The Natural Born Killer returns to the Octagon for the first time since his disappointing Leg Injury last March against Tyron Woodley to meet former World Title Challenger Thiago Alves in Goiania, Brazil.
This card hasn’t received the attention it deserves as some of these bouts are very compelling and relevant to a couple of the weight classes. A win for Carlos Condit likely has him just one fight away frm a title shot whereas a win for Thiago Alves will see him enter the Top 10.
There’s bouts on the Preliminary card and Fight Pass Prelims that feature potential future Top 10 fighters and possibly even Title Challengers in the likes of Jussier Formiga, Wilson Reis, Nicolas Dalby, Mirsad Bektic and Tom Breese.
Tom Breese in particular is a fighter to keep your eye on. He’s a 23 year old from England with a undefeated record who trains alongside the likes of GSP and Rory MacDonald at Tristar gym, his size and frame for the welterweight division at 6ft 3" makes him a nightmare of a match up for a lot of fighters and he’s got excellent submissions and grappling credentials for a UK fighter.
Another European prospect to keep an eye on is Nicolas Dalby, who will also make his UFC debut tonight similar to Breese. Dalby is a talented striker with tremendous conditioning and has got a crafty submission game himself, underrated scrambling and takedowns similar to other European fighters like Gunnar Nelson and Conor McGregor, Dalby’s UFC debut was inevitable - hopefully we will see both Dalby & Breese compete in a European event in the near future.
Despite his most recent performances in the UFC that saw Condit go 1-3 he remains one of the most entertaining and under appreciated (in terms of high level skill & experience) welterweight fighters in MMA today.
He’s not competed in over a year but remains the number 4 seed in the UFC - known for his striking, submissions and endurance the argument can be made that Condit is one of the most fan friendly fighters currently competing in MMA - prior to his recent run he was on a 5-fight win streak which including finishes of Rory MacDonald, Dong Hyun Kim and Dan Hardy.
Thiago Alves is known for his explosiveness earlier on in his career and for having some of the most devastating leg kicks in MMA. He showed a lot of heart in his fight against Jordan Mein earlier this year and is now 2-0 since returning from a long lay off himself.
Alves became very popular in his 2007-2008 run in the UFC which resulted in him earning a title shot against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 100, he would go on to lose that bout and since then has gone 4-3 in a little over five years.
I think Condit remains the more relevant fighter in the current affairs of the UFC welterweight division. Alves went the distance with Seth Baczynski who has been finished in the first round by the likes of Brian Melancon, Alan Jouban and most recently Leon Edwards.
Condit has only fought Top 5 opponents dating back to 2010 and apart from the Injury upset against Woodley and his fight with Hendricks that had it been a 5-round fight Condit most definitely would have had the more successful Championship rounds we’ve only seen Condit manhandled by Rory MacDonald and beating on points by GSP (Condit also came back from behind to finish a young MacDonald in that fight).
Alves does possess a very nasty arsenal of leg kicks and from a technical aspect will likely have the advantage over Condit. But Condit appears to be the fresher fighter of the two in recent fights - it’s hard to explain but despite both fighters being veterans of over 30 fights I think Condit is still younger in MMA miles; damage absorbed and mileage in training, injuries etc…
Condit’s conditioning will be a key tool for him in this fight and although he is known for his finishes I think Alves still remains a durable welterweight but the damage will eventually wear him down and we should see Condit the fresher of the two when this fight nears towards the Championship rounds.
It’s then up to Condit whether or not he pursues a finish or if he replicates his performance of that against Nick Diaz. I’d much prefer the more violent version of Condit and I would not be shocked to see a submission finish between rounds one and three but the TKO in the Championship rounds is a safer bet.
Alves remains a dangerous opponent for any welterweight but I don’t see him as the fighter he once was, he’s slow to get going and is more willing to get himself into reckless exchanges or sloppy technique when it comes to attempting takedowns or initiating clinch battles - you will see the amount of damage he will absorb from Condit and it will eventually become too overwhelming and he will succumb to strikes for just the second time in his long career. Verdict - Condit via TKO (R4)
There is certainly no love lost between these two, they have fought before back in 2011 and although that fight was eventually ruled a No Contest on that Fight Night Oliveira was the fighter who had originally got the win, albeit it stemming from an illegal knee to a grounded opponent.
Since that night both fighters have come a long way, evolving more and both making the drop to featherweight. Lentz has since gone 4-3 overall and 4-1 as a featherweight losing only to Chad Mendes whereas Oliveira has gone 5-3 overall losing only to Frankie Edgar and Cub Swanson at featherweight.
Lentz is a durable grappler who has underrated kicks, he hasn’t been able to replicate as many finishers in his UFC fights as he was able to prior to signing with the UFC and it’s likely the reason behind him not being as popular as a fighter with his record and ranking should be.
Oliveira on the other hand has been able to continue his finishing ways, submitting the likes of Hatsu Hioki, Jonathan Brookins and Darren Elkins over the course of his UFC career, despite losing a decision to Frankie Edgar in July of 2013 it remains a very relevant fight and measuring tool to highlight how talented “do Bronx“ is for someone of his young age.
This fight is likely to go one of two ways, Oliveira has a strong first and second round with the likelihood of getting a submission whilst in a scramble with Lentz or Lentz survives the grappling onslaught from Oliveira and controls the second and final frame with his top game and ground & pound.
Neither fighter is really known for their striker power but I think Oliveira will have a slight advantage in that department so expect Lentz to want to wrestle Oliveira. Oliveira hasn’t really been held down that much in his career and if anything his biggest problem has been when absorbing powerful strikes as evident in his fights against Swanson and Cerrone.
I think Oliveira has made the better improvements to his game and although Lentz is relentless in his approach I still feel that he is too one dimensional for a fighter of his position. This should be an exciting fight and I think Oliveira has the tools to submit Lentz without needing any illegal strikes this time around. Verdict - Oliveira via Submission (R2)
The fan friendly Fight of the Night award belongs to these two. For two lightweight fighters to gladly move up and fight at welterweight to maximise their fighting capabilities as well as the fact both of these two like to stand and trade should result in this being a slug fest.
It’s hard to imagine that KJ Noons will be competing in the same weight class as the likes of Hyun Gyu Lim, Tom Breese and Hector Lombard. His size and frame are far more suitable at lightweight where has competed in the past, but recently he’s been more interested in putting on exciting fights than closing in on a title shot, his fight with Sam Stout was agreed at catch weight and during his Strikeforce career fought the likes of Nick Diaz at welterweight.
Oliveira was almost victorious in his UFC debut against Gilbert Burns that he took on short notice, prior to that “Cowboy” was 10-1 with 8 KO/TKO finishes. He’s talented and although he is still relatively unknown will definitely have some advantages over Noons in this fight.
Noons hits hard, he’s the definition of boxer brawler when it comes to MMA. Against an opponent like Oliveira he’s unlikely to be taken down and given the credentials of Oliveira would likely prevent such a takedown with his improved takedown defence.
However, Noons may find himself outmatched on the feet against Oliveira, the Brazilians movement and variety of striking could rack him up more points than Noons short blitzes of boxing combinations. Unless Noons lands something early on I see Oliveira running away with the decision.
I do appreciate Noons style and gamesmanship though. He could have dropped to lightweight and fought to help better his position but instead is taking “fun” fights and the way he knocked out Sam Stout is still fresh on my mind.
To knock out a Brazilian in Brazil would help raise his stock and although he will remain far from a title shot it will be his 12th fight with the UFC/Strikeforce so he will sit mid table with the new Reebok sponsor deal at $10,000 along with his current $41,000|$41,000 contract at least he can make some good money unlike a lot of fighters with his experience who train in big camps that take a majority % of the fighters purse. Verdict - Noons via KO (R1)
This fight has the potential to be a boring affair. With the light heavyweight division as thin as it is either of these fighters could find themselves jump into the Rankings with a finish tonight, on paper there is a great possibility that could happen but with how both fighters have recently performed we could witness a dull meeting with minimal action.
With “Bodao” Barroso you have one of the bigger Nova Uniao fighters to compete in the UFC, he’s not one for going outside of the first round with vast majority of his fights ending inside 5 minutes. He was looking good in his UFC debut until the second and third rounds which he faded in and came out losing a split decision to Hans Stringer.
Jimmo spent a good part of his earlier career ending fights in the first round but as his level of competition increased further on in his career he was unable to achieve similar results. He did have a very quick win over Anthony Perosh in his UFC debut but other than that has not looked spectacular when going outside the first round.
Inside the opening five minutes this could be either fighters fight to win and I do really hope either Barroso or Jimmo get themselves the finish they so badly need to help raise their stock. With the fight being in Brazil I’m leaning more on Barroso with the first round stoppage by either submission or TKO, however if this fight does go the distance I think Jimmo’s experience over higher level of competition favours him more. Verdict - Barroso via Submission (R1)
Parke’s impressive showing against Gleison Tibau in comparison to Trinaldo’s sets the tone for this one. Trinaldo does have that punches chance of maybe catching Parke and capitalising on that moment but I think this should be straight forward for Parke elsewhere as he has the skill to stuff Trinaldo’s takedowns and outscore his opponent with his striking for three rounds.
It’s really quite crazy to think that Trinaldo is a UFC veteran of nine fights with a 6-3 record when the vast majority of casual MMA fans probably would have never of hear of him. He’s good at controlling his opponents on the mat but other than that there is not much to go on other than he does everything fairly well and has shown a lot of heart in his fights.
Parke on the other hand is very well-rounded, always comes into his fights with excellent conditioning and maintains a strong pace throughout the fight. The only thing that separates Parke from the elite of the division is his ability to land a one punch or kick knockout. He is very accurate with his strikes and he’s known for his good ground & pound but he’s not landed that knockout punch in a fight that other lightweights have achieved during their careers.
All being well Parke doesn’t make a mistake of allow Trinaldo to tag him early I think Parke should take home a comfortable decision, I know he’ll be wanting a TKO or submission but Trinaldo is very durable and if I was Parke I’d be happy with a 30-27 scorecard from all three judges. Verdict - Parke via Decision
With just one fight in the UFC that saw him lose in the first round it is somewhat surprising to see Oliveira take on a UFC debutant on a Fight Night main card, especially with the likes of top flyweight contenders Jussier Formiga and Wilson Reis battling it out on the Prelims.
Oliveira is a powerhouse of a welterweight, his strength and aggression for this weight class also help support the use of his “War Machine” nickname and against a relatively unknown fighter in Till you would expect him to walk away from this fight with a first round KO.
On paper, Till comes across as a potential prospect for this division with a 12-0 record, however, the level of competition he has fought is nothing compared to the likes of what awaits him in the UFC and to make his debut against an opponent of Oliveira’s experience a win would be a huge statement.
I just don’t think the timing is right for Till though, he’s taking the biggest fight of his career on the biggest stage imaginable against someone as dangerous and as explosive as Oliveira - if he survives round one this fight could favour him more but I think Wendell’s power will end this one inside three minutes. Verdict - Oliveira via KO (R1)
Rony Jason > Damon Jackson (via Submission R1) Jussier Formiga (#4) < (#12) Wilson Reis (Split Decision) Elizeu dos Santos < Nicolas Dalby (via Decision) Lucas Martins < Mirsad Bektic (via Decision) Juliana Lima (#13) > Ericka Almeida (via Decision) Luiz Dutra < Tom Breese (via Submission R2)
Fight of the Night: KJ Noons vs Alex Oliveira KO of the Night: Wendell Oliveira Submission of the Night: Rony Jason Performance of the Night 1: Main Event Winner Performance of the Night 2: Formiga vs Reis Winner