It's a bummer that Junior dos Santos had to pull out of the main event at The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 finale. The former heavyweight champion of the world was set to take on Stipe Miocic in what promised to be a bruising affair.
A hand injury put Dos Santos on the shelf, and Fabio Maldonado stepped in to replace him.
Winning this fight won't vault Miocic as high in the heavyweight rankings as it would if Dos Santos was his opponent, but he can still continue his progress toward a title shot.
There are 11 other bouts on tap in what will be the second UFC fight card in a 24-hour period. UFC Fight Night 41 takes place earlier in the day from Berlin.
This one goes down in San Paulo, Brazil. Here are the vitals:
|UFC Fight Pass Prelims||6:30 p.m. ET|
|Pedro Munoz vs. Matt Hobar||Bantamweight||Hobar by decision|
|Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Richardson Moreira||Heavyweight||Rogerio de Lima by TKO|
|Ricardo Abreu vs. Wagner Silva||Middleweight||Silva by submission|
|Fox Sports 1 Prelims||8 p.m. ET|
|Kevin Souza vs. Mark Eddiva||Featherweight||Souza by KO|
|Paulo Thiago vs. Gasan Umalatov||Welterweight||Thiago by TKO|
|Elais Silverio vs. Ernest Chavez||Lightweight||Silverio by submission|
|Rodrigo Damm vs. Rashid Magomedov||Lightweight||Magomedov by decision|
|Fox Sports 1 Main Card||10 p.m. ET|
|Rony Jason vs. Robbie Peralta||Featherweight||Peralta by KO|
|Demian Maia vs. Alexander Yakovlev||Welterweight||Maia by submission|
|Marcio Alexandre vs. Warlley Alves||Middleweight||Alexandre by TKO|
|Vitor Miranda vs. Antonio Carlos Junior||Heavyweight||Miranda by TKO|
|Stipe Miocic vs. Fabio Maldonado||Heavyweight||Miocic by KO|
Card per UFC.com, predictions per Brian Mazique
When: Saturday, May 31, at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: San Paulo, Brazil
Live Stream: UFC Fight Pass Prelims (subscription required)
TV: Fox Sports 1
Demian Maia vs. Alexander Yakovlev
To beat Maia, you have to have superior takedown defense and solid stand-up skills. While Yakovlev has an excellent ground game, it is never a good idea to try to out-grapple Maia.
Yakovlev's stand-up game doesn't appear to be far enough beyond Maia's to take advantage of the Brazilian.
This one will likely delight connoisseurs of the art of grappling, but it'll bore fans who want to see more stand-up action. In the end, Maia's grappling will be the key, and he'll grab a victory by submission.
Marcio Alexandre Jr. vs. Warlley Alves
Both men are making their UFC debut, but Alexandre Jr. comes in with a bit more fanfare. He's 12-0, and almost all of his wins have come by stoppage.
At only 25 years old, this fight could be the birth of a star in the promotion.
Alves is also undefeated at 6-0.
He's just 23 years old, so this will be a battle of young Brazilian lions looking to impress the UFC matchmakers and their countrymen.
Based on what's available to see from both fighters, Alexandre Jr. is the one who looks to have special potential. He's a gifted striker, and he's very well-schooled as a grappler.
Is it wrong to expect a dynamic finish in his UFC debut? Of course not. Bet on a first-round TKO in a fast-paced and action-packed fight.
Vitor Miranda vs. Antonio Carlos Junior
Carlos Junior is a smaller heavyweight. Thus far through the TUF tournament, he's been able to use his speed to gain leverage and advantageous positions against his opponents.
Something says that won't happen against Miranda.
The 34-year-old Brazilian native has an experience and size advantage over his opponent. If he can weather an early storm and conduct himself well on the ground, he should be able to control the stand-up portion of the fight.
A TKO win in the second round for Miranda will make him the oldest TUF champion ever.
Stipe Miocic vs. Fabio Maldonado
Maldonado was delighted and willing to step in for Dos Santos when the call came. Despite having just fought in March when he beat Gian Villante at light heavyweight, Maldonado agreed to take this bout on short notice and moved up a weight class. Why?
Per Elias Cepeda of Yahoo! Sports, Maldonado said:
"Simple. I'm a man. I'm not hurt so there's no reason not to take on a challenge like this."
It will indeed be a big challenge. Miocic is not only naturally bigger, but he's also more talented. Could Maldonado catch Miocic sleeping?
Dave Doyle of Yahoo! Sports offers this thought: "Miocic has gone from the fighter who could make a name for himself in the bout to the guy someone else could use as a steppingstone."
That's certainly a possibility, but Miocic already had his humbling moment back in Sept. 2012 when he was TKO'd by Stefan Struve.
Don't expect him to be caught off guard again. Miocic will win by first-round knockout.
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