Two of the most fearsome Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight division competitors will do battle this Saturday (May 30, 2015) as "Natural Born Killer," Carlos Condit, returns from injury to face Thiago Alves in Goiania Arena in Goiania, Brazil, in the main event of UFC Fight Night 67, which will air live on FOX Sports 1.
Elsewhere on the card, Charles Oliveira will lock horns with Nik Lentz in a long-awaited rematch, while K.J. Noons faces Alex Oliveira in a fun Lightweight striking showdown.
We've got six "Prelims" undercard match ups to set the stage, the first two of which will stream online via Fight Pass and the remainder on FOX Sports 1 alongside the main card.
Here's the first half of the menu:
145 lbs.: Lucas Martins vs. Mirsad Bektic
Lucas Martins' (15-2) UFC career started rather inauspiciously, tapping to strikes against Edson Barboza up at 155 pounds. "Mineiro" rebounded by stopping three straight opponents before dropping a split decision to Darren Elkins in Oct. 2014.
That bout was his first trip to the judges since his sixth professional fight, as he's knocked out 11 foes and submitted another four.
Listed as perhaps the top prospect in the sport, America Top Team's Mirsad Bektic (9-0) opened his UFC career with a majority decision over fellow prospect Chas Skelly in April 2014. His last time out, he ran roughshod over late replacement Paul Redmond in Sweden.
He owns four wins by form of knockout among his six stoppages.
Martins has some real power and some very solid takedown defense, a combination that makes him a dangerous opponent for most Featherweight fighters. There's a reason, however, why Bektic is rated so highly. The Bosnian bruiser is a physical monster with the technical wresting and ground-and-pound to utilize those gifts to their full potential.
Unless Martins can land a truly spectacular blow very quickly, Bektic is going to put him on his back and mash him into paste.
Bektic's multi-dimensional arsenal should allow him to find success in the wrestling where Elkins failed. Expect him to hold his own in the striking for just as long enough to open up Martins for the takedown. Once there, he'll pound him into submission for his first UFC stoppage.
Prediction: Bektic via first-round technical knockout
115 lbs.: Juliana Lima vs. Ericka Almeida
Juliana Lima (7-2) had the bad luck to face future champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her first UFC appearance, losing a decision to the Polish phenom. She managed to re-enter the win column in her native Brazil last November with a unanimous decision of her own over Nina Ansaroff.
"Ju Thai" was originally slated to face Jessica Penne until the latter was called up for a title shot in Berlin.
The 26-year-old Ericka Almeida (7-0) bounced around various promotions before reaching Jungle Fight, where she's won her last two. Throughout her career, she's been rather averse to seeing the judges, submitting six and knocking out the seventh.
Her longest fight lasted 1:26 into the second round, all others ending in the first
I'll admit to not having much confidence in my pick here. That said, Lima's primarily a wrestler and fighting an opponent whose recent strength of schedule has been lacking. In addition, Almeida is coming in on short notice ... not a good combination.
We've seen plenty of Brazilian submission specialists struggle with their first skilled wrestler, the most recent case being Larissa Pacheco.
Lima puts her on her back and shrugs off submissions for a decision win.
Prediction: Lima via Almeida by unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Luiz Dutra vs. Tom Breese
Luiz Dutra (11-3-1) took out Team Nogueira's Pedro Irie in the opening round of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" 2, only for a torn ligament in his right hand to boot him from the competition. Despite this, "Besouro" signed on to UFC proper, only to suffer a disqualification loss in his debut against Kiichi Kunimoto thanks to illegal elbows.
He will give up four inches of height to the 6'3" Tom Breese (7-0).
"Fearless" racked up a solid 7-0-1 record as an amateur before turning professional in 2010. He cut his teeth in the BAMMA promotion in his first six fights, then choked out French submission specialist Thibaud Larchet in CWFC in his most recent bout.
All but one of his wins are by form of choke, said exception being a knockout via knee to the body.
Breese is one of the better prospects to come out of England recently, but this is still a close fight. Dutra's aggression ostensibly gives him the striking edge despite the length disadvantage and Breese isn't an overwhelming physical presence.
That said, he's fighting out of an excellent camp in Tristar that should pay dividends in his wrestling and his top game is quite dangerous.
It all comes down to whether he can put Dutra on his back. I say he can, using Dutra's aggression to lock up the clinch, land knees, and dump him to the mat before eventually locking up the rear-naked choke.
Prediction: Breese via second-round submission
Three more UFC Fight Night 67 "Prelims" bouts to go, including a clash of 170-pound prospects and a heap of quality grapplers.
Same time tomorrow, Maniacs!
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 67 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to start at 7 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before moving on to the main card, which is slated to start at 10 p.m. ET.