In the third bout of the evening on the UFC's debut on FX which kicks off at 8:00 p.m. ET, the lone Heavyweight bout will feature UFC veteran Gabriel Gonzaga (12-6, 7-5 UFC) taking on Edinaldo Oliveira (13-0-1).
For Gonzaga, it will mark his return to the octagon after losing to Schaub and experiencing a flirtation with retirement. For Oliveira, he gets to make his UFC debut due to a spotless record. The question is whether or not those numbers mean anything given the severe experience gap. Is the talent gap as wide? That's the question.
How do these two stack up?
Gonzaga: 32 years old | 6'2
Oliveira: 27 years old | 6'7
What have these two done recently?
Gonzaga: W - Parker Porter | L - Brenden Schaub | L - Junior dos Santos
Oliveira: W - Nalzinho Novaes | W - Jair Goncalves | W - Ubirtan Marinho Lima
How did these two get here?
Gonzaga's led a UFC career that can only be described as interesting. His debut against Kevin Jordan didn't gain him many fans despite one of the most tragic personal stories lurking behind the performance. He became a reputable HW, and that was enough to consider him a lamb to the Croatian slaughter when UFC 70 came around.
Gonzaga's head kick knockout of Mirko Filipovic was a symbol for 2007: a year that turned the upset into the trivial. It was also one of the most violent things I've ever witnessed. It earned him a title shot against Randy Couture. Even though he lost, it was a great fight, and has long been underappreciated in the canon of iconic Couture performances. Since then Gonzaga just sort of faded out. Most of his losses came against fighters who weren't intimidated and who could make contact with his somewhat frail chin.
Luckily for Oliveira, this is where his bread is buttered. I don't think Oliveira is especially good, and while I picked Gonzaga because he always looks amazing against journyeman, he absolutely better be prepared to fight in the trenches. Oliveria is not an adept striker, but he's an active, aggressive one and that just might be the difference.
Why should you care?
Everybody's a contender at Heavyweight. If Gonzaga wins, he's back where he left off: losing to contenders, and chewing up and spitting out gatekeepers. If he loses, Oliveira is thrust right into the fire, and toward high profile matchups that will earn him some hype.
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