Iuri Alcantara sports 24 finishes among his 28 victories. | Photo: Gleidson Venga/Sherdog.com
I remember the good old days, when the Ultimate Fighting Championship visited Brazil once every 13 years or so. Now, it is all about these kids with their boom boxes and high top sneakers and their flying to South America every other month. It is madness.
Those crotchety concerns notwithstanding, the UFC will indeed revisit the birthplace of vale tudo on Saturday, when UFC Fight Night 36 goes down from Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil. While the main card festivities will air live on Fox Sports 1, the undercard streams immediately prior via UFC Fight Pass, highlighted by a bantamweight clash between Iuri Alcantara and Wilson Reis.
It was not so long ago that Alcantara heard his name mentioned as a top bantamweight contender -- and for good reason. “Marajo” entered his UFC career riding an 11-fight winning streak, which he extended to 13 victories at the expense of Felipe Arantes and Michihiro Omigawa. The Brazilian then dominated Pedro Nobre -- though their bout ended in a controversial no-contest -- and followed that moral victory with a knockout of Illiarde Santos to earn himself a marquee matchup opposite ex-World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight ruler Urijah Faber at UFC Fight Night 26.
Alcantara jumped out to a quick start against “The California Kid,” mounting him and then taking his back off a scramble. However, Faber righted his ship in the second and third periods, taking down the Brazilian and controlling him to collect a unanimous verdict and halt Alcantara’s momentum.
Now, the 33-year-old has been paired with countryman Wilson Reis, who hopes to build off confidence gained from a Sept. 21 win over Ivan Menjivar in his Octagon debut. Alcantara’s clash with the former EliteXC bantamweight champion is only one reason to catch the UFC Fight Night 36 prelims. Here are four more:
Compared to some other seasons of “The Ultimate Fighter” -- Season 16, we are looking at you -- the first and only live iteration of the long-running reality show has held up quite well, at least from a talent perspective. A significant chunk of the Season 15 cast still competes regularly inside the Octagon, though both Joe Proctor and Cristiano Marcello will re-enter the cage after lengthy breaks.
Proctor saw his run on the reality show end in the quarterfinals, where he was outpointed by James Vick. Though the 28-year-old rebounded from the exhibition defeat to stop castmate Jeremy Larsen at the live finale, Proctor was then outpointed by “The Ultimate Fighter 13” finalist Ramsey Nijem to close out 2012. In Marcello, Proctor faces the former jiu-jitsu coach of the vaunted Chute Boxe camp. The 36-year-old has gone 1-2 since his time on the reality show, most recently dropping a unanimous decision to Kazuki Tokudome in March.
Which of these Season 15 alumni will get back in the win column?
On one hand, the guy has the explosive ability to hurt most anybody in the world at 145 pounds. On the other, it appears unlikely that he will consistently bring the type of focus with him to the cage to allow such a result to unfold.
After looking like a wrecking ball throughout much of his run in Japan, “Maxi” has since lost three of four fights, most recently suffering a disqualification defeat on Nov. 30 after delivering an illegal knee to the head of a grounded Akira Corassani.
Will Blanco ever return to form as the ultra-aggressive power striker he once was, while at the same time remembering to obey all of the Unified Rules? He will receive another opportunity to either impress or disappoint in Brazil, where he meets Arantes in a 145-pound duel.
ABOUT DAMM TIME
Rodrigo Damm’s featherweight experiment may have backfired on him, but that is no reason to freak out. The veteran is still quite a serviceable lightweight, and he always comes to fight.
Damm posted victories in two of his first three Octagon appearances but saw his body betray him last fall, when he reportedly suffered from kidney stones due to his weight cut. As a result, a planned UFC Fight Night 29 meeting with Hacran Dias was scrapped. This was not the first time in which Damm had trouble making the featherweight limit, as the Brazilian was also forced to withdraw from his run on “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” due to more kidney issues.
Now back at 155 pounds for the first time in nearly three years, Damm will face ex-Jungle Fight champion Ivan Jorge. Can the Strikeforce alum make a memorable return to the lightweight ranks or will “Batman” extend his current winning streak to eight fights at Damm’s expense?
There is no getting around it: Francisco Trinaldo is an absolute beast, at least when he is fresh.
Physically, few can stand up to the hulking “Massaranduba,” who has earned three victories against two defeats since joining the UFC following his run on “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.” Particularly telling is the fact that none of the Brazilian’s Octagon victories have gone past the second round, with Trinaldo stopping Delson Heleno, C.J. Keith and Mike Rio each inside of seven minutes.
By contrast, his losses have come after fatigue has set in, with Gleison Tibau outpointing him at UFC 153 and promotional newcomer Piotr Hallmann weathering a tough first round to later submit his larger foe in the second frame of their UFC Fight Night 28 meeting in September.
In Jesse Ronson, Trinaldo now faces a Canadian also prone to scoring finishes. Which lightweight will halt his figurative bleeding and avoid consecutive defeats?