Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is kicking it old school.
Vitor Belfort will once again make the trip back up to light heavyweight to settle an old score with fellow aging veteran Dan Henderson, who claimed a unanimous decision victory over "The Phenom" when they traded blows at the PRIDE 32 event back in 2006.
A lot has changed since then.
For starters, there was no FOX Sports 1 television network, the broadcaster of choice for this Saturday night's (Nov. 9, 2013) UFC Fight Night 32: "Belfort vs. Henderson" combat sports extravaganza, which takes place at the famed Goiania Arena in Goias, Brazil.
And you know what that means.
Brazilian cards attract Brazilian fighters, so we'll also get another look at guys like Rafael Cavalcante, Paulo Thiago and Rony Jason, among others. But will they be able to do their country proud and leave the Octagon with a win? That's for me to know and you to find out.
See for yourself.
Nostradumbass predicts: The whole purpose of taking TRT is so that older fighters can stay competitive against the younger guys. Well, now the younger guys are injecting testosterone too, so that pretty much unbalances those scales guys like Dan Henderson were so used to evening out.
There will be no "H-Bomb" in Brazil.
Henderson has already defeated Vitor Belfort back in PRIDE. But that was a long time ago and we're looking at two very different fighters in 2013. For starters, "Hendo" was 36 when they first locked horns in Las Vegas and still doing an effective job of mixing his striking with takedowns.
These days, he seems content to just stalk his foes and wing that right hand.
Belfort, meanwhile, got his paws on the fountain of youth and took everything he was good at and amplified it a hundredfold. He was always a talented striker, but now bears the kind of velocity that allows him to uncork wheel kicks against opponents who don't even see them coming until it's too late.
The proof is in the Brazilian pudding.
I expect that to be the narrative in this fight. Henderson will forget he's 43 and display no sense of urgency in getting this fight to the floor or against the cage, where he can make it ugly. Instead, he'll believe he's still got the chin to take a couple of bombs before dropping one of his own.
That shit worked back in 2009 against guys like Michael Bisping. It's not working tomorrow night in Brazil.
Final prediction: Belfort def. Henderson via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: It may have taken nearly two years, but we're finally going to get that Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" live finale we were promised way back at UFC 147. Daniel Sarafian was injured and forced to withdraw after cleaning house in early 2012, just like his coach, Vitor Belfort, but they've reunited in Goias.
Time to find out if the hype is real.
Sarafian split a pair of fights following his return earlier this year. I'm willing to give him a pass against C.B. Dollaway because it was his Octagon debut, he was coming off an injury and "The Doberman" can be a tough out. It was also a pretty close fight.
He returned to form against Eddie Mendez, suffocating the Californian on FUEL TV last June.
In his absence, Cezar Ferreira outpointed Sergio Moraes to win the combat sports reality show, before tapping out Thiago Santos at UFC 163 back in August. "Mutante" has nearly a six-inch reach advantage and can use it to his advantage if he's able to keep this thing from going to the floor.
If Sarafian wins, it will be on the ground.
I'm not convinced he'll be able to get it there. A competitive first round would not surprise me, but as time wears on and Ferreira finds his range, Sarafian is going to be put down during a careless attempt to turn a losing effort into a jiu-jitsu match.
Final prediction: Ferreira def. Sarafian via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: It's really hard to get a read on Rafael Cavalcante. He wins the Strkeforce light heavyweight championship by blowing the doors of Muhammed Lawal, then coughs up the strap in a firefight against Dan Henderson. Then he stops a powerful up-and-comer like Yoel Romero, only to get popped for stanozolol in his rematch against Mike Kyle.
Then came the knockout to fellow Brazilian Thiago Silva.
So is this a legit talent with a string of inconsistency? Or a power punching can on the road to nowhere? I think this is the fight that makes that determination. There's a reason "Feijao" has never been to a decision and I don't expect him to start here.
Expect Igor Pokrajac to give as good as he gets.
"The Duke" was also mired in a drug test fiasco -- except he was on the clean end -- in a loss to Joey Beltran. That "No Contest" is sandwiched between decisive losses to Vinny Magalhaes and Ryan Jimmo. It's pretty safe to say that it's do or die for the Croatian.
I vote die.
He's tough as nails and has a pretty solid chin, but his biggest win to date is over Brazilian punching bag Fabio Maldonado. But offsetting that are losses to Vladimir Matyushenko, Stephan Bonnar and James Te Huna. That last one is the most notable, because the Aussie hits like a truck.
Just like "Feijao."
Final prediction: Cavalcante def. Pokrajac via knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: I don't know what the heck happened to Paulo Thiago, but looking at some of those Fight Night 32 open workout photos, you would never believe the full time supercop -- who is starting to look like a Brazilian Maury Povich -- is 11 years younger than Dan Henderson.
He must drink from the same well as the Nogueira brothers.
There's no question he's a tough out, but let's just go ahead and say it: Thiago's claim to fame is knocking out Josh Koscheck, who was so annoyed over the fact that he was fighting an unknown Brazilian, that he didn't bother watching any tape or even training that hard.
Thiago is just 5-5 inside the Octagon, to boot, and hasn't finished a fighter since strangling Mike Swick over three years ago.
That doesn't give me that warm, fuzzy feeling when it comes to his fight against Brandon Thatch. I know it's a little early to anoint him the second coming, but "Rukus" has finished all 10 of his wins by either knockout or submission. Even when you're fighting local scrubs, 10-10 in finishes is pretty damn impressive.
And his UFC debut over Justin Edwards was equally violent.
Like a lot of recent match-ups (see below), we have a fighter on his way up facing off against a fighter on his way down. Thiago is 2-4 over his last six and just hasn't shown anything in his past couple of fights that would indicate he's ready to go on a run.
Something Thatch has been doing since 2009.
Final prediction: Thatch def. Thiago via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: This is a very important fight in the promotion's welterweight division, but one that hasn't garnered a whole lot of attention. Probably because most stateside fans have never heard of Santiago Ponzinibbio, because he was competing on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil 2" as Team Nogueira's second pick.
He blew through the combat sports reality show, but was forced to withdraw from the finale due to injury.
Prior to his stint on the promotion's proving ground, "El Rasta" was a highly-regarded prospect with a staggering 18-1 record, competing primarily in his native Argentina. He finally gets to step inside the Octagon, but he's faced with a stateside version of himself.
Only with less experience.
Ryan LaFlare was doing work in the Ring of Combat (ROC) promotion in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and almost ended up in World Series of Fighting (WSOF). Instead, he found his way over to UFC and made a successful debut against Ben Alloway earlier this year in Sweden.
It was the first time the New York native had ever seen the judges' scorecards.
All things being equal (they aren't), I would still lean toward Ponzinibbio. They've both looked great over the past few years, but "El Rasta" has been doing it longer and arm injury notwithstanding, more often. A first round finish would not surprise me.
Final prediction: Ponzinibbio def. LaFlare via submission
Nostradumbass predicts: Jeremy Stephens, who has a pretty recognizable name under the UFC banner, gets a fair amount of respect in the combat sports world. That has more to do with the fact that he's been mixing it up inside the Octagon for nearly seven years across a span of 15 fights.
But his performances have been less than memorable.
In fact, you have to travel back to 2008 for his Shoryuken against Rafael dos Anjos to find a win over a top 10 lightweight. Unfortunately, he's gone a dismal 5-6 since pasting the Brazilian and three of those wins have come against fighters no longer employed in UFC.
"Lil' Heathen" is just 27 years old, but I think it's safe to say that what you see is what you get.
Dropping to featherweight was undoubtedly the right move, but he's facing a fighter who is on his way up in the 145-pound ranks, rather than a fellow middle-of-the-packer. You can argue that Rony Mariano Bezerra doesn't have any big name wins on his record -- and you would be right -- but he does what he's supposed to.
"Jason" is riding an eight-fight winning streak and has now finished back-to-back opponents inside the Octagon. Stephens will prove to be a formidable test on Saturday night, but I have a hard time picking against a streaking Brazilian competing in front of his hometown fans.
Final prediction: Bezerra def. Stephens via submission
That's a wrap.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 32 fight card tomorrow night (Sat., Nov. 9, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims" at 5:15 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised main card bouts beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC Fight Night 32 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Belfort vs. Henderson."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.