UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Machida takes place this weekend in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and here’s exactly why you should care.
It’s a pretty unfortunate job to have to play the role of ‘opening act’ for next weekend’s truly historic UFC 217, but in UFC Fight Night 199, the UFC have actually done a pretty good job at providing us with a fitting starter to November 4th’s tantalising main-course.
Funnily enough, when you consider that we have an event to look forward to virtually every weekend for the rest of this year, it’s crazy – when you look at this lineup – to see that both the main event and the co-main event could easily be considered a top bill-worthy on any given UFC Fight Night.
In the main-event, Lyoto Machida makes his long awaited return after nearly two-and-a-half years on the sidelines to face the always-dangerous Derek Brunson, a man whose own ascent in the UFC has been marred only by a mixture of bad-luck and avoidable circumstances.
Machida’s absence from the middleweight division hasn’t really hurt its appeal in the last two years per sé, but with him now set to return, it will be pretty interesting to see how his lay-off has treated him.
Of course, with a lifetime of karate-training behind him, there is no fear of Lyoto slowing down in his approach to training, but in the constantly-changing world of MMA, the way that Machida has been able to learn from his past-failings and adapt will say alot about his abilities as a martial artist when all is said and done.
For Brunson, his last seven outings have seen him record five first round KO wins, a questionable decision loss to Anderson Silva that many saw as a win for him, and of course,
8-3 in the UFC really isn’t that bad when you consider the nature of two of his three losses so for those who feel as though Brunson’s race is run in the middleweight division, do not be so sure just yet.
The co-main event will see the veteran former-title challenger Demian Maia attempt to shut down the near-deafening hype-train that surrounds up-and-comer Colby Covington, and when I say ‘deafening’, I mean that only because he has been almost annoyingly vocal when it comes to getting himself into the headlines.
First it was a one-sided assault on the former-lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, and now, following his booking against Maia, he has managed to anger the entire nation of Brazil with his antics.
In fairness to Covington, he might be trying to play the role of ‘heel’ a bit too much, but with a UFC record of 7-1 in the highly competitive welterweight division, a win over someone of Maia’s calibre – especially given Colby’s apparent intent to wrestle him – would certainly justify his near-unavoidable babble in recent times.
For Demian Maia, it’s pretty clear that he’ll probably never get a UFC title shot again in his career. His UFC 214 loss to Tyron Woodley was widely-heralded as one of the worst title-fights in UFC history, an admitedly unfair tag from those who do not understand the risks that come with fighting but alas, Maia’s grappling-heavy style and singular approach to getting the fight to the mat earned him no new fans that night unfortunately, so it’s hard to know exactly what a win over Covington will do for his career right now.
It’s a very interesting fight either way, however.
All the way down the rest of the card there are some strokes of absolutely genius matchmaking to be found, a testament to the ever-increasing depth of the UFC’s roster at all weight-classes.
John Lineker takes on Marlon Vera in a contest between two of the bantamweight division’s most electric prospects. These two have ten UFC finishes between them and if I were betting man, I’d put money on seeing an eleventh before they’re through on Saturday night.
Two fighters who have seen their careers have a late-resurgence of sorts face off on the main-card when the fan-favourite Jim Miller takes on Francisco Trinaldo, a guy who before losing out to title-challenger Kevin Lee this year, was quietly riding a seven-fight win-streak in one of the toughest divisions the UFC has to offer.
The highly-touted unbeaten flyweight prospect Jarred Brooks will look to hand his opponent Deiveson Figueiredo his first professional loss as he attempts to garner himself a top-15 matchup and while we’re on the subject of prospects, Sweden’s Jack Hermansson has looked nothing short of stunning in his last two outings – scoring two first-round KO wins on the trot, something he will look to build on against Thiago Santos, an experienced UFC veteran who has faced some of the very best 185lb-rs in the world.
Antonio Carlos Junior will bring his three-fight win-streak and incredibly slick submission game as he faces the Welsh up-and-comer Jack Marshman, who at 27-years-old, has had 28 pro-fights and will no doubt be building his way towards a run at the top-15.
Finally, an absolute barn-burner and possible Fight of the Night-in-the-making will come in the form of Vicente Luque‘s showdown with Niko Price, two men who just don’t seem capable of putting on a bad fight.
UFC Sao Paulo might not have the marquee names or the top-contenders that the likes of UFC 217 might boast, but if you’re looking for a night of fights that seems set to deliver on every level, then tune in on Saturday night and you might just witness the emergence of a bright new talent.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena