Why It Matters: Fight Night 36 Prelim Edition
(Blaming the snow on this one)
February 15th, 2014
Why The Event Matters
The UFC returns to free TV for the start of what amounts to a stretch of 6 shows over 7 weeks. The headliner fight for this one is Lyoto Machida vs Gegard Mousasi in a fight that could determine just who is the #1 contender post Vitor Belfort. Also on the card is a battle between top 10 middleweights Francis Carmont and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Both guys are looking to sneak up into that secondary title contender discussion among the likes of Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and Tim Kennedy. Sprinkled throughout the card is a collection of Russian prospects looking to break through the main stage, Brazilian prospects looking for a little hometown cooking and Brazilian fighters like Charles Oliveira and Erick Silva trying to get their careers back on track. Let’s skip the formalities and dig into why the whole ball of wax matters!
Fight Pass Prelims
7:30 PM Eastern Time
DOUGLAS DE ANDRADE (22-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) VS. ZUBAIR TUHUGOV (15-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Why It Matters: When pretty records meet actual competition.
We open up the Fight Pass prelims with a pretty spiffy battle of prospects at 145 lbs. Originally a battle between unknown russian Zubair Tuhugov and long time UFC vet Thiago Tavares, an injury to Thiago led to the UFC’s signing of Douglas Silva De Andrade. Douglas De Andrade has been spotted on plenty prospect listings, mainly due to his spiffy record of 22-0 and his collection of finishes on Brazil’s MMA circuit. A Jungle Fight veteran, Douglas has scored a lot of his wins by (T)KO but also has scored plenty of his wins against soft competition. He’ll face a legitimate step up in Cage Warriors veteran Zubair Tuhugov. The Russian born pro has gone 8-1 since 2011 with 3 of those wins coming by TKO. He’s a durable professional with good cardio and well rounded skills. That makes him a stern test for Douglas De Andrade; a competent fighter to test how well that record will hold up against solid competition. Russia has done pretty well in Brazil recently and it’ll be Tuhugov’s chance to keep it going.
ILDEMAR ALCANTARA (19-6 MMA, 2-1 UFC) VS. ALBERT TUMENOV (12-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Why It Matters: Albert Tumenov’s UFC debut
Let’s start, I suppose with Ilemdar Alcantara. The younger brother of Iuri Alcantara debuted in the UFC as a short notice replacement vs Wagner Prado. After picking up a knee bar submission win, Ildemar dropped ALL the way to 170 lbs where he’s found mixed results at 1-1. More importantly, his fights have been so drab that after 3 performances, he still finds himself buried on the undercards. He seems to lack either the power or the instinct to crank things up in close fights. He’ll be welcoming Russian Albert Tumenov to the UFC in a fight that may prove to ultimately be a showcase for the Russian. Tumenov’s skill level is occasionally talked about in the Adam Khaliev levels and why shouldn’t it? Tumenov has 8 wins by TKO, 7 of those within the 1st round, His only loss is a decision loss in a 2 round tournament format type fight. Ildemar Alcantara will be defending his job, Tumenov will be looking to live up to the hype. This could be brutal.
FELIPE ARANTES (15-6-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC) VS. MAXIMO BLANCO (9-5-1 MMA, 1-2 UFC)
Why It Matters: Maximo Blanco is a psychopath (in a legal way)
If you’ve ever seen a Maximo Blanco fight, you don’t know then you don’t know what you’re missing out on. Blanco is a kook. Even his boring fights (like his vs one Marcus Brimage) are entertaining if only for their sheer absurdity. He does things that fighters shouldn’t do both in terms of being unorthodox and in terms of being flat out psychotic. Grabbing the fence, throwing illegal knees to grounded opponents, poking eyes and just being Maximo Blanco. He’ll try to reign in his wild aggression against Felipe Arantes, the Brazilian cowboy turned prelim MMA stud. Arantes is probably best known for running through Godofredo Pepey (before that was an expected result) and can have exciting fights from time to time. The problem is that Arantes is a counter striker with heavy ground and pound. Against the counter striking (at times) stoic TDD having Arantes, that might be a problem. The high end appeal for this fight is that Arantes and Blanco are both capable of putting on a wacky fight with crazy stuff and high level violence. The lower level appeal is that even if this turns into a boring staring contest, Blanco is still crazy enough to make you want to see it.
IURI ALCANTARA (28-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC) VS. WILSON REIS (17-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC)
Why It Matters: Iuri Alcantara looks to bounce back.
After a rough loss to former #1 contender Urijah Faber, Iuri Alcantara takes another crack at the UFC BW division opposite Wilson Reis. While a lot of the preliminary action is prospect driven, Alcantara has graduated from prospect to proven at this point. On the other side of the coin, longtime journeyman Wilson Reis made a successful UFC debut on short notice against Ivan Menjivar. It was far from exciting (hey a Firas Zahabi guy who has a dull fight. Neat!) but at the same time, it showed that Reis is as good as he’s always been. Both guys are evenly matched; Alcantara being a bit more explosive while Reis will probably be the bigger stronger fighter on fight night. There’s a lot of turmoil currently in the UFC bantamweight division as an influx of top prospects as well as the stalling of names like Eddie Wineland, Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber, have left this division entirely up in arms. The winner could take a serious jump up the rankings.
JESSE RONSON (13-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) VS. FRANCISCO TRINALDO (13-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC)
Why It Matters: The popular Trinaldo vs the talented Ronson
Jesse Ronson didn’t have a great time in his UFC debut. Facing the shrunken down Michel Prezares in September, Ronson was smothered on the mat for two rounds before he eventually rallied and mounted a gutsy comeback in the 3rd. It didn’t get him over the hump for a decision win but it did at least remind fans of his that he has a shot in the UFC. On the other hand, Francisco Trinaldo is coming off a super disappointing loss to Piotr Hallmann. Trinaldo is a big LW with a lot of power and is a kill or be killed type of guy. The problem is that when faced with fighters with gas tanks, Trinaldo can freeze up and fade down the stretch. This could be a really fun fight or a horrendous gas fest. One side favors Trinaldo while the other favors Ronson.
RODRIGO DAMM (11-6 MMA, 2-1 UFC) VS. IVAN JORGE (25-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC)
Why It Matters: The God Damm Batman
We enter the lightweight division where TUF Brazil Season 1’s Rodrigo Damm takes on Ivan “Batman” Jorge. Fighting on short notice in September, Ivan Jorge was able to pick up a decision over Keith Wisnewiski by way of stuffing takedowns and body shots. Jorge, a natural 155er who could maybe drop to 145, is that kind of fighter: the sort of guy who doesn’t do anything overly special but does everything well enough to pick up wins. He’s getting his well deserved shot in the UFC by virtue of being a Jungle Fight champion. Rodrigo Damm is another one of those hard luck guys who seems to lack a predominant skill but battles with what he has. He’s a popular guy due to TUF Brazil and is capable of putting on an entertaining fight with the right opponent. There’s a chance that Jorge is the kind of guy who could make for a fun brawl with Damm.
CRISTIANO MARCELLO (13-5 MMA, 1-2 UFC) VS. JOE PROCTOR (8-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC)
Why It Matters: A potential slugfest
Christiano Marcello and Joe Proctor are tremendous on the ground. So why am I predicting this to be our smiley face slugfest of the night? Well it’s got more to do with the styles of both guys: Marcello has seemingly fallen in love with his striking while Proctor showed marked improvement in that department vs Ramsey Nijem. That’s why I’m betting that we’re going to get two guys, fighting for their UFC careers, pushing for a finish. This should be especially true for Proctor given how Marcello has had some interesting luck with decisions. The winner will be able to call themselves a UFC fighter for at least one more fight—that’s the end game here.