The UFC train keeps rollin’ on and next stop is Belo Horizonte, Brazil for UFC Fight Night 28. As you can expect from a UFC event in Brazil, the card is stocked full with Brazilian talent. Headlining UFC Fight Night 28 is a light-heavyweight clash between home favourite Glover Teixeira and Ryan Bader. If Teixeira manages to secure victory, it will likely move him in to pole position for a shot at Jon Jones’ belt, should the champ come through his bout with Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 unscathed. Also on the card is a middleweight matchup featuring Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza and Yushin Okami, as well as a flyweight bout between Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga that should determine the next challenger to Demetrious Johnson’s 125lbs title. The main card is completed with a series of fights with not too much juice to them but still matchups that nevertheless could produce. In the lightweight division Francisco Trinaldo takes on Piotr Hallman, Rafael Natal has a date with Tor Troeng in the middleweight ranks and Marcos Vinicius will lock horns with Ali Bagautinov in the 125lbs weight class.
Now, as ever I am here to preview the fights that interest me the most and the ones that you should look out for on the undercard, so let’s get started.
Felipe ‘Sertanejo’ Arantes (15-5-1-2 NC) vs. Edimilson ‘Kevin’ Souza (13-3-0) -
Headlining the prelims is a featherweight bout between two Brazilians, as Felipe Arantes takes on Edimilson Souza.
This will be Arantes’ fifth Octagon appearance with every fight taking place in his home nation. Having lost out to Yuri Alcantara in his UFC debut back at UFC 134, Arantes has settled somewhat and has remained unbeaten in his proceeding three bouts. We last saw Arantes in June at UFC on Fuel TV 10: Nogueira vs. Werdum, where he would go on to defeat Godofredo Castro inside of one round via a succession of elbows and punches raining down on Castro forcing the referee to step in.
Edimilson Souza enters the fight as a late replacement for Sam Sicilia and will be making his UFC debut at this event. Souza, who vacated his Jungle Fight featherweight title to sign on with the UFC, is currently riding a seven fight win streak where he has either KO’d or TKO’d every one of his unfortunate opponents.
This has the makings of an all-out war. Souza is a fearsome striker with heavy, heavy hands who can display fairly crisp boxing and Arantes, a black belt in Muay Thai, is no powder-puff puncher either but will look to vary his attack more so than Souza by mixing in some kicks. If Souza is able to dictate the distance enough with his boxing and keep Arantes on the end of his punches then the fight should well be his, however for me, Arantes, also a purple belt in BJJ, possesses just a few more weapons than Souza and will have more options to end this fight from any area that the contest may end up in.
Prediction – Arantes via KO/TKO in the 2nd round.
Lucas ‘Mineiro Martins (13-1-0) vs. Ramiro Hernandez ‘Jr’ (13-4-0) -
Here we have a bantamweight battle as Lucas Martins goes up against Ramiro Hernandez Jr.
Lucas Martins managed to rebound from a UFC debut setback to Edson Barboza at UFC on FX 7: Belfort vs. Bisping in January of this year by KO’ing Jeremy Larsen in his most recent performance back in May at UFC on FX 8: Belfort vs. Rockhold. Martins displayed great heart in emerging from the adversity he encountered in the Larsen fight by rallying in the third round to KO the American and display the sort of punching power that had people looking forward to his arrival in the UFC.
Hernandez is another fighter dusting his feet off on the UFC welcome mat as he enters in to the Octagon for the first time having completed all over the US regional MMA circuit so far in his career. Hernandez, a product of the Miletich Fighting Systems gym, most recently fought for Victory Fighting Championships and has taken on (and lost to) MMA notables such as Pat Curran and Michael Johnson. Hernandez will look to extend his current win streak to three when he takes on Martins at UFC Fight Night 28.
Both men will be making their 135lbs debut with Hernandez dropping down from the featherweight division and Martins completely bypassing the 145lb’ers and taking the drastic decision to drop two weight classes down from lightweight, sp both men could face potential cardio issues if this one goes on too long. Both men like to swing leather and often fight at a frenetic pace, so if this fight finishes early we may be on for something special but if this goes the distance the third round could be painful viewing. For me, this is a fairly even fight with each man possessing relatively similar forms of attack so I’m going to have to go for home field advantage on this one.
Prediction – Martins via KO/TKO in the 1st round.
Joao ‘The Brazilian Samurai’ Zeferino (13-5-0) vs. Elias Silverio (8-0-0) -
Next up is a welterweight bout between Brazilian’s Joao Zeferino and Elias Silverio.
Zeferino enters this contest having lost out in his UFC debut to Rafael Natal back in May at UFC on FX 8: Belfort vs. Rockhold. Before the Natal fight, Zeferino was once thought of as quite the prospect as he reeled off a seven fight win streak before being snapped up by the UFC but his poor showing against Natal has seen Zeferino lose all but the last dregs of his lustre. Zeferino will return to the welterweight ranks for this one having competed against Natal at middleweight and will look to rebound from his debut loss and capture that cherished first UFC win.
Silverio, who stepped up to take on Zeferino on short notice after Kenny Robertson pulled out with injury, will be making his promotional debut on Wednesday night when he enters the Octagon. Prior to signing with the UFC, Silverio had managed to capture the Jungle Fight’s welterweight championship in his home country and is seen by many as quite the prospect as Silverio has compiled an 8-0 record within two years of becoming a professional.
This is a big fight for Zeferino as he will likely need a victory here to retain employment with the UFC. It’s unlikely that Silverio will be one-and-done with a loss here as he has probably banked a bit of good faith from the UFC having stepped up as a late replacement and we will likely see him again on a future UFC card in Brazil when he has had a full training camp to prepare. While Zeferino has been susceptible to punches on occasion and Silverio is proficient enough in Muay Thai to trouble ‘The Brazilian Samurai’, I expect to see Zeferino drag this one to the ground as soon as he can to utilise the sizeable advantages in grappling that he holds over Silverio.
Prediction – Zeferino via submission in the 2nd round.
Yuri Villefort (6-2-0) vs. Sean ‘Black Magic’ Spencer (9-2-0) -
Propping up the entire card is a welterweight showdown featuring Yuri Villefort and Sean Spencer.
Villefort will likely be feeling very nervous heading in to Wednesday’s fight with Spencer, and if he isn’t, he should be. Back to back losses to Quinn Mulhern in Strikeforce and Nah-Shon Burrell in his UFC debut has put the Brazilian in a very precarious position and Villefort will want to avoid three straight losses that will add even more derision to a once promising career.
Spencer lost out to Rafael Natal via submission in his UFC debut at UFC on Fox 6: Johnson vs. Dodson back in January where he fought at 185lbs but he will return to his more natural weight class when he takes on Villefort. Prior to joining the UFC, Spencer was quite the journeyman having fought for nine different promotions in his 10 professional outings, most notably competing for Bellator and Legacy Fighting Championships.
I think it’s fair to say that both men are fighting for their jobs in this one. Villefort came in to the UFC on a loss and debuted with a defeat, so it’s pretty plain in my eyes, and I’d have though everyone else’s, that another loss here will result in Villefort taking a trip to the job centre. Spencer is in pretty much the same situation as Villefort in as much as that he also lost out in his UFC debut in his last performance and will also require a win to stay on the UFC’s books. Villefort is fairly well rounded but can be tagged due to his less than stellar striking defence and this is where Spencer will look to expose the Brazilian. That being said, I see Villefort taking no chances in this one and he will look to get this fight to the mat and exploit Spencer’s grappling deficiencies en route to a submission victory.
Prediction – Villefort via submission in the 1st round.