Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to FOX Sports 1 tomorrow night (Sat., May 30, 2015) for the UFC Fight Night 67 mixed martial arts (MMA) event, featuring a five-round welterweight headliner between former division No. 1 contenders Carlos Condit and Thiago Alves.
You'll understand if I don't break out the party hats.
That's because the "Condit vs. Alves" event has a couple of fun fights booked for the Goiania Arena in Goiania, Goias, Brazil -- including the Charles Oliveira vs. Nik Lentz rematch, as well as the Alex Oliveira vs. K.J. Noons bangfest -- but not enough star power to force the cancellation of a Saturday night on the town.
Besides, I'm not sure the promotion has a deep enough roster to follow up the slam-bang UFC 187 pay-per-view (PPV) event, which delivered in spades last weekend from "Sin City," so we'll have to endure a couple of good (but not great) MMA events until UFC 189 in July.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves, as we still have six televised fights tomorrow night that need a closer look.
Ahem ... drums please.
170 lbs.: Carlos "The Natural Born Killer" Condit (29-8) vs. Thiago "Pitbull" Alves (21-9)
Nostradumbass predicts: A lot of newer fans may not remember the old Thiago Alves, who had one of the great runs at welterweight from 2006-08. In addition to winning seven straight with five brutal knockouts, the "Pitbull" laid waste to Matt Hughes, and nearly crippled Josh Koscheck in back-to-back fights.
At the time, both Hughes and Koscheck were ranked in the top five of their division.
And yet Alves ran through them like they were chumps, which is not surprising when you consider that he frequently missed weight and clomped around the cage like the Rock Biter from The Neverending Story. Seriously, that guy was fucking huge.
Proof is in the proverbial pudding.
After George St. Pierre snapped his win streak by out-wrestling the Brazilian for 25 minutes (I think it was 25, I fell asleep after the first seven), Alves fell on hard times, continually getting injured and failing to recapture some of his past momentum.
In the two fights we've seen since his 2014 return, Alves has looked noticeably smaller. Is he still a dangerous striker? Absolutely, and you can't discount his experience. But that first round against Jordan Mein back at UFC 183 has to worry you if you're on Team "Pitbull."
Especially against a long, rangy fighter like Carlos Condit.
"The Natural Born Killer" has his own issues coming into this fight. Namely, the year he spent on the sidelines with a bum ACL. And speaking of past performances, I was hardly impressed by his work against Tyron Woodley, who looked to be in complete control before Condit took a knee.
That said, his previous body of work holds up a lot better than that of his opponent. Before he came up lame against "The Chosen One," Condit creamed Martin Kampmann (who beat Alves) and looked good in defeat to the aforementioned St. Pierre and Johny Hendricks.
As for their respective skill sets?
Alves is competent grappler who prefers to use his dangerous Muay Thai, but Condit hasn't been knocked out in 37 professional fights (the Woodley TKO doesn't count), so it's hard for me to imagine the "Killer" going to sleep or getting pounded into dust.
And Condit -- who has a staggering 27 finishes in 29 wins -- is nearly dead even between knockouts (14) and submissions (13). Not only does he have more ways to win, his frame is tailor-made to abuse his shorter, stockier foe from the outside and use his wrestling when necessary.
Unless Alves has regained some of those mutant superpowers from yesteryear, I think Condit hurts him midway through the fight, then locks up a submission to seal the deal.
Final prediction: Condit def. Alves via submission
145 lbs.: Nik "The Carny" Lentz (25-6-2, 1 NC) vs. Charles "Do Bronx" Oliveira (19-4, 1 NC)
Nostradumbass predicts: What's amazing about the UFC career of Charles Oliveira is that it spans 12 fights and the Brazilian is still just 25 years old. That means he was 21 when he first went to war against Nik Lentz and if "The Carny" is expecting the same caliber of fighter, he's in big trouble.
He would be in big trouble anyway, but it sounds much more dramatic when I phrase it that way.
Oliveira struggled against the bigger names in his class, falling to both Cub Swanson and Frankie Edgar. Certainly no shame in that when you consider that both fighters were title contenders at the time and ranked among the division's best.
The same can be said for Lentz, who was simply outclassed by 145-pound stud Chad Mendes.
"Do Bronx" got back to work and is now the winner of three straight, including last December's win over the durable Jeremy Stephens. I like what I've seen from Oliveira in the stand up (he was always poison on the ground) and I think his ability to bring his skill sets together as one cohesive unit as opposed to okay I'm striking now and soon I will try to grapple makes him much more dangerous this second time around.
When it comes to Lentz, now 30, what you see is what you get.
"The Carny" is a serviceable but hardly dynamic striker and his wrestling is undoubtedly top shelf. That said, Oliveira has 11 of 19 wins by tap, nap, or snap, so I'm not sure he wants to be taking this fight to the ground. Can he secure the dubya by employing constant pressure and swinging for the fences?
It's possible, but not probable.
Instead, I expect him to pour it on early before slowly-but-surely take too much damage on the feet. Once that happens, he's likely to shoot and drive his opponent to the cage -- instinctively -- and find himself regretting it when Oliveira slaps on a submission.
Final prediction: Oliveira def. Lentz via submission
170 lbs.: Alex "Cowboy" Oliveira (10-2-1, 1 NC) vs. "King" K.J. Noons (13-7, 1 NC)
Nostradumbass predicts: Alex Oliveira is calling himself "Cowboy" and likes to pose for pictures in western cosplay, wearing a 10-gallon hat while brandishing a lasso. Well, he also appears to be aping the other "Cowboy" in Donald Cerrone, constantly stepping up to take fights on short notice.
This time, he draws KJ Noons.
That's because Yan Cabral was bit by Mansquito or some shit which landed him in the infirmary with Dengue fever. I would have liked Oliveira's chances a bit better with more than two weeks' notice, but considering the resume of Noons, I'm not sure the Brazilian has enough time to cram for this exam.
Should still be a fun fight.
If "King" has a disadvantage here, it's Oliveira's size. "Cowboy" isn't the sort of menacing grappler that would give Noons pause; however, his reach and speed could negate the nuts-and-bolts offense Noons tends to rely on when the going gets tough.
Expect a 15-minute bang-tango that ends in a close decision.
Final prediction: Noons def. Oliveira via split decision
205 lbs.: Ryan "Big Deal" Jimmo (19-4) vs. Francimar "Bodao" Barroso (16-4)
Nostradumbass predicts: Ryan Jimmo entered UFC back in 2012 with considerable hype, after running the table for Mark Pavelich on the Canadian circuit. While things looked promising early on, courtesy of a debut knockout win over Anthony Perosh, the "Deal" is not as "Big" as first thought.
A 2-3 run since harpooning "The Hippo" is likely to blame.
It also doesn't bode well for Jimmo, 33, that we was submitted by Ovince St. Preux his last time out. Not that I believe he's in danger of getting tapped by Francimar Barroso, who is a competent grappler, but I'm looking at the bigger picture.
And I don't see either of these two in it.
The Brazilian -- two years older than his opponent -- is coming off the wrong end of a split decision to Hans Stringer back in March. Like Jimmo, he was also cleaning house in local events but is now an even 1-1 inside the Octagon and could really use a big finish.
Probably not gonna happen.
Jimmo is a formidable striker who is good at working the fence and bullying his way into the clinch. I'm not sure "Bodao" has the chops to play that game for three rounds and even if he did, I like the Canadian's karate better than anything Barroso has to offer.
Final prediction: Jimmo def. Barroso via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Wendell "The Machine" Oliveira (24-8) vs. Darren Till (12-0)
Nostradumbass predicts: Like the aforementioned "Cowboy," Wendell Oliveira also had the same nickname as a famous UFC fighter. Only there is a big difference between getting confused for lightweight title contender and a welterweight maniac who (allegedly) beats women.
Yep, he was Brazil's "War Machine."
He refused to change it until the promotion held his contract over the ZUFFA fire pit and welp, now he's just "The Machine," switching gears to a showdown against English sensation Darren Till, who got the call up on short notice when TJ Waldburger came down with a case of the boo-boos.
I won't pretend I watched any tape on Till -- who is making his Octagon debut after recycling cans on the international circuit -- but the meager research I did bother to compile indicated that his striking defense needs work. Since Till is fighting a powerful puncher who is built like a Belgian blue, I'm going with the Brazilian.
So let it be written, so let it be dumb.
Final prediction: Oliveira def. Till via technical knockout
155 lbs.: Francisco "Massaranduba" Trinaldo (16-4) vs. "Stormin'" Norman Parke (20-3-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: Irish import Norman Parke was in cruise control until the promotion inexplicably started Tibau-ing, feeding the 155-pound rising star to a hulking Brazilian capable of shutting down even the most experienced lightweights.
Now it's time to erase that painful memory.
The means to that end is turning away Francisco Trinaldo, whose nickname "Massaranduba" reminds me of living in the woods as a kid, since that's what we called the creature who lived in the swamp. Anyway, Trinny is a pretty consistent fighter in that he consistently bores the shit out of me in every fight.
He needs to stop auditioning for the role of Gleison Tibau, as that position is filled.
Parke could stand to rack up a few more finishes of his own and I like his chances in this contest. He's tough to get to the floor and holds advantages in reach, as well as his cardio. In fact, I think he can secure the stoppage in the final frame after Trinaldo -- who turns 37 in August -- gasses himself out trying to wrestle-box his way to the win column.
Final prediction: Parke def. Trinaldo via technical knockout
That about does it.
If you want a closer look at the UFC Fight Night 67 "Prelims" bouts, airing live on UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1, check out my man Patty Stumberg doing his thing here and here. For a handy-dandy look at all the "Condit vs. Alves" odds and betting lines go here.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 67 fight card RIGHT HERE, 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.
You've heard my picks, fight fans, now let's hear yours. Who ya' got?