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UFC on Fuel 10 Preview: Nogueria vs. Werdum Saturday night in Brazil

The UFC is back in Brazil Saturday night for UFC on Fuel 10 headlined by a heavyweight bout between mixed martial arts legend Antônio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira and fellow Brazilian submission specialist Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum Being held at the Paulo Sarasate Gymnasium in Fortaleza, Brazil this event will also feature the final round of the most recent season The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2 welterweight tournament. The last two events held in this country delivered with fireworks and this card should be no different as the entire card is stacked with fighters looking to battle their way into relevancy.

Rony “Jason” Mariano Bezerra (12-3) vs. Mike “The Warrior” Wilkinson (8-0)

Since winning the inaugural season of TUF: Brazil, Rony Bezerra is an impressive 2-0 inside the octagon. But coming Saturday night he will face another TUF veteran in undefeated Mike Wilkinson. The English wrestler looked stellar in his UFC debut, when he absolutely dominated Brenden Loughnan, connecting with 63 percent of his attempted strikes. But “The Warrior” will be facing an entirely different animal in Bezerra as the Englishman will be in hostile territory surrounded by his opponent’s countrymen. Even with the size advantage, I see Wilkinson struggling against the more experienced fighter who will look to turn this bout into a brawl. If that’s the case I see the hometown hero extending his octagon record to 3-0 and handing Wilkinson his first career loss.

Jason wins via unanimous decision

Erick “Indio” Silva (14-3) vs. Jason “The Kansas City Bandit” High (16-3)

Die-hard UFC fight fans will remember Jason High from his decision loss to Charlie Brenneman back in 2010 at UFC Fight Night 21 that saw “The Kansas City Bandit” being handed his walking papers after the bout. But since that night, High has put on an impressive seven-fight win streak including a 3-0 record at Strikeforce. But he will have his hands full against a rising star in Brazil’s own Erick Silva. Once considered to be the future of the welterweight division, “Indio” is coming off the first real loss of his career against former UFC veteran Jon Fitch in one of the most exciting fights in 2010. Silva is by far the better rounded fighter with a combination of dazzling strikes and stellar submission game. Combine with this with that fact Silva absolutely demolished Brenneman en route to a first round submission victory back in 2012 and I don’t see High picking up his career inside the Octagon at the end of this one.

Silva via round 1 TKO

Daniel Sarafian (7-3) vs. Eddie Mendez (7-1)

After an injury forced Daniel Sarafian to pull out of the TUF: Brazil 1 middleweight finals he made a his UFC debut with a decision loss to Power MMA’s own CB Dollaway in Fight of the Night honors back at UFC on FX 7. But Sarafian looked impressive even in defeat and will look to pick up his first win against UFC newcomer and Strikeforce veteran Eddie Mendez. While he has a solid wrestling game, Mendez is going to have problems dealing with his opponent’s strength and I imagine Sarafian has focused on improving his wrestling attack following his loss to Dollaway. This is my pick for Fight of the Night honors, as both men need a win in this bout to secure their jobs. But Sarafian proved he can hang with the UFC middleweights in his last fight and I see this experience proving to be the deciding factor in this bout.

Sarafian via Unanimous Decision

Thiago Silva (14-3-0-2) vs. Rafael “Feijão” Cavalcante (11-3-0-1)

Thiago Silva hasn’t won inside the octagon since 2009, but if it weren’t for two failed drug tests overturning two victories he’d be 3-3 in his last six bouts. But he did fail, once for submitting a false urine sample and once for testing positive for marijuana, and in the process has put his job in jeopardy heading into this bout with former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Rafael Cavalcante, who coincidentally is also coming off a failed drug test from last May. Both of these men are almost mirror images of each other as both have some very underrated submission and grappling skills but look to keep the fight standing as they look for that quick knockout blow. 12 of Silva’s career victories have come by stoppage including 11 knockouts, while Feijão has never gone the distance in his entire career. All 11 of his victories have come by knockout (10) and submission (1).

With these stats in mind, I think the chance of this bout going to the judges is almost zero. If this bout stays standing, I see Silva coming out on top as he’s proven he has fantastic striking defense with a 69.4 percent success rate, good for third in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. But Strikeforce imports have looked stellar since moving over to the UFC and I don’t see that changing anytime soon as Feijão earns another TKO victory.

Feijão via Round 1 TKO

Leonardo Santos (11-3) vs William “Patolino Marcario (6-0)

The final bout of TUF: Brazil 2 is set as welterweights Leonardo Santos and William Marcario will square off against each other. Santos is currently riding a five-fight win streak utilizing a stellar Jiu-Jitsu game to secure seven of his 11 career wins by first-round submission. Although not originally scheduled to appear in the final round, Santos was forced to fill in for the injured Santiago Ponzinibbio, the man who knocked him out of the tournaments semifinals.

His opponent, 21-year-old William Marcario, is a knockout machine with five of his career wins coming by TKO including four in the first round. It’s a difficult match to predict with the only experience American fight fans have with these two men being through, but I see “Patolino” coming out on top, as he looked far more impressive over similar opponents

Marcario via Round 1 TKO

Antônio Rodrigo ” Minotauro” Nogueira (34-7-1) vs. Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum (16-5-1)

Seven years ago Antônio Rodrigo Nogueria handed the up and coming Fabricio Werdum the second loss of his young career. Seven years later, and Verdum will the chance to avenge that loss as the two square off in the night’s main event. Werdum is on the streak of his career with wins over the legendary Fedor Emelianenko, Roy Nelson and the most recent heavyweight contender Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. With his only loss from the last three years coming at the hands of former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace more than made up for it with a first-round knockout of Mike Russow back at UFC 147. Indeed, Werdum has never been more relevant in the heavyweight division than he is now and a win over “Big Nog” would most certainly earn him a long awaited title shot. This is easier said than done as Minotauro has proven to be one of the toughest men to ever step foot into the octagon with 22 of career wins coming under the Pride FC and UFC banners since he debuted back in 1999. Nogueira has alternated wins and losses since beating Tim Sylvia in February 2008 to become interim heavyweight champion. Most recently, Nogueira submitted Dave Herman to rebound with a very impressive arm bar after suffering a gruesome submission loss to Frank Mir that resulted in a snapped right humorous.

They key in this bout will most certainly be the stand-up game as both men are two of the best submission specialists not only in the UFC, so they will most likely cancel each other out on the ground. In fact, Minotaruo has attempted a record 56 serious submissions with 13 of those attempts resulting in his opponent tapping out good, the most in UFC/Pride history. Similarly, Werdum has won half of his 16 career victories by submission and has won almost more than a dozen World Jiu-Jitsu gold medals. But Werdum has grown leaps and bounds in the striking department since he debuted. No longer does he look awkward and uncoordinated trading punches with his opponents. In his last two fights Werdum has out struck his opponents 122 to 29.

Both of these octagon warriors can run circles around almost everyone in the division when it comes to the ground game, which is why I believe this battle will be won or lost on the feet as both men will nullify each other’s ground game. So, in the end I see Werdum out striking Minotauro en route to earning his shot at the winner of Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santo III.

Werdum via TKO round 3