UFC 142: Breaking Down the Entire Event
After the success of the UFC's last trip to Brazil, they are returning again in January and bringing a stacked card filled with exciting strikers. It's headlined by UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
At UFC 134, 11 of 12 Brazilians walked away with victories. Will they find that same type of success again?
Aldo will be taking on top contender Chad Mendes, who many consider to be his toughest test. In what could be Aldo's last fight in the 145-pound weight class, he will have to make a statement in his home country.
In the co-main event, former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort will face former welterweight contender Anthony Johnson.
This is a full breakdown of the entire event.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Fabio Maldonado vs. Stanislav Nedkov
Fabio Maldonado (18-4) vs. Stanislav Nedkov (12-0)
In what could easily be a main card attraction, Brazilian fighter and former professional boxer Fabio Maldonado will test his stand-up against the undefeated Bulgarian Stanislav Nedkov.
Maldonado is coming off his Fight of the Night performance versus Kyle Kingsbury in June. It was a fight he lost, but it showed just what makes him an effective fighter.
Nedkov was last seen fighting at UFC 134 where he knocked out Luiz Cane in the very first round. It was his UFC debut. He also has a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.
Even in victory, Nedkov showed various holes in his stand-up that Maldonado should be able to exploit. The holes Maldonado showed in his loss to Kingsbury might not be taken advantage of by Nedkov, who is basically the same type of fighter, but without the previous boxing experience.
Both will have improved since their last fights, making this a tough fight to call. The stylistic matchup makes for a fan-friendly bout, and it will probably go to the one who lands the cleaner, more effective blows over three rounds.
Maldonado's body shots also will take the steam out of Nedkov if this fight goes deep into the second and third rounds.
It will be interesting to see if Nedkov decides to take this fight to the mat, but he didn't show any interest in taking it there in his last bout, despite being out-struck early on.
Fabio Maldonado wins by Unanimous Decision.
Welterweight Bout: Paulo Thiago vs. Mike Pyle
Paulo Thiago (14-3) vs. Mike Pyle (21-8-1)
Paulo Thiago was last seen beating David Mitchell at UFC 134 and breaking a two-fight losing streak. His UFC victories include those over Mike Swick, Josh Koscheck and Jacob Volkmann.
Mike Pyle's three-fight win streak came to an end when he was stopped by Rory MacDonald in the first round of their fight at UFC 133. His win streak includes victories over Ricardo Almeida, John Hathaway and Jesse Lennox.
Many have called Pyle off in the past, and it has mostly come from lackluster performances in fights many thought he could have won. One fight he looks great, the next he looks overmatched.
His losses have come against elite opponents, though, including those against Jake Ellenberger, Jake Shields and MacDonald.
Pyle could be coming into this fight the best we've ever seen him, or he could look the worst. It's been a pattern in his career, and one that makes it hard to give him the advantage going into this bout.
Thiago's losses have come against Diego Sanchez, Martin Kampmann and Jon Fitch, and there is no shame in losing to any of them.
Based on their styles, Thiago has the power to put Pyle away at any point in the fight. Pyle's best chance at winning will be by submission, and it probably won't happen against the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.
Paulo Thiago wins by TKO in Round 2.
Lightweight Bout: Thiago Tavares vs. Sam Stout
Thiago Tavares (16-4-1) vs. Sam Stout (17-6-1)
Canadian fighter Sam Stout will return for the first time since his former trainer and mentor Shawn Tompkins passed away in August. Stout was scheduled to face Dennis Siver in October, but he pulled out a week after Tompkins passed away.
Stout brings a two-fight win streak into the bout, including wins over Yves Edwards and Paul Taylor. He earned his very first KO victory in the UFC when he knocked out Edwards at UFC 131.
Tavares rebounded from his brutal KO loss to Shane Roller to stop Spencer Fisher in the second round of their UFC 134 bout. He has only lost once since 2008.
Stout will be bringing a lot of emotion into the cage for this fight, and everyone saw what that did for his training partner, Mark Hominick, in his last fight.
As long as Stout can stay composed, he should be able to take a very closely-contested decision by using his superior stand-up. Tavares has been knocked out twice, and Stout will have his moments in this fight when he lands.
Tavares will be aware of the power of Stout, and hopefully has learned from his KO losses in the past to not let himself get caught with anything too dangerous.
The Brazilian is tough to finish if he isn't completely knocked out, and he will look to turn this into a grappling match for the majority of the fight to avoid Stout's power.
The decision will most likely be based on the stand-up exchanges, but Tavares should be able to make it very competitive with his grappling.
Sam Stout wins by Split Decision.
Lightweight Bout: Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim
Edson Barboza (9-0) vs. Terry Etim (15-3)
Barboza is undefeated in his MMA career and 3-0 in the UFC. His wins include those over Ross Pearson, Anthony Njokuani and Mike Lullo. Two of those earned him Fight of the Night honors.
Etim is coming off his big 17-second victory over Edward Faaloloto, which came in front of an electric hometown crowd in Birmingham, England. It was his first fight back from a year-and-a-half layoff. His other UFC victories include those over Justin Buchholz, Sam Stout and Matt Grice.
Although Barboza isn't getting the stylistic matchup that could answer questions about his wrestling and takedown defense, this still promises to be a very fan-friendly fight and one that should be the best fight on the card.
Etim has always had solid striking, and his 12 submission victories show he knows how to take advantage of the fight if it's taken to the mat. At 6'1", Etim will have a height advantage over Barboza, and this could come into play standing and on the ground. It could also work against him given Barboza's tendency to throw a high volume of leg kicks.
Look for Barboza to come out utilizing his kicks to cut down his taller opponent. Eventually, Etim will begin to open up more and the exchanges will become more even in punches, but with Barboza landing the harder blows to take a decision victory.
Edson Barboza wins by Unanimous Decision.
Welterweight Bout: Erick Silva vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
Erick Silva (13-1) vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (20-4-1)
Former Jungle Fight welterweight champion Erick Silva will make his second UFC appearance after knocking out Luis Ramos at the previous UFC event in Brazil. That victory earned him a Knockout of the Night bonus.
Bahadurzada is a veteran of the sport and has been fighting since 2002. He will make his UFC debut against Silva and bring some notable victories to the Octagon, including those versus John Alessio, Derrick Noble, Evangelista Santos and Leandro Silva. His losses have come against Jorge Santiago and Kazuo Misaki.
Silva is one of the better prospects coming out of Brazil and also one of the better welterweight prospects. His knockout win over Ramos showed he has the power, but that may not come into play here against Bahadurzada, who has never been knocked out in his career.
Bahadurzada is nicknamed "The Killer," and for good reason. He has finished four of his last five opponents all by TKO, with four of those wins coming in the first round.
Silva will have to weather an early storm by his opponent, but with a hometown crowd behind him, that can come into play on him surviving and coming back late to impose his skill set and take a very competitive decision.
Erick Silva wins by Unanimous Decision.
Middleweight Bout: Rousimar Palhares vs. Mike Massenzio
Rousimar Palhares (13-3) vs. Mike Massenzio (13-5)
Middleweight standout Rousimar Palhares might only be one or two fights away from a No. 1 contender's bout, but he will have to make it past the tough and durable Mike Massenzio first.
Palhares brings a 6-2 UFC record to the cage with wins over Dan Miller, Jeremy Horn and Dave Branch. Three of his UFC wins have come by kneebar or heel-hook. Nine of his wins have come by submission overall.
Massenzio is coming off a win over Steve Cantwell, and it was one that looked as if he wasn't going to win early on. He rebounded after a tough first round and won the next two to take the decision. It was only his second UFC victory despite fighting in the Octagon five times.
Many think Palhares should be fighting a top contender in the division, and they are probably right. Although Massenzio is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Palhares is no stranger to submitting them. He had no problem submitting Lucio Linhares and Dave Branch, both of whom are black belts.
Massenzio's losses in the UFC have come against Brian Stann, C.B. Dollaway and Krzysztof Soszynski. Compare that to Palhares, who has lost to Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt, and it's no comparison who has faced the better competition.
Massenzio should be good enough to make it through the first round, but the strength, power and submission skills of Palhares will become a factor late in the fight.
Palhares wins by Submission in Round 2.
Middleweight Bout: Vitor Belfort vs. Anthony Johnson
Vitor Belfort (20-9) vs. Anthony Johnson (10-3)
Belfort was able to rebound from a devastating first-round knockout loss to Anderson Silva to knock out Yoshihiro Akiyama in his last fight at UFC 133. Other victories that preceded that include those over Rich Franklin, Matt Lindland and Terry Martin.
Johnson will finally make the move up from welterweight and brings an impressive list of opponents to the cage to take on easily his toughest opponent to date. He was last seen knocking out Charlie Brenneman with a head kick in October.
In what could be a battle of striker vs. striker, it's important to take into consideration that Belfort's biggest weakness is wrestling, and that's arguably Johnson's finest area. He showed that in his win over Dan Hardy in a fight many thought would be a stand-up war.
Also, Johnson won't have to worry about burning himself out early now that he is making the move to middleweight. He should be able to fight three five-minute rounds with no problem, and that's most likely his game plan here against Belfort.
As long as Johnson avoids the early exchanges by Belfort, who is the more technical and more accurate striker of the two, he should be able to work his wrestling game into the fight and take Belfort down to out-wrestle him to a decision victory.
This could be a letdown of a fight in terms of what fans expect the outcome to be, but it's a fight that will be important in establishing Johnson's position as a middleweight contender.
Anthony Johnson wins by Unanimous Decision.
Featherweight Championship Bout: José Aldo (c) vs. Chad Mendes
Jose Aldo (20-1) vs. Chad Mendes (11-0)
UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo will make his third defense of his UFC title when he takes on the undefeated Chad Mendes.
Mendes is a former NCAA Division I wrestler and is unquestionably the best wrestler in the division. It has led him to obtaining standout wins over Javier Vazquez, Rani Yahya, Erik Koch and Michihiro Omigawa.
Aldo will come into the fight off his unanimous decision victories over Kenny Florian and Mark Hominick. Many have been calling for the Brazilian to move up to the 155-pound weight class, and it's most likely to come after this fight, win or lose.
This will be Aldo's fight early on, but it's a question of whether or not he will go for the finish or be conservative in not expending all of his energy in fear of not having anything left in the championship rounds. It has looked that way in both of his previous UFC bouts.
With Mendes' last four fights going the distance, fans got a good sense of where the two-time All-American collegiate wrestler's strength lies. If he is able to get Aldo down at least once in each round, he could be good enough to keep it there for however long he wants.
With most of his fights having gone the distance, Mendes won't get frustrated either if he doesn't get Aldo down in the first or second round.
Although Aldo has shown considerable takedown defense in past fights, it's going to be in the later rounds that Mendes gets him down and tries to win the fight, even if he isn't doing much damage.
The first two rounds should be very competitive, with Aldo damaging his opponent with leg kicks and looking to take some of the steam out of his takedowns. Also keep in mind that the leg kicks will give Mendes an opportunity to get the takedown. Aldo may abandon them completely and just look to knock him out with his hands instead.
Mendes will have his moments, but Aldo's energy early on should be enough to do more damage and win the first and second rounds.
It will have its affect on Mendes, but it's going to take a lot out of the gas tank of Aldo for the later rounds as Mendes works for takedowns. This is where Mendes will take over, but he will have to start in the third round to guarantee himself a win.
The third round will be the deciding round of the fight if it goes the distance.
Chad Mendes wins by Unanimous Decision (48-47 x3).