The UFC returns to Rio for its first pay-per-view event of the year, and they are bringing a featherweight championship fight between top pound-for-pound fighter and reigning champion Jose Aldo, who will be facing an undefeated opponent in Chad Mendes.
Mendes, a former NCAA Division I wrestler, is 11-0 in MMA and 3-0 in the UFC. Aldo has won his last 13 bouts with UFC title defenses against Kenny Florian and Mark Hominick.
In the co-main event, Anthony Johnson fights Vitor Belfort in a middleweight bout that guarantees excitement throughout. Johnson is coming off a first-round knockout victory over Charlie Brenneman while Belfort was last seen knocking out Yoshihiro Akiyama.
These are predictions for Knockout, Submission and Fight of the Night.
Knockout of the Night: Edson Barboza
Lightweight prospect Edson Barboza (9-0) will make his fourth appearance in the UFC against Terry Etim (15-3) to open the pay-per-view main card.
Both enter with the reputation to provide exciting fights, and they have the bonus money to show for it. Etim won three bonuses in his past four bouts while Barboza earned Fight of the Night bonuses in his last two bouts.
At 6'1", Etim is one of the taller fights in the division, but it might be bad news for him if Barboza decides to utilize his lethal leg kicks throughout the three-round bout. Before entering the UFC, Barboza won the Ring of Combat lightweight championship after knocking out his opponent with leg kicks.
For however long this lasts, this should be one of the best fights on the card, and with neither guy having never been stopped with strikes, it will give them both a chance to prove that they can do what nobody else has been able to.
Both will be trading, and with Barboza possessing the better KO power, should be able to catch Etim sometime in the fight and finish him off.
Submission of the Night: Rousimar Palhares
In the third bout on the pay-per-view, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Rousimar Palhares (12-3) fights for the first time since UFC 134 in Brazil. He will take on Mike Massenzio (13-5), who is coming off a close decision victory over Steven Cantwell.
Palhares is considered to be one of the more dangerous submission artists in the division, and his kneebars and heel-hooks are nasty. Four of his six UFC victories have ended with him making his opponent tap.
Massenzio is a BJJ black belt as well, but Palhares is no stranger to submitting them. In past bouts, Palhares was able to submit Lucio Linhares and Dave Branch, both of whom are black belts. It was the first time both had been submitted in MMA.
Massenzio has been stopped before, and he has been submitted twice to fighters like Brian Stann and Danillo Villefort. Villefort actually submitted Massenzio with a kneebar.
This is Palhares' fight to win, and he has the chance to showcase his skills in front of his home country.
Fight of the Night: Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes
The main-event matchup between UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo (20-1) and Chad Mendes (11-0) is intriguing for a lot of reasons, and one is that Mendes is Aldo's most dangerous opponent.
To add to the threat, Mendes is walking into hostile territory in front of the Brazilian's home country. Aldo will not only be fighting the best wrestler in the division, but the pressure to perform and put on a main-event showcase for the Brazilian crowd.
Going into the bout, backers of Mendes say he only needs one takedown in each round to secure himself a victory. Aldo is at his best early on and will always be at a distinct advantage standing.
For Mendes to win, he will need to go through the vicious knees and strikes of Aldo to get those takedowns, and they won't come easy or without having taken damage.
Expect to see both fighters trying to implement their styles into the fight, and both should find success throughout the early rounds of the bout. Round 3 may be the most important round if it goes that far, and it could be the turning point for the eventual winner.
With both prepared to go five rounds, expect to see a war.