The string of non-stop UFC action finally comes to a halt this Wednesday in Brazil. Because of the lone Facebook bout, I'll be looking at all five preliminary fights at once.
The rundown: Both men are coming off wins in front of their homeland. Arantes (out of Chute Boxe) was last seen elbowing Godofredo Castro into submission at the Nogueira vs. Werdum show, while Souza (out of Team Tavares), a veteran of Jungle Fight promotions, is still riding high off a 7 fight winning streak.
This is your classic "don't blink" match. Both guys are more than willing to exchange on the feet. Arantes, like many Chute Boxe products before him, loves not just kicks, punches, and walks on warm sandy beaches, but a nice violent head stomp when the rules permit them. Every fighter has an affinity for one particular move, and for Arantes, it's his left high kick.
He loves to delay it before throwing it. In addition, he can throw in combination and is more than capable on the ground. Souza is stylistically similar, but only in terms of outcome. Where Arantes likes kicks, Souza prefers to box. While in MMA, it's hard to tell when a fighter is being technically proficient, or just "experimenting", Souza seems to be constantly juggling both.
One of the things Souza does well is use his reach. He's a very tall FW at 6'0, and he jabs a lot, including to the body. He tries to get too cute at times though. The reason I like Arantes in this fight is because Souza is too much of a one-strike-at-a-time fighter. And he keeps his hands down way too low. While I wouldn't call Arantes the technically better striker, I do think he'll find the mark more often than Souza because he's also more well rounded.
So far, Souza hasn't shown enough improvements, whereas Arantes is actually somewhat slick, especially in back control. Plus he's beaten better fighters.
Prediction: Felipe Arantes by Decision.
The rundown: Zeferino lost to Rafael Natal in his last outing, and so the grappler gets faced with a pure throwback fight for his rebound. The unbeaten Silveiro has made a name for himself in Jungle Fight (like many fighters on this card), flashing his knees and punches to small Brazilian crowds for years until finally winning the vacant Welterweight title in May of this year.
One of the things that stands out about Silviero is how raw he still is. He loves keeping it on the feet, and does some things really well; the way he chambers his knees is brilliant. It's everything else that still feels like a work in progress. While he seems to have strictly OK power, his right cross from the traditional stance is just begging to be violated. When he swings it, he's almost always off balance. It's a bit of lunging punch that he likes to go to, god knows why.
He's capable on the ground, but his cardio is a bit of question mark, despite going to decision in most of his fights. This is why I'm favoring Zeferino. I doubt Zeferino will keep it interesting on the feet, but he's still a more than capable grappler. With the way Silviero strikes, I feel like Zef just needs to fall into a double leg. It won't be that easy, but Zef's struggle on the feet will be far less significant than Silviero's struggle on the ground.
Prediction: Joao Zeferino by Decision.
The rundown: After getting turned into crispy critters by Edson Barboza, Lucas Martins was invited back into the big show where he he showed he was still capable by scoring a KO over Jeremy Larson in May. His opponent will be making his debut.
Hernandez is not quite the token midwesterner. While he's been making the rounds in small shows since 2008, he's proven himself to be fairly talented, but more importantly for this fight...tough as nails. Hernandez is primarily a striker, but he's got chops on the ground when heeds them, and he has solid cardio. He keeps his boxing stance huddled, his defense tight, and will chamber any number of kicks or punches at his disposal.
Martins is himself a solid striker, and we have every good reason to believe this is a potential FOTN, but Martins gets hit a lot. Luckily for him Hernandez is not a power puncher, but he still makes you weary of choosing him. I think the biggest factor in this fight will be if Ramiro can land enough to get Martin's respect. Given how hittable Martins is, I think he will.
Prediction: Ramiro Hernandez by Decision.
The rundown: Keith Wisniewski, who once had his arm broken by Shinya Aoki is being given a golden opportunity to stay relevant in the UFC, despite a two-fight losing streak. Though a solid fighter overall, it's clear that this bout is either for a pink slip, or a future bout in which he makes a blue chip prospect look good.
Does Ivan "Batman" (???) Jorge fit that bill? There'a a Ben Affleck joke I don't have time for in there somewhere, but Jorge is very similar to Wisniewski. Most of his wins are by submission, but he can do most of it. However, his five previous wins are all by rear naked choke. One (his last) over Lucio Abreu, who isn't a bad fighter by any stretch.
It's difficult to with fights like these where the footage is limited, and the crossover (like common opponents) doesn't exist. Sometimes the action in the cage is predictable, and sometimes it isn't...like the other night at UFC 164. I feel like Jorge is the favorite here, though. He's slicker on the ground (though technically, both are very similar), and has more raw power on the feet.
Prediction: Ivan Jorge by Decision.
The rundown: Villefort is coming off a very spirited bout with Nah-Shon Burrell in a losing effort, while Spencer is coming off an indiscriminate one against Rafael Natal.
While Spencer is primarily a striker, he doesn't have enough power against the elite in this division for that to be a meaningful quality. There's nothing wrong with his technique per se, as he throws punches quickly, and loves to swing the right hand in a manner more loopy than usual; the unsuspecting fighter may get caught by these, but I don't think Villefort will be unsuspecting.
Yuri is capable on the ground, which a knack for a variety of submissions instead of just one. Plus he took some hard shots from Burrell, especially on the ground, so I believe he's more than prepared for Spencer, and should get a submission win in this one with tight work from the bottom.
Prediction: Yuri Villefort by Submission.