Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Dan Henderson have the unenviable task of attempting to recreate the balletic brutality that they displayed in their first encounter back at UFC 139, as they headline the latest venture in to Brazil for UFC Fight Night 38.
The rest of the card is as you’d expect for a Brazilian UFC card, so let’s not give too much away and get on with the preview.
(#7) Shogun Rua vs. (#8) Dan Henderson – 205lbs.
With many questioning whether Shogun still had it going in to his most recent fight with James Te Huna, Shogun needed the kind of performance that rolled back the years and restored relevance to his name; and that’s exactly what he got. Throwing off back-to-back defeats to Alexander Gustafsson and Chael Sonnen, Shogun laid Te Huna flat out with a KO of the Year contender back in December of last year to get back on track.
This could well be it for Dan Henderson if he is unable to secure victory. Henderson has lost his last three contests, a career worst stretch of form, dropping decisions to Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans, before having his clock cleaned by Vitor Belfort in his most recent fight.
Dan Henderson’s use of TRT has been extended to one more night, and the 43-year old will still have the
juice boost needed to compete like he used to. But for me that’s irrelevant, as personally, I think ‘Hendo’ is shot. The man is a true legend of the sport, but has been in decline for some time and even the TRT appears to be having less and less of an effect. Henderson was finished by strikes for the first time in his career last time out against Vitor Belfort, and I think it happens again.
Prediction – Shogun via KO/TKO
Cezar Ferreira vs. C.B. Dolloway – 185lbs.
Winner of the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, Cezar Ferreira has taken to the UFC with aplomb. Having defeated Sergio Moraes to claim his TUF crown back at UFC 147, Ferreira has since gone on to defeat Thiago Santos and most recently, Daniel Sarafian, taking his Octagon record to 3-0.
Dolloway’s biggest weakness is his inconsistency. Often stringing together two or three wins at a time but failing to progress any further when the competition increases accordingly, Dolloway has yet to secure a high profile win despite having a 7-5 UFC record. Dolloway’s last performance was against Tim Boetsch, who defeated Dolloway via split decision back at UFC 166.
This one is pretty close to call, but from recent viewing it appears as though Ferreira has a far higher talent ceiling compared to that of Dolloway, and I think Ferreira takes this.
Prediction – Ferreira via unanimous decision
Leonardo Santos vs. Norman Parke – 155lbs.
This will be Santos’ second bout inside the Octagon, having triumphed in the second season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Santos defeated William Macario in the final via submission in the second round to take the tournament last June.
Norman Parke has made a good a start as any of the recent TUF winners, as The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes lightweight tournament victor has taken home the decision in all three of his UFC contests. The former Cage Contender lightweight champion will be looking to extend that win streak to four, and hopefully secure a matchup with a fighter on the outskirts of the top ten of the highly competitive 155lbs division.
Santos will hold the advantage on the ground, but I expect Parke to be able to keep this one standing at pick Santos off at range.
Prediction – Parke via unanimous decision
Fabio Maldonado vs. Gian Villante – 205lbs.
Since being on the receiving end of one of the more memorable pummellings of recent years when he took on Glover Teixeira at UFC 153, Fabio Maldonado has managed to recover from that particular defeat and go from strength to strength. Back-to-back wins over Roger Hollett and Joey Beltran have left Maldonado with the chance to score three straight UFC wins for the first time in his career.
Villante was able to secure his first UFC victory in his last outing, finishing Cody Donovan with strikes at UFC 167 back in November. Villante, a former Strikeforce combatant, had suffered defeat in his debut at the hands, and thumb, of Ovince St. Preux, as St. Preux accidentally poked Villante’s eye, which brought an end to proceedings as Villante was unable to see and was down on all judges’ scorecards going in to the closing stages of the bout.
Neither fighter possesses the required quality to make a go of it on the mat, so this one will likely stay standing. This will favour the former pro boxer, Maldonado and I expect him to comfortably out-strike Villante for large portions of the bout.
Prediction – Maldonado via KO/TKO
Michael Prazeres vs. Mairbek Taisumov – 155lbs.
Losing your first bout inside the Octagon is never a good way to introduce yourself to the big leagues, and Prazeres did just that; losing out to Paulo Thiago last May. Luckily for Prazeres, he was able to bounce back in his most recent fight, with a win registered over Jesse Ronson at UFC 165.
Taisumov debuted with the UFC in his previous fight with a victory over Tae Hyun Bang via unanimous decision. This represents a quick turnaround for Taisumov, as the win over Bang came at UFC Fight Night 34, which went down in early January of this year.
Both men are more than capable on the ground, but Taisumov will hold a sizeable advantage on the feet and should have enough about him to keep it there.
Prediction – Taisumov vis KO/TKO
Rony Jason vs. Steven Siler – 145lbs.
Having got his UFC career of to a perfect start, winning all three of his opening bouts, Rony Jason was to suffer his first Octagon defeat last time out. The loss, which snapped an 8-fight win streak, came against rising featherweight contender, Jeremy Stephens back in November.
Having hit a career height in defeating former WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown, Steven Siler would have been hoping to build on that momentum in his last bout, this past November. Unfortunately for Siler that was not to be the case, as he ran in to the freight train that is Denis Bermudez.
Siler is a tough competitor and can never be counted out, but simply put, Jason is the superior fighter.
Prediction – Jason via unanimous decision