Two talented middleweight prospects will square off this Saturday night (June 8, 2013) as The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Brazil standout Daniel Sarafian takes on promotional newcomer Eddie Mendez on the UFC on FUEL TV 10 main card in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Record: 7-3 overall, 0-1 in the UFC
Key Wins: none
Key Losses: C.B. Dolloway (UFC on FX 7), Mike Whitehead (Platinum Fighting Productions)
How he got here: Daniel Sarafian has been a lifelong martial artist, beginning training as a child in both judo and karate. When that wasn't enough, he switched to full on mixed martial arts training before he was done with high school.
Sarafian made his professional debut in 2006, but his career did not go as expected in the early goings-on, losing his second fight to UFC veteran Mike Whitehead in the Philippines. He would take his talents to the United States, winning two straight bouts via submission, but again would be set back on the inaugural Bellator show, losing via TKO.
Since then, he's taken his skills up a notch, moving back to Brazil and dominating his opposition, winning four straight fights and then becoming a standout on TUF Brazil last year. He advanced to the finals, stopping Renee Forte and Sergio Moraes in the process, but an injury kept him from competing on the Finale.
He instead made his promotional debut earlier this year against C.B. Dollaway, but was upset by the aggressive American's wrestling and aggression throughout the full 15 minutes. He'll have a chance to redeem himself against promotional newcomer Mendez on Saturday night.
How he gets it done: Sarafian has a strong background in judo and he'll have to use those skills offensively if he wants to catch Mendez by surprise. Mendez is a very aggressive striker who mixes in takedowns when his opponents are playing defense. Look for Sarafian to try to turn the tables on Mendez, using his forward momentum against him with an attempt to throw the American on his head.
Sarafian has a very solid top control game. If he can get this fight to the canvas in a situation where he's at an advantage, he can definitely unload some heavy strikes or force Mendez to make a mistake during a scramble. If he can secure a dominant position, don't be surprised to see Sarafian try to overwhelm Mendez and work for a submission.
Patience will be key, as Mendez can get sloppy at times with his striking. There will likely be openings to exploit.
Record: 7-1-1 (1 No Contest) overall, 0-0 in the UFC
Key Wins: none
Key Losses: none
How he got here: Mendez got his start professionally in 2008, scoring a second round TKO in his professional debut. The California-based fighter would go undefeated in his first seven fights, emphatically knockout out Dave Barnett in just 48 seconds.
After dropping a five round decision to top prospect Joe Williams, Mendez quickly rebounded by scoring a decision victory over Fernando Gonzalez on the Strikeforce: Melendez vs Masvidal prelims. One more victory on the local circuit set him up to be signed by UFC last year.
Mendez was originally slated to fight Nick Penner in a light heavyweight attraction, but was forced out of the bout with an injury. Now healthy, he's expected to make his promotional debut at his more natural middleweight in hostile territory against Sarafian.
How he gets it done: Mendez isn't the most technical fighter out there. On the feet, he's a brawler, looking to wade forward and throw heavy leather. If he has his opponent on the defensive, he'll mix up his attack, throwing big punches to the head, the body and straight up the middle.
At a distance, Mendez will try to score with body and leg kicks, although he's much more comfortable on the inside. If he can force Sarafian to be defensive, don't be surprised to see Mendez change levels and attempt a power double takedown.
Mendez doesn't possess a tremendous ground game, but he's got enough wrestling ability to secure top position, pass guard and attack with strikes. There's almost zero chance he could submit Sarafian, but he definitely could try to pound him out if he can keep the Brazilian on his back. Mendez's best key to victory is constant forward pressure on the feet while forcing Sarafian to fight defensively.
Who will come out on top at UFC on Fuel TV 10? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!