The UFC returns to Brazil with UFC on FX 8, as Brazilian legend Vitor Belfort welcomes Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold to the Octagon. That main event may thrust a contender into the rank of title challenger, depending on how his performance is.
Also on the card is Strikeforce import Ronaldo Souza, who meets Chris Camozzi in the main event. This is Souza's debut and late-replacement fight for Camozzi, who replaced Costa Philippou on short notice.
Before all of that, we have the prelims on Fuel TV and Facebook. Here are the predictions for all of those fights.
The Facebook prelims kick off in the lightweight division, when Brazilian striker Lucas Martins fights for his job against fellow chopping block member Jeremy Larsen.
Martins made his UFC debut on short notice and was decimated by the much more experienced and skilled Edson Barboza. That being said, Martins is highly skilled in Muay Thai, owning eight of his 12 wins via knockout.
As for Larsen, it's surprising to see him making another Octagon outing after dropping his Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale bout to Joe Proctor in under two minutes. Usually, if you are on the reality show and lose in the finale, you are given your walking papers.
Larsen is well-rounded, but Martins is too skilled in his striking. At some point, he will catch Larsen on the chin and call it a night.
Prediction: Martins def. Larsen via TKO
The flyweights make an appearance in the next Facebook bout, as Brazil's Jussier da Silva meets American Chris Cariaso to move up the 125-pound ladder.
Cariaso has a good run at bantamweight, but recently dropped to 125 with some of his colleagues in hopes to find further success. After disposing of Josh Ferguson in his debut, he ran into the roadblock known as John Moraga, succumbing to a guillotine choke.
As for Jussier da Silva, he made his UFC debut with much anticipation against John Dodson. The former top 125-pounder was dominated, dropping his first bout to Dodson and taking his name out of immediate title contention.
"Formiga" is a top-level grappler with great submission ability, but Cariaso has great takedown defense. When da Silva is unable to plant Cariaso on the mat, the American will outstrike him en route to a sprawl-and-brawl decision.
Prediction: Cariaso def. da Silva via decision
The final Facebook fight also takes place in the flyweight division, as Brazilian slugger John Lineker meets Russian young gun Azamat Gashimov.
Lineker is 1-1 in his UFC tenure, with both fights coming in the flyweight division (though his debut was catchweight because he missed the mark). Lineker lost a competitive bout with Louis Gaudinot in his debut, but charged back in his sophomore outing to outstrike Yasuhiro Urushitani.
Gashimov took his first UFC fight at bantamweight, but was quickly tapped out by Ivan Menjivar via gnarly armbar. He now drops to flyweight in an attempt to make a run at Demetrious Johnson's title.
Gashimov owns four submissions in his career, so he would be wise to get Lineker off his feet and play into his odds. Lineker has some solid takedown defense, so he will look to keep Gashimov with his chin up and clip him to a beauty of a knockout.
Prediction: Lineker def. Gashimov via knockout
The Fuel TV portion of the card kicks off in the light heavyweight division, as Canadian Roger Hollett meets Fabio Maldonado on his home soil in what is likely a "win-or-go-hom" situation.
Hollett lost his UFC debut to Matt Hamill in a fight that was critically panned. Hollett is strong with his boxing, so he should entertain fellow boxer Maldonado on the feet.
Maldonado is 1-3 in the UFC, but his exciting style and uncanny ability to take a punch have kept him employed. He takes two shots for every one he hands out, and he is completely fine in doing so.
This will likely be a striking battle. The man with the stronger chin and better technical ability will likely take this one.
Prediction: Maldonado def. Hollett via decision
Moving onto the bantamweight division, UFC veteran and Brazilian Yuri Alcantara meets fellow countryman and late replacement Iliarde Santos.
Alcantara was one of the top featherweights in the world until his impressive unbeaten streak was derailed by Hacran Dias. However, his drop to bantamweight has been marred with controversy so far, as a certain victory over Pedro Nobre was instead a "no contest" due to blows to the back of Nobre's head (replay showed the punches were clean).
Santos is a 35-fight veteran filling in on short notice and is currently riding a six-fight win streak. Santos is well-rounded, putting 12 opponents away via knockout and six via tapout.
The newcomer looks to be a promising prospect, but Alcantara is on another level. He has faced stiffer competition and has been successful in doing so.
Alcantara may not let the judges handle this one.
Prediction: Alcantara def. Santos via TKO
Moving onto the welterweight division, late-replacement Michel Prazeres makes his UFC debut when he takes on long-time UFC veteran Paulo Thiago.
Thiago finds himself with his back against the wall and simply cannot lose this fight. He is 1-4 in his last five and was dominated in most of those losses (especially his most recent bout against Dong Hyun Kim).
Prazeres makes his debut sporting a perfect 16-0 record with half of those wins coming via submission. He has all the skills on the ground to be competitive, but his striking is the question mark here.
Thiago is the more well-rounded experienced guy and should be able to keep this fight standing. From there, it will be a sloppy brawl and experience should prevail.
Prediction: Thiago def. Prazeres via decision
We head to the lightweight division, as brutish Brazilian Gleison Tibau meets American John Cholish in an important 155-pound clash.
Cholish is 1-1 in his UFC career, showing he has faced his triumphs and setbacks. He submitted Mitch Clarke in his debut in impressive fashion, before Danny Castillo bested him in his second outing.
Tibau has been an employee of the UFC since 2006 and has consistently stayed busy throughout. However, he is 1-2 in his last three and the way things are going lately, he cannot afford another loss here.
Tibau is a huge lightweight and uses his size and strength to overwhelm opponents. Cholish's bread and butter are his ground game, but matching up with Tibau on the ground will be no picnic.
Tibau uses takedown defense, clinch and striking to outpoint Cholish.
Prediction: Tibau def. Cholish via decision
In a battle of Ultimate Fighter alums, Season 15 veteran Mike Rio meets TUF: Brazil counterpart Francisco Trinaldo.
Rio made an impressive debut against castmate John Cofer, using a granite chin and solid grappling to notch an armbar victory. Rio is well-rounded but uses his wrestling to ensure that he maintains an advantage throughout.
Trinaldo is a massive lightweight that competed in the middleweight field of his TUF experience. He is 2-1 in the UFC already, taking wins over Delson Heleno and CJ Keith, while faltering against fellow hulk Gleison Tibau.
Rio has the wrestling advantage, but getting the huge and powerful "Massaranduba" to the ground will be no easy task. Midway through the fight, Trinaldo will catch Rio on the chin, daze him and finish him with a choke on the ground.
Prediction: Trinaldo def. Rio via submission
The final bout on the Fuel TV card will be contested at featherweight, as American Nik Lentz takes on Hacran Dias in his home country.
Lentz is a wrestler who has developed an all-around attack since making the brilliant move to drop to 145 not long ago. Since then, Lentz has dominated Eiji Mitsuoka and Diego Nunes to put his name in the hat as a contender in the division.
Dias has not spent much time in the UFC yet, but he made a huge splash in his UFC debut victory against the highly-regarded Yuri Alcantara. Dias will be the better submission fighter, but it will be tough to utilize top position if he cannot get the superior wrestler down.
I see Lentz using his wrestling as his defense so he can keep the fight standing. Sprinkle in takedowns to score points and Lentz earns a decision here.
Prediction: Lentz def. Dias via decision