The UFC 147 pay-per-view takes place tomorrow (Saturday, June 23) from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The headliner is a rematch between middleweights Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva and the event will crown featherweight and middleweight winners from The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Rounding out the main card is a heavyweight match up between Fabricio Werdum and Mike Russow and the featherweight debut of Hacran Dias, who draws fellow Brazilian Yuri Alcantara.
Yuri Alcantara (27-3) vs Hacran Dias (20-1-1)
Dias was assessed as the #1 featherweight prospect on Bloody Elbow's 2012 Scouting Report and trains out of the prestigious Nova Uniao squad alongside the UFC's Jose Aldo and Renan Barao. Dias was pegged to compete on TUF Brazil but was offered a bypass and 3-fight contract in the UFC instead. The only flaws on his record are a draw against the ridiculously experienced Takafumi Ito (36-31) in Dias' 9th pro fight and a decision to "The Korean Bulldozer," Yui Chul Nam, in a 2009 M-1 Global event.
Other UFC 147 Dissections
Alcantara is a stellar prospect and potentially one of the most overlooked featherweights in the division. "Marajo" is currently rolling on a 13-fight win streak and has won 19 of his last 20. Many of those victories were accrued on the Brazilian circuit, but A-level competition has only brought out the best in him: his stateside debut was a vicious 1st-round KO of Ricardo Lamas in the WEC and Alcantara followed up with commanding decisions over Felipe Arantas and savvy veteran Michihiro Omigawa.
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After picking Omigawa to run through Alcantara, I was obviously forced to revise my assessment of him as a fighter. Omigawa might not be a world-beater, but he's extremely crafty and experienced, his skilled in every facet, he's always in the fight, he's difficult to control and even more difficult to finish.
Alcantara mercilessly steam-rolled Omigawa from bell to bell, dominated him with control, dislocated his elbow with a 1st-round armbar (that was cut short by the horn) and rocked him with strikes throughout. Besting Omigawa in any of those areas would be impressive and Alcantara trampled him in every one. Well known as a BJJ black belt, Alcantara's creative kickboxing and submission prowess was fairly established, but the way he manipulated the standout Judoka and had previously out-wrestled Arantes places Alcantara into the coveted 3-dimensional category.
Standing, Alcantara is a southpaw with a lengthy reach (71"), a streaking straight left, brutal knees to the body and roundhouse kicks that travel low, mid-level and high, and even threw an occasional front kick or spinning back-fist. His shots packed a wallop and his timing and accuracy were on-point.
As expected from most Nova Uniao fighters, Dias is a venomous grappler with an excellent blend of positional control, submission attacks and crisp ground-and-pound. Of his 20 wins, 9 are by submission with 3 TKOs and 8 decisions, the latter of which testifies to his capacity for control. His striking and wrestling are decent, but those secondary qualities are harder to assess considering his past level of competition and his ground game is his true foundation.
Dias is aggressive and game, but still maintains his composure and isn't overly reckless. Thus far, his chin and defense have been solid but, again, the UFC is an entirely different ballgame and we'll know more after this Saturday. Even though Alcantara is skilled on the mat, Dias should have a sound advantage in that aspect -- yet his core competency is well known, and 3-dimensional fighters -- like Alcantara -- usually have a field day with singular specialists.
Diversity, momentum and experience all make this a fairly easy vote for Alcantara, who should be able to pepper Dias with strikes, avoid many of his takedown attempts and hold his own in grappling engagements. Dias will be the taller (5'8" vs. 5'6") and stronger fighter, and I was intentionally noncommittal about his wrestling because it alone could decide the outcome of this match.
My Prediction: Yuri Alcantara by decision.