When we last left our heroes...At age 29, Cezar 'Mutante' Ferreira is on a pretty decent run in the UFC. He's gone 3-0 since his last loss to Elvis Mutapcic (via KO), beating Sergio Moraes, Thiago Santos, and finally capping it off with the should-have-been-initial TUF finale against Daniel Sarafian. He's 7-2 overall, but despite not being a prospect, you get the sense he hasn't reached his ceiling.
Evaluating international TUF products is always somewhat difficult. A lot of times, the lack of access to complex networks of MMA trainers and resources is apparent just in the way the competitors fight. Other times, looking good is a by-product of the quality of competition, which can be sorely lacking.
Ferreira is a protege of Vitor Belfort, who seems to think highly of him. Will Dollaway be a stiff enough test to tell us more about Cezar's future?
At 13-5, the MW from Power MMA has struggled to gain the respect of fans. After all, his route into the UFC was...shall we say...odd (?). He lost to Amir Sadollah on the show via armbar, and then got a second chance when Jesse Taylor (this guy here who inspires 'are you okay?' looks from his coaches) got kicked off the show by Dana White for punching/kicking through a limousine window at one of the Ferttita owned casinos if memory serves correctly. Anyway, he fought Tim Credeur to be a finalist, and then lost to Sadollah again by armbar.
He had turned into a punchline by fans, but with a 7-5 record in the UFC with two Peruvian neckties to floss (well not really...for some reason wiki has Dollaway winning against Doerkson via PNT), I'd say he's quietly turned it around amongst fans.
What both men can do: Even though this is the co main event, and a lot of people mock the very concept, it should nonetheless deliver an entertaining bout in the cage. There are only 7 decision wins between the two in 27 professional bouts.
Let's start with Ferreira. Cezar makes the most of his MMA experience on the feet, where he prefers big fancy kicks and a left uppercut from his southpaw stance. His left leg in particular is something he keeps active, often throwing to the body. It's hard for any fan who saw it to forget the capoeria kick he landed on Moraes, so he's someone who consistently keeps the fight interesting.
It's hard to say what his ground game has to offer when he hasn't spent much time there, and hasn't faced upper echelon competition, but he's offensively capable. Like Vitor, he doesn't want the fight on the ground, but he's not afraid of it either.
As for CB, he's a very gifted offensive fighter. His strength is being able to launch an attack on the ground with strikes and superior positioning, and go for broke submissions. Watch the sequence again against Joe Doerkson. It's a marvelous, hell on wheels submission scramble that highlights Dollaway's offensive instincts as he predicts every sequence required for Doerkson to get out, and therefore makes every move required for him to counter.
On the feet, he's like most wrestle boxers; decent raw power, but could use better technique. Speaking of...
What both men can't do: Dollaway is a strange brew of what happens when versatile offense and knowledge of the arts becomes disconnected from defense.
It's a weird trait, to be frank. How could the same instincts that inform his ability to dynamically create offense vanish the offense is coming from his opponent? Some fighters just don't inherently get defense. They believe that defending is the same thing as avoiding damage, which is patently false.
So yea, Dollaway will be a major mark on the feet, where he keeps his hands comically low. I actually like CB Dollaway; he's fun to watch because he's unpredictable and predictable at the same time. But Ferreira, even though I don't project big things for him in the future, is too versatile on the feet here. He will absolutely catch him with either that flush left uppercut he likes, or a brutal high kick.
Mutante will struggle when he's facing a ground specialist, or wrestle-boxer type. Despite his wrestling background, CB is definitely not of Frankie Edgar mold.
Prediction: Cezar Ferreira by TKO, round 3.