Previewing the Favorites, Dark Horses of 'TUF: Brazil 3'

Riley KontekFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2014

Wanderlei Silva, left, celebrates after beating Cung Le, right, during the second round of a UFC 139 Mixed Martial Arts middleweight bout in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011. Silva won by TKO in the second round. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 has already gone through two episodes, and in that time, we have been provided eight fighters from both the middleweight and heavyweight divisions. They currently await team selection, as Wanderlei Silva walked off the set demanding an apology from Chael Sonnen.

This season hosts a bevy of inexperienced prospects who inhabit numerous weight divisions. Middleweights and light heavyweights are fighting up at heavyweight, while lightweights and welterweight are fighting up at middleweight, all just for a shot to get in the UFC.

It's time now to examine the favorites and the dark horses of both sets of fighters.



Guilherme Vasconcelos3-1Titi Jiu-Jitsu
Ismael de Jesus9-4Nova Uniao
Joilton Santos9-2Benkei MMA Systems
Marcio Alexandre12-0Team Tavares
Paulo Henrique Costa3-0Rubens Dorea Team
Ricardo Abreu4-0Wand Fight Team
Wagner Silva3-0Tata Fight Team
Warlley Alves6-0X-Gym



In looking at the middleweight roster, the three names that stand out as favorites right now are Warlley Alves, Ricardo Abreu and Marcio Alexandre.

Abreu, a disciple of coach Wanderlei Silva, is pretty much a shoo-in to make it on his team. The jiu-jitsu wizard, who pounded out Willian Steindorf in the elimination round, showed great ground-and-pound and control, which earned him the highest praises from both coaches.

Alves got past the most experienced fighter on the show in the elimination round when he took care of Wendell Marques. It was a close fight, but in doing so, Alves showed the coaches that he was able to beat an early favorite to make it into the house.

Alves provides a rounded skill set, though his submission prowess is what got him to the dance. Since it's been determined that Abreu is the favorite by the coaches and that he works with Coach Silva outside the show, you can probably expect Alves to end up on Sonnen's team.

Marcio Alexandre not only is the man with the most wins on the show, but he also emulates a style that has earned him the nickname "Lyoto." His experience, in addition to his unorthodox style, will make him a tough out for any man in the house, as well as a wanted commodity come pick time.


Dark Horses

The two dark horses of this middleweight field have to be Joilton Santos and Guilherme Vasconcelos.

Santos, who normally fights two weight classes down at lightweight, defeated a Team Nogueira member in the elimination round in Douglas Moura. Though it was a close split decision, he likely was not favored in the fight and was greatly outsized. That type of determination and willpower will come in handy when competing against other larger fighters.

Vasconcelos is a jiu-jitsu player who normally fights in the welterweight division. He beat Markus Perez with a slick rear-naked choke to get into the house, showing that any man who ventures a ground battle with him is either brave or dumb.

Both men could be surprising combatants down the road.



Antonio Carlos Jr.3-0Champion Team
Antonio Branjao3-0Team Nogueira
Edgard Castaldelli12-4Team Nogueira
Job Kleber Melo3-1Beto Padilha Team
Jollyson Francisco2-0Nova Uniao
Marcos Rogerio11-2011 MMA Team
Richardson Moreira7-1Team Nogueira
Vitor Miranda9-3Team Nogueira



The heavyweight field doesn't actually have too many men who belong in this division. In fact, only one man, Job Kleber Melo, usually fights in the weight class.

That being said, a lot of these guys are the same size. The three favorites in this part of the bracket are normal middleweight Marcos Rogerio, as well as light heavyweight vets Richardson Moreira and Vitor Miranda.

Rogerio, who beat Bellator tournament vet Thiago Santos, was greatly outsized in that fight but used a superior gas tank and technique to choke out "Big Monster." Despite the submission win, most of Rogerio's wins come via knockout, which is a testament to his on-the-feet prowess.

Moreira was actually on a past season of TUF but gets another chance here. He also beat a mountain of a man in Alexandre Machado, a man many pundits believed would make it into the house. Moreira is well-rounded but has shown his submission game to be very strong.

Miranda may have had the knockout of the elimination round, leveling Bruno Silva with a massive head kick on a break. Miranda has been on the big league radar for a while, so he is definitely a guy to watch going forward this season.


Dark Horses

Of the rest of the field, the two dark horses in this field of fighters are Edgard Castaldelli and Jollyson Francisco.

Castaldelli is one of the four Team Nogueira members in the heavyweight bracket, meaning we may see some teammate vs. teammate matchups on the show. Castaldelli is a striker who used his nasty hands to put away Felipe Dantas in impressive fashion.

Francisco, who is just 2-0 in his pro career, is a dark horse for obvious reasons. He is very inexperienced, and he still won his way into the house by choking out Everton Rocha. With Nova Uniao in his corner and the obviously strong training he gets from that camp, he is a guy moving forward who can really turn some heads, turning from unknown to unlikely star.