UFC Fight Night 32, which takes place this Saturday (Nov. 9, 2013) from Goiania Arena in Goiania, Brazil, features a co-main event showdown between Middleweight prospects Cezar "Mutante" Ferreira and Daniel Sarafian.
It's a bout that has been a long time coming.
Ferreira and Sarafian were scheduled to fight in the 185-pound finals on the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" back at UFC 147 in June 2012. An injury caused Sarafian to pull out of the bout and Ferreira capitalized by defeating Sergio Moraes to take home the contract.
"Mutante" kept his momentum rolling with a submission win over Thiago Santos at UFC 163 this August. The rising Vitor Belfort-trained protege sits with a 6-2 record in mixed martial arts (MMA). He'll look to take care of some unfinished business against Sarafian in Goiania.
Sarafian was thrown to the wolves against C.B. Dollaway in his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut at UFC on FX 7 in February. He put forth a good performance in a "Fight of the Night"-winning split decision loss. Sarafian was able to get back in the win column with by submitting Eddie Mendez at UFC on Fuel TV 10.
Emotions will be running high in Goiania with Ferreira eager to prove that his TUF win was no fluke. Sarafian can rewrite history by proving otherwise.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Cezar Ferreira vs. Daniel Sarafian:
Record: 6-2 overall, 2-0 UFC
Key Wins: Sergio Moraes (UFC 147), Thiago Santos (UFC 163)
Key Losses: Antonio Braga Neto (XFC Brazil 1)
Keys to Victory: "Mutante" is a massive middleweight who holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He's very well rounded in the cage, with three knockouts and two submissions in six total victories.
Ferreira's best way to win at UFN 32 is to keep this fight standing. Sarafian is a dangerous grappler with seven submissions to his name. However, he doesn't have a single knockout. That's a glaring weakness against a fighter with "Mutante's" power, and the Belfort student will be looking to exercise every bit of this advantage in Goiania.
Ferreira has shown that he can end his opponent's night with a single punch. Sarafian has only been finished once with strikes, but Ferreira may be the heaviest hitter he's faced as of yet. Ferreira has faith in his mat prowess, but there's no need to engage Sarafian where he feels most comfortable.
Another important factor in this fight is going to be Ferreira's emotions. With both fighters being Brazilian, it's likely going to be an interesting split of allegiances in Goiania. Ferreira will be faced with a huge amount of pressure as a co-main event participant on a card that his mentor is headlining.
That could help or hurt "Mutante" on Saturday.
If he lets the pressure get to him, Sarafian has the skills to put him away quickly. On the other hand, if he uses the pressure to motivate him he'll have the opportunity to record the biggest win of his young MMA career.
Record: 8-3 overall, 1-1 UFC
Key Wins: Eddie Mendez (UFC on Fuel TV 10)
Key Losses: C.B. Dollaway (UFC on FX 7)
Keys to Victory: Sarafian has a golden opportunity to prove he was the rightful winner of TUF: Brazil 1 this weekend. To capitalize upon this chance, Sarafian needs to show up with his striking defense at a new level.
His opponent has legitimate knockout power, something that Sarafian has not exhibited as of yet.
For that reason, Sarafian should stick to his grappling ability. His striking has been improving since he made his way to UFC, but it's going to be very difficult to score his first career knockout over a fighter of Ferreira's caliber.
"Mutante" has never tapped out in MMA. If anyone can make him, it's the Demian Maia-trained Sarafian. He has an array of chokes and armbars that make him a tough test for most middleweights. If he can score a takedown and utilize transitions to gain dominant positioning, points will begin to come his way in droves. Even if a submission doesn't present itself, Sarafian will be best served to grapple with Ferreira to avoid eating a huge shot on the feet.
It is absolutely paramount that Sarafian keeps his mental focus in check in Goiania. The chance to redeem his disappointing withdrawal from the TUF: Brazil 1 finals will be weighing heavy on his mind. Sarafian has to harness this energy so that it helps his cause inside the Octagon. Getting overzealous and rushing into a dangerous situation could have him staring up at the lights.
Bottom Line from Goiania: The bottom line for this fight is that it may be one of the most emotionally charged bouts UFC has seen in awhile. It was probably inevitable that Ferreira and Sarafian would eventually face off in the future; now that day has come.
Both fighters were members of Team Belfort on TUF: Brazil but there's no resonating team camaraderie heading into UFC Fight Night 32.
Ferreira and Sarafian will be looking to further their cause in UFC with an emphatic victory. Each combatant is very proficient in striking and grappling. "Mutante" has the edge standing while Sarafian maintains a more polished submission skillset.
The winner of this fight will stake an undeniable claim at TUF: Brazil bragging rights and fight on to face a step up in competition. Ferreira and Sarafian have the talent to climb up the ladder in the talented UFC 185-pound landscape, but they'll need to put a stamp on a victory at Goiania Arena in order to do so.
With a relatively low number of fights under their belt, the fighter who manages their emotions best will have the greatest chance to implement their gameplan. More pressure is on Ferreira to be certain. This could play into Sarafian's hand in a big way come Saturday.
This fight has all the pieces necessary to earn "Fight of the Night". Will it deliver on its lofty potential?
Cezar Ferreira and Daniel Sarafian will go to war to decide the true winner of TUF: Brazil 1. Who is your pick to score the win in UFC Fight Night 32's co-main event?