Cezar Ferreira won Season 1 of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.” | File Photo: Sherdog.com
Cezar Ferreira (5-2, 1-0 UFC) vs. Thiago Santos (8-1, 0-0 UFC)
The Matchup: Injuries have hindered the overall depth of UFC 163, and the Ferreira-Santos matchup is reflective of that. Ferreira, who was the 185-pound winner of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” Season 1, was originally scheduled to face “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 alum Clint Hester until an injury forced Hester out of the bout.
After a stint on the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” saw him lose to eventual 170-pound winner Leonardo Santos, “Marreta” moves up to middleweight to make his Octagon debut. A 29-year-old product of Tata Fight Team, Santos has finished four of his eight professional victories by knockout. Ferreira, meanwhile, outstruck Sergio Moraes to earn a clear-cut unanimous verdict at UFC 147. The Vitor Belfort protégé was expected to return to action at UFC on FX 8 in May before an injury forced his withdrawal.
Ferreira, a southpaw who is now based at the Blackzilians camp, has solid power in his hands and a reputation for being aggressive on the feet. That approach has largely served him well, though a savvy opponent might be able to capitalize with a well-placed counter when “Mutante” is on the offensive. The 28-year-old dropped Moraes twice in their UFC 147 matchup; as the larger fighter, he should be capable of inflicting damage should he land against Santos. Ferreira also has strong finishing instincts, as he has shown a good sense of when to pounce on a dazed opponent for a fight-ending submission.
Santos’ best bet is to weather the storm early and build confidence by mixing up his attacks; he has a decent array of kicks and would be wise to use them to keep Ferreira from getting too comfortable. If Ferreira finds he is losing the majority of the exchanges, he might look to use his size and strength to bully Santos against the fence and shift the momentum.
The Pick: Ferreira rocks Santos early and finishes the fight in the first or second round.
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