The UFC makes its first ever trip to Fortaleza, Brazil tonight, as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira fights Fabricio Werdum in the main event of UFC on Fuel 10. In addition to that big heavyweight fight with title implications, the TUF Brazil 2 welterweight champion will be crowned in the co-main event. You can watch the six-fight main card starting at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT tonight on Fuel TV.
Before the televised main card comes the six-fight preliminary card. It was originally seven fights, but A middleweight bout between Derek Brunson and Ronny Markes was canceled after Markes was injured in a car accident on Friday. The biggest fight of the prelims is the #6 ranked bantamweight Raphael Assuncao facing Vaughan Lee. All the prelim action can be seen live on Facebook and Youtube starting at 5:10 PM ET/2:10 PM PT.
This is a bit of an odd fight to make if you ask me. In 2011 the former WEC featherweight dropped to bantamweight after being viciously knocked out by Erik Koch. So far, the move has been a success, with the Brazilian winning all 3 of his fights at 135 lbs. His most recent win was a short notice victory over the favored Mike Easton at UFC on Fox 5 in Seattle. Assuncao broke his arm early in that fight and still managed to pull off the upset. He now returns to Brazil, where he made his BW debut vs. Johnny Eduardo.
Lee didn't get off to the greatest of starts, losing a split decision to Chris Cariaso at UFC 138. He was a significant underdog against Kid Yamamoto at UFC 144 in Japan, but the Englishman stunned the Japanese crowd by becoming the first man to submit Kid. The high of the upset win was only brief, as T.J. Dillashaw handily submitted him in San Jose. Vaughan returned to home soil to defeat Motonobu Tezuka in a forgettable fight at UFC on Fuel 7.
Arantes has had an unusual last 4 fights -- He's managed a win, a loss, a draw, and a no-contest. His UFC career started with a unanimous decision loss to Yuri Alcantara, but he bounced back nicely with a win over Antonio Carvalho. At UFC 147 he was unlucky to fight to a split draw against Milton Vieira, when it looked for all the world that Arantes had taken the victory. He's a superior striker to Pepey, so it will be interesting to see if he can take advantage of that provided he can keep the fight standing.
Pepey didn't exactly get off to the most auspicious of starts in the UFC. A featherweight finalist on TUF Brazil, Pepey bizarrely pulled guard against Rony Jason multiple times en route to a unanimous decision loss. He fought Milton Vieira at UFC on FX 7 in Sao Paulo, winning a controversial split decision. The BJJ black belt has not looked too convincing so far in his two UFC fights, but he should gave the grappling advantage against Arantes.
Ildemar is the brother of current bantamweight Yuri Alcantara, and he's looking to extend his winning streak to 9. His arrival in the UFC came as a late replacement for Roger Hollett against Wagner Prado at UFC on FX 7. Alcantara submitted Prado with a very nice kneebar. After the win (and SOTN award), he later announced that he'd be dropping from 205 lbs directly to 170 lbs. It's not often you see someone drop or move up multiple weight classes in one shot, but Alcantara makes his welterweight debut tonight.
Silva replaces Jason High, who is now fighting Erick Silva with John Hathaway injured. "Buscape" is moving up in weight to take this fight, having spent his career at 155 lbs. Earlier this March he picked up a win over former UFC welterweight (now lightweight) Chris Wilson. Leandro's wins are primarily by submission, so we could be in for a good ground battle tonight.
Damm looked to be an intriguing prospect at lightweight, having jumped out to an 8-1 record, but it's been a rough past 5 years for the Brazilian. In Strikeforce, Damm suffered stoppage losses to Justin Wilcox, Gilbert Melendez, and Maximo Blanco. Damm's road to the UFC came through TUF: Brazil, and while he didn't win the featherweight tournament, he still was given a UFC contract. After winning his debut over Anistavio Medeiros, he lost a split decision to Antonio Carvalho at UFC 154. He's just 2-5 in his last 7 pro fights, and is very much on the precipice of a UFC release.
Hirota is perhaps best known for having his arm grotesquely broken by Shinya Aoki in 2009. Aside from that, Hirota claimed the DEEP lightweight title and took current UFC contender Pat Healy to a close if not controversial unanimous decision in Strikeforce. The Japanese fighter dropped to featherweight to take on submission ace Rani Yahya in Saitama, but he was dominated on the ground and came up short after a late 3rd round comeback. Odds are that he's on his way out of the UFC with another loss.
Caio Magalhaes (5-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) vs. Karlos Vemola (9-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) - Middleweights
Magalhaes debuted exactly one year ago today against Buddy Roberts, but the Brazilian was unable to come away with the victory. The BJJ black belt previously fought exclusively in Brazil against local opposition, and his bout vs. Roberts saw him unable to mount any effective offense in what was a pretty dull encounter. Injuries forced him out of a fight with Michael Kuiper earlier this January, but now he's ready to compete again and finally get in the UFC win column.
It's very possible that Karlos Vemola isn't actually a six time wrestling champion, but what is certain is that his UFC career has been neither consistent nor particularly outstanding at any given point. The Czech has fought in three different weight classes in the past three years. He lost his UFC debut to Jon Madsen, then dropped to LHW at the end of 2010 to maul Seth Petruzelli in Germany. Following a decision loss to Ronny Markes, Vemola went to middleweight, where he submitted Mike Massenzio but was later submitted by Francis Carmont. He's a wild brawling striker whose wins have come through his superior power and strength. At just 2-3 in the UFC it'd be hard to justify keeping him in the organization with another setback.
Neto is one of the better prospects in the 185 lbs division, primarily due to his size and impressive ground game. Bloody Elbow listed him as the #1 middleweight prospect in the 2012 Scouting Report. Since that original article was written, Neto has fought just once, submitting WEC and UFC veteran Brock Larson via kneebar. He also holds wins over Maiquel Falcao and Cezar Ferreira. Needless to say, this matchup against Smith, who has been submitted twice and finished in all of his losses, is one that he's highly likely to win.
Smith is really the definition of an action fighter, with only 1 of his 26 fights going to a decision. The 24-year-old has spent the last few years in either Strikeforce or regional shows in the Midwest. His last two fights in Strikeforce saw him win and lose by submission to Lumumba Sayers and Roger Gracie respectively. It's a tough draw for Smith in his UFC debut, as he left Strikeforce having faced one elite BJJ black belt in Gracie, and now joins the UFC facing another decorated BJJ black belt in Neto.