TUF Brazil Finale: Matches to Make for the Entire Fight Card
He didn't meet Junior dos Santos, as originally scheduled, but Stipe Miocic took care of business on Saturday.
Headlining a card that served as the finale for The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3, Miocic was handed Brazilian Fabio Maldonado as a late replacement opponent. The light heavyweight stood little chance against Miocic, who is a heavyweight contender, and was stopped in the opening minute of the opening round.
Following an easy payday, Miocic should be back to competing with elite heavyweights shortly. With only one loss in seven UFC appearances, Miocic is a legitimate contender in the division.
With another UFC event in the books, here are the matchups that should be put together for Miocic, Maldonado and the rest of the TUF: Brazil 3 finale competitors.
Matchup: Vaughan Lee
Matt Hobar's UFC career did not get off to a great start on May 31.
The promotional newcomer was taken down twice and stopped with strikes by Pedro Munhoz in the first round. Now, the Legacy Fighting Championship veteran will likely need to win his next bout to avoid being sent back to compete on smaller shows.
Having also lost over the weekend, Vaughan Lee could be next for Hobar.
Matchup: Kyung Ho Kang
In his UFC debut, Munhoz was able to pick up a moral victory of sorts by going the distance with bantamweight contender Raphael Assuncao.
On Saturday, Munhoz recorded a real win, stopping UFC newcomer Hobar in the opening round. By avoiding a 0-2 start to his UFC career, Munhoz can now focus on climbing the rankings in the 135-pound class.
Munhoz could take another small step forward by beating Kyung Ho Kang, who is also coming off his first UFC victory.
Matchup: None (Released)
In reaching the semifinals on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3, Richardson Moreira earned a spot on the season finale fight card.
Had Moreira picked up a win over Marcos Rogerio de Lima, his UFC career would have continued. Instead, he was knocked out in 20 seconds, which will likely end his stay with the world's top MMA organization.
At 30 years old, Moreira isn't really a prospect any longer, so this may have been his only shot to make it with the big show.
Marcos Rogerio de Lima
Matchup: Hans Stringer
After losing to eventual TUF winner Antonio Carlos Junior in the competition's semifinals, De Lima made his official UFC debut against Moreira on May 31.
By quickly stopping Moreira with strikes, Pezao guaranteed himself a few more fights inside the Octagon.
While he competed at heavyweight during TUF: Brazil, De Lima isn't likely to remain in that weight class moving forward. The Strikeforce veteran met Mike Kyle at light heavyweight in September 2011, so expect him to return to 205 pounds, where he might meet Hans Stringer.
Matchup: None (Released)
In the TUF: Brazil 3 semifinals, Wagner Silva was defeated by eventual winner Warlley Alves. That was enough to earn him an official bout inside the Octagon, though.
Suffering a submission loss to Ricardo Abreu in the second round, Silva was not able to take advantage of the opportunity.
With a loss following a TUF appearance, Silva will probably have to return to regional competition. That said, at 27 years old, he has time to claw his way back to a high level again.
Matchup: Nordine Taleb
With a win over Silva on May 31, Abreu has extended his UFC career.
Early in the second round, Abreu locked up a rear-naked choke that led to one of the most important wins he's had in MMA. At 30 years old, Abreu might not be a prototypical prospect to emerge from TUF competition, but he appears to have a bright future ahead nonetheless.
As Abreu looks to build his name in the UFC middleweight division, a bout with fellow TUF veteran Nordine Taleb is a possibility.
Matchup: Mike De La Torre
Following a win over Jumabieke Tuerxun in his UFC debut, Mark Eddiva was matched up with Kevin Souza.
Eddiva had trouble dealing with the Brazilian's striking. Forced into a shell during the second stanza, Eddiva was stopped with punches despite still standing because he wasn't answering.
Next up for Eddiva could be Mike De La Torre, who is likely to move to 145 pounds following a loss to Mark Bocek in his first UFC outing.
Matchup: Robbie Peralta
Souza is now 2-0 inside the Octagon.
Following a split-decision win over Felipe Arantes, Souza won more decisively against Eddiva. At 29 years old, Souza appears ready to start climbing the featherweight ladder.
A good step forward for Souza would be a bout with Robbie Peralta, who also picked up a win on May 31.
Matchup: None (Released)
Once considered a welterweight title contender, Paulo Thiago has been on a downward path over the past few years.
The Brazilian has not won consecutive fights since submitting Mike Swick in February 2010.
With a surprising loss to Gasan Umalatov on May 31, Thiago has now lost four of his past six and six of his past eight fights. He's had a decent run with the UFC over five years, but Thiago might have to finish his career with a smaller promotion like World Series of Fighting.
Matchup: Sean Spencer vs. Luiz Dutra Winner
Despite losing to Neil Magny in his UFC debut, Umalatov was given a matchup with a notable 170-pounder in Thiago.
Potentially fighting for his UFC career, Umalatov picked up an important win. Now 1-1 inside the Octagon, Umalatov has some job security and should remain with the promotion for at least a few more fights.
For his next bout, Umalatov could meet the winner of a bout between Sean Spencer and Luiz Dutra, who will meet on June 28.
Matchup: Rodrigo Damm
Ernest Chavez squeaked by Yosdenis Cedeno in his first trip to the Octagon. On May 31, Chavez was paired with Elias Silverio.
In the third round, Chavez was taken down and submitted by Silverio. The loss was Chavez's first in eight MMA bouts.
Chavez could look to rebound against another Brazilian, Rodrigo Damm, who also came up short on the same fight card.
Matchup: Rashid Magomedov
While he handed Chavez his first MMA loss, Silverio remained undefeated with his submission win.
Unbeaten in 11 bouts, Silverio is becoming a fighter to keep an eye on in the lightweight division. With a couple more wins, he might get a shot at a ranked 155-pounder.
Also 2-0 inside the Octagon, Rashid Magomedov could battle Silverio for a step up in competition.
Matchup: Ernest Chavez
Damm has had trouble gathering momentum. On May 31, he failed to pick up a third straight win in a bout with Magomedov.
Landing only 37 significant strikes, Damm did not do enough to pick up a win on the scorecards. With four straight fights going the distance, Damm might need to improve his finishing abilities in order to get to the next level.
At 34 years old, Damm might not have a ton of time to make adjustments. His next run could begin with Chavez.
Matchup: Elias Silverio
Magomedov is one of many Russians to join the UFC roster recently, and he has found early success much like many of his fellow countrymen.
With a win over Damm, Magomedov took another step forward in the lightweight division. The Russian has the well-rounded skills needed to make a run at the ranked 155-pounders.
First, he'll need to rack up a few more wins, though. A bout with Silverio could be next.
Matchup: Lucas Martins vs. Jim Alers Loser
When he won TUF: Brazil, Rony Jason looked like a future contender in the featherweight division. He's hit some speed bumps that have prevented him from reaching that potential, though.
On May 31, Jason suffered a setback against Robbie Peralta, who earned a split-decision win over the Brazilian.
Now, Jason will need to go back to the drawing board. When he's ready to step back into the Octagon, he could do so against the loser of a July 16 bout between Lucas Martins and Jim Alers.
Matchup: Kevin Souza
Peralta's win over Jason was an important one for Problems.
With two wins in a row, Peralta can expect to meet an opponent on a winning run. That said, considering he beat Jason narrowly, Peralta isn't likely to meet a ranked lightweight in his next outing.
Also having picked up two straight UFC wins, Souza would be a good opponent for Peralta.
Matchup: Omari Akhmedov
Alexander Yakovlev was handed a really rough matchup for his first UFC showing.
The Russian met former title challenger Demian Maia in his first trip to the Octagon. Unsurprisingly, Yakovlev was controlled on the ground and fell in a decision.
For his next bout, Yakovlev should face a more reasonable adversary. A meeting with fellow Russian Omari Akhmedov is even a possibility.
Matchup: Gunnar Nelson vs. Zak Cummings Winner
With back-to-back losses against Jake Shields and Rory MacDonald, Maia needed a win in a big way on May 31.
Matched up with UFC newcomer Yakovlev, Maia didn't have much trouble rebounding. The Brazilian spent nearly eight minutes in the top position en route to a clear decision victory.
Because he took such a big step down against Yakovlev, don't expect Maia to shoot back up into Top 10 competition. Instead, he could look to serve a gatekeeping role against the winner of a July 19 bout between Gunnar Nelson and Zak Cummings.
A grappling match between Maia and Nelson would have the potential to produce some entertaining ground battles.
Matchup: Sheldon Westcott
In reaching the TUF: Brazil 3 finals, Marcio Alexandre had a chance to become one of Brazil's hottest prospects.
However, Alexandre was submitted by Alves in the third round. Although he had a poor showing on May 31, Alexandre is sure to get one more chance to pick up an official UFC win.
Potentially better suited for the welterweight division, Alexandre could make his next appearance at 170 pounds. If so, a bout with fellow TUF runner-up Sheldon Westcott could be intriguing.
Matchup: Lance Benoist
At 23 years old, Alves just became a really solid addition to the UFC welterweight division.
His win over Alexandre made him a middleweight tournament winner, but Alves is best suited for 170 pounds. Expect him to make the move for his next outing.
To test the waters in one of the UFC's toughest divisions, Alves could meet UFC Fight Night 42 winner Lance Benoist.
Matchup: Anthony Perosh
At 35 years old, Vitor Miranda is much further along in his career than most TUF finalists.
The Brazilian was bested by Antonio Carlos Junior in the TUF: Brazil 3 heavyweight finals. However, he should have a chance to prove himself in the light heavyweight division.
Considering his age, Miranda doesn't have a ton of time to make any kind of run toward title contention. He'll need to make a big impression in his first UFC bout at 205 pounds, which could come against Anthony Perosh.
Antonio Carlos Junior
Matchup: Nikita Krylov vs. Cody Donovan Winner
Despite his inexperience, Carlos Junior was able to beat Miranda and become the TUF: Brazil 3 heavyweight winner.
Carlos Junior has only four official bouts on his record now, but he seems to have much potential. At 24 years old, Carlos Junior could develop into a force in the shallow light heavyweight division, where he's likely to end up.
Cara de Sapato's first post-TUF competition test could come against the winner of a July 19 bout between Nikita Krylov and Cody Donovan. Krylov was also an undersized UFC heavyweight at one point, so there's a good starting point for a storyline to develop.
Matchup: Ryan Jimmo vs. Ovince St. Preux Loser
Maldonado earned a paycheck against Miocic, but he paid with a few brain cells.
The Brazilian clearly shouldn't be competing in the heavyweight division. So, it was no surprised Miocic steamrolled him on May 31.
Despite the loss, Maldonado could meet a fighter coming off a win, as he was on a winning streak at 205 pounds. Still, I think he'd be better off meeting the loser of a June 14 bout between Ryan Jimmo and Ovince St. Preux.
Matchup: Junior dos Santos
Miocic did what he needed to do against Maldonado.
It was a no-win matchup for Miocic, but he made the most of it. His originally scheduled bout with Junior dos Santos had much more upside, but it was scrapped due to an injury.
That was a fight many were excited about, though. If possible, UFC matchmakers should book Dos Santos and Miocic again as soon as they can.