Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweights Cezar Ferreira and Sam Alvey will slug it out this Sunday night (Feb. 22, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 61 on FOX Sports 1 inside the Ginasio Gigantinho in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Outside of a disappointing loss to C.B. Dollaway, Ferreira has been fairly impressive thus far in his UFC career. He's won four of his last five and could be on the verge of the top 15 with a victory here.
Alvey, on the other hand, is looking for some consistency inside the Octagon. He lost a back-and-forth battle with Tom Watson in his debut, and his follow up performance wasn't exactly impressive either, as Dylan Andrews knocked himself out during a takedown attempt.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for each fighter.
Key Wins: Daniel Sarafian (UFC Fight Night 32), Andrew Craig (UFC Fight Night 44)
Key Losses: C.B. Dollaway (UFC Fight Night 38)
Keys to Victory: Ferreira is a third-degree jiu-jitsu black belt with dangerous kickboxing skills. He's a rather physically gifted athlete, which helps him overwhelm his opponent on either the mat or his feet. However, his reliance on overpowering his opponent can also make him sloppy.
In his last fight, Ferreira faced off with Andrew Craig, a scrappy kickboxer with decent grappling skills. Craig and Alvey are pretty similar fighters overall, so it's likely that "Mutante" can find similar success here.
Ferreira did an excellent job pressuring his opponent and mixing takedowns into his assault. Not only did utilizing his takedown talents open up his kickboxing, but it allowed him to get on top and rest, which greatly helped his conditioning.
Though Alvey certainly packs some power in his punches, he's not the quickest fighter around. When Ferreira isn't looking for takedowns, he should be ready to counter his opponent's punches. Ferreira has the speed to land some really hard counters, a few of which could definitely turn the tide in his favor.
Overall, Ferreira is the more polished and more athletic fighter. In short, if he maintains his composure and doesn't gas himself out chasing a finish, the fight should be his.
Key Wins: Dylan Andrews (UFC Fight Night 55)
Key Losses: Tom Watson (UFC Fight Night 47)
Keys to Victory: "Smile'n Sam" Alvey is a longtime veteran, having competed in organizations like Bellator and Maximum Fighting Championship (MFC). Additionally, he competed on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), though he was not picked up immediately after the show.
Above all else, Alvey is a scrapper. By no means is he a poor technician on his feet, but Alvey is more than willing to get into dangerous exchanges and take a punch to land one.
Considering the fact that Alvey has never been knocked out yet has secured 15 finishes via punches of his own, that's not necessarily a bad thing here. "Mutante" is known to sacrifice his defense at times, and a durable risk taker like Alvey could make him pay for it.
Plus, Alvey may not have the physical gifts of his opponent, but he does possess the superior conditioning. If he puts a pace on his opponent, Alvey could definitely tire Ferreira out. In that situation, Alvey would likely be able to find many opportunities to land his punches.
In order for Alvey to capitalize on his opponent's fatigue or force a brawl, he needs to stay on his feet. To that end, Alvey needs to keep his back off the fence, as his opponent likes to clinch up in that position and muscle his opponent around.
Bottom Line: This should be a decently entertaining fight between two middleweights looking to make a name for themselves.
As the winner of TUF Brazil, "Mutante" is already fairly well-known in his home country. Considering his aggressiveness and physicality, the UFC would love to move Ferreira up the rankings, even if the last attempt fell through with the Dollaway bout.
Should Ferreira lose to Alvey -- a proven tough but beatable fighter -- it basically shuts off the chance of Ferreira breaking into the rankings. He may be young in his career, but Ferreira has been training since his youth and is already 30 years old.
30 fights into his professional career, Alvey's current form is likely more or less his ceiling. While it's clear that he's not a contender, Alvey could become an entertaining staple in the middleweight division. But for that to happen, he needs to get an actual victory under his belt, rather than have his opponent face plant early in the first round.
While Alvey isn't on the chopping block, he doesn't have a ton of job security at the moment, either. This is definitely an important fight for Team Quest-trained product.
At UFC Fight Night 61, Cezar Ferreira and Sam Alvey will establish where they stand in the constantly changing middleweight division. Which fighter will take home the victory?