Killer B's are on the hunt in Brazil this upcoming weekend (Sat., Jan. 19, 2013).
Eager to make themselves heard among the suddenly not-so-crowded Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight elite, Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort are set to do battle in the latter's backyard, Sao Paulo, Brazil, headlining of UFC on FX 7 from the Ibirapuera Arena.
In addition, the man many mixed martial arts (MMA) fans consider the uncrowned champion of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil," Daniel Sarafian, makes his long-awaited Octagon debut against C.B. Dollaway. Rounding out the main card matches on FX is a Heavyweight showdown between Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Ben Rothwell, as well as a Lightweight scrap that features Thiago Tavares vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov.
But, before all that, we've got seven intriguing "Prelims" bouts on the Facebook/FUEL TV under card broadcast to tide you over, the first four of which we breakdown below.
155 lbs.: Edson Barboza vs. Lucas Martins
Somebody forgot to inform late replacement Jamie Varner that Muay Thai menace Edson Barboza (10-1) was supposed to be the next big thing at 155 pounds, as the former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champion blitzed the Brazilian to notch a first-round technical knockout victory. Barboza, owner of 2012’s "Knockout of the Year" in the form of his wheelkick on Terry Etim, has reportedly been training with former UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar in preparation for this bout, which takes place two days before he turns 27 years old.
He is particularly known for his devastating leg kicks, which have felled two opponents.
Replacing Justin Salas on short notice, Lucas Martins (12-0) may be one of the most active fighters in the world, competing 10 times in 2012 alone and ending all but one of them inside the distance. The striking specialist, fighting out of the famed Chute Boxe camp, actually started his career in 2011 and will be entering this bout barely a month after his last outing, a second-round head kick knockout.
Barboza’s big weakness, as has become clear in his last two fights, is his relatively weak infighting skill. He is absolutely lethal at mid- to long-range, but a slick fighter who can get inside of those long limbs with either the threat of a takedown or head movement can and will hurt him.
"Mineiro" is neither.
Sure, he’s got power, but he hasn’t shown anywhere near the striking proficiency that Barboza has showcased. He seems to be a mid-range fighter with plodding footwork, putting him directly in Barboza’s wheelhouse without any sort of wrestling to save him. Add the short notice and you’ve got a recipe for pain.
The Varner fight may have dampened the hype, but Barboza will remind you why he was such a big deal as he systematically dismantles Martins before putting him away with a series of vicious shots in the second.
Prediction: Barboza by second-round knockout
135 lbs.: Yuri Alcantara vs. Pedro Nobre
Since blowing Ricardo Lamas away with one punch in the WEC’s final show, Yuri Alcantara (26-4) has attracted considerable attention, following up that win with dominant decisions over Felipe Arantes and Michihiro Omigawa at Featherweight. Unfortunately, the well-rounded finisher found his momentum halted by Nova Uniao’s Hacran Dias at UFC 142, who used powerful wrestling and top control to stifle Alcantara.
This will mark the bantamweight debut for "Marajo" because, according to his trainer, he walks around at around 155 pounds, making 135 a natural choice.
Despite his natural fighting weight being 125 pounds, Pedro Nobre (14-1-2) stepped up when the call went out for Brazil’s top featherweights for TUF: "Brazil." Sadly, there would be no David vs. Goliath story for "The Rock," who was violently knocked out in the first round by Marcos Vinicius.
Nobre is a very good fighter out of a very good camp in Brazilian Top Team. He’s a highly-skilled finisher who deserved a win over Diniz. However, he’s also a flyweight taking on a guy who spent most of his career knocking out lightweights.
Alcantara hits like a runaway bulldozer who someone stuck nitrous canisters to. Nobre hasn’t shown the wrestling to get this to the ground, where he’d still have to contend with Alcantara’s lightning-fast armbar, and his striking, while solid, isn’t going to slow down Yuri.
I’m hoping they keep Nobre around so he can try his hand at 125, but his debut will likely end in very unpleasant fashion.
Prediction: Alcantara by first-round knockout
205 lbs.: Wagner Prado vs. Ildemar Alcantara
Eager for revenge after an errant eye poke ended their first meeting prematurely, Team Nogueira’s Wagner Prado (8-1) entered the cage at UFC 153 looking to take out Phil Davis in front of his hometown crowd. The Muay Thai specialist’s wrestling, however, proved his undoing, as he was manhandled by "Mr. Wonderful" before succumbing to a second-round anaconda choke.
The 25-year-old had previously knocked out seven of eight opponents, all but one of those seven inside the first round. "Caldeirao," 6’1", stands at the same height as Alcantara.
Highly-touted prospect and younger brother of Yuri, Ildemar Alcantara (17-5) was called from his longtime stomping grounds, Jungle Fight, to replace injured Canuck Roger Hollett on less than two weeks’ notice. He enters the UFC on the strength of seven straight wins and 11 in his last 12, including a knockout of former UFC competitor Edilberto "Crocota."
"Marajo" customarily fights at Middleweight, but will be moving up to face Prado.
Alcantara faces the same problem that Nobre is facing: he’s coming from a weight class south of an incredibly powerful striker, only 20 pounds instead of 10. He’s well-rounded enough that, were they the same size, he might be able to exploit Prado’s weak ground game, but I doubt he’ll be able to overcome his great strength. His striking, while effective, doesn’t stand up to Prado’s in technique or power, meaning that once he fails a couple takedowns and settles in for a stand up battle, he’ll be in over his head.
Alcantara is worth keeping around, a loss to Marcelo Guimaraes in 2011 notwithstanding. It’s just a shame the first audiences will see of him is Prado launching his face into the upper deck.
Prediction: Prado by first-round knockout
So big is Francisco Trinaldo (11-2) that rather than drop to 145 pounds for TUF: "Brazil," he elected to take on the middleweights. Impressively, he savaged Charles Maicon in seconds to get into the house, but fell to former Light Heavyweight Thiago Perpetuo. While "Massaranduba" stomped International Fight League (IFL) veteran Delson Heleno on the Finale, his cardio failed him against fellow goliath Gleison Tibau, who survived a brutal left to the temple in the second round to earn a decision.
Trinaldo fights out of Constrictor Team alongside Paulo Thiago and featherweight prospect Renato "Moicano."
Fighting since 2007, C.J. Keith got his shot at the big time this past June when he took on TUF 13 runner up Ramsey Nijem on the UFC on FX 4 under card. Unfortunately for Keith, Nijem was a man on a mission, pounding him out for a first-round technical knockout.
Keith had been riding high on three consecutive knockouts; he also owns two submission victories. He is four inches taller than Trinaldo.
I’m always wary of picking guys with evident cardio issues, but Keith doesn’t strike me as one to exploit that. A height advantage and wrestling experience he may have, but Trinaldo is incredibly strong and very adept at punishing failed takedowns. Keith’s best bet is likely on the feet, where he might be able to out-technique the wild-swinging Trinaldo.
Unfortunately for him, I don’t see him playing that game for long before Trinaldo’s sledgehammers hit home. Like the Prado fight, expect some early failed takedowns to get Keith in a striking mood, at which point Trinaldo batters him into the ground.
Prediction: Trinaldo by first-round technical knockout
Stop by tomorrow for closer looks at the three remaining UFC on FX 7 "Prelims," which include two potentially-excellent featherweight fracases.
See you then.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC on FX 7 main card action, which is slated to start promptly at 9 p.m. ET. Up-to-the-minute updates will begin to flow earlier than that around 5:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FUEL TV.