Brazilian Belfort, British Bisping, brilliant brawl ... in Brazil?
The latter, Michael Bisping, is eager to finally earn a Middleweight title shot and the former, Vitor Belfort, is itching to shut him up in the UFC on FX 7 main event this weekend (Sat., Jan. 19, 2013) at the Ibirapuera Arena in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The mixed martial arts (MMA) event will mark first show for Ultimate Fighting Championship in the New Year. Joining Bisping and Belfort on the main card are the likes of Brazilian standouts Daniel Sarafian and Thiago Tavares, taking on C.B. Dollaway and Khabib Nurmagomedov, respectively.
Yesterday, we previewed the first three bouts that comprise the initial UFC on FX 7 Facebook/FUEL TV portion of the "Prelims" under card right here. Today, we share breakdowns of the remaining three that will air live -- and for free -- on FUEL TV before the FX-televised event starts at 9 p.m. ET.
Let's get cracking:
145 lbs.: Godofredo Castro vs. Milton Vieira
After tearing his way through The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" house on the strength of his vicious submission game, Godofredo Castro (8-1) -- who started his MMA career in 1993 at the age of 16 -- found himself unable to impose his will on Rony "Jason" in the Finale, dropping a unanimous decision in a bout contested almost entirely on the feet.
"Pepey," who has never gone to the judges in victory, has submitted six of his opponents. He will be the shorter man come Saturday.
Inventor of the Anaconda Choke, Milton Vieira (13-7-2) overcame a 10-year age gap to fight Chute Boxe’s Felipe Arantes to a draw in his Octagon debut, ending the former’s three-fight win streak. The 11-year veteran, who has faced the likes of Jake Shields and Hayato Sakurai during his career, has never been finished.
"Miltinho" is 5-1-1 in his last seven fights, scoring four of those wins by tapout.
Despite a complete lack of divisional significance, I’m excited for this one simply because it has the potential to be a pure ground battle. Both Castro and Vieira rely on their Brazilian jiu-jitsu and neither has much stand up acumen to speak of, meaning it’s going to come down to grappling.
An area in which Vieira has an advantage.
As nice as it is to see someone sufficiently confident in his jiu-jitsu that he’s willing to pull guard or attempt flying scissor heel hooks, Castro isn’t at the Shinya Aoki -esque level he’d need to be for that to work against Vieira. In fact, Vieira is almost certainly the better of the two at putting his opponent on their back and likely has superior jiu-jitsu.
"Pepey" will probably throw everything and the kitchen sink at Vieira off his back, but the experience and positional dominance of "Miltinho" will carry him to an entertaining unanimous decision.
Prediction: Vieira by unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Ronny Markes vs. Andrew Craig
After upsetting Karlos Vemola in his UFC debut, Ronny Markes (13-1) elected to drop to 185 pounds, where he survived a massive uppercut in the first to outstrike and outwrestle Arizona State University assistant wrestling coach Aaron Simpson for a split-decision win earlier in 2012.
The 24-year-old, training at Nova Uniao Kimura, has now won six straight since an armbar submission loss in 2010. He captured the Shooto South America title at 205 pounds by dispatching Diogo Lima in less than one minute in April 2011.
Andrew Craig (8-0) impressed in his Octagon debut, a decision win over local Australian favorite Kyle Noke, but had to dig deep in his sophomore effort, surviving a punching onslaught from Rafael Natal to put the Brazilian out cold in the second round with a head kick.
It marked the fourth stoppage victory for the Team Tooke fighter, who first caught the UFC's eye by taking out Bellator veteran Eric Schambari in Sept. 2011. Craig has been competing professionally since 2010.
Craig's a gamer and I can respect that, but the fact that he was getting absolutely tooled on the feet by a decidedly sub-par striker in Natal has me greatly worried. He managed to gut his way through the Noke fight by using his wrestling on a fading opponent, but Markes has some of the sharpest takedown defense around, and while he's not Anderson Silva himself, he's certainly better than Craig in that department.
He'll do everything he can to make this a fight, but Craig simply doesn't have the skills to stand up to Markes, who will lay down the hurt before mercifully putting him away late.
Prediction: Markes by third round technical knockout
145 lbs.: Diego Nunes vs. Nik Lentz
While he has yet to return to his finishing ways, going the distance in his last ten bouts after starting his career with 11 straight stoppages, Diego Nunes (18-3) has firmly established himself as one of the premier featherweights on the planet under the Zuffa umbrella. While his 3-2 UFC record may look unimpressive on paper, those losses were close decisions to Kenny Florian and Dennis Siver while his most recent victory was a vicious beatdown of International Fight League (IFL) veteran Bart Palaszewski.
"The Gun" recently left long-time gym Nova Uniao in favor of X-Gym, working with the likes of Anderson Silva and Ronaldo Souza, among others.
With his slugfest against Evan Dunham in Jan. 2012, Nik Lentz (22-5-2) finally shucked the mantle of "boring" he had been assigned after his excruciatingly dull victory over Andre Winner at UFC 118. Though the bout with Dunham ended in defeat after his eye swelled shut, Lentz’s featherweight debut was a rousing success, pulverizing Eiji Mitsuoka for his first technical knockout victory since 2009.
"The Carny" holds a solid record (6-2-1, 1 NC) in the UFC.
Lentz is a solid all-around fighter with a powerful wrestling base, but he hasn’t shown me anything that would suggest he has much of a chance at beating Nunes. Since losing the Florian fight on account of winding up on his back, Nunes has shown very solid takedown defense and his superiority on the feet should be evident. Lentz isn’t the sort to get discouraged by one or two missed takedowns or counter overhands, meaning this should be an entertaining fight if not a particularly competitive one.
If Lentz can control Nunes against the fence, he could probably eke out a decision, but the latter’s effective footwork should keep him out of danger in that regard as he steadily picks apart the Minnesotan with his wide striking arsenal.
Prediction: Nunes by unanimous decision
Free fights is free fights.
See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC on FX 7 main card action on fight night, 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.