As has become customary the UFC has announced the next series of matchups for it's fall cards in a big block. With 5 fights announced today (including Diallashaw vs. Assuncao), I thought I'd take the time to wrap up the lesser known fighters into one easy to digest piece of information. Godofredo Pepey vs. Sam Sicilia, Sean Spencer vs. Yuri Villefort, Johnny Bedford vs. Hugo Viana, and Ali Bagautinov vs. Marcos Vinicius have all been added to the Belo Horizonte card taking place on September 4th.
Godofredo Pepey vs. Sam Sicilia:
Godofredo Pepey will be looking to rebound from a shocking loss to Felipe Arantas at UFC on Fuel TV 10, that saw the flashy grappler get put to sleep by a series of devastating elbows from the guard. Pepey was a finalist on the first season of the Ultimate Fighter Brazil, eventually losing to Rony Jason in the finale. He's had one win in the UFC, to since released fighter Milton Vieira, sandwiched in between a pair of losses. A third loss to Sam Sicilia would probably spell the end of his UFC run.
Many fans and media already thought Sicilia had been released from the promotion, following a mass exodus of fighters after the TUF 17 Finale. Fortunately for the former TUF fighter his roster removal was due to a data glitch, which a couple of days and a press release set right. His fight against Maximo Blanco was a real barn burner, and likely saved his job with the promotion. No matter the performance he puts up against Pepey, if he doesn't win this fight I have to believe he'll be gone as well. It's a good scrap between two men in a loser-leaves-town situation and given their styles should make for an action filled fight.
Sean Spencer vs. Yuri Villefort:
Former middleweight prospect Sean "Black Magik" Spencer will be dropping down to welterweight against Strikeforce carryover Yuri Villefort. Spencer lost his promotional debut against Rafael Natal at UFC on Fox 6 via arm triangle. He's a decent, boxing centric, fighter who definitely looks better suited for the smaller weight class. He did well against Natal while the fight was standing, and Villefort possesses a relatively similar skill set, so this should make for a good test to see if he can make any noise in the welterweight division.
For Villefort, this is probably do or die territory (it may be for Spencer as well). As a former Strikeforce fighter he's on a short leash for losses. He got a second chance in the UFC coming off an exciting fight against Nah-Shon Burrell at UFC 157, but another loss here would make three straight. Considering that the UFC has already released Burrell, I can't imagine that Villefort would survive if he dropped this one. Spencer is just the right matchup, talented but one-dimensional, if he can solve that puzzle he has a lot of room to grow.
Johnny Bedford vs. Hugo Viana:
Following in the theme of fighters in need of a win, Johnny Bedford makes a reasonably quick turnaround following his shocking upset loss to Bryan Caraway. Riding a three fight winning streak into the fight, with all three wins coming by stoppage, it was largely considered that Bedford would be too much to handle for Caraway, coming in on only a week's notice. That wasn't to be, as Caraway roughed up Bedford for two rounds before submitting him in the third. Now he takes on another former high flying prospect in Hugo Viana for a chance to reboot quickly.
Much like Bedford, Viana was riding a wave of success into his fight against T.J. Dillashaw at UFC on Fox 7. And while he may not have been the favorite in that fight, few expected him to get knocked out in the first round. This will be a dangerous fight for both men; Bedford seems to turn it on when he realizes he's got the physical advantage, but Viana is pretty big and strong at bantamweight. His wild striking leaves a lot of opportunity, but it remains to be seen if Bedford can take advantage. I don't expect either fighter to be gone with a loss, but the loser here would find themselves back at the bottom of the division.
Ali Bagautinov vs. Marcos Vinicius:
Bagautinov is another young Russian Sambo prospect plucked from seemingly nowhere. He's a former world Sambo champion and riding an eight fight win streak into his flyweight debut. Like many prospects coming out of Russia he's got a history of finishes with a good mix of KO's and submissions. Much like Azamat Gashimov before him, he wont have a lot of time to feel out his place in the division, but a fight against Vinicius is probably the best entry opportunity he could hope to get.
For Vinicius this is his second drop in weight since entering the UFC. Debuting at featherweight with a win over Wagner Campos, he's now coming off a loss at bantamweight to Johnny Bedford. A drop to flyweight may lengthen his stay in the UFC, as it's a division still entirely short on fighters, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is a win or get cut situation for him. He's coming off an especially bad beating and, as a TUF fighter, has very little leeway for poor performances.
Considering that every fighter here (except Bagautinov) is coming off a loss these are all good, competitive, and most importantly entertaining fights. UFC on Fox Sports 1: 3 will feature Ryan Bader vs. Glover Teixeira and takes place on September 4th. Stay tuned as more fight announcements are just around the corner.