‘The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil’ Featherweight Final
Rony Mariano Bezerra (10-3, 0-0 UFC) vs. Godofredo Castro (8-0, 0-0 UFC)
The Matchup: As the No. 1 pick of Wanderlei Silva on “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil,” Bezerra was expected to reach this point. He has not disappointed, defeating Dileno Lopes, Anistavio Gasparzinho and Hugo Viana to reach the final.
Prior to his appearance on the reality show, Rony “Jason” established himself as a finisher, earning all of his 10 victories by knockout or submission. Along with a notable triumph over Felipe Arantes, Bezerra has acquired valuable experience in defeat, losing to established fighters such as UFC bantamweight title contender Renan “Barao” Pegado and Bellator veteran Genair da Silva. The Team Nogueira representative combines Brazilian jiu-jitsu with aggressive muay Thai, and his triangle choke has proven to be particularly dangerous.
In besting Viana in the quarterfinals, Bezerra was able to land his strikes with more power and consistency than his opponent while controlling distance throughout the fight. He also displayed good cage awareness in scoring a pair of timely takedowns at the end of rounds. Bezerra survived a brief onslaught from Gasparzinho in the semifinals and maintained his composure long enough to secure an armbar that appeared to break his opponent’s arm.
The bread-and-butter of “Pepey” is his strong jiu-jitsu game. After a somewhat tepid quarterfinal triumph against Wagner Galeto, he displayed an extremely active submission attack in dispatching Marcos Vinicius Borges Pancini in the semifinals. Castro, who has finished six of his eight official victories by tapout, will string together multiple submission attempts from his back. The only downside to this approach is that he is sometimes a little too willing to cede top position, which could result in him losing points in the eyes of the judges.
Bezerra has the more dynamic standup arsenal, so “Pepey” will have to be creative in finding ways to get inside. From top position, “Pepey” constantly works to pass guard, but he must do so carefully or risk leaving an opening that Bezerra can exploit.
The Pick: Bezerra admitted on the show that his stamina is a concern. As long as he can control the pace of the fight and avoid tiring himself out in defending submissions and takedowns, he has the tools needed to prevail. Bezerra wins by decision.
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