The UFC returns to Brazil for the first time since 2020 and the first event in front of a live audience since 2019.
When the UFC made their first return to Brazil back in 2011, Brazilian fighters enjoyed a hell of a home field advantage as their ravenous fans set a hell of a standard for any fans to match. Perhaps I’m taking too much of the anticipated crowd noise into account, but it’s hard to believe the Brazilian fans won’t have the advantage they enjoyed so much those first few years after the UFC began making regular appearances in the original MMA hub.
Beyond that, UFC 283 is a sneaky deep card. There’s a lot of Brazilian debutants on the card, but some of those debutants are some of the more hyped prospects the UFC has had come through their doors in the last little while. Plus, there’s enough depth that one of the most promising up-and-comers the UFC has had on their roster, Jailton Almeida, isn’t even on the televised portion of the prelims, relegated to the streaming only portion. I’m not saying all the fights are more than the typical early fodder, but it’s a better card than what a causal fan might expect at first glance.
- It amazes me that more paleontologists aren’t fans of MMA given the amount of dinosaurs that populate the heavyweight division. Take Shamil Abdurakhimov. It has been years since he won a fight – April of 2019 to be precise – and he still manages to find a way to hang onto his roster spot despite being on the wrong side of 40. Granted, Abdurakhimov has the excuse that he’s been losing to ranked opposition, meaning his technical boxing, underrated power, and potent offensive wrestling skills could still win him some fights if he has the right type of matchups. He’s not getting that with Jailton Almeida. The Brazilian has given every indication he could be the next big thing in the division. At 31, he’s downright youthful in the division with a blend of athleticism and power that is rarely seen in the heavyweight division. Granted, he’s not the biggest heavyweight – he still has dreams of holding gold at heavyweight and light heavyweight – but few will be the opponent who overwhelms him with size. Even if though Abdurakhimov might be able to give him fits if he could get his mitts on him, that’s the issue: the big Russian is absolutely glacial. Almeida will run circles around Abdurakhimov. Given Abdurakhimov has been finished in every one of his UFC losses thus far, it feels like a safe bet to say this doesn’t go the distance. Almeida via TKO of RD1
- Typically, I hate when the UFC throws one of their recent DWCS signings in against a proven UFC talent. Sure, Terrance McKinney only has four UFC fights under his belt, but he’s impressed enough with his aggression and athleticism that many believe he’s going to be a major player at lightweight before we know it. Despite that, I like the idea of throwing Ismael Bonfim into the fire right away. Despite having just turned 27, Bonfim has been fighting professionally for over a decade, his last loss coming to Renato Moicano before the currently ranked lightweight made his UFC debut. Between Bonfim and McKinney, Bonfim employs the more mature game. He’s proven to be durable – a huge must if he’s to survive the early onslaught of McKinney – and capable of fighting effectively over 15 minutes. For all of McKinney’s power and wrestling, he hasn’t shown he can go beyond five minutes, much less 15. That said, Bonfim has a HUGE task ahead of getting to the second round as McKinney is one of the best pure athletes in the division, having won all but one of his 13 career wins before three minutes have passed thanks to his focused aggression. On neutral ground, I probably pick McKinney. However, like I already iterated, not only is this in Brazil, this is the UFC’s first event there before a live audience in over three years. McKinney doesn’t appear to be the head case many appointed him to be a few years ago, but the Brazilian crowds have cowed fighters with a better mental track record. Regardless, this should be one of the better fights on the card. Bonfim via TKO of RD2
- I don’t want to go so far as to call Warlley Alves a disappointment. He has won more than he’s lost in the UFC and has notable wins, including one over Colby Covington. But barring a Robbie Lawler-like resurrection, disappointment is the most accurate description. One of the most physically blessed 170ers on the roster, Alves hasn’t been able to strike the right balance of confidence and maturity. As he has become more technical, he has also become more predictable. Despite that, he’s still got enough of the power and explosion to produce the highlight reel moments that were expected to become commonplace for him. Those traits have never been ascribed to Nicolas Dalby. The Dane is a point fighter who has gradually evolved into more of a grinder as his speed and quickness has been in decline. Nevertheless, he can still score points as an outside striker with his excellent utilization of range, angles, and technique. There’s no doubt Dalby is the better point fighter and he’s traditionally been durable. However, there’s been cracks in the armor and at 38, I’m not convinced he can avoid Alves’ explosive attacks. If I’m wrong and Dalby can go the distance, he’s probably getting his hand raised. Alves via TKO of RD1
- I suppose fighting at women’s featherweight is the fastest route to fighting for a title due to the lack of bodies in the division — exacerbated by Leah Letson’s retirement last week – but I can’t help but think the 5’2” Josiane Nunes would be a better fighter at bantamweight. The women aren’t as large, making it easier for the stout power puncher to navigate the range of her opponents. Then again, the skill level at featherweight is significantly lacking, meaning she’s likely to be able to navigate her larger opposition anyway. Then again, perhaps she’ll want to avoid striking with Zarah Fairn dos Santos as the native of France has a notable kickboxing background. Fairn has been a fish out of water any time the fight hits the mat. That said, Nunes is a slugger in every which way, meaning it would be a surprise if she tried to take the fight to the mat outside of knocking Fairn on her butt. Fairn is the more technical striker, but she’s also far more tentative than Nunes. Nunes will continue to push forward until she has put Fairn away. Given she has a solid chin, there’s every likelihood that’s exactly what happens. Nunes via TKO of RD1
- The UFC must have a LOT of faith in Luan Lacerda given they’re throwing him against Cody Stamann. Stamann isn’t a world beater, but he’s durable as hell, a strong wrestler, and a steady boxer in the pocket. It isn’t an aesthetically pleasing style, but it’s proven to be effective enough that Stamann’s only UFC losses have come against fighters populating the UFC’s rankings. That’s due to his technique being so tight, he’s typically able to make up for his average-at-best athleticism and short reach. Thus, the initial instinct is to predict Lacerda is in for a hard fall. Further inspection indicates that may not be the case. Lacerda has been fighting professionally for over a decade, is one of the more impressive submission artists to come out of Brazil in recent years, and has all the physical traits that Stamann comes up short on. Then again, he has question marks too. Lacerda’s striking is a work in progress, meaning he’s unlikely to expose Stamann’s short reach. Plus, it’s unknown if he can get the fight to the ground to put his submission skills on display. I see Stamann neutralizing the newcomer in a close contest. Stamann via decision
- There’s no doubt Saimon Oliveira has the talent to break into the official UFC rankings. Given the depth of the bantamweight division, that’s saying something. A good athlete with decent power, devastating low kicks, and an excellent submission game, it’s the fight IQ he needs to figure out. For instance, while his submission game is certainly formidable, he can trust too much in it, not providing enough resistance in stopping takedowns. He’s getting a favorable matchup in Daniel Marcos, a DWCS product like Oliveira. Marcos has some similarities to Oliveira in that he’s got the tools to be a major player, but he’s even more unrefined than his Brazilian opponent. It isn’t Marcos’ fault. The native of Peru faced a low level of competition in South America as the sport of MMA is still in the development stage outside of Brazil. Nevertheless, Marcos had no problems in his DWCS appearance, indicating he has made strides after not having previously fought since 2019. Plus, while his wrestling is unproven, he is bigger and stronger than Oliveira. That said, while I believe Marcos has a very good chance of winning this fight, Oliveira’s craft should put him over the top... provided he shows at least an average fight IQ. Oliveira via submission of RD2