This Saturday, the UFC presents a jam packed double header weekend, with a Fight Pass card in Berlin Saturday afternoon (well, afternoon for us US folks), and a Fox Sports 1 card Saturday night from Brazil. That Brazil card also serves as the finals for The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil season 3. With coaches Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen, this season got a bit more attention that some of the other international seasons (and well deserved - it was a good season overall), but it's still an international TUF, which means there is a decent chance you did not see it.
So, what can you expect from the two Ultimate Fighter Finale fights on Saturday night? Find out here in our Bloody Elbow UFC Fight Night preview.
In the great tradition of Brazilian nicknames, this is Team Sonnen's "Lex Luthor" (Miranda), vs. Team Silva's "Cara de Sapato", or "Shoe Face" (Carlos). Both men looked quite good on the show, and this is actually a really compelling final between two guys who could be players in the UFC potentially.
Looking at the records, Miranda obviously has the edge in terms of experience - and that 10-3 number does not accurately reflect his experience. Miranda turned pro back in 2003 and though he has fought somewhat sporadically, he has been an active part of the Brazilian scene, training with Team Nogueira. Big Nog actually brought Miranda on to TUF Brazil 2 as a striking coach. He has a pair of losses to Fabio Maldonado, and some good wins. As that coaching stint would indicate, Miranda is a very good technical striker. He uses Muay Thai with precision to take out opponents, and he showed off great combinations on the show. Miranda is the kind of veteran fighter with serious skills in one area that will pose a challenge to plenty of low level UFC fighters. If you stand with him and your striking game is no good, you'll be in trouble. Working against Miranda here is his size - expect him to drop down to 205 as soon as this TUF run is over.
Carlos was the #1 picked Heavyweight and for good reason. Despite having only 1 year of pro experience, Carlos fights like a well polished veteran. He has an excellent ground game and submission skills, but also demonstrated his heavy hands on the show. He has won all of his pro fights via first round stoppage, and showed that similar aggression on TUF, plowing through all opponents with relative ease. What I like about Mr. Face is that, where some aggressive fighters give up on technique in order to be aggressive (the two Heavyweight TUF contestants on the prelims are both good examples of this), Carlos still manages to maintain proper technique while coming in hard. That's an impressive skill, particularly at such a low level of experience. Carlos is also a small Heavyweight who may drop down to 205 post-fight.
Head-to head, this is a close match-up, but it's one that favors Cara de Sapato. He is the more explosive finisher with the better power. The key difference maker here will be that aggression. In the semifinals, Miranda faced an early onslaught and he struggled. He clinched, slowed the pace down, then reversed things and came back strong, but those early minutes were rough for him. Against the better game of Carlos, I see Miranda getting finished before he has a chance to turn things around. That said, if he can get out of the first round, then he will have a huge advantage over Carlos, who has never gone in to those deeper waters. Best chance for Miranda is to slow the pace and make this a kickboxing war of attrition. If he does that, he can pull off the win - but I don't think Carlos lets him.
Prediction: Antonio Carlos Jr, by KO, round 1
It's Team Sonnen vs. Team Sonnen here as the two Team Wanderlei Middleweight semifinalists were both eliminated. Which, given the strange turn of events Silva vs. Sonnen has taken this week, feels appropriate.
For Marcio Alexandre, the Brazilian nickname is particularly telling: Lyoto. Alexandre earned that nickname thanks to his karate background and his fighting style, which is very reminiscent of Lyoto Machida. He uses many of the Dragon's same tactics - the karate stance, the lead leg kick, the angles... As his record shows, he's had a lot of success with that style so far. He also has long limbs, and good takedown defense, which he used to eek out a win over Ricardo Abreu in the semis. A close fight, Lyoto earned the split decision win, though I had it scored for Abreu. Alexandre struggled to keep his momentum in that fight, fading severely as it progressed (though, to be fair, that fading came after a low blow). Similarly, in his quarterfinal fight, he struggled in the first round. That Machida style is very reliant on movement, and as a result can be quite draining - I'm not sure Alexandre has it in him to keep that up for a full three round fight.
Warlley Alves trains under Jacare and had quite a reputation coming into this show as one of the fighters to watch. He proved why right away, rolling through all of his opponents on the show in devastating fashion. His semifinal win was a sharp contrast to Alexandre's - where Alexandre took home the debatable split decision win, Alves guillotined his opponent in less than a minute. Warlley is a strong fighter in every area, and showed very little in terms of weakness on the show. He's had fast wins in his career, and he's gone the distance, but he's won every time.
I may be underrating Lyoto here, but I don't see this as being a particularly close fight. It's possible that Alexandre uses distance and striking to outpoint Alves, but I give Alves the significant advantage in terms of power and all around game. Look for him to come on strong and fast, and for Alexandre to crack under the pressure.
Prediction: Warlley Alves by KO round 1