It’s time for the last two fights of the season, with one middleweight and one heavyweight spot still vacant at “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3” finale.
At 185 pounds, top picks will collide as Team Sonnen’s Marcio “Lyoto” Alexandre meets Team Silva’s Ricardo Abreu in a striker-versus-grappler showdown. Then, Vitor Miranda of Team Sonnen and Richardson Moreira of Team Silva will square off to decide the second heavyweight finalist.
As the episode begins, wrestling coach Eric Albarracin is in the gym with Team Sonnen, helping to shore up Alexandre’s takedown defense. His opponent, jiu-jitsu ace Abreu, is working on the reverse, practicing strikes on a heavy bag in the event that his vaunted ground game is nullified by Alexandre.
At the official weigh-in, both men hit the scale at an identical 184 pounds, and now it’s fight time.
Alexandre fires off a left high kick almost immediately, but the hard shot is blocked by Abreu’s high hands. The karate stylist switches to a low kick and then high again before splitting the center with a straight left hand. Abreu tries to fire back with a high kick, but it doesn’t have much behind it and it only reaches Alexandre’s body. When Alexandre gets caught off-balance with a poorly timed spinning kick, Abreu takes advantage and rushes his opponent against the fence. The referee warns Abreu for grabbing the fence as he works for a takedown against the cage. Instead, it’s “Lyoto” who hits an inside trip and then allows Abreu to stand.
Alexandre is controlling the center of the cage well, rattling off long punches and kicks to move Abreu around the outside. A front kick to the gut seems to hurt Abreu, but he survives Alexandre’s follow-up assault by pulling guard. When Abreu gets up, Alexandre mugs him with a Thai plum and knees on the fence. Abreu grabs a body lock and presses Alexandre against the fence, which the referee again warns “Demente” for grabbing. After a minute of clinching, and with Abreu unable to secure a takedown, the ref splits up the middleweights just before the round ends.
Abreu comes out for the second frame eager for a takedown, but he runs into a left straight and body kick before he can get into range. The grappler is bleeding on the bridge of his nose as he tries to strike his way inside. Alexandre is executing a solid game plan, however, keeping Abreu a few feet away with constant low kicks and long punches. Two minutes into the round, Abreu grabs a Thai plum and drills Alexandre with a knee to the groin. Alexandre recovers and gives Abreu some payback in the form of a few hard knees to the breadbasket. Abreu is getting reckless now, swinging overhand punches with his head down as he rushes into range. Alexandre is looking more exhausted by the second and even gets clipped with a couple shots near the fence toward the end of the period.
Early in the final round, Abreu connects with some big right hands near the fence, but Alexandre seems alright as he circles away and resets in the center. The striker is still throwing kicks high and low, but they’re few and far between compared to his work in the first round. They’re enough to keep Abreu on the outside, though, giving Alexandre room to come down the center with straight one-two combos. With two minutes to go, Abreu gets hold of Alexandre near the fence, but 30 seconds later, the ref breaks up the clinch. Alexandre stays busy with kicks in the final minute, and Team Sonnen celebrates what should be another victory for “the bad guys.”
Alexandre takes the win via split decision, sending him to the finale, where he’ll face teammate Warlley Alves.
“I’d like to apologize because I’ll be smashing your face,” Alves jokes with Alexandre. Coach Chael Sonnen says he won’t be watching the fight and plans to stay back in the locker room.
Back at the house, a tattoo artist is brought in to give the fighters some “TUF” logos that they definitely won’t regret in a couple years.
Before long, it’s time for the final weigh-in. Only one pound separates the heavyweights, with Moreira coming in at 227 and Miranda at 226. The training partners from Rio de Janeiro’s Team Nogueira have a tense faceoff, though Moreira asserts that all is well between them. Before the fight, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira pays a visit to both men in their respective locker rooms -- though, understandably, he appears to spend a little less time in Team Sonnen’s space.
The friends begin their battle with a hug before separating to pop one another with hard jabs. Moreira changes levels and tries a takedown against the fence, but Miranda trips him to the ground. They scramble up and Moreira keeps “Lex Luthor” on the cage, delivering five or six hard right hands to the stomach. Miranda spins him around and sends a high knee up the center in the clinch before circling out. Moreira catches up and puts the fight back on the fence, where he mugs Miranda with some good uppercuts. Miranda responds with a Thai clinch and more big knees that have Moreira hurt. Miranda tries to pound out his man, but Moreira hangs tough and musters the strength for another tie-up on the cage.
When Moreira tries to fit a standing kimura, Miranda yanks his arm free and cracks “Rick Monstro” with a straight left that draws a nod. Moreira comes back with force, assaulting Miranda with a dozen or more heavy shots to the body and head. As they work away from the fence, Miranda pulls down Moreira’s head and drops him to the canvas with a knee. Miranda sits up in half guard and punishes the body with elbows, though he’s twice warned by the referee for poking Moreira’s eye.
Moreira starts round two with a double-leg against the fence, but Miranda sprawls and forces his opponent to his knees. Miranda lands a hard left hand and Moreira goes fetal, covering up as the Team Sonnen fighter bashes away with hammer fists. The ref warns Moreira to fight back, but Miranda’s relentless ground-and-pound leaves him no opportunity and the fight is waved off.
Miranda’s TKO victory sends him to the “TUF: Brazil 3” heavyweight final, where he’ll take on Team Silva’s lone representative, Antonio “Cara de Sapato” Carlos.
After some emotional farewells from assistant coaches Isabel Salgado and Hortencia Marcari, the four finalists are shown enjoying their all-inclusive trip to Las Vegas. The visit includes some training with Cirque du Soleil’s “Ka” and a prop plane flight that makes “Rick Monstro” faint in midair.
The four finalists join UFC President Dana White at the UFC Training Center, where they square off for the cameras one last time. Now, all that’s left is the finale, which takes place this Saturday, May 31, at Ibirapuera Gynasium in Sao Paulo.