UFC 163 marks the return to Brazil, a market that the UFC has heavily exposed the last year or so. With its return, speculation runs rampart as to the matchups between Brazilian fighters and non-Brazilian fighters.
The reason for the speculation is that many fans feel that the Brazilian fighters—on their home soil—have been getting "easy" or advantageous fights. This is especially true in their last two trips to the MMA-crazy country, from the undercard to the main attractions.
Here is a look at the chances of the non-Brazilians fighting on the UFC 163 card.
Opponent: Viscardi Andrade
Bristol Marunde gets another shot to stick around the UFC when he fights TUF Brazil 2 cast member and debut Brazilian Viscardi Andrade on the Facebook portion of the card.
Marunde is a UFC and Strikeforce veteran who has fought some high-quality opponents such as Ronaldo Souza and Matt Horwich in the past. He finds himself with his back against the wall in this fight, as his UFC debut saw him fall via knockout to Clint Hester.
Marunde's top position and submission game are his strong suit, though he can strike a bit. That being said, Andrade is probably the more powerful striker and has an equally, if not better, grappling game.
The big thing here will be experience. This is not a lopsided matchup in terms of skill and quality, so Marunde has a solid chance of winning this fight.
Opponent: Rani Yahya
Josh Clopton, a guy who failed to make it into the TUF house and fell in his UFC debut, gets another crack in the UFC. Unluckily for him, he takes on a world-class jiu-jitsu artist with great big-show experience
Not much analysis needs to be done here. This fight looks like a butter-up-the-Brazilian-crowd-type match, which has been criticized by fans in the past.
Clopton must hope for a miracle to beat such an elite submission fighter like Yahya.
Opponent: Iliarde Santos
Chance: Immortal lock
Ian McCall is a world Top-Five flyweight. Iliarde Santos, though solid, does not crack the Top 20.
This is almost the opposite of the type of matchup I mentioned in the Yahya-Clopton analysis. The non-Brazilian is taking on the overmatched Brazilian here.
This fight is obviously meant get McCall back into the win column, following losses to Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez. He will use superior striking and possibly wrestling to dominate Santos.
If you got money, put it on this one.
Opponent: Sergio Moraes
Any time a fighter takes on a world champion jiu-jitsu player, he always need to be worried about going to the ground. That is, unless, he has superior takedown defense to the opponent's takedown offense.
Neil Magny is a strong, athletic guy with solid wrestling and a grinding style. Sergio Moraes, his opponent, is one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners in the game but lacks in the striking department.
This fight will go one of two ways. Either Magny gets taken down and tapped out by the superior grappling arsenal of Moraes, or he keeps the fight on the feet, makes it ugly and wears out the Brazilian down the stretch.
Opponent: Amanda Nunes
Sure, Sheila Gaff is a natural 125-pounder taking on a buzz-saw 135er in Amanda Nunes. That doesn't mean the fight won't be competitive, right? I mean, check out how strong of a fight Rosi Sexton put up against Alexis Davis at UFC 161.
Gaff got squashed in her UFC debut, but that was against an Olympic wrestler in Sara McMann. Gaff has very good power in her hands,; just ask Jennifer Maia, whom she trounced in 10 seconds.
Nunes has good striking and a solid ground game, so it will make for an interesting bout. I am sure Gaff will want to keep this standing, even though Nunes can throw leather as well.
Size may be a factor that hurts Gaff, but she makes up for it with brute strength. This one is a tossup.
Perosh hopes this doesn't happen again.
Opponent: Vinny Magalhaes
Chance: Not likely
Anthony Perosh's best parts of his MMA game are his jiu-jitsu and submission grappling. Unfortunately, they are also the strength of his opponent, Vinny Magalhaes, who does them better than the Australian.
Perosh's striking leaves something to be desired, as seen in his time in the Octagon. Magalhaes has consciously worked on his striking, and his improvements give him the edge there as well.
So how will Perosh win this fight given those facts? Perhaps a Hail Mary is in order for "The Hippo."
Opponent: Thales Leites
Tom Watson is a striker. His grappling isn't horrible, but it is not world class. Thales Leites, on the other hand, is a great grappler.
However, even though Watson is the lesser of the two in terms of grappling, he does have solid takedown defense. His fight against Stanislav Nedkov, an Eastern European wrestler, saw him stay upright for most of the time and use his clinch work to pepper him.
Leites isn't going to impress fans with his double-leg takedown like Chael Sonnen might. So, if Watson can keep this fight standing, he should have more than enough of a chance to defeat the returning UFC veteran from Brazil.
Opponent: Lyoto Machida
Chance: Solid at best
Phil Davis is one of the strongest, most gifted athletes at 205 pounds. The guy is a physical specimen who is a tough out for any fighter.
Enter Lyoto Machida.
Machida's unorthodox striking style has kept him in the Top Five of the division. He is a puzzle whom few can solve.
However, if Davis can get his power takedowns and time them consistently, he has a chance. Otherwise, he may end up like so many before him: unconscious.
Opponent: Jose Aldo
Chance: Not likely
Chan Sung Jung leapfrogged a couple of fighters to get this fight. That's because he is marketable and exciting.
Jung is definitely skilled, but he is taking on Jose Aldo: a leg-smashing, power-punching machine who finishes most fighters he faces. He hasn't been undefeated in the WEC and UFC because he's been getting easy fights; it's quite the opposite.
Of course, Jung has a puncher's chance, because let's face it, he does have power. However, Aldo is bigger, stronger and more powerful and will make this the fight of Jung's life on Aldo's turf in Brazil.