This Saturday night (June 28, 2014), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweights Ricardo Lamas and Hacran Dias will square off on the main card of UFC Fight Night 44, airing live at 10 p.m. EST on FOX Sports 1 from AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
No. 3-ranked Lamas was most recently seen losing a decision to featherweight champion Jose Aldo in the co-main event of February's UFC 169. "Bully" downplayed Aldo's performance in the bout, noting that he lost it for himself.
Prior to facing Aldo, Lamas had won four straight mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts. He'll look to start a new streak against another Team Nova Uniao product in Dias, who has been out of action since a UFC on FX 8 decision loss to Nik Lentz.
Like Lamas, "Barnabe" saw a big win streak dissipate with a recent defeat. With only two losses on his record, the unranked Dias has a golden opportunity to score a huge win in San Antonio.
He'll just have to stand up to a motivated "Bully" to do it. Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Lamas vs. Dias:
Record: 13-3 overall, 4-1 UFC
Key Wins: Cub Swanson (UFC on FOX 1), Erick Koch (UFC on FOX 6), Hatsu Hioki (UFC on FX 4)
Key Losses: Jose Aldo (UFC 169), Yuri Alcantara (WEC 53), Danny Castillo (UFC 42)
Keys to Victory: Lamas has to return back to the aggressive style that got him into a title fight with Aldo. The vaunted leg kicks of "Junior" certainly have a way of stifling one's forward progress, but Lamas had some success when he made the fight dirty and took Aldo to the ground.
By that point, however, it was too late, so Lamas has to begin imposing his will much earlier against Dias. While he admitted he was wrong in trying to prove he could strike with Aldo, he may want to exercise his stand-up skills in this fight.
Dias only has three knockouts on his record, and it's safe to say he's a far cry from Aldo when it comes to striking. Peppering him with a steady dose of combinations and changing levels for a takedown attempt or two will make this fight play out according to Lamas' strengths.
But Dias will also have the blueprint of how to defeat Lamas, so it's on him to push the pace from the opening bell and make sure he puts a stamp on "Barnabe." It won't be easy, because the tough Brazilian has never been finished.
You can bet Lamas will be hell-bent on becoming the first man to accomplish that task.
Record: 21-2-1 overall, 1-1 UFC
Key Wins: Yuri Alcantara (UFC 147)
Key Losses: Nik Lentz (UFC on FX 8), Yui Chul Nam (M-1 Challenge 17)
Keys to Victory: Dias is a slick submission artist who's forced nine foes to tap in his nearly nine-year MMA career. He owns an impressive array of chokes and will undoubtedly be looking to score his biggest-ever win by putting Lamas to sleep.
"Bully" has never tapped out, so Dias could be in for a war. He's got little to lose, as he's been gifted a chance to shock the world. If he intends to do it, he'll have to show up to UFC Fight Night 44 with a renewed all-around game.
He's certainly training at the right gym to learn some top-level Muay Thai skills, and he has most likely worked on his takedown defense extensively as well.
Those aspects of MMA will prove crucial to defeating Lamas. Throwing a high torrent of accurate leg kicks is paramount to stopping "Bully's" forward momentum and takedown attempts. If Dias can stick and move to avoid Lamas' brutal ground and pound, a chance at the huge upset will be within reach.
It's going to be extremely tough, however, as Lentz proved that Dias could be dismantled by top-level wrestlers. With Lamas currently ranked a cut above "Carny," Dias could be in for an extremely long (or short) night.
Bottom Line from San Antonio: The bottom line for this fight is that it is a must-win for Lamas if he wants to be considered for a 145-pound title shot anytime in the near future.
With many of the top featherweights booked right now, he was given Dias, a lower-ranked opponent who is nonetheless dangerous and could pose problems if Lamas foolish enough to look past him. To keep his lofty ranking intact, Lamas has to fight showing no ill effects of his disheartening loss to Aldo.
Given the professional that he is, he'll most likely show up beyond motivated and focused to destroy a Nova Uniao competitor.
Despite his glaring record, Dias has yet to show much of the explosive finishing ability that gained him a stint in the UFC in the Octagon. By no means does that signify he can't, but it will take a special effort to get it done here.
Nothing less than his best performance will suffice, as Lamas' sole goal is to fight his way back to another shot at Aldo.
If Dias can prevent that, he'll undoubtedly catapult himself onto the featherweight Top 10 list. The odds may be against him, but they aren't as high as you might think.
Emotions will be high for this bout, so expect a back-and-forth battle.
Ricardo Lamas is eager to prove that he's better than his UFC 169 loss to Jose Aldo. Will he rebound by defeating ‘Junior's' teammate at UFC Fight Night 44?