Can Paulo Thiago recapture the momentum that was once his? | Photo: Gleidson Venga/Sherdog.com
The Ultimate Fighting Championship will hold two events on Saturday, the latter being “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3” Finale.
Stipe Miocic was initially expected to square off with former champion Junior dos Santos in the headliner but will instead lock horns with injury replacement Fabio Maldonado, who will return to the heavyweight division in front of his countryman at Geraldo Jose de Almeida Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The main draw airs live on Fox Sports 1, immediately preceded by the preliminary card on Fox Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass. Here are five reasons to watch “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3” Finale undercard:
It seems a lifetime ago that Paulo Thiago floored Josh Koscheck.
This was legitimate cause for excitement back in 2009. After all, Koscheck was a legit welterweight talent and a future UFC title challenger, and Thiago laid him out flat. While the suddenness of that finish left many questions unanswered about the Brazilian, two wins in his next three fights seemed to indicate that the Special Forces officer might make a charge toward the top of the division.
Instead, Thiago lost five of his next seven, falling in particularly brutal fashion to Siyar Bahadurzada and Brandon Thatch. While the Brazilian did pick up decision victories over David Mitchell and Michel Richard Cunha dos Prazeres during that stretch, I think those triumphs were far outweighed by the setbacks.
The early-adopters and bandwagoners have long since jumped ship, but that does not mean it is impossible for Thiago to reverse his momentum. In fairness, his recent defeats have come against some excellent talent, including Martin Kampmann, Diego Sanchez and Dong Hyun Kim.
Thiago will look to get back in the win column when he faces Russian talent Gasan Umalatov. Can the Brazilian return to his winning ways and improve his Octagon record to an even 6-6?
Tony Martin no doubt thought he had found himself a ninth straight victory. Unfortunately for the American, he was trying to armbar Rashid Magomedov.
The Dagestani’s arm was certainly stretched beyond the point of comfort in his UFC 169 clash with Martin, but at no point did he look ready to give up. Instead, he calmly extracted his appendage from the deep submission attempt and then went about his business, grinding down the American and lumping him up over the next two rounds to win a fair, if not spectacular, unanimous decision in his promotional debut.
Most men would have tapped to that armbar, but Magomedov is not most men. The 30-year-old has been bested just once in 17 pro outings and has won nine straight bouts since dropping a decision to future Bellator MMA tournament winner Magomedrasul Khasbulaev.
“Highlander” will next collide with Rodrigo Damm in a bout that should tell us much about Magomedov’s prospects as a UFC lightweight.
The Brazilian may not own the best record in the world, but he has nevertheless been consistent in his ability to put on entertaining fights. Though not all of these encounters have gone his way -- knockout losses to Gilbert Melendez, Maximo Blanco and Justin Wilcox spring to mind -- Damm has nevertheless gone out on his shield in most of his defeats.
The veteran made the drop to featherweight for his run on “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil,” which ended prematurely when he was pulled from the show due to complications from cutting weight. He managed to figure out the weight cut for his Octagon debut, however, and ran over castmate Anistavio Medeiros de Figueiredo. After suffering a split decision defeat to Canadian veteran Antonio Carvalho, Damm saw a subsequent split verdict go his way against former Sengoku champion Mizuto Hirota in June.
However, weight cut problems would surface once again when the Brazilian was forced to withdraw from a planned clash with Hacran Dias. As a result, Damm returned to 155 pounds in February and took a unanimous decision from former Jungle Fight titleholder Ivan Jorge.
Every time Damm has suffered what appears to be a major setback, he seems to always find a way to fight back. I would favor Magomedov in this matchup, but do not be surprised if Damm makes this one interesting.
I expect big things from Elias Silverio this year.
Isaac Vallie-Flagg is no joke, folks. You do not just walk into the cage and beat a veteran like that by accident. True, the 36-year-old was coming off a back injury and nearly a year away from competition, but that should not take away from the quality of Silverio’s victory. The 27-year-old has yet to taste defeat, though he will not stand alone in that characteristic when he faces fellow unbeaten Ernest Chavez.
Can Silverio build upon the Vallie-Flagg win and send a message to UFC brass that he needs some bigger fights or will Chavez steal the spotlight?
Many of the UFC’s greatest fighters became so great specifically because they were able to learn from their defeats. So how will Pedro Munhoz rebound from his first career setback?
In February, “The Young Punisher” entered the UFC as the reigning Resurrection Fighting Alliance bantamweight champion, stepping up on short notice to replace an injured Francisco Rivera against Rafael Assuncao at UFC 170.
Assuncao represented a massive jump in competition for Munhoz, who was outstruck and sustained a unanimous decision defeat. Losing to such an established veteran is nothing to be ashamed of, however, and I am quite eager to see just how the 27-year-old responds to the new experience.
Munhoz will now lock up with Matt Hobar, who makes his UFC debut after winning the Legacy Fighting Championship bantamweight title in July. Which of these once-beaten prospects will come out on top?