Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Belo Horizonte for the second time and it marks the 10th time the promotion puts on a show in Brazil, as UFC Fight Night 28: ‘Teixeira vs. Bader' becomes the third event to be broadcasted on Fox Sports 1.
Fresh off a successful pay-per-view just days ago with UFC 164, the UFC preps its 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter (with coaches Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate) with the 28th installment of UFC Fight Night, with all eyes on the main and co-main events.
In the main event, the Brazilian Glover Teixeira returns home to face Ryan "Darth" Bader in a fight that could or could not have light heavyweight title implications involved in it -- it all depends how you look at it.
Potential middleweight supremacy is up for grabs in the co-main event as Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza battles longtime UFC veteran Yushin Okami in a fight that is too close to call.
With the majority of this card's excitement focused on these two bouts, let us look into the near future and map out what a victory on Saturday night might mean for these four combat sports stars.
Here we go:
Some will say Teixeira deserves to be the number one contender for the winner of Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 while others will say Glover Teixeira has not beaten anyone remotely close to earn him a shot at the championship.
If Glover Teixeira obliterates Ryan Bader (and we mean obliterate) then yes, he has done enough. If Teixeira wins but in a way that it is unconvincing he would pose problems for the champion (let us say Jon Jones for now), his inclusion would be feel a little forced.
Beating the men Teixeira has beaten surprisingly has inserted him name into the title talk. He has beaten an unmotivated Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, a somewhat dime-a-dozen Kyle Kingsbury and both unranked Fabio Maldonado and James Te Huna in his UFC occupancy. Yes, he is a force to be reckoned with at 205 pounds, has heavy hands and is on a 19-fight winning streak (with only four of those fights being in the UFC). However it feels like something is still missing.
Would it have been better to match up Teixeira with Rashad Evans? It could have been. Do we get more of a clearer sense of where Teixeira stands with a win over Bader? Definitely, yet we do get more overzealousness from the brass if they say he earns the next shot at the light heavyweight championship if he does not look that great.
Teixeira should not overlook Bader, look past him or look at him at all -- meaning he should take this fight as another opponent he needs to slay to move up the ranks. There are more challenges at the light heavyweight division but there is a sense that a huge win (certainly a finish) -- propels him to the top.
Is his hype justified? This fight will draw the conclusions.
Ryan Bader needs to show the brass, the fandom and himself that he can be a title contender and that he can have his name included at the top of the heap when it comes to light heavyweights.
We are not even going to talk about the title when it comes to Bader in this moment in time -- not because he has already lost to Jon Jones, but because he has not remained consistent with an abundance of opponents that he should have beaten if he wants to be considered amongst the best.
He has beaten seasoned opposition like Keith Jardine, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson but has failed to captivate audiences with performances that saw him get finished against Jon Jones, Lyoto Machida and a near-retirement Tito Ortiz. With a 3-3 record in his last six fights, he needs to worry about getting a good crop of victories together and then maybe his inclusion alongside names like Jon Jones, Alexander Gustafsson and Phil Davis -- who has jumped right back into the hunt -- would be more fitting.
What Bader can do though is steal the spotlight, not to mention the thunder of Teixeira and show the pundits that Teixeira was not deserving of a title fight. A lot of pressure is riding on Teixeira for this fight and a mistake would be to look past Bader -- something "Darth" should be hoping for so he can jump right into the pool of top light heavyweights.
A loss would not deteriorate what Yushin Okami has done in the sport or even his withstanding in the UFC but it would snap a three-fight winning streak and that is momentum he needs after losing two-straight to Tim Boetsch and Anderson Silva, challenging him for the middleweight championship.
Since Okami has already gotten his title shot not too long ago, he may need another string of victories to be considered again. He faces a lethal submission ace in Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and if Okami can finish a man who has not been stopped since 2008 when Gegard Mousasi upkicked him into an oblivion at DREAM 6 five years ago, Okami would just need one more win to get the brass pondering his next move and consider him in a championship fight again -- or would he have already done enough?
It is tough to say if Okami gets an immediate crack at the middleweight strap with a win. Beating ranked fighters (on whatever platform) like Hector Lombard and Alan Belcher should do him some favors but the way he lost to Anderson Silva proves that he needs something close to spectacular to be involved again. Another win would maybe fuel the discussion with a little more merit. If Vitor Belfort was denied another middleweight title fight because of the way he lost (and it was worse than Okami's downfall), even with two more wins in a row than Belfort, Okami may still have additional work to do.
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza
Souza has the chance to turn some heads in the middleweight division if he can beat a perennial contender like Yushin Okami. Although "Jacare" only has one win under his belt in the UFC (over Chris Camozzi back at UFC on FX 8), his recent run of four-straight wins and eight victories in his last 10 fights shows that he could be a dangerous opponent for anyone in the division -- even the champion Chris Weidman or his foe at UFC 168, the enigmatic Anderson Silva. His striking may not be on par with those two competitors but Souza has shown that he can adapt to any style that is presented in front of him and his prowling attack is a problem for anyone at middleweight no matter how big or strong they come.
The former Strikeforce middleweight champion and former ADCC Submission Wrestling World Champion could have the best jiu-jitsu in the game today -- not to mention is one of the best ground fighters in all of the sport. A win over Okami would be massive given the task at hand to beat one of the division's strongest wrestlers.
That is exactly what "Jacare" needs on Wednesday night -- a monster win. He could sail in the division by beating subpar opposition but it would not be gratuitous that it would propel him to contention. With the given circumstances that Souza was supposed to face Constantinos Philippou and not Chris Camozzi in May, this win would be a bigger honor for him. If he can bag this one in his home country and then get another win over someone like Michael Bisping or Vitor Belfort, whomever the champion may be in December may have another fight to worry about sooner than later.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 28 fight card this Wednesday evening (Sept. 4, 2013) right here, starting with the Facebook "Prelims" at 4:30 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 6 p.m. ET and then main card action (also on FOX Sports 1), which is slated to begin at 8 p.m. ET.