Ferreira is the winner of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil and a protege of top UFC fighter Vitor Belfort. He's been inactive ever since winning the show at UFC 147 last summer and is hoping to make a big impact in his return.
Santos is a bit of a mystery, a local fighter stepping up on short notice outside his weight class. He also has not competed in a year and is taking on the biggest fight of his life.
Record: 5-2 overall, 1-0 in the UFC
Key Wins: Sergio Moraes (UFC 147)
How he got here: Ferreira, or "Mutante" as he was known on the show, grew up wrestling and training in jiu-jitsu. He was actually a protege of Vitor Belfort, who took him in helped him develop his skills. "Mutante" split his first two fights and took a leave of absence from fighting for three years.
Upon his return, he won three straight bouts via stoppage and actually moved to America to train at Xtreme Couture alongside Belfort. He lost his last bout to Elvis Mutapcic before trying out for The Ultimate Fighter Brazil.
Once on the show, he submitted his opponent to get in the house and was the first pick for Team Belfort at middleweight. He backed up his selection by submitting his first opponent in the quarterfinals and then knocking out Thiago "Bodao" Perpetuo to advance to the finale.
He was originally slated to battle Daniel Sarafian, but an injury allowed Sergio Moraes to step in as his opponent instead and despite getting briefly hurt, he was able to secure a decision against the scrappy grappler and take home the TUF Brazil crown.
"Mutante" will now square off against UFC newcomer Thiago Santos.
How he gets it done: Ferreira is significantly larger and stronger than Santos, who took the fight on short notice and usually competes as a welterweight. If he wants to win, he has to use those advantages extensively. "Mutante" can either lean on Santos in the clinch and wear his opponent out or he can just use his wrestling to dump the short notice replacement on the canvas.
Ferreira isn't a great submission fighter, but he should be able to use his size and power to brute force his way through things even if Santos tries to fend them off with proper technique (something he doesn't really have anywys).
The TUF Brazil winner could win this fight on the feet as well but why risk it? He has an easy method to victory if he either clinches and beats Santos up there or he punishes his opponent on the ground. Let's hope he has a decent fight IQ.
Record: 8-1 overall, 0-0 in the UFC
Key Wins: none
Key Losses: none
How he got here: Santos is a bit of an unknown commodity. Normally competing as a welterweight, the Brazilian worked the local circuit near his native Rio de Janeiro. The 29-year old never became a big star in the area, failing to headline events even when he began his career with a stellar 7-0 record.
His streak came to an end just over a year ago via TKO to a relatively unheralded opponent, but he bounced back with a first round finish against a then 1-1 fighter to return to his winning ways. That was over a year ago and he's been on the sidelines ever since.
Considering he's a local fighter, he was more than happy to jump in when Clint Hester dropped out of the Cezar Ferreira fight with an injury and he's by far heading into the biggest fight of his career.
How he gets it done: Santos has one way to win this fight and one way only, knockout. He has a very slight reach advantage despite the size disparity and he has a bit of power on the feet. As we've seen in the past, Ferreira is susceptible to the knockout. He was crushed by Elvis Mutapcic and was clipped by Sergio Moraes in his last two fights so it's not out of the realm of possibility.
What Santos needs to do is just open very aggressively and try to catch "Mutante" by surprise. He has some respectable Muay Thai skills and that's his one-way ticket to a huge upset. If he's too patient, Ferreira will get his hands on him and either start bullying him in the clinch, on the feet or particularly on the ground. He can't afford to do that.
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