Will lightning strike twice inside Nelio Dias Gymnasium in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, this weekend (Sun., March 23, 2014)?
After putting on one of the greatest mixed martial arts (MMA) fights in recent memory in their first encounter, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Dan Henderson will once again do battle in the FOX Sports 1-televised main event of UFC Fight Night 38.
Several The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winners will also be in action, with Cezar "Mutante," Leonardo Santos, Norman Parke and Rony "Jason" all scheduled for main card action.
We examined the first two of six scheduled UFC Fight Night 38 "Prelims" under card bouts that will air online via Fight Pass yesterday right here. Let's now take a deep dive into the remaining four that will air on FOX Sports 1 below:
145 lbs.: Diego Brandao vs. Will Chope
Three vicious knockouts on TUF and an impressive submission in his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut injected Diego Brandao (18-9) immediately into the 145-pound mix. Unfortunately for the powerful Brazilian, he has gone 3-2 since, losses to Darren Elkins and Dustin Poirier sandwiching a three-fight win streak.
He has scored nine knockouts in his professional career, including a drubbing of former UFC welterweight Brian Foster in 2008.
Will Chope (19-6) got the call to the big leagues after winning 14 straight fights in less than two years, capped off by a stoppage of Japanese veteran Takumi Nakayama. This experience proved insufficient to prepare him for the UFC, however, and he suffered a technical knockout loss to Max Holloway in his debut.
Standing a towering 6’4," he will have a nine-inch height advantage over Brandao.
It’s becoming clear that Brandao’s cardio issues are here to stay. These, combined with a shaky chin, will probably keep him out of the division elite for the foreseeable future.
Luckily for him, Chope’s not getting there anytime soon, either.
Chope has a decent clinch and good grappling, but struggles to keep opponents at a distance and does not have the wrestling capabilities to work his Jiu-Jitsu anywhere but from the bottom. He’s neither enough of a technician nor enough of a powerhouse to hurt Diego before "Ceara" gets his mitts on him. Whether Diego wrecks him standing or submits Will is entirely a matter of preference; his recent dedication to takedowns has me thinking the latter. Expect a repeat of Diego’s bout with Garza.
Prediction: Brandao via first-round submission
185 lbs.: Ronny Markes vs. Thiago Santos
Nova Uniao’s Ronny Markes (14-2) got UFC’s attention in April 2011 by upsetting former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champion Paulo Filho and seemed to justify its decision to sign him by defeating Karlos Vemola in his debut. Narrow wins over Aaron Simpson and Andrew Craig followed before Yoel Romero handed him his first knockout loss in Nov. 2013.
He has nine finishes to his credit, only earning one decision win prior to his UFC career.
The last overall pick on TUF: "Brazil 2," Thiago Santos (8-2) nonetheless earned a win in the house before falling to eventual winner Leonardo Santos. He wound up getting a shot in UFC anyway, replacing Clint Hester against Cezar "Mutante" in Aug. 2013.
"Marreta" wound up tapping out to a guillotine less than one minute in, his second loss in his last three professional bouts.
Boring and finish-averse Markes may be, but he has everything going for him here. Santos is a welterweight, or at least enough of one to make that cut multiple times in a short span. Markes is an enormous 185er who, unfortunately for the fans, never stops going for the grind.
Even in the best possible scenario I can imagine for Santos, he’s at least going to get mashed into the fence all night. Realistically, Markes just ploughs him into the mat and roughs him up for fifteen.
Prediction: Markes via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Jussier da Silva vs. Scott Jorgensen
Jussier da Silva (15-3) earned the title of MMA’s top flyweight in 2009 when he upset longtime kingpin "BJ" Kojima. Though he would lose that crown to Ian McCall three fights later, he rattled off five straight victories to get himself a UFC contract.
"Formiga" is just 1-2 since, losing to division stars John Dodson and Joseph Benavidez.
Scott Jorgensen (14-8) -- WEC’s final Bantamweight contender -- started his UFC career with solid victories over Ken Stone and Jeff Curran before being booked opposite Renan Barao. He has yet to regain that form, losing four of his last five bouts.
This will be his second fight at flyweight, having lost his 125-pound debut to Zach Makovsky in Dec. 2013.
In a clash of Brazilian jiu-jitsu whiz versus wrestler, my proclivity for picking the latter is well-documented. This time, though, I’m leaning toward the Brazilian. Jorgensen’s on the downslope of his career and, while Formiga is 1-2 in UFC, losses to Dodson and Benavidez are perfectly understandable.
Formiga has impeccable back control and I’ve a feeling he’ll have more success getting his hands on "Young Guns" than he did in his two losses. Jorgensen cut to flyweight because he was out of options, while Formiga’s been at or near the top of the heap at 125 since before the WEC disappeared. Formiga outgrapples him to a decision win.
Prediction: da Silva by unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Thiago Perpetuo vs. Kenny Robertson
Thiago Perpetuo (9-2-1) made his name on the Brazilian circuit at light heavyweight before joining The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, where he defeated Francisco Trinaldo before being knocked out by Cezar Ferreira. Due to injury, he sat on the sidelines for over a year after knocking out Leonardo "Mafra" in his UFC debut, eventually losing to Omari Akhmedov in a wild slugfest.
"Bodao" -- who has scored seven knockouts in nine wins -- will make his Welterweight debut.
After two previous failed attempts, Kenny Robertson (12-3) finally picked up his first UFC win at UFC 157, hyper-extending Brock Jardine’s leg from back mount in one of 2013’s most original submissions. Despite an excellent rally that arguably should have earned a 10-8 third round, though, he ended the year with a majority decision loss to Sean Pierson.
He has finished eleven opponents, six via punches.
Robertson has had considerable trouble bringing his impressive grappling to bear recently; I don’t see that changing against Perpetuo. The Brazilian figures to have the strength advantage so long as he is not drained from the weight cut and his punching power gives him the edge on the feet.
If the fight does hit the mat, I expect it to be on Perpetuo’s terms, where he can work his debilitating ground-and-pound from half guard. Again, there is the potential for gassing, but Perpetuo’s history of late finishes suggests cardio won’t be an issue; his 5’10" frame also seems suited for the weight class.
Barring struggles with the cut, Perpetuo wears Robertson down with punches before polishing him off early in the third.
Predictions: Perpetuo via third-round technical knockout
We've got a main event guaranteed to be a slugfest and some intriguing match ups to go along with it. Just what you need to brighten up an otherwise crappy Sunday!
See you there, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 38 fight card on fight night, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" at 4 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" at 5 p.m. ET and, of course, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised main card bouts at 7 p.m. ET.
Current UFC "Prelims" Prediction Record 2014: 37-19