The UFC returns to Brazil for the third time in 2013 as they wrap up the sophmore season of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” on Saturday night. The coaches will battle in the main event as heavyweights Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fabricio Werdum meet in a rematch from the PRIDE days when Nogueira defeated Werdum by decision in July 2006. Also, William Macario and Leonardo Santos fight to determine the next winner of “TUF: Brazil”.
As is typical with a lot of fight cards in Brazil, this event is stacked with Brazilian fighters. 18 of the 26 fighters on the card are Brazil natives, including all six fighters in the top three fights on the card. The card also features several fighters who are in need of a win if they want to remain on the UFC roster, especially down in the preliminary fight card. As we get into yet another fight week, here is the UFC On FUEL TV 10 edition of The Cut List.
Vaughan Lee (13-8-1, 2-2 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Raphael Assuncao
Why he’s on the list: Lee will be making his fifth appearance in the Octagon against Assuncao as he looks to score his third win in the UFC. Lee has split his four UFC bouts, rotating wins-and-losses in those four, and it has been almost two years since he put together a winning streak. He has the chance to do so against Assuncao, but it will be a tough challenge as Assuncao is ranked inside the top ten in the UFC’s official rankings. Lee debuted at UFC 138 in November 2011 but suffered a split decision loss to Chris Cariaso. Lee followed that with the biggest win of his career when he submitted Norifumi ‘Kid’ Yamamoto at UFC 144 in February 2012. He then went back into the losing column after being submitted by T.J. Dillashaw but got back on the win track when he scored a decision over Motonobu Tezuka in February. He finds himself looking for consecutive wins in the UFC for the first time.
Chances of being cut with loss: 80%. Lee needs a win to avoid being 2-3 in the UFC, which lots of times lead to fighters being cut from the roster. The bantamweight division is still developing so he could escape being cut even with a loss, but a win would guarantee he stays. He has a tough matchup against Assuncao, who is 3-0 since making the move to 135 pounds.
Felipe Arantes (14-4-1 2 NC, 1-1-1 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Godofredo Pepey
Why he’s on the list: Arantes has fought three times in the UFC, and each fight has had a different result. He made his UFC debut at UFC 134 in August 2011, losing a unanimous decision to Yuri Alcantara. Arantes bounced back with a win as he took home a unanimous decision against Antonio Carvalho at UFC 142 in January 2012. He next fought Milton Vieira at UFC 147 in June 2012, and it ended up being a split draw. Arantes has had all three of his prior fights take place in Brazil, and that trend continues as he fights again in Brazil against a fellow Brazilian. Arantes has scored ten of his 14 wins by stoppage with six knockout wins and four submission wins. He has never been knocked out in his career, and has lost just once by submission. Arantes has been out of action for nearly a year since his draw against Vieira, and he will need to shake off any ring rust that may appear.
Chances of being cut with loss: 60%. Arantaes has an advantage of being a Brazilian, and he could remain on the roster with a loss due to the sheer amount of events that UFC is beginning to run in Brazil. He faces Pepey, who has lost just once in his career, and who is coming off a win over Milton Vieira, who Arantes was unable to defeat last year. Pepey is a solid Brazilian prospect and Arantes scoring a win would be an upset.
Rodrigo Damm (10-6, 1-1 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Mizuto Hirota
Why he’s on the list: Damm is a hard-nosed veteran of the sport of MMA who has competed in such promotions as Shooto, Sengoku, Strikeforce, and now the UFC. He got into the UFC as a participant on “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil”, but he was forced to exit the show without losing a fight as kidney problems caused him to withdraw from the competition. Damm still made his UFC debut at UFC 147 in June 2012, and he took home a win after submitting his rival on the reality show, Anistavio Medeiros, in the opening round. Damm took home “Submission Of The Night” honors for that performance. Damm made his second appearance in the UFC at UFC 154 in November, losing a split decision to Antonio Carvalho. After starting his professional career with eight wins in nine fights, Damm is just 2-5 over his last seven fights.
Chances of being cut with loss: 85%. He lost his last fight to Carvalho, who was recently released after he suffered a loss in his last fight. Carvalho was 2-2 in the UFC; a loss would leave Damm at 1-2 in his UFC career. Worse yet, a loss would mean six losses in eight fights. He needs a win to remain on the UFC roster. Fighting in Brazil should give him extra motivation, and he has lost just once in his native country.
Karlos Vemola (9-3, 2-3 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Caio Magalhaes
Why he’s on the list: Vemola will be fighting for the sixth time in the UFC as he looks to get his record back to an even .500 mark. Vemola debuted in July 2010 as a heavyweight riding a perfect 7-0 record. It quickly went to 7-1 as he dropped a decision to Jon Madsen at UFC 116. He dropped to light heavyweight for his next bout, and scored his first UFC win by knocking Seth Petruzelli out at UFC 122 in November 2010. He dropped a decision to Ronny Markes in his next fight, then made the decision to move down to the middleweight division. He had a successful 185-pound debut, scoring a submission win over Mike Massenzio at UFC On FOX 3 in May 2012. He dropped his next fight, losing by submission to Francis Carmont at UFC On FUEL TV 4 in July 2012. He was scheduled to fight Chris Leben in December, but an injury kept him from competing, and he will be fighting for the first time in nearly a year. Vemola has scored all nine of his wins by knockout or submission, and has only been finished once.
Chances of being cut with loss: 90%. Vemola came into the UFC with a little bit of hype, but he has yet to fully live up to high expectations. He has competed in three different weight divisions, but has yet to have huge success. He has traded wins-and-losses in his five UFC fights, and history would indicate he will score a win over Magalhaes. However, that is anything but said-and-done, and Magalhaes will be looking to come off a 365-day layoff with a win in his second UFC bout. The winner stays in the UFC, the loser is likely gone off the roster.
Anthony Smith (17-9, 0-0 UFC)
Who he’s fighting: Antonio Braga Neto
Why he’s on the list: Smith will be making his UFC debut after moving over from the Strikeforce promotion when it was shut down in January. Smith competed on Strikeforce’s last fight card where he was submitted by Roger Gracie. Smith had scored three straight wins prior to his loss to Gracie. After starting his career with just a 5-6 record, he has gone 12-3 over his last 15 fights. All 17 of his wins have come by stoppage as he has scored nine wins by knockout and eight wins by submission. However, all nine of his losses have also come by stoppage as he has been knocked out six times and submitted three times.
Chances of being cut with loss: 95%. He needs a win to remain on the UFC roster as several Strikeforce fighters who made the move to the UFC have been cut with just one loss. He gets to welcome jiu-jitsu world champion Antonio Braga Neto to the UFC, a man who will be coming in with lots of hype. Smith has trouble defending submissions, and he will need to defend them well against a fighter who has six submission wins under his belt.