Jussier “Formiga” da Silva has never suffered consecutive defeats. | Photo: Gleidson Venga/Sherdog.com
Following a three-week absence, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has returned to corrupt our hearts and minds with the caged violence we so compulsively crave.
UFC on FX 8 takes place on Saturday at Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sol, Brazil, and will see Vitor Belfort collide with ex-Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold in the main event. The FX-broadcast main draw will also feature the Octagon debut of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, who meets Chris Camozzi in the middleweight co-headliner.
Prior to the televised festivities, the UFC on FX 8 undercard airs live on Facebook, YouTube and Fuel TV. Here are five reasons to catch the preliminary draw:
Sherdog Fantasy MMA: UFC on FX 8 Free Fan Pick’Em
Jussier da Silva is fighting Chris Cariaso. If that last sentence does not mean anything to you, then you may want to head over to Bleacher Report and just chill out with a slideshow for a bit, because these are not the droids you are looking for.
“Formiga” has a ton to prove heading into this bout. Formerly regarded as the world’s best flyweight, the Brazilian saw that distinction snatched away by Ian McCall in 2011 and more recently had a five-fight winning streak snapped by John Dodson. “The Magician” devastated da Silva at UFC on FX 5 in October, catching the former Shooto South American champion with a pair of left hooks that put him on the canvas before finishing “Formiga” with a barrage of ground-and-pound.
In Cariaso, da Silva faces quite a formidable test. Astute observers will recall that “Kamikaze” was doing just fine as a tiny bantamweight before making the cut to 125 pounds and cruising to a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter 14” grad Josh Ferguson last year. Unfortunately for Cariaso, his next in-cage appearance would not go as smoothly, as the 31-year-old ran into current No. 1 contender John Moraga, who submitted Cariaso with a third-round guillotine choke to finish their competitive UFC 155 contest.
I think either of these men could find himself in a title bout in the not-too-distant future if the stars align. Which elite flyweight in need of a win will emerge with one?
Ivy League Mean
As a Cornell University graduate, John Cholish has clearly passed a few tests in his day. Can he do the same when he meets the UFC’s resident lightweight exam in Gleison Tibau?
In my opinion, Cholish has a lot going for him. The guy’s fight I.Q. is excellent, as is his ability to mix up strikes and takedowns. Every part of Cholish’s arsenal is technical and tight. This does not mean he has been a boring fighter, however. See his stoppages of Mitch Clarke and Marc Stevens for proof of this fact.
I think the lone lacking factor at this point for the New Yorker is his lack of big-show experience, which was evident in his recent loss against veteran Danny Castillo. In Tibau, Cholish could come up against the same problem, as the Brazilian has long been regarded as one of the lightweight division’s most consistent measuring sticks for up-and-coming talent.
Hands of Stone
John Lineker should be on your list of young fighters to watch.
This young man is not going to impress anyone with his technique -- at least, not yet -- but I bet you he could knock out one of those Clydesdales that pull the Budweiser carriages. He might even knock over the carriage itself. Beer would be everywhere. Can you imagine? This is a flyweight we are talking about, by the way.
Another aspect of Lineker’s game to get excited about is his commitment to body punching. This is not the man you want pressing your back against the cage, unless, of course, you enjoy the sensation of another man’s knuckles repeatedly tenderizing your ribs until you can no longer breathe.
The issue is that Lineker is only 23 years old, and it is currently unclear whether his style can guide him toward a title shot or simply ensure he is a fan favorite. His upcoming clash with Russian prospect Azamat Gashimov will serve as his third Octagon outing, and I think it could tell us much about his future with the UFC.
Under the Radar
I know it sounds weird when you say it out loud, but the winner of Hacran Dias-Nik Lentz should be given serious consideration as a future title challenger, should he not?
Let me be clear. I am not saying that the winner should be immediately awarded a title shot. I am saying that it is totally feasible for either guy to earn himself a crack at the gold if the cards fall in his favor this year. The fact that nobody is talking about this is to be expected, I suppose, because the featherweight ladder is admittedly a logjam right now.
Still, both men have been on a tear, and that simply cannot be ignored. Much like Cub Swanson’s upcoming clash with Dennis Siver or Ricardo Lamas’ forthcoming showdown with Chan Sung Jung, this bout will go a long way in determining how the featherweight division shakes out in 2013.
When we last saw Fabio Maldonado, he took one of the worst beatings in UFC history courtesy of Glover Teixeira at UFC 153 -- a thrashing so severe that it took the Sherdog editorial staff about 0.2 seconds to unanimously name it “Beatdown of the Year.”
Still, throughout that whole fight, Maldonado kept fighting back in an effort to turn the tide, even wobbling Teixeira at the end of round one with a pair of left hooks. This type of heart was also on display in his bouts with James McSweeney, Kyle Kingsbury and Igor Pokrajac.
Maldonado is a paradox. I feel both gratified and guilty when watching this man fight. How many punches is too many for one man to take? Much like the namesake of his walkout song, Maldonado aims to find out. The difference being, of course, that Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa is a fictional character, and actual fighters like Jerry Quarry, Muhammad Ali and Gary Goodridge are forced to pay the price later in life.
Maldonado’s guts cannot be questioned, and I have no doubt that we will enjoy his bout with Roger Hollett in the sense that there will be much violence. I just hope, for the Brazilian’s sake, that he can find a way to take fewer shots from here on out.