The UFC returns to Barueri, Brazil for just the second time with a Fight Night card stacked with Brazilian MMA action. At the top we have our featured bout of the night between Lyoto Machida and CB Dollaway as a highly-respected karate-styled fighter in Machida looks get back into the title mix by knocking down rising middleweight CB Dollaway, who has had a bit of a career resurgence as of late. Before we hit the bulk of the card though, let’s take a look at what to expect earlier in the night:
Vitor Miranda vs. Jake Collier
A pair of middleweights start the action off as “Lex Luthor” Miranda looks to get back in the win column with a victory against UFC newcomer Jake Collier. Usually the UFC likes to give Brazilians easy fights on Brazil cards, but this is not the case here. Miranda, even though he isn’t the newcomer, still is very inexperienced as he is only 0-1 in the UFC, but has had Ultimate Fighter experience. Miranda used to fight at heavyweight, but is now at his proper weight class at middleweight. Miranda is also a sharp striker with knockout power, and can finish the fight with just about any technique; punches, kicks, knees, elbows, etc. Collier on the other hand is an extremely athletic fighter who is pretty well-rounded; he will also be stepping into the cage as the longer of the two.
Because both guys are still pretty inexperienced it’s hard to know what to expect in this fight. Collier is definitely the better grappler of the two, but Miranda has some sharp striking like I said. Look for Collier to play on the outside and show some of his skills on the feet, and if he doesn’t like what he sees then expect him to try and get the fight to the ground. Whether he can or not is the real question of this fight. If he can, and I say he does, then Collier should be able to finish the fight with a late TKO victory.
Marcio Alexandre Jr. vs. Tim Means
This welterweight bout features two very exciting strikers in Alexandre Jr. and Tim Means. Both fighters have a large majority of their victories by knockout or TKO, and they heavily prefer to fight on their feet. Tim Means is the more experienced of the two; he has six bouts in the UFC, but has only won half of them. Alexandre Jr. on the other hand lost to Warrley Alves in the finale of TUF: Brazil 3. Alexandre Jr. is a very technical guy on the feet, and he has a funky rhythm that catch a lot of guys off guard. He likes to play opossum and then explode forward with punches and kicks. Means on the other hand is a high-volume striker who just wears on guys. Means has a tough chin, and really knows how to pour it on his opponents on the feet. Means is also the longer of the two; this should heavily favor the American as he likes to fight in the clinch and do damage there.
This is another fight that stylistically makes it hard on the Brazilian. Means knows what he’s doing on the feet in striking range, and the biggest threat to him there is getting caught off guard by Alexandre Jr.’s blitzes. Marcio is very Machida-esque in that regards, but he doesn’t have the defense to back it up. Look for Means’s range and distance control to keep him safe from Alexandre Jr.’s attempts, and look for Means to then counter with his snappy punches into a clinch game that he should dominate. If the fight does go to the ground, which I doubt it will, but if it does, look for Marcio to have a slight advantage there. He trains out of Team Tavares, and they have some very skilled grapplers there. Both guys really like to finish fights, but Alexandre Jr. is in a new league here in the UFC, so I think he’s going to taste what it’s like going to the distance. It’ll either be Means via decision in what should be an action-packed fight between two guys who like to trade on the feet, or it’ll be Means who captures a late TKO as Alexandre Jr. fades and can’t deal with Means’s presure.
Leandro Issa vs. Yuta Sasaki
Next up in the bantamweight division, we’re given a real treat in this match-up between two of the division’s most promising prospects in Leandro Issa and Yuta Sasaki. Issa, the Brazilian, dropped his UFC debut against Russell Doane when he was submitted in the second round, but in July he bounced back with an armbar victory over Jumabieke Tuerxun. Issa is a fighter in development, but what we’ve seen from him has been pretty promising. He is of course a very skilled grappler, but it’s his striking that is getting better and better – I think we’ll see just how good his striking become in this bout. He’s going to need to own this fight on the feet though because even though Issa is a talented grappler, Sasaki might have him out-matched. The Japanese fighter boasts an 18-1 record record with 9 wins by submission including his UFC debut submission over the talented Roland Delorme. This has the makings to be a very fun fight.
The physically edge here goes to Sasaki who is just the better athlete. Issa is prone to getting controlled by stronger men, so look for Sasaki to be fully willing to get this fight to the ground. On the feet, Sasaki brings a very unorthodox approach, but it’s no match for Issa’s evolving Muay Thai game. Look for Issa to really look to keep this fight on the feet, attack with low kicks and sharp punching combinations. Sasaki will most likely be looking for every chance he can get to tie up, so it’ll be Sasaki most likely pushing forward in pursuit of the clinch game. Sasaki has some decent takedowns of his own, but it’ll be his strength if he gets on top that keeps him in the dominant position. It should be a very close fight, but look for Issa to definitely hold his own off his back on the mat, and do enough on the feet to get a slight nod on the scorecards. Can’t wait for this one.
Daniel Sarafian vs. Antonio dos Santos Jr.
Middleweight stand out Daniel Sarafian tries to desperately get back to his winning ways in this bout against the UFC newcomer, and fellow Brazilian, dos Santos Jr. Back in 2013, Daniel Sarafian looked to be a bright up-and-comer when he took CB Dollaway to a controversial split decision, and then submitted Eddie Mendez in the first round. Unfortunately for Sarafian, another split decision loss and then a sudden upset loss to Kiichi Kinumoto early this year makes this bout against dos Santos Jr. do-or-die for him. Even though Sarafian has seven of his eight professional wins via submission, he has some really good stand-up skills which be put on display against CB Dollaway, and has only gotten better. With that said, expected Sarafian to return to his roots against dos Santos Jr., because “Junior Alpha” packs a whallop on the feet. Even though dos Santos Jr. isn’t as experienced Sarafian, he is an extremely dangerous striker who holds over half of his professional victories by KO.
Look for Sarafian, who will undoubtedly be the shorter of the two, to rely on his explosive takedowns throughout much of the fight. Even though Sarafian could probably hang with dos Santos Jr. on the feet, I would not advise it as Sarafian shines when he is in top position. Octagon jitters are also a big factor here as Sarafian is the more experienced fighter while dos Santos Jr. will be stepping into the bright lights for the first time. Look for Sarafian to take the fight to the ground and not allow Antonio to get off with very many strikes. From the top position, it should be fairly easy for Daniel to move his way into a dominant position and either finish the lesser-experienced grappler with ground and pound or elicit the tap out somewhere at the end of the first round.
Marcos de Lima vs. Igor Pokrajac
Here it is – the mismatch that favorites the Brazilian – a bout I’ve been waiting to see! Marcos de Lima returns to the Octagon after his sensational debut when he KO’d Richardson Moreira in just twenty seconds. Outside of his fantastic UFC debut, de Lima progressed through Ultimate Fighter: Brazil fairly well before he was tapped out by Antonio Carlos Jr. De Lima however showed a well-versed ground game on the show, which compliments his vicious striking skills. Pokrajac on the other hand has been given every chance imaginable to stay in the UFC as he is 4-6 in the promotion and is 1-3-1 in his last five fights. Pokrajac is a brawler on the feet who is very physically strong, and likes to jump right into the fire. He has some good takedowns and submission skills of his own when he wants to use them, but primarily he favors exchanging on the feet and pushing forward.
Look for de Lima to wait on counters as Pokrajac tends to get a little sloppy when trying to put together combinations. De Lima has very sharp striking and a solid kicking game too. Now that he’s not fighting heavyweights like he was on TUF, he should be able to thwart any clinch or takedown attempts from Pokrajac. I’m predicting a first round KO victory for de Lima who sends Pokrajac his walking papers.
Darren Elkins vs. Hacran Dias
Topping off UFC Fight Night 58’s prelims is an intriguing match up between two guys looking to back into the win column. Both Elkins and Dias started their UFC careers looking like future champions as Elkins had a 5-fight win streak starting in 2011 while Dias upset the prospect Yuri Alcantara in his UFC debut which instantly got him recognized. Now, Elkins is 3-2 in his last five, but hasn’t had the best performances while Dias is looking to bounce back from a 2-fight losing; a decision loss to Nik Lentz, and a controversial decision loss to Ricardo Lamas.
Both Elkins and Dias are fantastic wrestlers who like to lock up with their opponents. The main difference between the two is that Dias is always looking to do damage along the way while Elkins just kind of likes to ride his opponents out. Dias also the more athletic of the two, and features some really explosive grappling skills that translates to his wrestling. On the feet, neither fighter is really all that stellar, but they are still solid. Elkins has a high-volume boxing style that he uses to get into his opponents’s faces and take them down afterwards. Elkins lacks power on the feet as well as proper striking defense, but he’s more than willing to take a punch if that means getting a good angle on a single or double leg attempt. Dias on the other hand is much more cognizant on the feet with better defense albeit a still improving arsenal of offense.
In conclusion, I see Elkins being out-matched here. Physically, Dias holds the edge which really puts Elkins at a disadvantage because Hacran is going to be one getting the positions, winning the grappling exchanges, and also probably getting more takedowns. On the feet, Elkins will probably be the more active of the two, but Dias is just sharper, more accurate, and overall the neater fighter on the feet. I think this fight will be competitive, and both guys will try to implement their wrestling skills, but it’ll Dias who gets the decision in the end.