The UFC kicks off September with another trip to Brazil, this time for a Fox Sports 1 card in Belo Horizonte. Glover Teixeira looks to confirm himself for a title shot as he faces Ryan Bader in the night's main event, while "Jacare" Souza aims to at least inch closer to a crack at the middleweight belt with a win over Yushin Okami in the co-main. Let's not forget a flyweight battle between Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga.
Before the top three fights take center stage tonight, let's have a look at the 5 preliminary card fights, 4 of which air on Fox Sports 1. There's very little name value to be had, and injuries really tore a hole through the prelims, but there's still a decent mixture of MMA veterans and prospects on here, not to mention the usual "loser gets cut" possibilities. The FS1 prelims air live at 5 PM ET/2 PM PT (main card at 7 PM ET), and the singular fight on Facebook will start at around 4:30 PM ET.
Felipe Arantes (15-5-1, 2 NCs MMA; 2-1-1 UFC) vs. Edmilson Souza (13-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) - Featherweights
Arantes is a talented 25-year-old with a Muay Thai black belt, but in his last performance against Godofredo Pepey he showcased some brutal ground-and-pound from top position to earn a TKO victory over the TUF Brazil finalist. Felipe's only defeat thus far in the UFC is Yuri Alcantara, who has proven to be a threat at both featherweight and bantamweight. His MMA career spans 5 years and includes a submission win over John Lineker. His diverse set of skills makes him a credible opponent whether on the ground or on the feet.
Souza comes in from Jungle Fight having captured the featherweight title with a KO of Fabiano Nogueira, the 2nd time in a year that "Kevin" had stopped his foe. His boxing and massive punching power has earned him 12 KO or TKO wins in 13 fights. If there's a very exploitable flaw in his game, it's his submission defense. All 3 of his losses have come by submission, but otherwise his fearsome striking could put Felipe under a bit of pressure.
Silverio is another Jungle Fight product -- you'll see many tonight on the prelims -- with an undefeated professional record. He's replacing Kenny Robertson, who had to withdraw from the card with an injury. Aside from a one-off appearance at Ring of Combat in New Jersey, the 26-year-old's competition has been exclusively Brazilians in Brazil. Silverio has knockout capabilities and prefers to fight in close quarters. which could leave him susceptible to Zeferino's takedowns.
On the heels of a 7 fight winning streak, Zeferino was brought in at the 11th hour to face Rafael Natal on the main card of UFC on FX 8 in May. After a competitive opening round the fight soon faded into a sloppy contest, and Zeferino ended up losing a unanimous decision. He relies heavily on his submissions, having won 9 of his 13 fights by tapout. This fight marks Zeferino's first drop to welterweight.
Lucas Martins (13-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) vs. Junior Hernandez (13-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) - Bantamweights
"Mineiro" had a rough go of it when he made his UFC debut on short notice against Edson Barboza in January 2013. Martins, who fought 10 times in 2012, was easily outmatched and tapped to strikes after being knocked down early in the 1st round. His next chance at a UFC win came in May against TUF 15's Jeremy Larsen, and while it looked as if he was on his way to another defeat, he pulled off a stunning 3rd round KO to earn a wild victory. The 24-year-old is making the rare decision to drop down from lightweight directly to bantamweight as he tries to make it two wins in a row in the UFC.
Hernandez is a prospect out of Pat Miletich's fight camp, and his record suggests that he has the potential to be at least a solid addition to the UFC's roster. He's twice defeated Eric Wisely and submitted Chris Tickle of TUF 15 fame. Two of his four losses came against familiar names in Michael Johnson and Pat Curran. His bread and butter is his kickboxing, so we could be looking at a potential FOTN candidate between these two young bantamweights.
Perhaps Wisniewski is a bit fortunate to remain in the UFC. His two previous fights inside the Octagon resulted in a TKO loss to Josh Neer and a decision loss to Chris Clements. Believe it or not the 31-year-old opened up the UFC 56 prelims, where he lost to Nick Thompson. Wisniewski is a 15 year veteran of the sport and holds wins over Chris Wilson, Jorge Santiago, and Pete Spratt. Tonight Wisniewski is trying to avoid the rare 0-4 UFC record.
The man they call "Batman" is the Jungle Fights lightweight champion, and he's won his last 6 fights, with 5 of them coming by rear naked choke. The 32-year-old is moving up to welterweight to replace the injured Marclo Guimaraes. It'll be interesting to see how he handles the size disadvantage, as well as whether or not he'll be able to submit Wisniewski, whose last submission loss came against the venerable Shinya Aoki in 2005.
When Magnus Cedenblad dropped out with an injury, Sean Spencer received the late call-up to face Brazilian veteran Rafael Natal at UFC on Fox 6. Spencer was outmatched on the ground and physically pushed around, and ultimately he was submitted in the 3rd round via rear naked choke. The defeat snapped Spencer's three fight winning streak, which included victories in Bellator and Legacy FC. Looking noticeably undersized against Natal, it's no surprise that "Black Magic" has made the move to welterweight.
At just 22 years old, you can definitely still consider Villefort a prospect. But with no wins in the past 3 years the promise of a 6-0 start has slowly faded. His last two losses have been decision defeats to Nah-Shon Burrell and Quinn Mulhern, although the loss to Burrell was also marred by Burrell missing weight by 3 lbs. A loss tonight likely puts him out of the UFC, which may be for the best for a young fighter with powerful striking, good submissions, but an inability to string it together and become a future contender.