Looking to ride the momentum of their successful UFC 164 event this past Saturday, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is back at it again Wednesday with UFC Fight Night 28 from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Keeping with the theme of UFC events in Brazil this past year, Wednesday is no different with a few solid matchups on the main card and a litter of unknown Brazilian fighters scattered throughout the rest of the event. As always, Jordan Cieciwa (#TeamJC) and I go head to head in our picks this week only this time, #TeamLynch is on a two event losing streak at the hands of the Winnipeg native. Let us know which side you're on, #TeamLynch or #TeamJC. Also feel free to leave your opinions in the comment section below.
Glover Teixeira vs. Ryan Bader
James Lynch - TSN.ca (@LynchOnSports)
Despite this event being a lackluster card overall; this main event is about as good as it gets with hometown favorite Teixeira battling TUF 8 winner Bader.
Since his UFC debut, Teixeria has been the talk of the light heavyweight division, amassing an impressive winning streak and delivering exciting finishes in the process.
Heading into this bout, the Brazilian is on a 19-fight win streak (no, that's not a typo) and hopes his 20th victory will lead to a shot at the winner of Jones vs. Gustafsson at UFC 165 in Toronto later this month.
Known primarily for his standup skills, the 33-year-old flashed his submission game in his last fight, forcing fellow contender James Te-Huna to tap out in less than three minutes at UFC 160.
Standing in his way Wednesday evening is the former NCAA Division I Wrestler Bader.
The Arizona native has had an up and down career in the 205 pound division, with notable victories over Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. But losses to Jon Jones, Tito Ortiz and most recently Lyoto Machida, have halted the 30-year old's title aspirations.
On paper Teixeira is the better fighter, having better standup and far superior ground skills. Bader is the stronger wrestler, and if he can effectively use that to neutralize the 2nd degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, he has a chance to win this fight.
Being that this fight is in his native Brazil and the likelihood of a title shot if victorious, I don't see Teixeria being flashy and trying to test his standup against the American.
Instead I think the former PIT Fighter will try and get this fight to the mat and look for the submission, similar to what Jones and Ortiz were successfully did in their victories over Bader.
Teixeira via second round submission
Jordan Cieciwa - TSN 1290 (@FitCityJordan)
It's a strange thing to see someone ride a multi-year fight streak. Since 2006 Glover Teixeira has amassed 19 wins. That's an amazing stat. What makes it more impressive, he ends fights. That's 17 wins by stoppage, and two by decision. Now on the other side of the cage is Ryan Bader. No disrespect to Bader, but I think he is in over his head. His wrestling is the only clear advantage he has.
That said, if he can't control Glover for the full fight, he's going to lose at some point. With Glover, that could be submission or TKO.
I'm not sure I agree with Bader being the final test for Glover to see if he should get a shot at Jones (forgive me, the winner of Jones vs Gustafsson), but that is the way this looks to be playing out.
This fight won't go too long, it will be an excellent main event. Glover will control this fight, take it to the mat and sink in a submission.
Teixeira via second round submission
Yushin Okami vs. Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza
A pivotal matchup in the middleweight division serves as the night's co-feature, as Brazilian favorite Souza battles gritty veteran Okami.
"Jacare" made an impressive UFC debut this past May, defeating TUF 11 Chris Camozzi in the first round and extended his winning streak to five straight.
The Japanese fighter Okami meanwhile, is coming off an impressive victory over former Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard, in which he effectively smothered the knockout artist over three rounds with his much improved wrestling.
What makes this fight interesting is that Souza is a two time ADCC Submission gold medalist and boasts 14 submission victories in just 18 fights.
The Team Quest fighter meanwhile, has never been submitted throughout his 36-fight career. The last loss for the Blackhouse member came back in 201,1 as he struggled with the wrestling of Luke Rockhol and subsequently lost his Strikeforce middleweight title.
It's very possible "Thunder" could implement a similar strategy and neutralize the Brazilians arsenal to win a decision. However the DREAM veteran knows what's at stake and will likely try to keep this fight on the feet, where he is superior.
I see the Brazilian out striking the Judo Blackbelt over three rounds to earn a decision victory.
Jacare via unanimous decision
I'm going to make this a very brief one. There is no need to go into pedigree when it comes to Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza. Just watch his last fight, or the one before that, or heck, the one before that.
His last two fights have been over in under four minutes, and the third took :41 seconds. He is that good.
Yushin Okami has used his Judo masterfully in the UFC. It's awesome to see him get throws and unorthodox takedowns. The same way Machida was a standout with traditional Karate, Okami is doing the same with Judo.
However, his Judo doesn't end fights like Jacare's striking does. It will take two rounds at least for Jacare to figure out his timing and the Judo defense. Once he does, he will score some definitive blows.
Jacare is the shorter fighter and gives up some reach, so that will keep this fight interesting as Yushin is excellent at working distance.
I don't think there will be enough time for Jacare to fully figure out Okami, but he will control the fight.
Jacare via unanimous decision
Joseph Benavidez vs. Jussier Formiga
Looking to ride the winning momentum of his fellow Team Alpha Male teammates, Benavidez looks for his third straight win as he battles the Brazilian Formiga.
Since the addition of new striking coach Duane Ludwig, the 29-year old displayed his much improved standup in a second round TKO of Darren Uyenoyama back in April.
Because of the lack of contenders in a very thin flyweight division, should the 29-year old earn an impressive victory over the Nova Uniao fighter, he could earn a rematch with current champion Demetrious Johnson.
Formiga meanwhile, earned his first UFC victory back May in a decision victory over Chris Cariaso. A telling sign in that fight was his lack of conditioning as he completely gassed out in the third round.
Because of this, and his questionable chin which he displayed in a knockout loss to John Dodson, Benavidez has to be considered a clear favorite in this fight. Despite the fact that the former Shooto flyweight champion has seven submissions on his resume, the former WEC 135lb title challenger has never been submitted in his 21-fight career.
This should be another showcase fight for the California native as I see him finishing off the 28-year old sometime in the second round.
Benavidez via second round knockout.
I love a good flyweight fight. Rarely do you see a huge knockout, but if you love technique, these guys bring it with lighting speed. I've said it in the last two takedowns. Uriah Faber, and Chad Mendes both looked fantastic, and it's due in large part to the striking coaching of Duane Ludwig.
Benavidez will just be getting more precise with his striking, which is bad news for a guy with two loses, one by knockout.
Jussier Formiga is going to have to bring his 'A' game, and we could see something completely different from him if has spent the time since May working on his lack luster cardio.
In this division there is no way a fighter can get tired. At 125lbs, the best of the best keep going and going. That's what Benavidez will be doing.
Team Alpha Male never slows down. Their training and diet are impeccable. This will be another night to show case Team Alpha Male and their new commitment to evolving as a team.
Benavidez via third round TKO
Francisco Trinaldo vs. Piotr Hallman
Ultimate Fighter Brazil competitor Trinaldo takes on UFC newcomer Hallman in a lightweight affair.
"Massaranduba" has quietly made an impressive 3-1 record inside the octagon with his only blemish coming against fellow Brazilian Gleison Tibau at UFC 153.
Trinaldo is one of the bigger fighters in the lightweight division and has solid standup skills as he displayed in the Tibau fight, where he rocked the 30-year old with a left hand in the second round.
On the opposite side of the octagon, the Polish fighter Hallman makes his UFC debut and is currently on a nine-fight win streak. While the 13-1 Mighty Bulls Team product will likely have an impressive outing, he'll struggle with the 35-year olds standup skills and size over three rounds, on route to losing a unanimous decision.
Trinaldo via unanimous decision
Not a lot goes unnoticed at 155lbs. However, Francisco Trinaldo competed on Ultimate Fighter Brazil, than went on to win three of his four fights in the Octagon. His loss was a decision to Gleison Tibau, indicating that Trinaldo is at the top of his game to be able to get in and hang with top talent.
Flip to the other corner and you have a UFC debut from Poland in Piotr Hallman. These fights are always tough to pick. First fight jitters, or a pumped up 13-1 record can make a fighter do things you aren't expecting. That can mean a win, or a dramatic loss.
The question in this fight is can Hallman negate the obvious advantage that Trinaldo has in striking and win this a submission. I'm thinking yes, or at least get a decision based on control.
Hallman via second round submission
Rafael Natal vs. Tor Troeng
Belo Horizonte native Natal looks to make it three straight wins as he battles "The Hammer" Troeng.
Not to be confused with the tennis superstar, Natal looked impressive in his last outing earning a unanimous decision over Joao Zelferino back at UFC on FX 8.
Despite a lackluster start to his UFC career, the 30-year old has won four of his last five fights.
His 30-year old opponent made an impressive UFC debut back in April, submitting TUF 17 competitor Adam Cella in less than four minutes. Being a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Natal has the clear advantage on the mat, but his glaring weakness in most of his fights has been his conditioning.
The question is can Natal outlast his Swedish foe if he can't get the finish? Either way this should be Natal's fight to lose and will likely use his speed and superior ground skills to earn a decision.
Natal via unanimous decision
Tor Troeng has one previous fight in the UFC, and that really never goes well when you come in to the Octagon against a seasoned Vet with something to prove.
Natal has the skill to win this fight, and the ambition to do so as well. While Natal hasn't had any top notch fights yet, he is on a two fight streak. His next step up in competition will start getting him paychecks worth showing up for.
Troeng will try to play the part of the spoiler. There isn't much video for us to go on, he scored a submission in the first round of his UFC debut.
The question here is, can he outlast his opponent and win this in the later rounds.
Natal's Achilles heel seems to be his cardio. If Troeng can neutralize the attack and make Natal work for two rounds, will he be able to sink a submission on a slow and exhausted opponent? I think so.
Troeng via third round submission
Undercard Picks: Vinicius, Arantes, Martins, Zeferino, Jorge, Villefort
JC: Vinivius, Arantes, Hernandez, Zeferino, Wisniewski, Villefort
Also be sure to tune into the "Weigh-In" on TSN Radio 1290 Winnipeg every Saturday as myself and Jordan go toe to toe discussing the hottest topics in MMA.