With the first live season of The Ultimate Fighter just getting underway in recent weeks, the Brazilian version of the reality series has understandably flown under the radar in the United States.
However, The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil could easily produce more future UFC stars than FX's series, as several Brazilian middleweights and featherweights will look to become instant contenders divisions that have nearly become cleaned out by fellow Brazilians Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo.
The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil will air on Sunday night and will be available here with subtitles for U.S. viewers. The first episode will feature 16 elimination fights. Here is a look at the matchups and how they might play out.
In his most recent fight, Samuel Trindade gained valuable experience against former UFC fighter Ronys Torres. However, in that bout, Trindade did not appear to be the type of fighter capable of winning this competition and becoming a star in the UFC.
Though he possesses a long reach and showed off some good sweeps against Torres, Trindade's striking is a bit telegraphed and he offered little resistance against Torres' takedown attempts.
While Leonardo Mafra Teixeira hasn't competed against a well-known opponent yet, he is a much more athletic fighter than Trindade. The Chute Box fighter possesses powerful leg kicks and damaging knees from the clinch, as he showed in a first-round knockout over Santiago Ponzinibbio.
Teixeira will be at a size disadvantage against Trindade, as he would likely compete at welterweight if he ends up finding a home in the UFC after this competition. Nonetheless, Teixeira's speed should be enough for him to overwhelm Trindade and earn an early stoppage win in the elimination round.
Teixeira defeats Trindade by technical knockout in the first round.
Submission specialists Danial Sarafian and Richardson Moreira are very similar in style. Both fighters look to pressure their opponents early and take the fight to the ground, where they are able to force their foes to tap more often than not.
However, when two ground fighters meet, the matchup often turns into more of a stand-up bout. If that is the case in this instance, the more dynamic fighter will likely walk away with the victory, as neither competitor is particularly strong on their feet.
Moreira trains out of a strong camp at Team Nogueira and has likely made great strides in his boxing technique under the tutelage of the Nogueira brothers. Sarafian, meanwhile, has not earned a knockout victory in his nine career bouts and was knocked out by journeyman Gary Padilla while fighting under the Bellator banner.
Moreira defeats Sarafian by technical knockout in the first round.
As a lightweight champion in the Brazilian Jungle Fight promotion, Francisco Drinaldo will be giving up a considerable amount of size in this competition. While you can never count a fighter out in MMA, it would be quite the Cinderella story if the Brazilian Top Team fighter were able to win this middleweight tournament.
However, Drinaldo is a very talented fighter and could earn himself a shot in the UFC with an impressive performance against Charles Maicon, who is a very tough stylistic matchup for his smaller opponent.
A natural middleweight, Maicon should be able to use his size to keep this fight standing. If so, Maicon may use his reach advantage to earn a ninth straight knockout victory.
Maicon defeats Drinaldo by technical knockout in the first round.
Delson Heleno has been around the game for quite some time and holds a win over current welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger. In December 2007, Heleno was within one win of becoming the IFL welterweight champion, but he suffered a leg injury in the first round of his title fight against Jay Hieron.
With 23 professional fights under his belt, Gilberto Galvao is also a very experienced fighter, but he hasn't faced the same level of competition that Heleno has. Also, Heleno has the ground game to negate Galvao's dangerous submission offense.
Look for these submission artists to spend most of the fight standing, where Heleno's experience will play a big factor and allow him to eliminate Galvao from the competition.
Heleno defeats Galvao by unanimous decision.
Sergio Moraes and Thiago Rela depend heavily on their jiu-jitsu in MMA. Moraes' lone decision victory is the only time either fighter has earned a victory without submitting their opponent.
If this bout does turn into a jiu-jitsu match, expect Moraes to claim victory, as the Team Nogueira product is a four-time world champion in jiu-jitsu. Moraes is also more experienced than Rela in MMA, having competed under the Bellator banner on one occasion.
With more explosive takedowns than most jiu-jitsu practitioners, Moraes should be able to take Rela to the ground. From there, Rela is dangerous, but it'd be shocking if he were able to catch Moraes in a submission.
Moraes defeats Rela by unanimous decision.
Cezar Ferreira is coming off of a knockout loss in his most recent outing, but the dynamic striker has drawn a favorable matchup in the elimination round of this competition.
Gustavo Sampaio is a well-rounded fighter, but he will have difficulty adjusting to the unorthodox striking of Ferreira, who should be able to use his wrestling training at Xtreme Couture to keep this bout standing.
Both of these fighters are unproven and underdogs in the competition, but Ferreira should be able to land and evade for 10 minutes in the this matchup, which will be enough for him to move along to the next round of the 185-pound tournament.
Ferreira defeats Sampaio by unanimous decision.
Brawlers Thiago de Oliveira Perpetuo and Joao Paulo De Souza should provide an entertaining fight in the first episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.
While De Souza has earned a few knockout victories during his career, Perpetuo has picked up six of his eight wins via knockout and will be looking to continue that trend en route to winning this middleweight competition.
That being said, De Souza trains with former light heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua and is likely the more technical striker in this matchup. As long as he avoids getting into wild exchanges with Perpetuo, De Souza should be able to land more frequently and earn a decision victory.
De Souza defeats Perpetuo by knockout in the first round.
Fabio Luiz Vital Da Costa and Renee Forte are at their best when they are able to fight from the top position. While Forte has more finishing ability when he has his opponent on their back, Da Costa is very effective at grinding away at his opposition and breaking them mentally.
An effective striker, Da Costa may even look to keep this fight standing to frustrate his opponent by taking away Forte's solid ground game. Since Forte often competes at welterweight, Da Costa's size could help him avoid being taken down.
Considering Da Costa's style, this fight will likely go the distance, just as nine of his previous 10 contests have. If that is the case, then the fight probably goes Da Costa's way, allowing him to move into the Brazilian version of The Ultimate Fighter house.
Da Costa defeats Forte by unanimous decision.
With all five of his wins coming via decision, Hugo Viana is going to try to take Alexandre Ramos down and grind out a win on the scorecards, especially in a bout that could only last 10 minutes.
However, with three first-round submissions in his young career, Ramos is very dangerous off of his back and could make Viana pay for taking this bout to the canvas.
Even if this bout does stay standing, Ramos trains out of Universidade da Luta, where he has likely perfected his striking as well, and is a more well-rounded fighter than Viana.
Ramos defeats Viana by submission in the first round.
As an undefeated 25-year-old, John Teixeira is one of the brightest prospects in this featherweight tournament. Considering Teixeira has competed at lightweight, he could also have a size advantage over his opponents in this competition.
Meanwhile, Giovanni da Silva Santos Jr. has competed at bantamweight and may have difficulty stifling the takedowns of his larger opponent in this matchup.
Expect Teixeira to bull-rush Santos Jr. and take this fight to the ground, where he has won eight fights via submission. Once on the ground, Teixeira will quickly take Santos Jr.'s back and lock up a rear-naked choke.
Teixeira defeats Santos Jr. by submission in the first round.
Brazilian Top Team product Pedro Nobre is now undefeated in 12 professional bouts and could be one of the favorites to win this featherweight tournament. The well-rounded Nobre has finished all 11 of the opponents he has defeated.
Marcos Vinicius Borges Pancini is very experienced and capable of pulling off an upset over Nobre, but he will probably need to take this fight to the ground, where he has picked up 13 of his 19 wins via submission.
Considering neither fighter has won a fight by decision, fans can probably expect an exciting finish to this bout, most likely a knockout win for Nobre.
Nobre defeats Pancini by knockout in the first round.
Strikeforce veteran Rodrigo Damm is 32 years old and has lost four of his past five fights, so his chances of ever reaching the UFC could depend on this competition. Unfortunately, Damm is also meeting a very talented young fighter in the first round of this featherweight tournament.
Fabricio "Guerreiro" de Assis Costa da Silva has won a majority of his fights by submission, but he will have a tough time forcing Damm, a jiu-jitsu black belt, to tap in this matchup.
This should be a technical bout, with neither fighter gaining a huge advantage over the other in any area, but Damm's experience against the likes of Gilbert Melendez and Jorge Masvideal will help give him the slight edge in a bout that should go to the scorecards.
Damm defeats Guerreiro by unanimous decision.
Nova Uniao fighter Dileno Lopes has picked up seven of his now eight victories by submission, so his ground game is something to watch for in this matchup.
While Rony Mariano Bezerra trains at Team Nogueira, he has been submitted in the past and it wouldn't come as a surprise if he is forced to tap by his black belt opponent in this fight.
Bezerra does have a win over current UFC fighter Felipe Arantes, so he probably will have a future in the UFC at some point, but he is facing a tough stylistic matchup in this elimination round against Lopes.
Lopes defeats Bezerra by submission in the first round.
Both Anistavio Medeiros de Figueiredo and Rafael Bueno have picked up most of their wins via submission. However, Medeiros has also suffered four submission losses during his career.
These fighters are most comfortable on the ground and would rather fight off of their back than on their feet, so expect most of this bout to take place on the canvas.
Though Medeiros is more experienced than Bueno, the numbers point to Bueno catching Medeiros in a submission before this fight is over.
Bueno defeats Medeiros by submission in the first round.
As effective on his feet as he is on the ground, Chute Box product Fernando Duarte Guerra is a dangerous player in this featherweight tournament.
Wagner Campos is a solid fighter in his own right and wouldn't have made it into this competition if he weren't, but he will have a tough time dealing with the fast pace and larger frame of Guerra.
This fight might go the distance, as seven of Guerra's past bouts have, but there will be no doubt in anyone's mind who the better fighter was.
Guerra defeats Campos by unanimous decision.
With six of his eight wins coming by way of submission, Godofredo Pepey will have the advantage over Johnny "Cabeca" Goncalves on the ground.
Pepey and Goncalves each have a pair of knockouts, but neither fighter has faced elite competition, so it is tough to gauge how effective their striking really is.
This is one of the tougher matchups to predict in the elimination round, but the edge has to go to the fighter who possesses the greater ability to finish the fight.
Pepey defeats Goncalves by submission in the first round.