UFC on FX 8 Belfort vs. Rockhold: Fuel TV Preliminary Card Prognostications Part 1

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

The UFC returns to action in Brazil this weekend with welterweights, bantamweights, and light heavyweights ready to kick off the show on Fuel TV.

The UFC returns after a lengthy hiatus with UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Rockhold in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil. Like all preliminary cards for FX shows, it's a mixed bag, but all you can do is hope it's a bloody one.

Paulo Thiago (14-5) vs. Michel Prazeres (16-0) Welterweight

It's hard to believe that there was ever a time when Thiago was thought to be a potential contender. Despite his goofy knockout of Josh Koscheck, he looked legit against Jon Fitch in his following bout, and his ceiling seemed promising.

Since then, he hasn't strung together good performances in years. Following a street fight against Diego Sanchez at 121, he went on to sleepwalk his way to victory against David Mitchell in front of his hometown despite coming out to Umbabarauma, and would later suffer his own goofy knockout loss to Siyar Bahadurzada in which he basically handed Siyar his victory bonus.

It's tough to say how his string of lackluster efforts will affect him coming into this weekend. To be fair he's had some tough matchups, and this weekend will be no different. Not much is known about Prazeres except that he's undefeated. So he did he get there?

The matchup: Prazeres is the Arona to Thiago's Nog. Prazeres doesn't look like much (it's conceivable he could make LW), but he's got an incredibly quick shot, and an aggressive top control game. I know that sounds nothing like Arona, but like Arona, he's a positional grappler. You're not gonna see him Rumina Sato his way through armbar attempts. He'll shoot, pass guard, and look for the rear naked choke with not much else in between.

I could see this being the story of the fight, with Thiago looking for the d'arce. After all, neither guy is gonna threaten the other with their boxing skills. Paulo may have some moderate power, but he throws so awkwardly I'd just as soon consider it a non factor in his bouts despite the Koscheck knockout. I'll guarantee one thing: this match won't be pretty. And I'll do one better..two words...renzo...ohara. Shuddering yet?

Prediction: Arona by Decision.

Yuri Alcantara (27-4-1) vs. Iliarde Santos (27-6-1-NC) Bantamweight

Unlike one of those old Strikeforce undercards, this isn't cheap local matchmaking made to pander to the two families solely aware of their existence.

Alcantara has proven himself to be a capable fighter. With his quickness, and savvy submission skills, he's proven himself to be a potential staple in the BW division. Santos is similar, but likely with less upside.

Santos is basically the rounder, more bulbous version of Alcantara. He's Thiago Alves the size of a Shredded Wheat cereal box. With his raw power, and fluid movement on the ground either on top or from the bottom, he appears to be a quality fighter on paper.

Unfortunately, his cardio is a question mark, as it was in his loss to John Lineker (also featured on the card). His technique is there, but a mobile fighter like Alcantara can get him to second guess himself. This bout should be an exciting one, but I'd expect Alcantara to take control halfway through the fight with his movement.

Prediction: Yuri Alcantara by Decision.

Fabio Maldonado (18-6) vs. Roger Hollett (13-4) Light Heavyweight

The last time Fabio Maldonado stepped into the octagon was October of last year. It's an easy fight to remember, though hard to stomach. His bout with Glover Teixeira was like watching that Jurassic Park scene where the only thing protecting our heroes from the T-Rex was their wits, except Maldonado was no hero...no, he was the poor goat.

It's the kind of beatdown some fighters just don't recover from. Will Roger Hollett be enough to get Fabio cut from the UFC?

I don't think so. Hollett is one of those guys who seems to do just enough to win despite looking he's able to do just enough to bench lift a loft. Maldonado, despite being 0-3 in his last three, is skilled enough that he can potentially keep the bout on the feet where his brutal body punches could become a factor against the Tick-figured Canadian.

Prediction: Fabio Maldonado by Decision.

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