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Uncaged: Back to Brazil for another beat down

The success of UFC 134 last August is reflected in the organization’s quick return whereas the country’s seemingly limitless talent pool is also on show.

Jose Aldoduring a UFC Rio open workouts on Barra de Tijuca Beach this week,
Jose Aldoduring a UFC Rio open workouts on Barra de Tijuca Beach this week,
Image: Felipe Dana/AP/Press Association Images

THE UFC RETURNS to the frenzied arena of Brazil for the second time in five months this weekend with a featherweight championship bout the main draw.

The success of UFC 134 last August is reflected in the organization’s quick return whereas the country’s seemingly limitless talent pool is also on show.

Two Brazilian legends, Jose Aldo and Vitor Belfort, are the star attractions as they face off against Americans Chad Mendes and Anthony Johnson, and Brazil is represented in every other fight on the card with at least one local fighter in every bout.

Aldo way to Rio

Jose Aldo makes his third defence of the newly formed UFC featherweight belt against a relative newcomer in Chad Mendes.

Despite winning his first two UFC fights, Aldo has struggled to reproduce the form that saw him light-up and dominate the WEC.

His performances in decision victories over Mark Hominick and Kenny Florian were a far cry from the days when he was knocking out Cub Swanson with flying double knees in eight seconds.

YouTube credit: Newmy84

I think this is down to settling into the UFC more than a depreciation of his skills and this weekend is set-up perfectly for “Scarface” to explode back onto the biggest stage in MMA. Mendes gets his shot despite never appearing on a main card pay-per-view event, and although he is unbeaten, Aldo is far too quick and strong on his feet for the wrestler.

The outcome of the fight predictably hinges on whether the American can grab and keep hold of the diminutive Brazilian, but even if he does, he has to get past his underrated, solid BJJ game. I fancy Also strongly for this one.

Anthony looking to “Rumble” Belfort.

Anthony Johnson wades right into a middleweight baptism of fire as he faces the formidable Vitor Belfort on home turf. Johnson openly admitted that the cut down to 170lb for his last fight with Charlie Brenneman was one of the hardest in his career and has somewhat sensibly opted to fight at middleweight for the first time.

“Rumble” might have momentarily regretted that decision when he heard who his opponent was to be and where the fight was to take place. This fight has all the hallmarks of a slow-burner as Belfort, with the shorter reach, will look to feel his opponent out on the feet while Johnson will almost certainly be angling for a takedown.

In a classic match-up of styles, the wrestler will be looking to grind out a decision while the striker will be looking to ignite the passion of the home crowd with a KO. It’s too close to call.

YouTube credit: vaneKfan2k

Best of the Rest

Liverpool’s own Terry Etim looks to build on his impressive comeback victory last time out against Edward Faaloloto.

It took the Englishman just 17 seconds to win that bout but he faces a much tougher task this time against unbeaten Brazilian prospect Edson Barboza.

Barboza was on the right end of a split decision against Ross Pearson last time out and will look to avoid Etim’s dangerous submission game if he is to stand any chance of victory. This fight is a major contender for fight of the night honours.

Erick Silva takes on fellow Brazilian Carlo Prater while Rousimar Palhares and Mike Massenzio make up the rest of the card.

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About the author:

Brian Kirk

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