Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso has lost two in a row. | Photo: Sherdog.com
The birthplace of vale tudo will once again play host the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Wednesday, when UFC Fight Night 29 takes place at Jose Correa Arena in Barueri, Brazil.
The show is topped by a pivotal welterweight pairing pitting former Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships bronze medalist Jake Shields against Pan-American Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion and ADCC gold medal winner Demian Maia. The Fox Sports 1-broadcast main card will also see Korean standout Dong Hyun Kim collide with Brazilian prospect Erick Silva in the co-main event, while stocky leg lock expert Rousimar Palhares makes his welterweight debut against American grinder Mike Pierce.
The undercard also airs live on FS1 and features four bouts following a Facebook-streamed preliminary contest between unbeaten up-and-comers Garett Whiteley and Allan Patrick. Here are five reasons to tune into FS1 at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT to catch the undercard:
Sherdog Fantasy MMA: UFC Fight Night 29 Free Fan Pick’Em
If Chris Cariaso and Iliarde Santos do not put on a show, I will be shocked.
One needs only to look at the flyweights’ track records to conclude that fireworks are all but guaranteed in this one. Granted, that is more often than not the case in the flyweight division, but that should not diminish this bout in regard to its potential for action and violence.
To add to the fight’s importance, both men have lost two straight. Despite the nascent flyweight division’s lack of depth, it would not be shocking if the loser of this fight received a pink slip after a third consecutive defeat.
Though much better suited size-wise for 125 pounds, Cariaso has nevertheless struggled after going 4-1 as a UFC bantamweight, taking future title challenger Michael McDonald to a split decision in his lone Octagon defeat. Losses to John Moraga and Jussier da Silva followed for “Kamikaze,” who has not enjoyed the same speed advantage he once possessed at 135 pounds. Though the American came on strong to end his fight with “Formiga,” the Brazilian’s potent grappling and control in the first two frames proved too much for Cariaso to overcome with his third-round burst at UFC on FX 8.
Santos, meanwhile, suffered a first-round stoppage in May to Iuri Alcantara, prompting the 33-year-old to drop to 125 pounds, where he was greeted by an efficient boxing attack from Ian McCall at UFC 163. Though Santos made the fight competitive by continually lobbing heavy shots at “Uncle Creepy,” the American proved more precise en route to a unanimous decision victory.
The pair of setbacks abruptly halted a six-fight winning streak for the Brazilian, who may be shown the exit about as quickly as he arrived in the UFC should he stumble against Cariaso. This is why I think Santos ought to use his mass and upper body strength to lean on his upcoming foe and limit the American’s mobility. It might not turn into the prettiest display of martial arts, but I think it is a better strategy than winging those haymakers at Cariaso when the measured and precise “Kamikaze” has the whole cage with which to work.
Can Santos use his size to slow down the Californian or will he find himself chasing Cariaso and trying to avoid those crisp counters?
The Other Alcantara
While brother Iuri signed with World Extreme Cagefighting and later the UFC after winning Jungle Fight lightweight gold in 2010, Ildemar Alcantara followed in his footsteps by capturing the Brazilian promotion’s middleweight belt last year.
Following his trio of wins in the Jungle Fight grand prix to claim the title, “Marajo” stepped up on short notice to battle countryman Wagner Prado at 205 pounds in January, submitting the light heavyweight with a second-round kneebar at UFC on FX 7. Alcantara then cut all the way to 170 pounds for his next Octagon appearance, taking a unanimous decision from Leandro Silva to extend his winning streak to nine fights.
Now paired with “The Ultimate Fighter 16” alumnus and Octagon debutant Igor Araujo, “Marajo” could earn himself a bigger fight within the deep waters of the UFC welterweight division if he can snatch a win over the 30-fight pro. Will he get the job done?
Yan Cabral brings an undefeated record with him into his UFC debut, and I think it would be worth your time to keep an eye on this man.
Not only has the 30-year-old defeated all 10 of his pro opponents, but not one of them has made it out of the second round. The submission ace has made particularly effective use of the arm-triangle choke, which he used to tap out half of his victims, including Japanese catch-wrestling icon Kazushi Sakuraba. However, the Sakuraba victory came two years ago; as such, it is difficult to know what to expect from the Brazilian coming into his UFC debut. Cabral did pick up two exhibition wins during “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2” before being forced to withdraw after breaking his hand, but I am curious to see how he handles the pressure of competing under the bright lights of the actual UFC.
Cabral will face another grappling specialist in David Mitchell, who hopes to bring his promotional record to 2-3 with a win over the Brazilian. Can Cabral keep his perfect record intact?
Mitchell Manning Up
The second half of Mitchell’s UFC career has hardly resembled the first.
Honestly, in his fights with Paulo Thiago and T.J. Waldburger, Mitchell looked like he did not belong. Put simply, he appeared passive and outclassed against superior grapplers. Mitchell’s pre-UFC record should not be totally discarded -- victories over War Machine and Bobby Green are nothing at which to sneeze -- but “Daudi” was certainly not on my “must watch” list heading into his third Octagon appearance.
Then the welterweight did something unexpected: he let it all hang out against Simeon Thoresen. The fight was anything but beautiful, but it was nevertheless endearing to see a man fighting for his professional life with such vigor when his first two UFC bouts seemed to lack that type of passion.
I was maybe even more impressed by Mitchell’s approach to his recent clash with Mike Pierce. Sure, Mitchell got knocked out in the second round, but he showed no fear against the heavily favored Pierce in the opening five minutes, and it won him an awkward but nevertheless closely contested first frame on my scorecard.
I want to see more of that type of spunk from Mitchell, and I hope he brings it with him to meet the unbeaten Cabral.