The UFC returns after a lengthy hiatus with UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Rockhold in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil. You can read Bloody Elbow's previews of the Facebook card here and Part one of the Fuel card here.
They grow up fast, don't they? Who knew that Nik Lentz would not only get this far, but would get this far with a reputation for being somewhat exciting? True, his last fight against Diego Nunes didn't light the world on fire, but he did well with the limited tools he's always had to work with against a seasoned, talented fighter who was also a stylistic nightmare for him.
I suspect some of it has had to do with matchups. In fact, if I may be so bold, Lentz might be like Clay Guida: his wins are workmanlike, but his losses are spectacular bloody failures. In Dias, he's facing a Nova Uniao product, which rarely bodes well for the factory sealed American wrestler.
Dias hasn't lost since 2009 on the back of a stifling top control game. He's another Brazilian grappler with an emphasis on position over submission. Unlike his fellow Nova Uniao products, his standup isn't as developed. Which I suspect will play a factor in this fight.
It's a tough one to judge, like many of the other bouts on this card. Lentz could conceivably be able to defend the takedown, which leaves the striking, where I'd say he's superior. Dias is like a lot of guys who understand the mechanics, but not the method. He knows how to throw a punch, but not necessarily when. Lentz is sort of the opposite. He'll fight with urgency when he needs to, and I suspect he'll grind out a pretty tough decision over a talented opponent in this one.
Prediction: Nik Lentz by Decision.
Two products of the Ultimate Fighter, both guys flew under the radar during seasons nobody watched. Trinaldo's background is as a kickboxer. Watching him fight, he exhibits fluid movement, but overextends way too much when he swings. His boxing looks a lot like Renan Barao before he polished it up some more and became champ (interim).
The problem with that style of striking is that you can leave yourself open for takedowns, which is the background Rio brings with him into the cage. A two time Florida high school state wrestling champion, Rio has the usual tools that accompany any wrestle-boxer: strong base, and ridumentary but sturdy boxing.
I believe this should be enough to earn Rio the win here. Trinaldo will have difficulty stopping the takedown because he'll find himself out of position too often.
Prediction: Mike Rio by Decision.
Tibau continues to be the oversized engine that could. Somehow, despite all odds, he's able to consistently make weight despite a build that would suit him all the way up to Middleweight. And somehow, he wins some, and he loses some.
After all these years I couldn't tell you what Tibau actually brings to the table. Sure, he's got size, but watch his fight with Caol Uno, and then watch his fight with Kurt Pellegrino and tell me who's who when it comes to Tibau's identity as a fighter. His striking is fairly strong. He's quick for a guy his size, and he lands with force. His jiu jitsu is good, having only even been submitted by Joe Stevenson.
At the other end of the spectrum is our commodities broker by day, fighter by night wrestle-boxer John Cholish. He lost his last bout to Danny Castillo, but his style is similar. His boxing is raw, but he punches straight, and with good power.
This is one of those fights that could very close, and despite that, there's little to cover in terms of commentary. Both fighters wrestle when their striking is threatened, and strike when their wrestling is threatened. Expect a seesaw battle in this one, but I like Tibau's chances well...he's Gleison Tibau. What else is he gonna do? Get cut and not fight in the UFC?
Prediction: Gleison Tibau by Decision.