After a nice build-up for the grudge match between middleweight contenders Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort, the first UFC event of 2013 is finally here. It will also test the theory of whether the organization can continue to put B cards in booming outlets and continue to grow a fan base. Brazil will get its first dose of what is sure to be a healthy helping of UFC events this year, as the organization has already promised at least two more before the calendar turns once again.
To build the base, the UFC will institute a tried and true method that help build its fan base in the U.S.: continue to build fighters who competed on The Ultimate Fighter by putting them on second-tier cards for free, hoping to build a few stars who will eventually compete for titles down the road. It’s like a built-in minor league for the organization, and it is only likely to increase in size before it decreases.
UFC on FX 7 takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil and will be shown on the FX Network in the U.S. with the main card beginning Saturday night at 9p.m. Check out our breakdown for each of the event’s fights below.
Wagner Prado vs. Ildemar Alcantara
After injuries forced his previously scheduled opponents out of his UFC on FX 7 preliminary card bout, Wagner Prado (8-1, NC) will now meet promotional rookie Ildemar Alcantara (17-5) in a light heavyweight clash.
Prado, 26, is a Brazil born mixed martial artist who fights out of Team Noguiera. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blue belt made his professional debut in October of 2009 and won his first 9 bouts while touring the Brazilian regional circuit. The 6’0” knockout artist made his way into the UFC in 2012 and suffered a no contest at UFC on Fox 4 this past August after being poked in the eye by his opponent Phil Davis. The two 205-pounders rematched in October at UFC 153 with Davis finishing Prado this time via submission.
Alcantara is a Brazilian based mixed martial artist who fights out of the Frankiko Team. The 6’1” light-heavyweight made his professional debut in June of 2005 and went 8-4 until joining the Jungle Fight roster in 2010. Since joining Brazil’s top regional promotion, Alcantara has won 9 of his 10 bouts with only one of his wins during that span coming from decision. Alcantara had an exceptional 2012 going 4-0 which included a December Jungle Fight 47 TKO victory over Itamar Rosa.
PREDICTION – PRADO TKO
Yuri Alcantara vs. Pedro Nobre
Yuri Alcantara (27-4) will welcome Pedro “The Rock” Nobre (14-1) into the octagon at UFC on FX 7 in a bantamweight bout positioned on the preliminary card portion of the event.
Alcantara, 32, is a Brazil based mixed martial artist who fights out of Pattaya Fight. The 5’6” bantamweight made his professional debut in March of 2004 and won 24 of 27 while competing in his home country for multiple regional organizations. After capturing a pair of titles in minor organizations, Alcantara was brought into the WEC 53 event and left with an impressive KO finish of Ricardo Lamas. With the WEC transitioning into the UFC in 2011, Alcantara won his first two bouts in the octagon with wins over countryman Felipe Arantes and Japanese veteran Michihiro Omigawa. He had his 13 fight winning streak snapped in his most recent fight at UFC 147 this past June losing via unanimous decision against Hacran Dias.
Nobre, 26, is a Brazil native who fights out of the Brazilian Top Team. The 5’5” Nobre made his professional debut in March of 2009 and went unbeaten through his first 12 fights while fighting for several regional organizations across his native country. After dropping his first career bout in September of 2012, “The Rock” rebounded to win his last two to finish 2012 with a 4-1-1 record. Nobre has participated for Bitetti Combat over his last four fights.
PREDICTION – ALCANTARA DECISION
Francisco Trinaldo vs. CJ Keith
The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil competitor Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo (11-2) fights CJ Keith (8-1) in a UFC on FX 7 preliminary card bout that will be contested at 155 pounds.
Trinaldo, 34, is a Brazil native who fights out of the Brazilian Top Team. “Massaranduba” made his professional debut in May of 2006 and won his first six bouts while fighting in regional organizations across Brazil before losing against UFC veteran Yuri Alcantara in 2010. After suffering his first defeat, Trinaldo won his next four bouts while fighting for Jungle Fight and earned a spot on the TUF Brazil cast. While competing on TUF Brazil, Trinaldo won his elimination round bout to earn his way into the TUF house, but was defeated in his first round fight ending his chances to win the first season of TUF in Brazil. He returned at UFC 147 and defeated fellow TUF Brazil fighter Delson Heleno while competing as a middleweight but was defeated at UFC 153 this past October in his lightweight debut.
Keith, 26, is a California based mixed martial artist who fights out of the Pro Buhawe team. The 6’0” lightweight made his professional debut in 2007 and won his first eight bouts to begin his career while competing for California based organizations like Gladiators Challenge and The Warriors Cage. After finishing five of his first eight opponents, Keith lost at UFC on FX 4 this past June via 1st round TKO against Ramsey Nijem.
PREDICTION – TRINALDO TKO
Edson Barboza vs. Lucas Martins
A lightweight bout featuring Edson Barboza (10-1) and Lucas Martins (12-0) will be positioned on the UFC on FX 7 preliminary card.
Barboza, 26, is a Brazil born mixed martial artist who fights out of The Armory in Florida. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt made his professional debut in 2009 and went on to win his first 6 bouts fighting in regional organizations like Ring of Combat and Renaissance MMA. The UFC picked up Barboza in late 2010 and the 5’11” striker compiled four straight victories over Mike Lullo, Anthony Njokuani, Ross Pearson and Terry Etim before suffering a TKO defeat against Jaime Varner at UFC 146 in May.
Martins, 24, is a Brazilian based mixed martial artist who fights out of the legendary Chute Boxe team. The 5’9” Martins made his professional debut in September of 2011 and has easily defeated his first 12 opponents while touring the regional circuit in his native country. The hard hitting Martins has finished 11 of his 12 opponents which includes 8 TKO/KO finishes and 3 submissions. Martins has won an impressive 10 bouts in 2012 including his most recent on December 13th at Jungle Fight 46 where he picked up a head kick KO victory over countryman Oberdan Vieira Tenorio.
PREDICTION – BARBOZA TKO
Diego Nunes vs. Nik Lentz
Both Diego Nunes (18-3) and Nik Lentz (22-5-2, NC) will try and collect their second straight win inside the octagon at UFC on FX 7 in a featherweight bout that is slotted for the preliminary card.
Nunes, 30, is a Brazil based mixed martial artist who now fights out of the Nova Uniao team. A purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Nunes made his professional debut in 2004 and posted a perfect 11-0 mark while fighting his early career in his native country’s regional scene. The 5’6” Nunes signed with the WEC in 2010 and went 4-1 before migrating into the UFC a year later. Victories over Mike Brown and Manny Gamburyan were followed by a loss to Denis Siver at UFC on Fuel TV 2 this past April. Nunes bounced back in his most recent fight three months ago at UFC on FX 5 via unanimous decision against Bart Palaszewski.
Lentz, 28, is a Texas born mixed martial artist who now fights out of Minnesota with the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy. A former NCAA Division I wrestler, Lentz made his professional MMA debut in 2005 and won 16 of his first 20 while fighting for multiple regional organizations across the Midwestern United States. Lentz made the move into the UFC in 2010 and went unbeaten through his first six inside the octagon with victories over the likes of Tyson Griffin and Andre Winner. Lentz suffered setbacks versus lightweights Mark Bocek and Evan Dunham before making the move down to 145 pounds. In his featherweight debut this past August at UFC 150, Lentz picked up an impressive TKO stoppage victory over Eiji Mitsuoka.
PREDICTION – LENTZ DECISION
Ronny Markes vs. Andrew Craig
Rising middleweights Ronny Markes (13-1) and Andrew Craig (8-0) will meet in a UFC on FX 7 preliminary card bout.
Markes, 24, is a Brazil based mixed martial artist who fights out of the Nova Uniao team. The 6’1” Markes made his professional debut in January 2007 and won his first seven before suffering his only career defeat in an October 2010 regional fight in his native Brazil. After the loss, Markes rebounded to win his next four fights including an April 2011 bout over former WEC Champion Paulo Filho to secure a roster position in the UFC. After joining the UFC in late 2011, Markes won his UFC on VS 5 debut with a unanimous decision victory over Karlos Vemola. In his latest fight Markes picked up a split decision win against Aaron Simpson at this past February’s UFC on Fuel TV 2 event.
Craig, 26, is a Houston, Texas based mixed martial artist who fights out of Team Tooke. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt made his professional debut in May of 2010 and won his first six fights while fighting in regional promotions like Bellator and Legacy FC, where he held the company’s Middleweight belt before leaving this past year for the UFC. In his UFC on FX 2 debut this past March; Craig won easily via unanimous decision over Kyle Noke. He made his two for two inside the octagon at UFC on Fuel TV 4 this past July with a head kick KO victory over Rafael Natal.
PREDICTION – CRAIG TKO
Godofredo Castro vs. Milton Vieira
The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil veterans Godofredo “Pepey” Castro (8-1) and Milton “Miltinho” Vieira (13-7-2) will meet in a UFC on FX 7 featherweight bout that is positioned for the preliminary card.
Castro, 25, is a Brazilian born mixed martial artist who fights out of the Marcio Cupim Team in Fortaleza. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt made his professional debut in December of 2003 and won his first three bouts spanning a four-year period. He hit the MMA scene full-time in 2010 and won his next five before joining the TUF Brazil cast. A member of Team Vitor and Team Wanderlei, “Pepey” advanced into the Featherweight Finals at UFC 147 but suffered a unanimous decision defeat this past June against Rony “Jason” Mariano Bezerra.
Vieira, 34, is a Brazilian based mixed martial artist who is trained by former UFC veteran Murilo Bustamante. “Miltinho” made his professional debut in 2001 and won 13 of his first 21 by touring organizations in Russia (M-1 Mix Fight), Brazil (Bitetti Combat MMA), Japan (DEEP), and the United States (Strikeforce). Viera joined the TUF Brazil fighters this past year, however was ousted early in the tournament. He returned at UFC 147 and fought Felipe Arantes to a DRAW this past June.
PREDICTION – “PEPEY” SUBMISSION
Thiago Tavares vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Thiago Tavares (17-4-1) will attempt to win his third straight bout inside the octagon when he welcomes unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov (18-0) in a UFC on FX 7 lightweight bout that will be part of the events’ main card.
Tavares, 28, is a Brazilian born mixed martial artist who fights out of the Brazilian Top Team. The 5’7” lightweight made his professional debut in November of 2003 and went 10-0 fighting in regional promotions across the United States, Brazil, England, and Holland. Tavares transitioned into the UFC in 2007 and won three of his first four before losing back to back bouts in 2008. His career has been resurrected as of late winning 4 of his last 6 including his last two against Spencer Fisher at UFC 134 in August of 2011 and Sam Stout at UFC 142 last January.
Nurmagomedov, 24, is a Russian born mixed martial artist who fights out of several gyms across the world including the Red Fury Fight Team and AMA Fight Club. The 5’10” Nurmagomedov made his professional debut in 2008 and went unbeaten through his first 16 bouts while competing in both Russian and Ukraine promotions like Pro FC and the M-1 Challenge. The well rounded lightweight made his way into the UFC in 2012 and submitted Kamal Shalorus at UFC on FX last January and picked up a unanimous decision victory over Gleison Tibau at UFC 148 this past July.
PREDICTION – NURMAGOMEDOV DECISION
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Ben Rothwell
Former Heavyweight Challenger Gabriel Gonzaga (13-6) is attempting to get back to that status starting with “Big” Ben Rothwell (32-8) when the two meet at UFC on FX 7 in a main card bout.
Gonzaga, 33, is a Brazil born mixed martial artist who fights out of Massachusetts with his Team Link. The 6’2” 250-pound heavyweight made his professional debut in 2003 and produced a 4-1 mark while fighting in Brazilian regional promotions. He signed with the UFC in 2005 and won his first four inside the octagon to earn a title opportunity against then-Champion Randy Couture. Couture finished Gonzaga at UFC 74 in August 2007 ending his title chances. After the loss to Couture, Gonzaga went on to win only three of his next seven bouts under the UFC banner before being released from his contract. Gonzaga wasn’t out of the promotion for long; he defeated his only opponent in a Connecticut-based regional organization before earning another invite from the world’s largest promotion. In his return at UFC 142 last January, Gonzaga won via submission over Ednaldo Oliveira.
Rothwell, 31, is a Wisconsin based mixed martial artist who fights out of his own Rothwell MMA team. The 6’4” former kickboxer made his professional MMA debut in 2001 and won 30 out of his first 36 while touring mid-level promotions like the IFL, Affliction, and King of the Cage. Rothwell made his way into the UFC in late-2009 and has split his four bouts in the octagon up to this point. After losing his UFC debut, Rothwell has rebounded to win two of his last three including an upset at UFC 145 last April winning via 1st round KO over Brendan Schaub.
PREDICTION – GONZAGA TKO
Daniel Sarafian vs. CB Dollaway
The Ultimate Fighter Brazil finalist Daniel Sarafian (7-2) finally makes his Octagon debut at UFC on FX 7 against veteran middleweight CB Dollaway on the events’ main card.
Sarafian, 30, is a Brazilian based mixed martial artist who fights out of American Top Team in Florida. The 5’9” middleweight made his professional debut in 2006 and won three of his first five bouts dropping a Bellator 1 bout along the way. He rebounded from his BFC loss with wins in his next four fights which included three submissions. The submission based fighter spent 2012 on TUF Brazil where he advanced into the finals before an injury took his chance of a six-figure UFC contract. The UFC signed the Team Vitor fighter anyway and put him up against a formidable opponent for his debut.
Dollaway, 29, is an Ohio born mixed martial artist who is now based out of Arizona with Power MMA and Fitness. “The Doberman” made his professional debut in 2006 and won his first six bouts fighting in multiple regional organizations. Dollaway earned a spot on TUF 7 and advanced into the Finale where he was eventually defeated by Amir Sadollah. Dollaway won five of his next six bouts and picking up two “Submission of the Night” bonuses along the way. His momentum was stopped in 2011 after dropping back to back bouts. In 2012, Dollaway rebounded to win his only fight at UFC 146 this past May by picking up a lackluster decision victory over Jason Miller.
PREDICTION – SARAFIAN DECISION
Vitor Belfort vs. Michael Bisping
The UFC on FX 7 main event features Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort (21-10) against Michael Bisping (23-4) in a middleweight clash. Bisping will earn a UFC Middleweight Title opportunity with a victory over the former Champion.
Belfort, 35, is a Brazil native who now fights out of the Jaco Hybrid Training Center. “The Phenom” made his professional debut in 1996 and won 6 of his first 7 including a 5-1 run in the early years of the UFC. Belfort moved over into the PRIDE organization in 1999 and won four of his five for the Japanese based organization before returning in 2002. In his second UFC stint, Belfort won the light-heavyweight title before leaving once again in 2005. This time Belfort remained out of the organization fighting for Cage Rage, Affliction, PRIDE, and Strikeforce before returning for a third UFC stint in 2009. His current stint in the octagon has produced a 3-2 mark with his only losses coming in title bouts. He dropped a UFC 126 fight with Anderson Silva for the 185-pound title and in his most recent fight lost to Jon Jones for the 205-pound title this past September at UFC 152.
PREDICTION – BELFORT DECISION
By Nick Russell
ProFightingFans.com Staff Writer