Night (Sat., Aug. 3, 2013) of the brawling dead!
With a bizarre sequence of mixed martial arts (MMA) events, which culminated with Anthony Pettis challenging Ben Henderson at UFC 164, Chan Sung Jung -- who is affectionately referred to as "The Korean Zombie" -- has stepped up to face dominant Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo.
The clash between the talented pair of 145-pound talents will headline UFC 163, which goes down this Saturday at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In addition to the Jose Aldo vs. Chan Sung Jung main event, Phil Davis and Lyoto Machida will duke it out in the co-featured fight of the night with a potential title shot on the line, while The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" winner, Cezar Ferreira, enters the Octagon for the first time since the show Finale to take on Thiago Santos.
That's not all.
We've got seven "Prelims" under card matches to set the stage on Facebook and FX Networks, the first three of which we examine below.
Let's take a look:
145 lbs.: Rani Yahya vs. Josh Clopton
Career resurgences based on changing weight usually occur when a fighter drops some pounds, but Rani Yahya (18-7) has enjoyed new-found success since returning to Featherweight from 135 pounds, going 3-1 with the sole loss to top division contender Chad Mendes.
Most recently, he survived a late rally from former Sengoku champion Mizuto Hirota in the last Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) trip to Japan to earn a unanimous decision. In his more than 10-year career, Yahya has submitted the likes of Mark Hominick and Eddie Wineland, as well as given a prime "KID" Norifumi Yamamoto one of his toughest outs.
Though Josh Clopton (6-1-1) was defeated in the elimination round of "TUF 14, an injury to Akira Corassani at the Finale opened the door for his first Octagon appearance. It was not to be a successful one, however, as he was beaten up in the clinch by Steven Siler en route to a decision loss.
Clopton, fighting out of Gilbert Melendez’s Skrap Pack, has not competed since the Finale, which took place on Dec. 2011.
Every Brazil card needs its fair share of "Brazilian Guy vs. Foreign Patsy" showdowns to keep the crowd happy ... and this is one of them. Yahya is a world-class grappler with much improved takedowns and serviceable striking. Meanwhile, Clopton hasn’t fought in 1.5 years, failed to get on TUF and looked really mediocre against Siler.
The only question is how exactly Yahya squeezes the life out of him. I’m thinking arm-triangle choke.
Prediction: Yahya by first-round submission
205 lbs.: Ednaldo Oliveira vs. Francimar Barroso
The 6’7" Ednaldo Oliveira (13-1-1) towered over Gabriel Gonzaga in his UFC debut, but his lack of mass and wrestling cost him as he was taken down and submitted little more than three minutes into the Heavyweight showdown. Oliveira, whose nickname, "Lula Molusco," is the Portuguese name for Squidward Tentacles, had made his name in the Jungle Fight and WFE promotions, winning the latter’s Heavyweight title by beating one-time Junior dos Santos-slayer Joaquim Ferreira.
The dos Santos training partner will enjoy seven inches of height over his late-notice opponent.
When grappling legend Robert Drysdale was stricken with staph infection just two weeks before his fight with Oliveira, Nova Uniao-trained fighter Francimar Barroso (15-3) stepped up to the plate. Named a "Brazilian to Watch" back in 2010 by Sherdog, Francimar is 12-1 in his last 13 matches, scoring a five-second head kick knockout in that time.
He has gone the distance just once in his career, while he has knocked out eight during that span.
Despite the extremely short notice, I’m leaning towards Francimar on this one. Oliveira is enormous for 205, but his boxing, the lynchpin of his game, is very mediocre and his ground game is abysmal. All three of Barroso’s losses have come by knockout, so there is a chance he gets caught coming in, but I doubt it.
Francimar is strong, well-rounded, and can crack. Oliveira’s inability to maximize his reach will cost him as Barroso closes the distance, takes him down, and works him over with strikes and submission attempts for a second-round stoppage.
Prediction: Barroso by second-round submission
170 lbs.: Viscardi Andrade vs. Bristol Marunde
As a competitor on TUF: "Brazil 2," Viscardi Andrade (14-5) was the last member of Team Fabricio Werdum standing, making it all the way to the semifinals before being pounded out by William Macario. Professionally, Andrade’s only losses since starting his career 1-3 have been to current contender Yuri Alcantara and two-time UFC veteran Edilberto Crocota.
Andrade’s last four wins, and eight of his 14, have come inside the distance.
After losing badly to Ronaldo Souza in Strikeforce, Bristol Marunde (12-8) got a second chance in Zuffa courtesy of TUF 16, defeating the infamous Julian Lane in the round of 16 before falling to Neil Magny in the quarterfinals. His Octagon debut was a bit underwhelming, getting put on Queer Street by a huge elbow from Clint Hester.
Like Andrade, Marunde’s career started out poorly, going 3-5 before winning nine of his last 12 appearances.
Two guys with sloppy striking and solid grappling with relatively equal amounts of experience. I was about to break out the peyote and go on a spiritual quest to figure out the winner, but then I realized that one of them is Brazilian. This method is far less likely to end with me sneaking back over the border with a fresh coyote skin serving as a substitute for my mysteriously absent clothing ... so let’s go with that.
Prediction: Andrade by unanimous decision
You can catch the remaining four UFC 163 "Prelims" on FX on fight night and their previews and predictions right here on MMAmania at the same time tomorrow.
See you then, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 163 card this weekend, starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, right on through the FX-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card pay-per-view (PPV) action, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.