Three cards in eight days? Yeah, three cards in eight days. After this we get a break until the first of the big fights of this fall, Jones vs. Gustafsson, right after the biggest fight of the fall in Mayweather vs. Canelo. It’s a great three months period to be a fight fan, I’ll tell you what.
Now it’s time to figure out who’ll win, and who’ll lose, from tonight’s Brazilian centric card. Joining me are Ryan Frederick, Luke Cho-Yee and Adam Keyes.
Frederick: I don’t see any way that Teixeira loses this fight. People may think that Bader will be able to take him down, but I don’t envision that scenario even happening. Should Bader take him down, Teixeira is much too good on the ground anyway. And, on the feet, Teixeira is gonna light him up. It’ll take a big punch from Bader that catches Teixeira if he’s going to win. Teixeira
Sawitz: Bader’s a tough out … but Teixiera is good enough to get him out. Teixiera will have to make this a stand up battle, though, because he’s not good enough to get him to the ground. Bader also has a ton of power, probably more than he’s faced inside the Octagon, but Glover is a stud. This fight will be way closer than we think … but Glover will pull off the nod. Teixiera.
CY: If ever a fight was set up to favour one fighter over another it’s this one. The only question I have is whether Teixeira can handle the pressure and immense expectation from the rabid Brazilian fans. Assuming he can, I find it impossible to predict anything other than a dominant victory for more the versatile and complete fighter. Teixeira
Keyes: This fight seems to have been put together purely to keep Glover ticking over and in order to build his name up a bit more before they match him up with Jon Jones. Glover needed to fight a name that people recognise but one that he should be able to beat without too much trouble. Enter Ryan Bader. While Bader is no slouch, he is not elite nor on the level required to stop Teixeira from taking this fight. Teixeira should be able to defend the takedowns of Bader long enough to stop the American some point in the later rounds by exposing the rudimentary, yet powerful, striking of Bader. Teixeira
Frederick: I have been going back-and-forth over who is going to win this fight. At times I just think Okami is too good for anyone not named Anderson Silva or Chris Weidman to beat. At other times I’ve thought Souza will be able to use his submission game and solid striking to win this fight. This is a toss-up to me. As I write this, I say Souza. Souza
Sawitz: I love both guys in this fight … the one thing that keeps getting to me is that Okami just keeps winning when everyone thinks he’s going to lose. Outside of Tim Boetsch his only losses in the UFC are to guys who’ve fought or held the middleweight title. Okami’s about as elite as it gets … but Souza has looked like such a killer it’s hard to pick against him, as well. I picked Okami in my preview … and I’ll stick to it. Okami.
CY: Okami has hung around the top end of the middleweight division for what feels like eons and since being comprehensively beat down by Anderson Silva the UFC have found themselves stuck with a fighter that presents few pluses. In contrast Souza presents a myriad of possibilities at 185lbs and has a plethora of skills designed to nullify Okami’s grinding top-game heavy approach. ‘Thunder’ is capable of spoiling the party but I feel ‘Jacare’ will be too aggressive on the feet and too slick on the ground. Souza
Keyes: I am a big fan of Jacare and can quite easily see him challenging for the UFC middleweight title in the very near future, just as long as his good friend Anderson Silva does not regain the gold. Jacare is dangerous in nearly all facets of MMA thanks to his ever improving striking, takedown defence and offence and his vaunted BJJ game. While Okami may prove difficult to takedown to the mat, Jacare should be able to exploit the glaring holes in Okami’s striking defence to register a KO/TKO victory. Jacare
Frederick: Benavidez and Formiga is a quality flyweight match and has the potential to be very exciting. Benavidez has shown excellent power at 125 pounds and the biggest question mark for Formiga is his chin. Formiga is good, but Benavidez is better. Benavidez
Sawitz: Team Alpha Male has been on a roll since Duane “Bang” Ludwig came over. He’s been able to take the mold that most of the TAM guys fit into and refine their striking on such a profound level that it’s the best camp for anyone under 155 right now. Formiga is a hell of a fighter … but Benavidez will top Chad Mendes with an even better thumping. Benavidez.
CY: Benavidez can enter hostile territory with enthused confidence as Team Alpha Male rolls on with ever increasing steam. Formiga is a very dangerous submission fighter who dominated the flyweight rankings before the formation of the UFC’s 125lb division but has stuttered since signing with the promotion. I expect Benavidez to be able to dictate where the fight takes place with his wrestling and find his target on the feet with increased accuracy as his opponent tires from his efforts to grapple. Benavidez
Keyes: While I’d like to see Formiga take this one in order to provide Demetrious Johnson with fresh challengers at the top, unfortunately for him I just can’t see it. Benavidez will likely prove to be too strong and too good of a wrestler for Formiga to take down and work his BJJ, as well as being just too powerful for the Brazilian in the striking exchanges. Benavidez
Frederick: Trinaldo is the standard-bearer for lightweights wanting to fight in Brazil. He may never leave the country or fight for a title, but he is a tough opponent, and you are going to his territory to fight. Hallmann is a solid prospect to be added to the UFC, but this is a tough fight for him to take in his debut. Trinaldo
Sawitz: I like both guys here … but Trinaldo is a Brazilian fighting at home. They generally tend to get it done. Sawitz
CY: They may possess similar records with thirteen wins each but the experience of fighting in the big show, against the tougher competition, allied with the unrivalled support Trinaldo will receive from the crowd, makes the TUF graduate an extremely difficult proposition for the UFC debutant Halmann. I expect Trinaldo to be too much for the Pole and end the fight on top. Trinaldo
Keyes: Trinaldo has looked impressive of late although not quite against the best the division has to offer and the theme continues here. Hallmann has fought no one of any real note and will be making his UFC debut in Brazil against a Brazilian. I think there is a reason Hallmann has been matched up with Trinaldo and I suspect it’s not to get Hallmann off to an easy start. Trinaldo
Frederick: This is a decent middleweight fight with two guys trying to extend winning streaks. Natal has looked good in his last two fights, though they have been against fighters fighting on short notice. Troeng may have disappointed on TUF 17, but he looked strong in his win over Adam Cella in April. This fight taking place in Brazil gives a slight edge to the Brazilian. Natal
Sawitz: Troeng has looked exceptionally better since his run on TUF, when he was the best middleweight prospect in Europe and expected to win it. But Brazilians win at home unless it’s against elite competition. Natal
CY: Natal has shown signs of fulfilling his potential in recent bouts while Troeng, who many believe to be one of the better European prospects, has bounced back from his loss on TUF to record a victory in the UFC. I expect a closely contested battle between two solid middleweight fighters who are comfortable in all areas but favour Natal to edge this back and forth battle. Natal
Keyes: I have to admit to being slightly disappointed by Troeng’s performances while in the TUF house as I had tipped the Swede to win the whole thing due to his solid showings on the European MMA circuit. Natal has looked alright in the UFC so far but he has hardly set the place alight either. Put me down for a Troeng victory here with ‘The Hammer’ using his superior striking to dictate proceedings. Troeng
Frederick: Vinicius is fighting in his third different weight class in three UFC fights. While his frame may suit fighting as a flyweight best, he gets an opponent who comes in with a lot of hype. Bagautinov is a Sambo World Champion and has a lot of tools to win this fight. This is a perfect showcase for him in his UFC debut. Bagautinov
Sawitz: The UFC is very high on Bagutinov, who comes in with a tremendous pedigree. Bagutinov
CY: The flyweights continue to gain traction in this emerging UFC weight class. Vinicious may be a recent TUF contestant but he has plenty of experience and packs a considerable punch at 125lbs. His opponent is untested at this level but is a highly decorated Sambo player who is unbeaten in his last eight contests. It’s difficult to go against the hometown boy but I can see the Russian springing the upset. Bagautionov
Keyes: I can’t profess to know too much about these two guys really but judging on their record and nationality, something which you have to do when a Brazilian is fighting a non-Brazilian in their backyard, I’m going to go for Pancini to take this one. Bagautinov might be the one on the nine fight win streak but he has yet to compete for any serious MMA organisation while this will be Pancini’s third fight inside the Octagon. Pancini