This Sunday night (March 23, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Leonardo Santos and Norman Parke will battle on the main card of UFC Fight Night 38, airing live on FOX Sports 1 from Ginasio Nelio Dias in Natal, Brazil.
Both fighters bring impressive win streaks into the pivotal mixed martial arts (MMA) bout.
Last seen at UFC on Fuel TV 10 last year, Santos defeated William Macario to win The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" 2. "Lamparao" has won six straight.
Not to be outdone, TUF: "Smashes" lightweight winner Parke has won nine straight. The Irish-born grappler won a decision over Jon Tuck at UFC Fight Night 30 in his latest bout.
Given the mat skills of both fighters, this one is tough to predict. Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Santos vs. Parke:
Record: 12-3 overall, 1-0 UFC
Key Wins: William Macario (UFC Fight Night 30)
Key Losses: Takanori Gomi (Shooto Treasure Hunt 7)
Record: 19-2 overall, 3-0 UFC
Key Wins: Jon Tuck (UFC Fight Night 30), Kazuki Tokudome (UFC 162), Colin Fletcher (TUF: The Smashes Finale)
Key Losses: Joseph Duffy (Spartan Fight Challenge)
Training at Nova Uniao with UFC champs Jose Aldo and Renan Barao, Santos enjoys the knowledge of arguably the best camp in the sport. He's been training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu since the ripe age of five and has eight submissions in 12 wins. Despite Parke's vast mat knowledge, "Stormin" has tapped out in his only two losses, so there's a solid chance Santos can submit him on the ground.
Neither fighter is extremely proficient in the striking department, but Parke has more knockouts with three. Santos only has one, so Parke should hold a slight advantage standing. That could become a huge factor if the grappling prowess of both fighters turns this into a kickboxing match.
However, Santos is so slick on the ground that he may be able to end Parke's long win streak. It won't be easy, but Santos appears to be hitting his stride. Parke has to prove that he can ascend to the next level, and that journey begins this Sunday night.
An edge won't be easy to come by. Expect a ground war to favor Santos while a stand-up affair goes to Parke.
In a battle of TUF contract winners, Leonardo Santos and Norman Parke have a ton of momentum heading into UFC Fight Night 38; so much so that's it hard to determine a clear favorite. While Parke is no doubt hungry and talented, I think Santos' motivation and will to improve will push him over the top here.
Final Prediction: Santos def. Parke via submission