The undercard for the upcoming UFC on FX 8 show in Brazil will feature several local fighters looking to make an impact as their families and friends watch close by. There will be more than a few Americans hoping to play spoiler however when they travel to South America for Saturday night's card.
Today we check out the preliminary action, where a number of the fights are so close to call that the difference between winning and losing in the upcoming UFC Pick ‘Em game literally comes down to a few key matchups.
1) Hacran Dias has some very good takedowns – unfortunately, Nik Lentz's wrestling should be a little better. The featured undercard fight at UFC on FX 8 pits two featherweights looking to take a step up the ladder, but it's going to be a slow grind to get there when two very experienced mat technicians lock horns. While he only has one fight in the UFC, Dias showcased some well-rounded skills in his debut, and his background points to the same. He landed five takedowns in his first trip to the Octagon and also holds nine submission victories to his credit. Facing Lentz will be no easy test however. Lentz is a powerful wrestler who moved to 145 pounds two fights ago, and his strength didn't seem to diminish one bit with the weight cut. Lentz has the ability to lean on an opponent and break their will over the full 15-minute time limit. Add to that, Lentz has already fought in Brazil once before and took out one of Dias' former teammates (Diego Nunes) and this seems to be a recipe for another unanimous decision victory for the American. Picking this one correct will also earn an extra 120 points since it is a tight matchup.
2) 19 fights. That's how much Octagon experience Gleison Tibau will have once UFC on FX 8 is over. Pretty crazy for a 29-year-old fighter, but Tibau has been around the block a few times in his UFC career. Tibau has consistently faced some of the best lightweights the promotion has to offer, and while he has fallen to defeat a few times, the Brazilian always comes back for more. Tibau is known as one of the biggest fighters at 155 pounds, and he brings a mountain of strength in his 5'10" frame. It's going to be a tough task for former Cornell wrestler John Cholish to implement his ground game against a fighter with the size and power of Tibau. Cholish has been out for over a year and struggled in his wrestling game against another solid grappler in Danny Castillo during his last trip to the Octagon. Tibau's ground game is good enough to keep Cholish on the feet or put the wrestler on his back, which is never where a wrestler wants to be. Tibau should be able to control Cholish and put a decision victory in his pocket when it's over (and hopefully he'll get to speak to Kenny Florian after the fight because Tibau has been brushing up on his English skills lately as well).
3) Yuri Alcantara might soon join Florian on the dropping weight classes list of fame if he drops any further, but for now the former lightweight and featherweight will make his second go of it at bantamweight when he fights newcomer Iliarde Santos this weekend. Prior to his loss to Hacran Dias two shows ago, Alcantara was on quite a run since signing with the Zuffa family. He knocked out current featherweight contender Ricardo Lamas in his debut, and also picked up a victory over former top ten fighter Michihiro Omigawa as well. Alcantara is a veteran who can finish the fight anywhere. He has 11 victories by knockout and 12 more by submission. He's able to come at an opponent from anywhere and he'll likely try to pressure Santos early and see if the famous UFC jitters can hit the first time Octagon fighter. Alcantara has been a finisher most of his career and Santos loves to stand and bang as well. It could be an upset because when punches start flying anything can happen, but Alcantara should be able to get an exciting TKO finish if he can stick to his game plan and avoid Santos' bombs.
4) In a battle of flyweights, Chris Cariaso may end up as the perfect upset pick to hand former top ranked 125-pound fighter Jussier Formiga his second loss in the Octagon. Cariaso is a durable fighter who can take a fight to the ground or use quick hands to keep an opponent guessing on the feet. As a southpaw, Cariaso will give Formiga a different look standing up, and his wrestling is fast enough to give him fits if the fight hits the mats. Formiga is a submission specialist, but he looked like a deer caught in headlights in his UFC debut against John Dodson. If he can't shake out those nerves this time around, he'll leave Brazil at 0-2 with Cariaso standing victorious.