Following their coaching stints on TUF: Brazil 2, heavyweight contenders Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira are set to meet in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 10.
In addition to the heavyweight headliner, UFC on Fuel TV 10 will feature the finals of the TUF: Brazil 2 welterweight tournament. Both competitors in the final, William Macario and Leonardo Santos, will represent Team Nogueira. Santos, though, only finds himself in the final due to an injury to teammate Santiago Ponzinibbio, who beat his replacement by decision in the semifinals.
As the UFC's final Fuel TV-labeled event approaches, let's take a look at the betting odds via 5Dimes.eu and likely winners in each of the main-card bouts.
Rony Jason has won his first two UFC bouts, but the TUF: Brazil winner continues to be brought along slowly with fights against fellow TUF veterans in his home country. At UFC on Fuel TV 10, Jason will meet TUF: Smashes participant Mike Wilkinson.
Wilkinson won in the first round of TUF: Smashes before being forced out of the competition due to injury. The Englishman still earned a spot on the UFC roster, though, by beating TUF: Smashes semifinalist Brendan Loughnane at UFC on FX 6.
Although Wilkinson may have a size advantage over Jason on Saturday, his wrestling technique likely won't be strong enough for him to dominate in the clinch. Against Loughnane, Wilkinson only scored one takedown on 12 attempts.
While Wilkinson's striking is more refined than that of Sam Sicilia, who Jason most recently defeated by knockout, he still leaves openings defensively. Loughnane, for example, hit Wilkinson with 63 percent of his attempted strikes. If this fight turns into a stand-up brawl, Jason should be the competitor to land more frequently.
Jason, therefore, is a deserving favorite. However, with such a short track record at the UFC level, it would probably be best to avoid betting on him in this situation, as the return on investment will be low.
Rony Jason -350
Mike Wilkinson +250
Jason defeats Wilkinson by (T)KO in the second round.
After suffering an injury prior to the TUF: Brazil finals, Daniel Sarafian ended up making his UFC debut against veteran C.B. Dollaway. That fight proved to be too much too soon for Sarafian, but the Brazilian did hang tough and earned Fight of the Night honors for his showing.
Eddie Mendez will try to keep Daniel Sarafian from earning his first UFC win on Saturday while attempting to make an impression of his own. The UFC newcomer and Strikeforce veteran brings an impressive 7-1-1 record into his Octagon debut.
Sarafian's experience with the world's top promotion, albeit one fight, gives him an important edge in this matchup between fresh faces looking to prove themselves.
While that's reason enough for Sarafian to be considered the favorite at UFC on Fuel TV 10, it hardly justifies the the odds as they currently stand. Neither Sarafian nor Mendez have proven themselves against top-level talent.
Sarafian proved he can compete with mid-level UFC middleweights by giving Dolloway all he could handle. Though, if that's all the reason Sarafian is so heavily favored, then a small bet on Mendez may not be such a bad idea even if you do give an edge to Sarafian.
Daniel Sarafian -465
Eddie Mendez +370
Sarafian defeats Mendez by decision.
Erick Silva hit his first real speed bump since joining the UFC roster when he met Jon Fitch in October. However, the 28-year-old is still one of the brighter young talents in the welterweight division and should have a good chance to rebound against Jason High on Saturday.
High will be making his UFC debut after a frustrating Strikeforce run, during which he never received much mention despite extending his winning streak to seven fights. Despite his recent success, High does have a loss on his record to Charlie Brenneman, who Silva beat via submission not long ago.
Having beaten Brenneman already, Silva is certainly capable of besting another wrestler like High. At the same time, it's not out of the realm of possibility for High to out-wrestle Silva as Fitch did.
Silva should be the heavy favorite that he is, but the reward won't be worth the risk of betting on him in this matchup.
Erick Silva -420
Jason High +335
Silva defeats High by (T)KO in the first round.
Thiago Silva has not won since August 2009, but he's had two victories overturned due to failed drug tests since then. After beating Brandon Vera at UFC 125, it was discovered that Silva had submitted a false urine sample and was suspended for one year. Then, in November, Silva tested positive for marijuana following a strong showing against Stanislav Nedkov.
Silva's UFC on Fuel TV 10 opponent, Rafael Cavalcante, has had his own issues with drug testing. In the aftermath of a May 2012 fight with Mike Kyle, Cavalcante tested positive for a banned substance and was suspended 12 months.
Cavalcante and Silva are similar inside the cage as well. Underrated grapplers with jiu-jitsu black belts, the light heavyweights prefer to stand and look for the knockout on most occasions.
Almost all Cavalcante's fights end in knockouts, whether it be him or his opponent that goes down. Likewise, Silva has picked up 79 percent of his wins by stoppages via strikes. Given that these fighters are so similar, an edge has to go to Silva due to the fact that Cavalcante has been out of action longer and will be dealing with the jitters of his UFC debut.
Currently running as the underdog in this matchup, Silva is definitely worth a play if you are in a betting mood.
Thiago Silva +175
Rafael Cavalcante -210
Silva defeats Cavalcante by (T)KO in the second round.
William Macario entered TUF: Brazil 2 undefeated and scored two knockouts en route to a spot in the competition's final. At 21 years old, Macario looks to be a fighter with a very bright future in the welterweight division.
Leonardo Santos was not supposed to meet Macario in Saturday's tournament final, but he will. Despite losing to Santiago Ponzinibbio in the semifinals, Santos was given a second chance because his opponent was unable to recover in time from a broken hand suffered during the bout.
It's always tough to predict the finals of TUF tournaments because we really don't have a completely clear picture of how good the fighters are and can't be sure whether one fighter had an easier path to the finals or not.
So, it's puzzling to see Macario as a significant underdog in the matchup.
Not only is Macario undefeated, but he performed equally well as Santos against a common opponent in Gilmar Silva Milhorance. Both men knocked Milhorance out in the first round, and Macario did so more quickly than Santos.
It's far from a sure thing, but Macario is certainly worth a bet as an underdog in a fight he should be favored in.
William Macario +185
Leonardo Santos -265
Macario defeats Santos by (T)KO in the first round.
Fabricio Werdum has solidified himself as a contender since returning to the UFC roster, beating both Roy Nelson and Mike Russow in convincing fashion. With a win over fellow Brazilian Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Werdum could put himself in position for a title shot.
Nogueira has alternated wins and losses since beating Tim Sylvia in February 2008 to become interim heavyweight champion. Most recently, Nogueira submitted Dave Herman to rebound from a devastating arm break suffered while being caught in a Frank Mir kimura.
While Nogueira defeated Werdum under the Pride FC banner in July 2006, much has changed since then. Werdum has aged like a fine wine while Nogueira has been beaten up like an old pick-up truck.
When they first met, Werdum scored five takedowns compared to one for Nogueira. Expect Werdum to remain better in that realm while being more cautious on the ground to avoid Nogueira's sweeps. If he does have trouble maintaining the top position early on, Werdum will have plenty of time to adjust in this five-round contest.
"Vai Cavalo" should be the favorite in this fight, but it's tough to get excited about putting money on him in the unpredictable heavyweight division and against an opponent in Nogueira who does hold a mental advantage after beating Werdum in the past.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira +260
Fabricio Werdum -320
Werdum defeats Nogueira by decision.