Having covered the upper half of the UFC on Fuel TV 10 Facebook prelims in a post earlier today, we'll breeze through the remaining quartette of match ups that will kickstart Saturday's event from Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil. The show is headlined by rematching Brazilian heavyweights and while TUF: Brazil 2 finalists William Macario and Leonardo Santos hold down the co-main event.
UFC on FUEL TV 10 -- Facebook Stream
Ildemar is the brother of UFC bantamweight Yuri Alcantara, and the pair share the "Marajo" nickname. Alcantara faced Wagner Prado as a late replacement for his Octagon debut and scored a rousing upset via kneebar at UFC on FX 7 in Brazil. Though his record doesn't sparkle, most of Alcantara's past losses were dealt by UFC-caliber opposition (Marcelo Guimares, Luis Santos, Fabio Maldonado) except for the hulking Geronimo dos Santos and Bruno Silva, the latter of whom is billed as 1-3 with Alcantara being the "1."
Leandro Silva is undefeated with a draw, but was actually picked off by David Vieira in the elimination round of TUF: Brazil 2. "Buscape" reps Chute Boxe and Jorge Patino's Macaco Gold Team, but has never finished a fight via strikes (7 subs, 4 decisions), which is quite uncharacteristic for a Chute Boxe fighter. Silva put himself on the map with his last win, which was a split decision over former UFCer Chris Wilson.
Along with a scorching submission game, Alcantara showed a lot of heart, durability and intelligence in his UFC premiere, and I think he can gut out a late submission or decision against the first-timer. Silva's takedown defense and grappling, neither of which I'm intimately familiar with, should dictate his fate, but I imagine Alcantara will be too crafty and experienced for him.
My Prediction: Ildemar Alcantara by submission.
Not sure if others will agree, but I see this Sengoku flavored tilt as the sleeper match of the Facebook undercard, and it should unfold in a high-paced brawl. Perhaps it's because I'm still high on the way Hirota valiantly engaged fellow Strikeforce migrant Pat Healy -- a long underrated lightweight who recently blasted into the Top 10 with a win over Jim Miller -- on last year's Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy card. Hirota ended up dropping a unanimous decision to Healy that I personally consider one of the most controversial scores of 2012.
Then again, perhaps it was the noticeable speed advantage Hirota, who's much more accustomed to featherweight, enjoyed in the lightweight bout with Healy, who's spent most of his career at welterweight. The fast-paced pressure that Hirota pestered Healy with was absent in the Japanese fighter's last turn against Rani Yahya (decision loss), though Yahya has fought at bantamweight, he's one of the quicker 145ers around and also does the same things Hirota does, but with a little more high-level technique and experience.
Regardless, Hirota, along with Kazunori Yokota, actually cracked into the Lightweight Top 10 in a few different rankings sources before Shinya Aoki pretzeled his arm and flipped him the bird at the 2009 K-1 Dynamite! show. He's a feisty Judoka with tight and basic but effective boxing who likes to crowd his adversary and drown them with close-range combinations and incessant clinch attacks.
Damm turned heads after he capped off an 8-fight streak by KO'ing UFC lightweight Jorge Masvidal, but, oddly enough, he's currently lost 5 of his last 7. The Brazilian made it to the finals on the inaugural TUF: Brazil show but was injured and replaced by Godofredo Casto. He made his official Octagon debut at UFC 147 against Anistavio Medeiros de Figueiredo, aka "Gasparzinho," and finished with a 1st-round submission, but fell to Antonio Carvalho in a respectable split decision in the follow-up.
Damm is a sound wrestler and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, and also quite capable with his hands. Rather than pop off a steady hum-drum of tight, mid-power combos like Hirota, Damm likes to plant his feet and pot-shot with solid power, mostly with his straight right hand in the form of counter-punches. Though both are adept with takedowns, Damm is more of a traditional wrestler whereas Hirota's Judo is conducive to trips and throws in the clinch that are intertwined with a busy arsenal of short elbows, punches and knees.
The pair are pretty evenly matched in the main categories of striking, wrestling and submission grappling, and I expect Damm to back-pedal and hurl counter-fire while Hirota presses forward with a high output of offense. The betting lines reflect how close this fight is with Damm barely inching ahead and, while I see this as a veritable coin-flip, I'll take a chance on Hirota's durability, chin and pressure seeing him through in a close one.
My Prediction: Mizuto Hirota by decision.
While Vemola's purported "6-time Czech national wrestling champion" honors have been questioned, we all know that what you do in the cage, and how you do it, is what really matters. "The Terminator" is a big, strong ox with a smash and grab mentality. Based on the way he unloads his massive punches, and regardless of his true credentials, Vemola's primal, caveman-like aggression is the real threat, which fuels his barbaric striking and takedown game. I was concerned about Vemola's gas tank after he dropped to 185 and lost to Ronny Markes, but the behemoth showed impressive resilience and fortitude in finishing Mike Massenzio with a 2nd-round choke in his sophomore effort at middleweight, though he was out-classed by Francis Carmont in his last outing and by the same method.
Magalhaes suffered his first career loss in his UFC premiere against Buddy Roberts, who's exhibited shades of brilliance. Magalhaes, who, like Vemola, is a grappling specialist and not a graceful striker, was unable to take Roberts to the floor and couldn't match him standing. Magalhaes is also a decent wrestler though he lacks a laudable pedigree, again like Vemola, so I'm intrigued to see how the pivotal takedown battle plays out. Both are beefy middleweights who prefer to hit clinch takedowns but have the ability to fall back on dropping levels for singles and doubles, which will emphasize the set ups they use during their advancements. Either would be well served to commit to heated punches before attempting takedowns as well as feinting a takedown attempt to supplement their striking attacks.
I'd give Vemola the same tiny edge in striking, mostly on account of his power and eagerness to finish, that I'd give Magalhaes in submission technique. Overall, Vemola has proven to be a firecracker against legit competition, so it's understandable why he's the slight favorite. I'll take a chance on the underdog here again, thinking Magalhaes' chin can withstand some contact (as long as it's not the home-run swing), that he can hold his own in the wrestling department but cause too many problems with his submission acumen in scrambles and transitions.
My Prediction: Caio Magalhaes by submission.
Neto is a serious prospect: he was deemed the #1 Middleweight on Bloody Elbow's 2012 World MMA Scouting Report, he's a BJJ black belt under the highly regarded Roberto "Gordo" Correa, a multiple time gold medalist at the World and Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championships, and the ass-whipping he took from Maiquel Falcao before keylocking him showed that Neto is just flat-out tough as hell. The Brazilian's sole flaw came against Pancrase fighter Ryo Kawamura and he's finished 7 of his 8 wins (1 TKO, 6 subs).
Smith is coming off a loss to another BJJ whiz in Roger Gracie on the Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine card. While Vemola and Magalhaes are wide-bodied middleweights, Neto and Smith are amongst the longest at 6'3" and 6'4" respectively. Smith split 4 turns in Strikeforce with losses to Gracie and Adlan Amagov (KO) and wins over Lumumba Sayers (1st-round choke) and Ben Lagman (2nd-round KO).
Considering Neto's admirable spirit and elite Jiu-Jitsu, I think it'll be tough for Smith to find a way to win this fight. To do so, his footwork, motion and counter-striking must be phenomenal and, even though Neto's a heavy favorite, Smith might have the horsepower to do it. Regardless, I feel Neto will keep swarming until he's able to entangle himself and work his venomous submission grappling.
My Prediction: Antonio Braga Neto by submission.