to watch, I need to remind people of the free card predictions I made last week. Because that's how we roll on this side:
Ramsey Nijem defeats CJ Keith by submission in round 2
Brian Ebersole defeats TJ Waldburger by TKO in round 1
And finally, for the late replacement fight:
Ken Stone (10-3) vs Dustin Pague (11-5)
It's hard to pick against Dustin Pague after he took out Jared Papazian so effortlessly. Both guys have submission skills, so it's believable that Ken Stone will be able to avoid being submitted. But if I recall correctly, Stone was knocked out from the guard by Scottie Jorgensen. So at least we know he can be put on his back. I'd say that puts the odds in Pague's favour from the top. None of Pague's wins have gone the distance either.
Pague by TKO round 2
Now I know what you're thinking. I didn't watch this stupid Brazilian show so how am I supposed to know who's going to win or lose? This is like a shot in the dark. Well, that's because you're an asshole. TUF Brazil was the best of the reality series since the first season, and featured many of who I consider to be the coming wave of stars in the UFC. The barely tapped market of Brazil will really show its talent and depth on Saturday night.
Having said all that, I'm sure that my expertise from watching the show will be meaningless and I will shit the bed exactly as I did for TUF Live.
Neither of these guys were a part of TUF Brazil, and only Arantes has fought in the UFC before. The latter is probably on the better winning streak right now, losing only to highly-touted prospect Yuri Alcantara in his past 11 fights dating back to October 2009. Vieira is an old school 33-year-old second-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Carlson Gracie. He is extremely difficult to finish, going up against the likes of Jake Shields (losing), Johnny Eduardo (winning), and Sakurai (losing) back in the days of PRIDE.
Arantes isn't going to be easy pickings, however, and has a purple belt in BJJ. He also has a black belt in Muay Thai and a tendency to knock guys out. You can expect Arantes to keep it standing most of the fight and using his grappling skills to ward off submissions.
Arantes by unanimous decision
Marcos "Vina" Vinicius (19-3-1) vs Wagner "Galeto" Campos (11-3)
(Not on mmaplayground)
Both fighters were a part of this season's TUF Brazil's featherweight division. Vina was a softspoken member of the cast who put some great fights, including his knockout debut against Pedro Nobre (11-0) to get into the house. Vina lost to Hugo "Wolverine" by close decision in the quarterfinals, before receiving a second chance against finalist Godofredo Pepey, losing by armbar.
Galeto, meanwhile, won an uninspiring decision against Fernando Duarte Guerra (10-1) to get into the house, before losing a second decision after two rounds to Pepey as well. There's no questioning Galeto's toughness, but does he have the skills to deny Vina's mix of standup and submission skills? It's an interesting question, given that Vina has never won a fight by decision.
Vina by submission round 3
Thiago "Bodao" Perpetuo (8-1-1) vs Leonardo "Macarrao" Mafra (5-0)
(Not on mmaplayground)
Both guys are from the TUF Brazil show, but Bodao arguably made the bigger impact, reaching the semi-finals and putting in a memorable performance against Massaranduba. Bodao brings the total package, with mental toughness, grappling skills, and power. After defeating Joao Paulo de Souza (8-4) by decision to get into the house, he outlasted the aforementioned Massaranduba, before being knocked out in the semis by Vitor Belfort's boy.
Macarrao, meanwhile, also got into the house by decision with a win over Samuel Trindade (6-1), before being subbed by guillotine to Mutante in the quarter finals. Macarrao comes from the Chute boxe academy and a slobberknocker with Bodao, who has great power as well, seems inevitable.
Bodao by decision
John "Macapa" Teixeira (13-0) vs Hugo "Wolverine" Viana (5-0)
(Not on mmaplayground)
This is destined to be a beautiful fight. Macapa is tough as nails, and has a wonderful submission game, finishing nine fighters by way of tapout. He got onto the show with a quick armbar against Giovanni da Silva Santos Jr. (10-1), before losing a fairly close split decision to Rodrigo Damm that could have gone either way.
Hugo "Wolverine", meanwhile, showed a plethora of toughness on the show, knocking out Alexandre Ramos (5-0) in the eliminator, squeaking out a close decision to Vina in the quarter finals, and dropping a decision to finalist Rony Jason in the semis, which I think he could have won if he wasn't backpeddaling so much. Wolverine is a dangerous, brutal striker, and while Macapa is very tough, I don't know if he can keep from getting knocked out.
Wolverine by TKO round 3
Delson "Pe de Chumbo" Heleno (23-6) vs Francisco "Massaranduba" Drinaldo (10-1)
(Not on mmaplayground)
It's a little confusing to see Drinaldo fight again at middleweight, as he's the Junglefight Lightweight Champion. An extremely talented and tough fighter, the Brazilian top team fighter lost by retirement after two rounds against Bodao in the quarter-finals. Pe de Chumbo, meanwhile, looked good in his fight to get into the house, grinding out Gilberto Galvao (20-4) before being subbed by finalist (by injury) Sergio Moraes in the quarters.
Drinaldo and Pe de Chumbo likely cancel each other on the ground, so it's really a question of whether a lightweight fighter can stand toe to toe with a middleweight for three rounds. Pe de Chumbo holds a notable win over Jake Ellenberger, granted it was from 2007. I think Drinaldo's toughness is there, but not at this weight class.
Pe de Chumbo by decision
Anistavio "Gasparazinho" Medeiros (15-7) vs Rodrigo Damm (9-5)
(Not on mmaplayground)
Although Damm is just 9-5 and 1-4 in his last five fights, the TUF Brazil fighter is for real. He defeated Fabricio de Assis Costa da Silva (14-1) by rear naked choke in the second round to get into the house, and followed that up with a split decision win against John Macapa. He might have gone to the finals if not for a bad weight cut heading into the semi-finals.
Gasparazinho, meanwhile, was probably the weakest fighter on the show, although it's hard to call any of these guys weak. He was the only Belfort fighter to lose when his best friend Rony Jason armbarred him in the first round of the quarter finals. Although he has submission skills and decent standup, Damm has fought far higher calibre of competition, beating Jorge Masvidal in Sengoku, and facing elite strikers like Gilbert Melendez and Maximo Blanco.
Damm by TKO round 3
Yuri Alcantara (28-3) vs Hacran Dias (20-1-1)
Dias didn't make it onto TUF Brazil, but the Nova Uniao prospect is highly touted. Mainly a submission fighter, the Brazilian has only once fought outside of the country and has no notable wins against top prospects. Alcantara, meanwhile, could be considered a huge step up with wins over Ricardo Lamas, Arantes, Omigawa, and is Massaranduba's only loss.
Alcantara by TKO round 1
It's difficult to imagine this going any other way than complete domination for Werdum unless he somehow finds himself on the bottom of Russow. Even if he does, the crusher of the can-crusher mystique is in good hands with world class jiu jitsu and is unlikely to allow himself to be held down all fight.
Having said that, Russow has a certain "je ne sais quoi" about him that is able to absorb inhuman amounts of punishment before winning anyway. Still, Werdum's level of Muay Thai has improved by absurd leaps and bounds. I think he finishes Russow here.
Werdum by TKO round 2
Godofredo Pepey (8-0) vs Rony Jason (10-3)
Featherweight TUF Brazil Winner
Although Jason is likely the favourite, Pepey has a tenacity and a killer's instinct that is really kind of irrepressible. He reminds me a lot of Kendall Grove before "Da Spya" starting sucking. Although Jason has admirable Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (under the Nogueira brothers) and both fighters are fans of the armbar, I think Pepey will definitely find a way to get the finish here, particularly based on what I saw from the third round of the Jason vs Wolverine fight as the former coasted with two rounds in the books.
Pepey by submission round 3
Cezar "Mutante" Ferreira (4-2) vs Sergio Moraes (6-1)
Middleweight TUF Brazil Winner
We all know this fight is only happening because the standout star of the show, Daniel Sarafian, pulled out due to injury. Mutante is, as mentioned, a Belfort prospect, who showed a great combination of power and submission skills during the show. Moraes is pretty much a pure jujitsu fighter, so if he wants to win this he'll have to get it to the ground. Which really just isn't conceivable given Mutante's size.
Mutante by KO round 1
Although it's a disappointment that Belfort got injured and Franklin had to step in (again), it's almost predictable by now. No TUF Finale will feature the original coaches. These dunces just can't stay healthy. Having said that, this replacement means Silva should last past the first round.
Although Franklin doesn't have the power he once had, he should still have this in the bag. Silva has become a more cautious fighter in recent years but he's still prone to going psycho and charging in and getting knocked out. The last fighter who pulled that shit was Chuck Liddell and we saw what happened. And even if that doesn't happen, it's hard to believe these two can go five rounds with the amount of glass chin out there.
Franklin by TKO round 2
That's it homos. Pick your poison at your own peril.