UFC veteran and former heavyweight title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga (12-6) returns to the Octagon for the first time since losing to Brendan Schaub to take on newcomer Edinaldo Oliveira (13-0-1) on the preliminary card at UFC 142.
Since losing to Schaub, Gonzaga has contemplated retiring from the sport. After earning a submission win over Parker Porter in October, Gonzaga was called to replace Rob Broughton to face Oliveira, who trains with Junior dos Santos.
Gonzaga's future in the UFC relies on him winning this fight and doing so in impressive fashion. That could be a tough task for the 32-year-old, as his opponent is focused, undefeated and motivated to win. He may even be more motivated than Gonzaga, as he hasn't been on the losing end of any fights so far in his career and trains with the reigning UFC heavyweight champion.
If Gonzaga is to win this bout, it will most likely come from him using his big size advantage to take down his opponent and work from on top. Oliveira is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black-belt and may be able to avoid the submission attempts of his opponent, but he has considered dropping to light-heavyweight and may be at a big strength disadvantage as well. If Gonzaga locks something up, don't expect Oliveira to get out of it too easily.
Oliveira should have an advantage standing, and Gonzaga has shown in past performances to be hesitant until unleashing powerful blows that have put out opponents like Mirko Cro Cop and Josh Hendricks.
Not hesitating to strike or submit is the key to success for Gonzaga, and doing so will have him on the losing end of tonight's bout.
The UFC 142 pay-per-view kicks off at 10 p.m. ET and will feature a main event between UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo and No. 1 contender Chad Mendes.
In the co-main event, Anthony Johnson will fight Vitor Belfort in a catchweight bout.
Other main card fights include Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim, Rousimar Palhares vs. Mike Massenzio and Erick Silva vs. Carlo Prater.