It's been awhile, hasn't it?
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight standouts Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fabricio Werdum first clashed back in 2006 under the Pride FC banner, with "Minotauro" coming out on top via unanimous decsion. Now, seven years later, the two mixed martial arts (MMA) veterans will headline UFC on FUEL TV 10, which set to go down at Paulo Sarasate Arena in Fortaleza, Brazil, this Saturday night (June 8, 2013).
Nogueira and Werdum, who will wrap their coaching duties on the of The Ultimate Fighter: "Brazil 2," will be joined on the televised main card, which will begin on FUEL TV at 8 p.m. ET on fight night, by a Light Heavyweight battle between two more popular Brazilians, Thiago Silva and Rafael Cavalcante.
But, before all that, we've got seven "Prelims" under card bouts that will air on Facebook to tide us over, the first four of which are broken down below.
Let's get cracking:
170 lbs.: Ildemar Alcantara vs. Leandro Silva
Ildemar Alcantara (18-5), brother of Bantamweight contender Iuri Alcantara, was invited to compete inside the Octagon thanks to a seven-fight win streak, making his promotional debut as a late replacement against Wagner Prado at UFC on FX 7 earlier this year. After being solidly outstruck in the first, "Marajo" took control in the second with his grappling, eventually tapping the much larger Prado with a kneebar.
Alcantara, who normally fights at 185 pounds, will make his first cut to Welterweight for this fight.
After Jason High was bumped up to face Erick Silva, Leandro Silva (11-0) -- who lost on the qualifiers of TUF: "Brazil 2," was tabbed to replace him on one month’s notice. The Chute Boxe-trained fighter has won the majority of his fights via submission, tapping seven almost unanimously by choke.
Though traditionally a Lightweight, "Buscape" went up in weight for the chance to compete on TUF.
This is a match up between two guys with similar skillsets. One is much bigger and more experienced, while the smaller one only had about one month to prepare.
It's therefore not the most difficult prediction to make.
Alcantara is big, strong, durable and skilled. Relative to him, Silva is two of those things. Whether on the feet or on the ground, "Marajo" should control the fight without much trouble, eventually catching Silva with a big punch and picking up the second stoppage victory of his UFC career.
Prediction: Alcantara by first-round technical knockout
145 lbs.: Rodrigo Damm vs. Mizuto Hirota
Since starting his career 8-1, the past five years for Rodrigo Damm (10-6) can be considered one big rough patch, going a paltry 2-5 while being stopped four times. After being forced off TUF: "Brazil" because of dehydration, however, Damm has done fairly well for himself at 145 pounds, submitting rival Anistavio Medeiros in his promotional debut at UFC 147 in June 2012, but then losing a narrow decision to Antonion Carvalho at UFC 154 five months later.
Mizuto Hirota (14-6-1) couldn’t overcome the grappling prowess of Rani Yahya in his Octagon debut at UFC on Fuel TV 8 in March 2013, but once again demonstrated his incredible toughness, surviving an airtight arm-triangle to beat down the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace in the final frame. Previously, Hirota gave top 155-pound contender Pat Healy everything he could handle despite a massive size disadvantage in a losing effort.
Before we start, let me make it clear: I am a huge Hirota fan. Now that full disclosure is out of the way, here is the reason Hirota will win.
Damm has very impressive jiu-jitsu, but not the wrestling needed to consistently implement it. His stand up is solid, particularly his jab, but he has a relatively poor chin, suffering three knockout losses in his last six fights.
Hirota, meanwhile, can punch.
Even if Damm puts Hirota on his back, the only person to successfully submit him was Shinya Aoki, surviving absolute grappling killers such as Kitaoka and Yahya, who couldn’t put him away despite their best efforts. And as they both learned, Hirota does not stop coming.
Damm can definitely threaten Hirota and could certainly have success early, but that left hook of Hirota’s will find its mark eventually.
Prediction: Hirota by second-round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Karlos Vemola vs. Caio Magalhaes
After a 1-2 run at Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight inside the Octagon, Karlos Vemola (9-3) elected to drop 20 more pounds and ply his trade at Middleweight. While his debut in the weight class was successful, choking out Mike Massenzio in two, "The Terminator" could not overcome Tristar-trained Francis Carmont, who gave him a taste of his own medicine after two exciting rounds.
Vemola, 27, has ended eight fights in the first round, five inside the first minute.
Since a lackluster loss to Buddy Roberts this past June, injuries have kept Nova Uniao-trained Caio Magalhaes (5-1) on the shelf. He was part of the injury conga line that faced Michael Kuiper earlier this year, the second of three injured opponents.
"Hellboy" has submitted two opponents, including one via omoplata.
I’ll readily admit a soft spot for Vemola, who has no striking to speak of, but possesses Earth-shattering ground-and-pound when he can use it. Unfortunately, his inability to set up his takedowns keeps him from putting that to use against top-shelf competition.
The good news (for him) is that Magalhaes is not top-shelf competition. He lacks the wrestling to keep Vemola off of him, the jiu-jitsu to submit him off his back, or the striking to stop Czech's crazy charge. It shouldn’t take long for Vemola to work his way into top position, at which point he will go medieval on the Brazilian for a painful stoppage victory.
Prediction: Vemola by first-round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Antonio Braga Neto vs. Anthony Smith
A multiple-time jiu-jitsu gold medalist in the World and Pan American tournaments, Antonio Braga Neto (8-1) first showed up on the UFC’s radar when he survived an early onslaught from Maiquel Falcao to submit him in the second in 2011. He has competed just one since then, scoring a slick kneebar submission of Brock Larson.
The 24-year-old also holds a win over "Mutante" Cezar Ferreira, the only victim Braga Neto failed to finish.
Entering the UFC as part of the Strikeforce merger, Anthony Smith (17-9) enjoyed an even (2-2) record in the promotion, scoring two knockouts while being finished by Adlan Amagov and Roger Gracie. Smith originally started his career 4-6 and has won nine of his last 11 appearances.
"Lionheart" has never gone the distance in victory, only ever seeing the third round once.
To be honest, I’ve been excited for Braga Neto’s debut for a while -- he has legitimately world-class jiu-jitsu and is huge for the weight class. Further, he demonstrated a fantastic chin against Falcao, withstanding a tremendous beating to submit the much more experienced fighter.
Smith is entertaining and well-rounded, but after seeing him succumb to Gracie’s rudimentary takedown game, I have my doubts as to his ability to keep it standing against Braga Neto. Smith’s willingness to trade wild shots will just open him up for takedowns, of which his Brazilian opponent only needs one.
I’ll be interested to see how Braga Neto’s wrestling fares against the division’s elite, but he shouldn’t struggle too much against Smith, scoring an early takedown and taking an arm home with him shortly thereafter.
Prediction: Braga Neto by first-round submission
That's a wrap for the first half of the UFC on Fuel TV 10 "Prelims" bouts. Be sure to come back tomorrow for previews and predictions for the remaining three "Prelims" bouts, which is capped off by one of the top 135-pound MMA fighters in the world.
See you then!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire card on fight afternoon (Sat., June 8, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, as well as the main card, which is slated to air at 8 p.m. ET on FUEL TV.