The UFC is back in Brazil. No Anderson Silva? No problem! The featherweight title fight, and a Brazilian-rich card, should make for a hectic night’s fighting.
Don’t sleep on the featured prelim between bantamweight contender Raphael Assunção (24-5-0) and newcomer Marlon Moraes (18-4-1). A win here could catapult either man into title contention and Moraes’ debut is highly anticipated. For good reason.
A Hawaiian and a Brazilian open and close the main card. Yancy Medeiros (13-4-0, 1 NC) goes into hostile territory for his next visit to welterweight. He takes on a man established in the division, Erick Silva (19-7-0, 1 NC).
That’s all before the stone-handed Paulo Borrachinha (9-0-0) and Oluwale Bamgbose (6-2-0) are locked in the cage together. With a combined 15 knockout wins between them, this should be a mighty fun scrap.
Let’s get down to it.
Raphael Assunção Vs Marlon Moraes (135lbs)
Raphael Assunção won seven straight before a persistent ankle injury curtailed his octagon adventures in 2014. That streak included a victory over Bryan Caraway and a split decision victory over former champion TJ Dillashaw. He returned to action at UFC 200 and lost a unanimous decision to the aforementioned Dillashaw. The Brazilian righted the ship in January, countering his way to another split decision, this time over Aljamain Sterling. The #3 ranked contender takes on fellow Brazilian, and UFC debutante, Marlon Moraes in this top of the table clash.
Moraes has been the best bantamweight outside of the UFC for some time. He joins the big show on a 13-fight unbeaten streak and as World Series of Fighting’s only bantamweight champion. Moraes had five successful defences, finishing four opponents inside three rounds. He also boosts a notable win over former WEC bantamweight champion, Miguel Torres. The 29-year-old is a well rounded fighter with a solid Muay Thai base and he’s fast. He’ll need every bit of that speed against the tank like Assunção.
Assunção has formidable take down defence and he’s a good counter puncher. To return, after riding the pine for nearly two years, and take Dillashaw to a decision was impressive. But he struggled against TJ’s footwork and troubled early against Sterling, who had a distinct edge in striking. With no finish since 2013, the 34-year-old could be in for a long night. Once Moraes finds his sea legs in the octagon, his quick hands and speed should see him avoid anything too dangerous. No finish against the hardy Assunção but a decision win here puts Moraes in the title picture.
Prediction: Moraes via unanimous decision.
Eric Silva Vs Yancy Medeiros (170lbs)
“The Tiger, Eric Silva, is currently 3-2 in his last five. The Brazilian submitted Mike Rhodes, Josh Koscheck and, most recently, Luan Chagas. That win stopped a two-fight skid, courteously of Neil Magney and Nordine Taleb. He’s an aggressive BBJ and judo black belt with seven post-fight bonuses to his credit. Silva will try to salvage his welterweight standing against “The Kid”, Yancy Medeiros.
Medeiros has fought at light-heavyweight, middleweight, lightweight and now welterweight. The Hawaiian is also 3-2 in his last five having submitted Joe Proctor and winning a decision over John Makdessi. His welterweight debut could not have gone better, with a second round submission of Sean Spencer via rear-naked choke. That was after he smashed Spencer with two head kicks and was possibly his most impressive win.
Both fighters have shown flashes of talent over their UFC careers but both have been incredibly inconsistent. Silva went down to Matt Brown and Dong Hyun Kim while Medeiros lost out to heavy handed Dustin Poirier and Jim Miller. We’re going with “The Kid”.
Medeiros is cutting much less weight at welterweight and has an excellent take down defence. That’s vital against Silva’s varied submission game. Staying off the mat will allow Medeiros to use his better striking to punish Silva on the feet. “The Kid” is younger, faster and a big welterweight. Power pays.
Prediction: Medeiros via TKO.
Paulo Borrachinha Vs Oluwale Bamgbose (185lbs)
Paulo Borrachinha is undefeated and has finished each of his nine previous opponents. With the exception of a lone submission victory, all those wins have come by way of fists. Heavy fists. He won and defended the Jungle Fight middleweight strap in his native Brazil. That brought him to the UFC and another violent first round finish, this time over Garreth McLellan. Standing across from him will be the equally led-handed Oluwale Bamgbose.
Bamgbose goes by the name of “The Holy War Angel”. Impressive name. Almost impressive as his six knockout wins. Bamgbose won the Ring of Combat title before stepping in on short notice against Uriah Hall in his debut. He has only left the first round once and that was in his latest fight against Cezar Ferreira. He dropped Ferreira early before the gas tank got the better of him. He looks to add to his sole UFC win tonight.
These boys are going to throw bombs. It’s what they do. Borrachinha will have the home town advantage and the better boxing but Bamgbose should benefit from not taking a fight on short notice for once. Neither man wants to see a second round and you have to favour the younger Brazilian. Bamgbose could be facing the dreaded pink slip with a loss here, however, so expect fireworks early.
Prediction: Borrachinha via first round TKO.
Colin Keane, Pundit Arena