Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is heading south of the equator for tomorrow night's (June 8, 2013) UFC on FUEL TV 10: "Nogueira vs. Werdum 2" extravaganza, which takes place at Ginasio Paulo Sarasate in Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil.
I have no idea where the hell that is, but it sounds lovely.
Leading the charge will be hometown heroes and The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil 2" coaches Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fabricio Werdum. "Minotauro" holds a unanimous decision win over "Vai Cavalo" from their first encounter under the PRIDE FC banner back in 2006.
A lot has changed since then.
Not much has changed for Rafael Cavalcante and Thiago Silva. They are both tough outs in the promotion's light heavyweight division, and both have a habit of failing post-fight drug tests. Hopefully, we can get through their 205-pound affair with no complications.
And let's not forget about the two TUF finalists, who look to join the bloated ranks of the UFC welterweight division.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the main card action on fight night (Sat., June 8, 2013), which is slated to air at 8 p.m. ET on FUEL TV. The latest quick updates of the live action will begin to flow earlier than that around 4:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook.
Now, enough with the formalities ... let's get cracking.
Nostradumbass predicts: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira first met Fabricio Werdum under the PRIDE banner back in 2006, handing "Vai Cavalo" a pretty one-sided ass whooping as part of the promotion's open weight grand prix. Pundits (like me) are quick to note, "A lot has changed since then."
No shit, Sherlock.
That was almost seven years ago, when Nogueira was 27-3-1 with a staggering 19 submission wins. His only losses came by way of decision to Fedor Emelianenko (unanimous) and Dan Henderson (split), two of the best fighters in the world.
Sine beating Werdum, he was KTFO by both Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez, and had his arm shattered by way of grisly submission. In fact, if Heath Herring wasn't asleep at the wheel, there's a very real chance he would have been finished at UFC 73.
However he ends up at the end of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career, we can all agree there was a time when he was very special. But he's now 40+ fights deep into his career and has suffered an inordinate amount of punishment, to boot.
What does have left in the tank?
Enough to beat guys like Dave Herman, clearly, but Werdum is no "Pee Wee." In fact, for a guy who wrecked shop at Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC), his Muay Thai is vastly underrated. He even outstruck Alistair Overeem in his questionable loss under the Strikeforce banner (proof).
He also made knockout artist Roy Nelson look like he had no business being inside the cage at UFC 143.
The big knock on him was getting pasted by Junior dos Santos. In 2008, it was the running joke. Now that we now "Cigano" is a straight-up killer, it doesn't look as bad, especially considering Werdum walked into that bout weighing 256, which is nearly 18 pounds heavier than what he weighed when he submitted Fedor.
Yeah, that also happened.
Werdum is in his prime and firing on all cylinders, which is the same position Nogueira was in back in 2006. Unfortunately, the torch has been passed and if both guys were at their peak, we might have a different discussion, but they're not.
Only one is.
"Big Nog" is going to have big problems on fight night.
Final prediction: Werdum def. Nogueira via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: I didn't watch a single episode of TUF Brazil 2 and I'm not going to pretend I know a whole lot about Leonardo Santos or William Macario, mostly because I'm too busy pretending to know about more important things, like whether or not Chubb Rock and Heavy D are the same person.
Besides, I wield the mighty power of YouTube, so I can still see them fight.
Macario entered the TUF house having never gone to a decision. That streak ended against Thiago de Lima Santos in episode five, but he got it back later in the show. I was concerned about his ability to go the distance based on his aggression, but that won't be a problem here.
What could be a problem is Santos' submission game.
Aside from the fact that he trains with some of the top names in the sport at Nova Uniao, Santos also has 10 years in age over Macario, as well as twice the number of fights. "Patolino" is dangerous early on, but part of me wonders aloud if the eager 21 year old doesn't get caught trying to finish it early.
This looks to be an action-packed fight with fireworks from both sides, but I'm taking experience over youth on the big stage, the place where it matters most.
Final prediction: Santos def. Macario via submission
205 lbs.: Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante (11-3) vs. Silva (14-3)
Nostradumbass predicts: I remember sitting in the stands and hearing the collective groan of disappointment when Thiago Silva handed Houston Alexander his first loss inside the Octagon. I mention "The Nebraskan Assassin" because that's a pretty good indication of the type of fighter Silva is.
He beats up the mid-card competition and falters against the upper echelon.
In fact, Silva doesn't hold a victory over an active UFC fighter. His only "official" win over the past five years (thanks to those pesky drug tests) is his destruction of Keith Jardine at UFC 102, sandwiched between losses to Lyoto Machida (UFC 98) and Rashad Evans (UFC 108).
Cavalcante hasn't fared much better.
"Feijao" has been hot-and-cold over his last couple of fights. He pissed hot against Mike Kyle back in 2012, and went out cold against Dan Henderson the year before. He trains with some of the best in the world, including UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, as well as the Nogueira brothers, but his conditioning is questionable.
Not that you need it when you end 10 off 11 fights by way of knockout or technical knockout.
I think he gets it done here because he has devastating power and I've seen Silva do everything he can to avoid the hands. Every second he wasn't humping Brandon Vera into oblivion at UFC 125, he was getting worked in the stand up. He just doesn't have the mitts for an extended amount of time on the feet.
And on Saturday night, he won't have the chin for it, either.
Final prediction: Cavalcante def. Silva via knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: Whatever problems Jason High was having back in 2009 and early 2010 seem to have been rectified. During that stretch, he was put out to pasture by Jay Hieron and Marius Zaromskis, before getting outworked by Charlie Brenneman in his lone Octagon appearance.
Since then, he's rattled off seven in a row with three finishes and will probably try to replicate Jon Fitch's gameplan when he looks to quell the uprising of one of Brazil's top welterweight prospects in Erick Silva, who probably could have had a better showing against Fitch if he had comparable conditioning.
Most guys don't.
High has a formidable wrestling pedigree from his days as a collegiate mat technician and can also hang with the best of them on the ground. The good news is, he's probably not in any danger of getting knocked out. Silva mirrors him in knockout/technical knockout finishes with just three apiece.
This is a ground fight.
I don't think either fighter will be able to lock up the tap, but "Indio" may be a bit craftier on the ground and score points when needed. You can make a legitimate argument for this fight in either direction, but I have to believe that if Silva's cardio holds up, he takes this one on the scorecards.
They are, after all, in Brazil (wink wink).
Final prediction: Silva def. High via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: You can argue that Daniel Sarafian is getting the path of least resistance after failing to show up for his TUF Brazil finale due to injury and then coming up empty against C.B. Dollaway in his official UFC debut.
I'm not buying that.
Sure, he gets a spot in front of the hometown crowd against an Octagon newcomer, but this is a FUEL TV card and he's 0-1 inside the Octagon. In spite of his bright future, this is where he belongs. And it's not like the promotion is short on Brazilian stars.
As for Mendez? Well, that remains to be seen.
He's only tasted defeat inside the cage on one occasion and did have a one-and-done stint under the Strikeforce banner. What concerns me is the fact that he's gone to the scorecards in three straight fights after opening up with a bunch of finishes.
Does that indicate he's had a tougher time finishing guys as the competition got stiffer?
It may be too early to tell with just eight fights, but if I have to pick between Mendez, who makes his UFC debut against a crafty submission specialist in hostile territory, I think you can probably guess which side I'm leaning toward.
Could be a first-rounder.
Final prediction: Sarafian def. Mendez via submission
Nostradumbass predicts: If you walk around calling yourself "Jason," complete with grimy hockey mask and ragged coveralls, you better hurt somebody when you step inside the cage. Fortunately for Rony Mariano Bezzera, he's been able to treat most of his opponents like slutty teen campers.
Now it's time to face a "Warrior."
Mike Wilkinson brings his undefeated record into the Octagon in what has to be the last place any fighter not born south of the equator wants to be. Brazil can be a deafening place when the hometown boys takes center stage and Wilky has but one UFC bout under his belt.
This one, like the staff at MMAmania, is all mental.
The big question is whether or not Wilkinson can overcome his significant reach disadvantage against Bezzera and land the takedown. He's got crafty submissions, but they don't mean jack-shit if he's still on his feet, getting peppered with strikes.
If all I have to go on is their most recent performances (I don't, but how much tape do you expect me to watch for a FUEL TV card?), then I have to go with the Brazilian Voorhees. He's got the crowd, the stand-up and one of the cooler entrances in the game. Good enough for me.
Final prediction: Bezzerra def. Wilkinson via technical knockout
That's a wrap, folks.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC on FUEL TV 10 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Nogueira vs. Werdum."
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's event.