Hailing from the source of Luta Livre's resurgence in MMA, Brazil's Renovacao Fight Team (RFT), Luiz Dutra (11-2) was coach Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira's first pick on TUF Brazil 2. "Besouro" defeated Robson Ferreira (6-2) by decision in the elimination match and quickly choked out Pedro Irie (9-5) before leaving the show prematurely due to a torn ligament in his hand.
Dutra fits the typical mold of a RFT fighter: highly aggressive kickboxing/Muay Thai, better than average wrestling and takedown abilities, and a swarming, frenetically paced ground game accented by the equal threat of dominant positions, ground-and-pound and submission savvy. His career finishing ratio is balanced (5 decisions, 3 subs, 3 TKO's), which signifies Dutra's command of controlling his opponent to neutralize his opponent's offense while maximizing his own.
While Saturday will serve as Dutra's official premiere in the Octagon, he's no stranger to UFC-level opposition. He holds a pair of wins over the UFC's Fabricio Camoes and former UFC welterweight Luis Ramos, and one of his two career losses transpired against Paulo Thiago. None of those traits are difficult to identify in this video recap of Dutra's decision victory over Arni Isaksson (12-5), who holds a submission win (armbar) over Dennis Siver the year before he debuted in the UFC.
32-year-old Japanese veteran Kiichi "Strasser" Kunimoto is the reigning HEAT welterweight champion and a staple of the Pancrase org. Since falling to Takada Dojo's (lightweight) Tomoyoshi Iwamiya (6-12) in 2008, Kunimoto has pieced together a respectable streak consisting of nine wins, one loss and two draws. Kazushi Sakuraba understudy and Pancrase welterweight champion Takenori Sato (17-8) accounts for Kunimoto's only flaw in that stretch and the Cobra Kai Dojo rep rebounded with four-straight wins in the HEAT promotion, the last of which was ephemeral UFC'er Edward Faaloloto, to snare the HEAT welterweight crown.
Faaloloto (2-5), who fought in the UFC as a lightweight, really stands as the most notable win on Kunimoto's record. Further, when examining the legitimacy of Kunimoto's four-fight surge in HEAT, only Fumitoshi Ishikawa has a decent record (8-2) while the other three, including Faaloloto, combine for a cumulative record of six career wins and seven career losses. This is not unusual for up-and-comers on the Japanese, Brazilian or any other fight circuit. However, it does mean that there's more behind the glitzy numbers that Goldberg will throw at us during Kunimoto's entrance.
Oddly enough, I was forced to dissect Kunimoto's record because I was unable to find one single fight video of him online, in real life or in between my couch cushions (you'd be surprised what lurks in there).
Unless I'm missing something, and other than some inexplicable sensory phenomena, I can't find much justification for picking Kunimoto here, nor for the eerily competitive betting lines. "Besouro" is legit and has the potential to hang around or at least, even if he doesn't, he'll be a blast to watch while he's here.
My Prediction: Luiz "Besouro" Dutra by TKO.