The UFC will make a quick return to Brazil next month, when the UFC on Fuel 10 takes place in Fortaleza. It will be the host of the finals for The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, as well as the coaches' fight in the main event.
Coaches and fellow Brazilian grappling aces Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fabricio Werdum are set to main-event the card in the heavyweight division. A win for either man would have to to give them high consideration for a title shot in the near future.
Here are early predictions for the main card at UFC on Fuel 10.
The opener for the main card takes place in the featherweight division when TUF: Brazil winner Rony Jason takes on The Smashes veteran Mike Wilkinson.
Jason is a top Brazilian prospect who dominated the competition on his season of TUF. To win the series, he decisioned Godofredo Castro and then followed it up with a knockout of Sam Sicilia.
At 12-3, he has finished all but one fight. Seven have come via submission, while four have come via knockout. Jason is very well-rounded and tough, which makes him the favorite in this fight.
Wilkinson competed on The Smashes, but did so in the lightweight division. He now moves back to his natural weight class after winning at UFC on FX 6 where he decisioned Brendan Loughnane.
Wilkinson is a submission artist himself, but should not grapple with Jason. In fact, I don't think he should really strike with him much either. Jason should take this one with ease.
Prediction: Jason def. Wilkinson via TKO
We move on to the welterweight division, when Brazilian prospect Erick Silva meets long-time veteran Jason High.
Silva is 2-2 in the UFC, but one of those losses was a controversial DQ against Carlo Prater. In his two wins, Silva quickly dominated Luis Ramos and Charlie Brenneman.
"Indio" is a submission fighter and should look to put High on his back. However, he may have to sprawl and brawl his way to victory as High does have solid wrestling.
High makes his return to the UFC from Strikeforce. In fact, it was questionable as to why High was let go after just one UFC fight in 2010 (loss to Brenneman).
High is well-rounded and underrated. He takes his fight on short notice for John Hathaway, who likely would have provided a more competitive bout.
Silva will run a decision here and get back to the win column following his momentum-killing loss to Jon Fitch.
Prediction: Silva def. High via decision
We move onto the middleweight division, when Daniel Sarafian meets newcomer Eddie Mendez.
Sarafian had much hype coming out of TUF: Brazil, but fell flat in his UFC debut against CB Dollaway. After showing some solid striking and defense, he ran out of gas and suffered a close split-decision loss.
Sarafian is powerful, a good submission fighter and has improved striking. He should look to drag Mendez down and use his superior grappling chops.
Mendez is a solid wrestler with good striking ability and power. A majority of his finishes have come via knockout and currently is riding a two-fight win streak.
When this fight goes down, expect Sarafian's high-level experience and well-roundedness to take the high ground. He should put Mendez on his back, make him uncomfortable and grab a submission.
Prediction: Sarafian def. Mendez via submission
The drug testing machines may break in this one, when fellow Brazilians Thiago Silva and Rafael Cavalcante meet at 205 pounds.
Joking aside, this fight has the potential to win fight of the night. If Silva employs a smart strategy, which he hasn't done in some of his fights, he has the advantage here.
Silva is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, but uses it for position and ground-and-pound more than he does for submissions. He got a submission win in his last outing, but it was overturned when he failed his second drug test.
Cavalcante is a top-level striker who is in a similar situation coming over from Strikeforce as Silva. He defeated Mike Kyle, but then failed a post-fight drug test to have that win overturned.
If Silva uses his solid takedowns and top-game pressure, he should be able to take it here. If he uses his stubborn standup game, Cavalcante will smoke him.
Prediction: Silva def. Cavalcante via decision
In the main event of the evening, fellow TUF: Brazil coaches meet when Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira fight in the heavyweight division.
Werdum is one of the top submission artists in the world. Since moving over from Strikeforce, he is 2-0 in dominating wins against Roy Nelson and Mike Russow.
In addition to his world-class grappling skills, "Vai Cavalo" has vastly improved his striking. This was seen in his drubbings of Nelson and Russow.
As for Nogueira, he has been one of the more well-rounded fighters in the division for many years. The grappling ace also has good boxing, a credit to his brother who used to compete in the Pan-Am games.
He hasn't gotten back-to-back wins since 2008. He has taken much damage in those fights, showing that he may be slowing down with age and a long career.
Werdum has looked better than ever as of late. Nogueira will give him a great fight, but Werdum will eventually take a decision to move into title contention.
Prediction: Werdum def. Nogueira via decision