The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Brazil will crown the winner of its second season this Saturday night (June 8, 2013) as finalist William Macario and replacement Leonardo Santos clash in the co-main event of UFC on FUEL TV 10 in Fortaleza, Brazil.
While it's not the final match-up fans were dreaming of, it's a solid test between a long-time veteran and a talented youngster on the rise.
Record: 6-0 overall, 0-0 in the UFC
Key Wins: none
Key Losses: none
How he got here: Macario, just 21, is the second youngest fighter competing in the UFC. He debuted in 2010 and hasn't looked back, winning all six of his fights on the local Brazilian circuit, all by stoppage with all but one coming in the first round.
Macario was a wrecking machine during his recent stint on TUF Brazil, knocking out his opponent to get into the house and then finishing two of his three opponents to make it to the finals, including a vicious finish of Viscardi Andrade in the semifinals to earn his chance at the six figure UFC contract.
He was expected to face Santiago Pozinibbio but a broken hand got in the way, opening the door for semifinalist Leonardo Santos to get a shot instead.
How he gets it done: Macario is all about the explosive overwhelming stand-up. While he could certainly still use some polish, he's got enough power to put away nearly every opponent he's ever faced.
Santos possesses some solid leg kicks so if Mocario wants to make something happen, he's going to need to try to get inside and start connecting with power punches. He'll have to be cautiously aggressive, however, because Santos is at his best when he closes the distance to secure takedowns and breaks his opponents down on the canvas.
Macario should be the bigger, stronger man in the cage so he should use that size and youthful exuberance to his benefit and really press Santos hard with a high pace. If he can connect with something solid and follow up properly, the TUF Brazil 2 crown will be his.
Record: 11-3 overall, 0-0 in the UFC
Key Wins: Mark Holst (Cage Warriors 7)
Key Losses: Takanori Gomi (Shooto Treasure Hunt 7)
How he got here: Santos couldn't have asked for a tougher start to his career, battling Takanori Gomi in Japan for his professional debut. Despite how badly the odds were stacked against him, he lasted all three rounds only to drop a majority decision.
He's primarily bounced back between Brazil and Japan throughout his over 10 year career, impressively holding a pair of five fight winning streaks in his last 11 bouts, including a submission over UFC veteran Mark Holst in his most recent performance last September.
Santos had a solid run on TUF Brazil 2, knocking out his opponent to get into the house and then utilizing his ground game to win two decisions and advance to the semifinals. Once there, he dropped a decision to Santiago Pozinibbio, but an injury to the finalist opened the door for Santos to secure a chance to win the show. He gladly took it.
How he gets it done: There's no big secret for Santos' path to victory. He needs to take this fight to the ground and utilize some of his world champion Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills. His opponent Macario is still a bit of an MMA neophyte and from all the tape I've watched, he's got a long ways to go in regards to technique on the canvas. If Santos can get inside and secure a clinch trip takedown, he could take advantage of some of Macario's sloppiness on the ground.
If he's stuck trading on the feet, Santos isn't completely lost as he possesses some nasty snapping leg kicks that can do some serious damage if he can keep his distance and fire them off without getting countered. Look for him to stay on the outside and try to pick Macario's legs apart if he can't take the fight to the ground. Perhaps if he does enough damage to Macario's legs, it'll open up opportunities to take the youngster down.
Who will come out on top at UFC on Fuel TV 10? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!