Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) continues to beat us over the head with mixed martial arts (MMA) events, this time with UFC Fight Night 28: "Teixeira vs. Bader," another Wednesday night offering which goes down TONIGHT (Sept. 4, 2013) on FOX Sports 1 from Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Leading the charge will be top light heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira, who's double-parked outside the 205-pound title clinic, waiting to be called in. Hoping to cut the line is former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 Champion Ryan Bader, as he tries to make it two in a row against grizzled veterans.
The co-main event also features a middleweight contest with serious title implications, as Ronaldo Souza continues his ascension to the top of the 185-pound division. If "Jacare" is able to take a bite out of Yushin Okami -- who knows a thing or to about fighting for gold -- expect a title shot sooner rather than later.
There are four other free fights that precede the main and co-main (along with 6,742 commercials), all with varying degrees of importance, but I'm trying not to gas before I even get out of the first round. That said, let's cut to the chase and get this thing underway.
Nostradumbass predicts: Ryan Bader was an exciting light heavyweight prospect when he graduated as The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 champ, flattening Vinny Magalhaes to kick off a 5-0 run inside the Octagon, which culminated with a unanimous decision win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
What cost him the fight against Jon Jones at UFC 126 is the same thing that will cause him to come up short tonight in Brazil. "Darth," for all his physical tools, is still a great wrestler with a big right hand. The problem is, that's what he's been since his 2008 debut.
Nothing more, nothing less.
That means he can out-wrestle better strikers and win favor on the scorecards, like he did against Quinton Jackson. Or, he can knockout fellow wrestlers with rudimentary striking, like he did against Vladimir Matyushenko. Put him in with a complete fighter like Jones or Lyoto Machida?
The results speak for themselves.
Failure to evolve -- not physical tools -- is what keeps Bader from graduating to the next level. Aside from awful footwork, he's shown a tendency to charge in with reckless abandon, which proved to be suicide against "The Dragon." And you never want to be the only guy Tito Ortiz has beaten since the Ken Shamrock days.
The competition only gets harder.
Glover Teixeira has been a heart attack since his ZUFFA debut, going 4-0 with two submission wins. His resume outside the Octagon is not going to astound you, but even fighting journeymen or UFC castaways, compiling a 21-2 record in this era of combat sports, is meaningful.
And he does what a great fighter should do against lesser competition: He annihilates them. That's why the Brazilian's record is not padded with a dozen decision wins (he only has three in his career). He's clearly a UFC-caliber fighter and some would argue that he's the next in line for a 205-pound title shot.
Assuming he wins tomorrow night at home.
I believe he does. I wouldn't call it a lock, because Bader has the power to upset the apple cart and Glover can get lazy with his defense when he's dominating (see Maldonado, Fabio). Epic comeback notwithstanding, "Darth" will be fighting defensively and won't be able control the tempo.
That makes him vulnerable.
Look for Teixeira to take Bader out of his comfort zone and rock him early, forcing the former NCAA All-American to instinctively shoot for a leg. In a blistering sequence of punishing attacks, "Darth" gets smoked and choked before he even realizes he's in trouble.
Final prediction: Teixeira def. Bader via submission
Nostradumbass predicts: I know the boards are making a big deal out of the fact that Yushin Okami has never been submitted in 36 professional fights, but I also remember the same kind of chatter when the pundits said that Larry Holmes had never been knocked out.
Okami must now test his ground game against Ronaldo Souza, just as Holmes was forced to test his chin against Mike Tyson.
Make no mistake about it, this contest is going to call for grappling at some point. It just wouldn't be a "Thunder" fight if there wasn't a battle for position against the cage, in the clinch or on the ground. A few years ago, Okami's striking would have been good enough to win this one on the feet, but "Jacare" has improved by leaps and bounds since the early days of Strikeforce.
You have the luxury to spend extra time training hands when you're already one of the best submission fighters on the planet. In fact, it's been two years since the Brazilian has seen the judges' scorecards and since then, he's rattled off four straight finishes, three in the very first round.
Okami, by comparison, is coming off decision victories over Hector Lombard and Alan Belcher, as well as a technical knockout win over a guy I couldn't pick out of a police line up. You can argue he's faced tougher competition, but also holds key losses to Rich Franklin and Chael Sonnen, who were both immune to the Japanese juggernaut.
I just think that stylistically, it's a bad match-up.
Okami is not the kind of fighter to knock someone out standing. He finishes his fights by way of mug and slug. If he tries to keep it on the feet and jab his way to victory, it's not going to last. Souza will get in his face, work for a tie-up and take it down (or get taken down).
Either way, it's "Jacare's" world, and Okami can't live in it.
Final prediction: Souza def. Okami via submission
Nostradumbass predicts: No conversation about great fighters, particularly when it comes to the smaller weight classes, can be complete without the name of Joseph Benavidez. Here's a guy who was arguable the second-best bantamweight in the world a few years back, but who was just too small to get past division champion Dominick Cruz.
"Joe Jitsu" has just three losses across 21 fights and that's against "The Dominator" and "Mighty Mouse." He also has 13 finishes in 18 wins (72%), which is rare for a smaller fighter, and has consistently fought the best competition in the world.
In case it wasn't evident, I'm building a case for his win tonight behind enemy lines.
That doesn't mean Da Silva is just going to roll over. He's one of the better fighters at 125 pounds, but getting clowned by John Dodson makes it difficult to present an argument for the upset. True, Benavidez doesn't have "The Magician's" power to make consciousness disappear, but "Formiga" also has a unanimous decision loss to Ian McCall.
His wins -- while impressive -- are primarily against regional talent in Brazil.
The threat of submission is always there, but with zero wins by way of knockout or technical knockout, I have trouble envisioning a scenario where Da Silva has the speed or power to put Benavidez on his ass, or keep him there long enough to seal the deal.
Final prediction: Benavidez def. Da Silva via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: Piotr Hallman is an exciting prospect coming out of Poland, but he got a raw deal in the matchmaking for his debut. Not only does he make his first Octagon appearance in front of an angry Brazilian mob, he's tasked with turning away Francisco Trinaldo, who is already four fights -- and three finishes -- into his UFC career.
"Pletwal" has been running through the competition overseas, but it's hard to put much stock in those wins when they come against guys like Szymon Walaszek (1-8) and Avtandil Shoshiashvili (0-2), as well as Ivica Truscek, who's on a torrid 2-9 run since June 2012.
Not gonna cut it.
Maybe he'll turn out to be great, but I can't pick him against Trinaldo. "Massaranduba" (WTF is with these nicknames?) hasn't exactly been beating top shelf competition, but doing work on the big stage is always an advantage and I think his loss to Gleison Tibau -- a fight he nearly won with a crushing left -- was a learning experience.
The bottom line?
We already know what Trinaldo can do under the ZUFFA banner -- and he does it well. If Hallman wants to get that same consideration, he must eventually follow suit, something I don't expect him to do until his second fight inside the Octagon.
He's losing his first one.
Final prediction: Trinaldo def. Hallman via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: This is an interesting match-up against two fighters who are similar in many ways. They are both 30 years old, sport records of 16-4-1 and will probably never contend for a title. I know that sounds pretty harsh, but I'm just trying to be realistic.
Rafael Natal has been fighting for over seven years, Troeng for over 10.
What's troubled me about their respective performances is how incomplete they look. A fighter with Troeng's experience should have at least made it to the TUF semifinals, but he was bounced beforehand as a result of his insipid showing against Josh Samman.
He was able to rebound with a UFC win during the live finale, but that was against the one-and-done Adam Cella, whose only claim to fame was not dying against Uriah Hall. The reason Tor stands a fair chance tonight is because Natal hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire.
But he does have the edge in Octagon experience.
I also like that he's competing at home, so "The Hammer" can expect to get nailed by the Brazilian fans. In addition, "Sapo" has a more refined ground game than his opponent and should be in a situation where he's able to use it. Let's face it, these two aren't going to put on a striking clinic.
Assuming Natal doesn't gas, this is his fight to lose.
Final prediction: Natal def. Troeng via submission
Nostradumbass predicts: So we have to determine who has the bigger disadvantage here: A fighter who never competed in UFC making his debut in front of a hostile crowd, or a fighter who is dropping all the way down from featherweight to try his luck at 125 pounds.
Yes, I'm aware that Marcos Vinicius also competed at bantamweight following TUF: "Brazil." But he was KTFO by "Brutal" Johnny Bedford and inadvertently made that face like Natalie from Facts of Life whenever she got a whiff of Edna's Edibles.
Not a good look.
"Vina" is a competent martial artist and a savvy submission specialist, but the tape I don't have and didn't watch on Ali Bagautinov leads me to believe that Combat Sambo will prevail. Even if it's not the superior form of grappling -- like Khabib Nurmagomedov suggests -- the Russian import is still the more explosive fighter.
But how will he handle the UFC jitters?
At the risk of profiling, I'm guessing that anyone who lives and competes in Mother Russia -- where baby bottles are filled with Smirnoff and giant death machines storm public beaches -- isn't going to be jittery over a little thing like ornery fight fans.
And Vinicius looked kinda scrawny at the weigh ins.
Final prediction: Bagautinov def. Vinicius via technical knockout
That's a wrap, folks.
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 5 p.m. ET and then main card action (also on FOX Sports 1), which is slated to begin at 7 p.m. ET.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC Fight Night 28 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Teixeira vs. Bader."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.