Gleison Tibau has posted wins in seven of his last 10 outings. | Photo: Sherdog.com
The UFC 153 main draw has undergone quite the makeover. Counting all of the changes made to this bill would be both time-consuming and pointless, so let us instead simply give thanks that the Ultimate Fighting Championship managed to slap together at least a passable pay-per-view offering.
Topping the lineup is the incomparable Anderson Silva, as he takes on Stephan Bonnar, the most recent winner of the UFC’s highly successful, long-running game show, “Who Wants to Be the Subject of a Snuff Film?” Sorry, I could not resist.
Really, Bonnar should be commended for his willingness to step into the cage with “The Spider,” a man who has either wrecked or toyed with virtually every single individual he has faced in the UFC. Granted, this one will probably just end up as another clip spliced into Silva’s highlight reel, but in the event that Bonnar makes this fight competitive against a 10-1 favorite, it would go down as one of the more shocking and memorable moments this sport has ever known. That is not why we are here, however. We have come to talk about all that free-television revelry that will immediately precede the main draw at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Here are five reasons to brush up on your Portuguese and peep those live prelims on the FX network and Facebook:
Sherdog Fantasy MMA: UFC 153 Free Fan Pick’Em
Has Gleison Tibau hit his peak as a UFC lightweight? While the Brazilian has consistently proved to be one of the toughest outs in the promotion’s deepest division, there is a serious possibility that the hulking 155-pounder will never ascend past gatekeeper status.
The 29-year-old’s nearly six-year-long run in the Octagon has been a solid one, with Tibau posting 10 victories against six defeats. Losses to Nick Diaz, Tyson Griffin, Joe Stevenson, Melvin Guillard, Jim Miller and Khabib Nurmagomedov have kept Tibau from ascending to the upper echelon of the division, and his most recent defeat to the last man on that list snapped a three-fight winning streak that essentially puts him back to square one.
Can he earn a victory over Francisco Trinaldo and gather himself for another run at the big time?
Trinaldo’s Lighter Side
Speaking of Trinaldo, he is a fellow fans might want to keep an eye on.
Already 34 years old upon entering the UFC fold, Trinaldo offered up his best Kenny Florian impression by joining the middleweight cast of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil,” despite being a natural lightweight. The former Jungle Fight champion dominated castmate Delson Heleno during his official Octagon debut, earning a first-round technical knockout over the International Fight League veteran at UFC 147.
Can the Constrictor Team representative extend his winning streak to six fights by topping Tibau, or will Trinaldo’s skills prove insufficient to stifle the Octagon mainstay?
Back to ‘Banha’
These past three years have not been the kindest to Luiz Cane.
After debuting in the UFC with a trio of one-sided light heavyweight victories, “Banha” has seen his stock fall considerably in his last four bouts. A nasty technical knockout loss to ex-Pride Fighting Championships star Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 106 was followed by another beating at the hands of lanky Frenchman Cyrille Diabate in Cane’s lone appearance of 2010. Though the native Brazilian would respond with a TKO of Eliot Marshall, he was once again stopped by stocky Bulgarian Stanislav Nedkov to close out 2011.
Now, Cane makes his middleweight debut against 185-pound staple Chris Camozzi. While the American does not possess the same caliber of punching power as Cane’s recent conquerors, Camozzi does own a skillset diverse enough to make Cane’s middleweight foray a disappointing one. Can Cane erase the memory of those aforementioned finishes and take a successful first step at 185 pounds?
Brand New Brandao
Diego Brandao was lauded as an early favorite upon entering “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14, and the Brazilian proved he was indeed worthy of the hype by winning the featherweight bracket in 2011. Now, UFC fans get to see what Brandao is made of following his first taste of Octagon adversity.
An aggressive striker to say the least, Brandao seems to channel his inner Frank Castle once inside the cage, as if he is seeking to avenge some horrible debt with each ferocious swing. Unfortunately for the Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts rep, Darren Elkins decided to stick around in their UFC 146 clash despite taking a serious beating in round one. Elkins weathered an early flurry from Brandao and methodically took control in the second frame, using his wrestling to pin his arm-weary opponent on the canvas and ride out a unanimous decision.
Will Brandao learn from his error? The featherweight division is not exactly chock full of dudes with the type of knockout power he possesses. If Brandao can get a grip on his emotions in the cage and pace himself for a three-round fight, he could turn into a serious name at 145 pounds.
Next Victim for Rony ‘Jason’
Unlike the aforementioned Brandao, Rony Mariano Bezerra navigated his way to an “Ultimate Fighter” title, not through aggression and emotion but by keeping a measured demeanor during his time on the show’s first Brazilian season.
Unfortunately, the man better known as Rony “Jason” carried a little too much of that self-control into the season finale against castmate Godofredo Castro. Though Bezerra snatched a unanimous verdict over “Pepey,” the fight did not impress in the way that many expected, especially considering Bezerra’s previous habit of finishing each of his professional opponents prior to joining the reality show cast.
With his Octagon debut now out of the way, will Rony “Jason” look to be more aggressive? He may not have a choice against fellow “Ultimate Fighter” alum Sam Sicilia, who now returns to the featherweight division following his lightweight stint on Season 15. While the American is not the most skilled fighter in the world, he has thus far been able to make up for that fact with his heavy hands, aggressiveness and athleticism. Will that prove sufficient to snap Bezerra’s six-fight winning streak?