The anticipation for UFC 200 has created a lot of buzz in the MMA world, and there is no shortage of fighters seeking a spot in that legendary card. However, there are a lot of interesting fights scheduled before July’s UFC 200. The most notable ones being Jones vs Cormier II, Weidman vs Rockhold II, Faber vs Cruz III, among others. All of those fights are amazing in their own right, and so are the cards for UFC 197 and 199. The problem is that the best card prior to UFC 200 just might be 198, and there is not a whole lot of people talking about it. The card is full of fresh, exciting, and fan friendly fights involving some of the biggest mixed martial arts fighters of all time. The event is scheduled to take place May 14th in Curitiba, Brazil. In addition to the great fights, the event will be held at Arena da Baixada, which will be the first UFC stadium event in Brazil. 

The undercard will likely have some main card worthy fights, such as Cris Cyborg’s UFC debut, and hot prospect Warlley Alves taking on Bryan Barberena. Rumors of Cyborg’s potential UFC debut have been thrown around quite a bit over the past few years. The speculation is over as she has been added to UFC 198 to fight Leslie Smith at a catchweight of 140 pounds. The anticipated match up with Ronda Rousey will not happen at her debut, but it is a huge step towards that potential fight. Cyborg has dominated Invicta FC’s featherweight division, and hopes to shake up women’s MMA in the UFC. Smith fought recently at UFC Fight Night Hunt vs Mir, and beat Rin Nakai via unanimous decision.  

On the other hand, the undefeated top prospect Warlley Alves is looking to move up the rankings in the very tough Welterweight division. Alves has finished his last two fights by submission both being guillotines, including the first round stoppage of Colby Covington at UFC 194. The talent of Alves is undeniable, but can he make some noise in one of the most stacked divisions. Bryan Barberena is no stranger to undefeated hot prospects, since his last fight was against Sage Northcutt. Barberena pulled a big upset against Northcutt, by submitting the young phenom in the second round. The question is can he do it again, or is Alves too skilled? 

Things get very interesting in the main card with important fights like Demian Maia vs Matt Brown, Anderson Silva vs Uriah Hall, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs Vitor Belfort, and the heavyweight championship bout between Stipe Miocic and Fabricio Werdum. As mentioned before, the Welterweight division is super deep with talented young fighters as well as tough and skilled veterans. A clash of top ten ranked veterans could have title shot implications, as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wizard Demian Maia faces “The Immortal” Matt Brown. Brown has gone the distance against the last two Welterweight champions in the past, and he is looking to build on his latest submission win over Tim Means. He has a very tough task in the form of Maia, and this should be a very entertaining fight to watch. The winner will likely enter the top five and put himself in the position of fighting for a shot at UFC gold. 

If you enjoy striking battles, then you should love the matchup between Uriah Hall and Anderson Silva. It might be safe to say that nobody is shooting for a takedown in this on, but you just might see a knockout of the year candidate. Both fighters are coming off disappointing losses, but they are still top ten in the Middleweight division. The winner would take a step closer to a shot at the winner of  UFC 199’s main event, and most likely a spot in the top five. The fight should be very fan friendly and thrilling from start to finish, so make sure you don’t blink during this one.

The next fight has even more influence on the Middleweight division, as it should definitely provide the next number one contender. The number two ranked middleweight “Jacare” Souza will meet number three ranked Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort in the co-main event. Two guys with major knockout power, so this could easily be a quick one. There is nobody currently at middleweight or maybe even the entire UFC roster who has better Brazillian Jiu Jitsu than Souza, so If the fight goes to the ground he will certainly have the advantage. Souza lost his last fight to Yoel Romero in a very controversial fight, but he is looking to finally get that shot at the belt. Vitor’s last fight was a first round KO of Dan Henderson, and he hopes to get a rematch against either Weidman or Rockhold.

The main event is the Heavyweight championship of the world, as Fabricio Werdum defends his title for the first time against Stipe Miocic. Werdum was scheduled to fight Cain Velasquez in a rematch earlier this year, but Cain suffered a back injury. The UFC offered Miocic as a replacement to Werdum, but the champ was also injured. Nonetheless, they will fight in May and it should be a great fight between two warriors. Both men are very well trained and they can hit, so this could also be a quick fight as are most Heavyweight bouts. Fabricio’s tremendous ground game could be the x factor in this matchup, but it is not a grappling match so anything could happen. Two of the baddest men on the planet fighting for glory is a great way to close out an amazing card of fights. It is a great time to be an MMA fan, and the future looks very bright for the sport. 

Joao V. Gomes

Pro Fighting Fans Staff Writer

The UFC’s annual super bowl weekend event has undergone some massive changes in the past 48 hours. Coming into this week UFC 196 featured a heavyweight title fight between current champ Fabricio Werdum (20-5-1) and former champ Cain Velasquez (13-2). We were finally going to see whether altitude was really the difference in their first fight. Instead, the pay per view card simply fell apart.

On January 24th UFC officials announced that due to a back injury Cain Velasquez would not be able to compete at UFC 196 on February 6th. It was a crushing blow to an already thin pay per view card, but the MMA gods came to the rescue. Stipe Miocic (14-2) was going to step in to the role of challenger and get a crack at the heavyweight title held by Fabricio Werdum. It was a worthy replacement and just as intriguing as the original matchup.

As the saying goes, when it rains it pours.One day after Cain Velasquez was pulled from the UFC 196 main event, Fabricio Werdum pulled out also citing various injuries as the cause.The UFC was then left with a tough decision, find a replacement for Werdum and have him fight Miocic for an interim title, or scrap the title fight altogether and move the co main event up to main event status.They went with the second option and decided to promote Johny Hendricks (17-3) vs. Stephen Thompson (11-1) to the main event, but with a wrinkle. Instead of it being a pay per view event the card has been moved to Fox Sports 1.Despite offers to save the card from the multiple fighters including former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, UFC 196 will now come without a price tag.

With the current lineup, this is a solid fight card for Fox Sports 1. The new welterweight main event between Johny Hendricks and Stephen Thompson promises to be an interesting clash of styles. The co main event is now a heavyweight fight between Roy Nelson (20-12) and Jared Rosholt (14-2), rounding out the main card are Rafael Cavalcante (12-6-1NC) vs. Ovince St. Preux (18-7) and Joseph Benavidez (23-4) vs. Zach Makovsky (19-6). It should be an entertaining evening and for up to date coverage keep checking back with profightingfans.com.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans

Editor/Staff Writer

Despite the fact he is currently sidelined with an injury, UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will soon know who he is facing next.  After another impressive knockout performance at UFC 168 Travis Browne has earned himself a spot in a number one contender matchup against veteran Fabricio Werdum.  The two will square off at the recently announced UFC on FOX 11 event on April 19th, 2013.

The Brazilian Werdum last competed in the octagon against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC on FUEL TV 10 in June of 2013.  He won that bout by armbar submission to give himself three straight wins since returning to the UFC.  His other two victories came against Roy Nelson and Mike Russow.  Those victories were apparently enough to give Werdum number one contender status, however, instead of waiting for a matchup with Velasquez he’ll now take on Browne with the winner getting a title shot.

Travis Browne looked to be skyrocketing to the top of the UFC’s heavyweight division before he was stopped by Antonio Silva in 2012.  Of course, in that fight he tore his hamstring and that allowed Silva to capitalize and get the win.  Since that night Browne has been making serious statements left and right.  First he brutalized Gabriel Gonzaga with standing elbow strikes then front kicked Alistair Overeem into oblivion this past August.  The Overeem victory was most impressive as Browne was rocked early in the bout but was able to recover to finish his opponent in the second round.  Those two wins got Travis a date with veteran heavyweight Josh Barnett and it only took him a minute to get another knockout win.  Once again it was done with the same standing elbow strikes Browne used to stop Gonzaga and he will finally get a chance to earn a title shot.

Both Browne and Werdum are on impressive winning streaks and without a clear cut number one contender in the heavyweight division this seems like the best way to determine who is more deserving of a title fight.  On paper it would seem as though Browne’s athleticism could be too much to handle for Werdum.  But the crafty veteran should never be counted out of a fight, especially if he can get Browne to the mat where he could possibly showcase his world-class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills.

Werdum is definitely making the most of his second chance in the UFC, getting a title shot would certainly be a career highlight for the 36-year-old.  Browne is only 31 but as we all know, getting a title shot only gets tougher the older you get.  So this is Browne’s chance for the limelight and he will most likely show up on fight night looking to prove a point.

Also confirmed for the UFC on FOX 11 show is a women’s bantamweight bout between recent title challengers Miesha Tate and Liz Carmouche.  As stated above the event will take place on April 19th from Orlando, Florida.  Continue to check back with Profightingfans.com for more updates as they become available.

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Staff Writer

Wow, so the Brazilians proved Saturday night they enjoy tapping people out as much as we Canadians enjoy tapping kegs.  All kidding aside, UFC on FUEL TV 10 was a success.  Leo Santos became the newest winner of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil and Thiago Silva showed that he still has knockout power.  There were so many candidates for this edition of three stars, it wasn’t an easy choice.  Here they are and read until the end, there just might be a surprise in the number one spot.

Third Star: Felipe Arantes

The main card fights at UFC on FUEL TV 10 were quick because of all the stoppages, so that meant that we got to see some matchups from the undercard.  One of those was a bout between Felipe Arantes and Godofredo Pepey.  Early on it looked as though the purple haired Pepey was going to submit Arantes.  On a couple occasions he had dominant positions on the ground only to lose them.  Apparently Arantes wasn’t interested in being submitted, he was able to reverse the position when he was mounted, which turned the fight around in a hurry.  Arantes battered Pepey with nasty elbows on the ground and forced the referee to stop the fight with just over a minute to go in the first round.  It was a great demonstration of heart and determination from Arantes and was worthy of my third star.

Second Star: Thiago Silva

Thiago Silva did exactly what he said he would, going toe to toe with Rafael Cavalcante.  The two light heavyweights traded big strikes back and forth, but it was Cavalcante who began to slow down late in the first round.  Silva capitalized and continued to push the pace.  All it took was one vicious uppercut and the strikeforce import Cavalcante, hit the mat.  It was nice to see Thiago Silva look so good in a fight.  Let’s just hope he passes the post-fight drug test, because I’d hate to have to overturn my decision to award him the second star.

First Star: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

There were so many submissions on Saturday night that it was impossible to find one or two that were worthy of a star.  So, I decided to give the first star to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the martial art earned it, fair and square.  UFC on FUEL TV 10 set a company record for the most submission victories at a single event with eight, it was fitting that the event took place in Brazil.  Some of the more impressive submissions were Antonio Braga Neto’s kneebar against Anthony Smith, Erick Silva’s armlock victory over Jason High, and of course, main event winner Fabricio Werdum submitting Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira via armbar.  Way to go Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you’ve earned the first star for UFC on FUEL TV 10!

Leading up to Saturday night, I must admit I was less than enthused about this fight card.  But, I was pleasantly surprised because it turned out to be extremely entertaining.  It’s not very often that we see an event full of submissions, usually it is knockouts.  I hope you enjoyed reading another edition of the infamous Three Stars, keep your hands up fight fans!

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

A rematch seven years in the making, Fabricio Werdum (16-5-1) will again meet Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (34-7-1) at UFC on Fuel TV 10 in Fortaleza, Brazil.  The first fight took place in 2006 under the now defunct Pride banner with Nogueira winning by unanimous decision.  While both men have changed a great deal since then, we’ll aim to dissect each fighter’s current skill sets and tendencies as we look to determine a more probable outcome.

It will be nearly one year to the day Werdum last stepped into the octagon, in a first round TKO victory over Mike Russow.  As a two time ADCC World Submission Wrestling Champion, Werdum possesses the strongest BJJ credentials in the UFC Heavyweight Division.

Minotauro has held both UFC and Pride gold, and though he’s alternated wins and losses for five years, he’s a dangerous opponent for anyone. While Nogueira has always been regarded as a dangerous jiu-jitsu practitioner, it’s hard to forget his bone breaking submission loss to Frank Mir.  If there is any solace to be found, he has bounced back nicely, defeating the “unsubmittable” Dave Herman in October via armbar.

Records and accolades aside, fighting style will always hold the most weight in a pre-fight prediction.  Both men are incredibly skilled on the ground and possess only modest wrestling ability, which is why the key to the fight will likely reside in the stand-up game.

Werdum’s striking has improved drastically over the past few years while working with Chute Boxe legend, Rafael Cordeiro.  We’ve seen crisp combinations, and the incorporation of a brutal clinch game.  Werdum’s new striking prowess has been put on display in back-to-back victories over Nelson and Russow.

As far as striking is concerned, Nogueira remains a boxer, as he’s always been.  He jabs and counters well enough but lacks the power possessed by men like Dos Santos or Overeem.  What makes Big Nog a different fighter today, is his capacity to take punishment.  His chin appears suspect as two of his most recent losses have come via knockout.  While it isn’t uncommon to see veteran fighters lose their durability, it doesn’t bode well for Nogueira.

Strategy will be of high importance in this fight.  Nogueira has never been a cautious fighter, we’ve seen it in his willingness to brawl.  We’ve also witnessed questionable decision making as he was a few strikes away from finishing Frank Mir, but instead attempted a guillotine.  Needless to say, he paid the price.

Werdum’s strategy has been a bit more conservative as he plays to his own strengths.  He baited Fedor Emelianenko into lunging into his guard; he attempted to do the same to Alistair Overeem.  It appears that he has taken lessons learned from the Overeem loss and has sharpened his combinations, as well as his clinch game.

All signs point to striking as the difference maker in the fight.  According to FightMetric, the official statistics provider of the UFC, Werdum lands more significant strikes per minute, at a higher accuracy than does Minotauro.  Nogueira will look to counter Werdum as he throws kicks to the body and legs.  One or two heavy counter shots may land flush, but Werdum has proven he can take a beating from harder hitters.  Both men will look for leg sweeps and takedowns, but the fight may not reach the ground.  Werdum will press Nog against the cage, tire him out, and utilize the Muay Thai plumb to finish the fight with a vicious knee.  Werdum wins by 2nd round TKO.

Mica Koefod

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

NO 3 ranked heavyweight in the world, Fabricio Werdum has recently stated that he wants his first ever shot at the heavyweight world title, should he get past Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira on June 8, in Brazil. Werdum was once the number one contender, before losing to then newcomer, Junior Dos Santos. He was released from the UFC in the aftermath. After going 3-1 in Strikeforce, with wins against Antonio Silva, Mike Kyle and Fedor Emelianenko he was brought back into the UFC; where he has gone 2-0 since, beating Roy Nelson and Mike Russow.

After bizarrely taking half of 2012 off, when there was no official report of injury, Werdum has since agreed to coach the second season of TUF Brazil and will face his biggest challenge since his UFC return, Minotauro Nogueira. Nelson and Russow have both previously been ranked in the Top Ten and have both been incredibly durable fighters, though Werdums’ dominance over both of them showed why he is ranked so highly. While a win over Nogueira definitely shows his dominance over most of the division and puts him on a three fight win streak, I don’t think it makes him the next contender for the title.

Not to say that Werdum is not up there with the best of them at heavyweight, it is mostly that the opponents he has defeated have either not been on hugely impressive winning streaks or are simply not ranked high enough to make him more deserving than the other contenders. It also has to do with timing, as the winner of Junior Dos Santos vs Mark Hunt will receive a title shot.  Those two men are competing before Werdum fights Nogueira.  Which means Werdum could be sitting out for a long time if he is to wait for the winner of that fight to fight for the title and then fight the winner.

So the most logical course of action is for Werdum to take another fight, should he beat Nogueira and guarantee himself a title shot. Of course there is no shortage of possible opponents; a third fight with Alistair Overeem makes sense, considering that Overeem really needs to get back on track in the UFC and their history with eachother.  Another possibility  would be the winner of Frank Mir vs Daniel Cormier, with the winner significantly rising in the rankings. There has always been a lot of hype around Mir fighting Werdum, due to their excellent submission skills and now improved striking; where as Cormier should really be fighting for the title as we speak.  The only thing holding him back is that he refuses to fight his friend and training partner, Cain Velasquez, who currently holds the belt.

So there are some posibilities for “Vai Cavalo” to take, before taking a title shot. But first he has to get past the only man to have convincingly beat him in Pride, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.  For upates on TUF Brazil and other future UFC events keep checking back with Profightingfans.com. 

Christopher McMillan

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer