The first UFC show of 2013 is in Brazil, and shockingly this UFC on FX 7 preliminary card is filled with Brazilians. There are 7 fights ranging from bantamweight all the way up to light-heavyweight. You can catch 6 of these fights on FUEL TV starting at 6 PM ET/3 PM PT. Francisco Trinaldo and C.J. Keith will be the sole Facebook fight at 5:30 PM ET/2:30 PM PT.
Now that you're all caught up, here's a quick look at each preliminary fight heading into tonight's event.
Pepey was a TUF Brazil featherweight runner-up, losing to Rony Jason in the final after a largely forgettable fight. Vieira's only UFC fight was a draw against Felipe Arantes at UFC 152. These two are clearly submission fighters and neither of them has been finished in a pro fight. Vieira has fought the likes of Jake Shields and Johnny Eduardo in his pre-UFC career, submitting the latter. There's not a lot of reason to believe this will be anything but a grappling contest.
This is arguably the best fight of the preliminary card. Nunes has alternated wins and losses in his UFC career, with all of them going the distance. He did earn a FOTN performance in his unanimous decision victory over Bart Palaszewski in October. Lentz looked very strong in his featherweight debut, sending Eiji Mitsuoka out of the UFC with a TKO win. This stopped Lentz's two-fight losing skid and now he's seeing a marked increased in competition. Lentz certainly has the wrestling advantage, but Nunes' striking could pose problems for the Minnesota native. It should be a great fight and it should arguably be on the main card.
In one of several fights scrambled together following a string of injuries to the original prelim lineup, Lucas Martins debuts against highly talented striker Edson Barboza. Martins replaces the injured Justin Salas, and comes in with an unbeaten record fighting exclusively in Brazil. It's been just over one year since he stiffened Terry Etim with a wheel kick KO at UFC 142. That won KOTY honors and raised his stock as a LW contender, but Jamie Varner came in on short-notice at UFC 146 and dominated Barboza for a 1st round TKO. He hasn't fought since then, and he is a massive favorite in this fight, but while Martins is clearly not Jamie Varner, Barboza should surely be more cautious of late-replacement opposition.
George Roop's injury meant a late call-up for Pedro Nobre to face WEC and UFC veteran Yuri Alcantara. This is a drop in weight class for Alcantara and a move up for Nobre. Pedro was eliminated in the opening round of TUF Brazil against Marcos Vinicius in the featherweight division. Since then he has moved to flyweight, but is temporarily moving up to bantamweight to seize the opportunity the UFC gave him. Alcantara fought as a lightweight in the WEC, recording a KO over Ricardo Lamas in the promotion's final show in Arizona. His run at featherweight saw him defeat Felipe Arantes and Michihiro Omigawa, but a decision loss to Hacran Dias at UFC 147 prompted his latest weight class move. Both men are known finishers and Alcantara in particular has shown to be an entertaining fighter.
Prado was originally scheduled to face Roger Hollett, but an injury to Hollett meant that Yuri Alcantara's brother Ildemar makes his UFC debut. Both of these men were on the 2012 Bloody Elbow Scouting Report. Prado was ranked #1 and Alcantara at #5 at middleweight. Wagner has fought Phil Davis twice, with the first fight ending in a No Contest following an accidental eye-poke by Davis, and the rematch ending in a dominant submission win for Mr. Wonderful. Alcantara has won 7 in a row under the Jungle Fights banner, with only 1 of those wins coming by decision. If nothing else, Bloody Elbow chronicled these guys, so why not watch them to see if they've lived up to their scouting report ranking.
I can assure you this is a middleweight fight. It might not look like it, especially since Markes looks enormous for 185. These are two intriguing prospects in a division in definite need of as many as it can get. Markes edged out Aaron Simpson to go to 2-0 in the UFC. Ronny also holds a win over Paulo Filho, although 2011 Filho isn't exactly notable for anything other than name value. Craig also sports a 2-0 UFC record, and his last fight was a dramatic head kick KO of Rafael Natal. He comes into this fight as an underdog, but he's already pulled off one upset by beating Kyle Noke in Australia, and he'll look to play spoiler in enemy territory yet again.
TUF Brazil alum Trinaldo lost his last fight to Gleison Tibau at UFC 153 but put in a very respectable effort, nearly finishing the veteran in the 2nd round. Keith is likely fighting for his UFC job after he was TKOed by Ramsey Nijem in June. CJ will have the reach and height advantage and is primarily a wrestler. The majority of this fight will likely take place on the mat, provided the referees do not repeatedly stand them up as they have in the last few Brazilian shows.