Not missing a beat, UFC Fight Night 32 emanates from the Goiania Arena in Brazil on Saturday, just three days after the promotions Fight for the Troops 3 event.
The main event features a rematch from 2006 at PRIDE 32 and a number of Brazilian fighters slated to please the hometown crowd.
Once again Jordan Cieciwa (@FitCityJordan) and I (@LynchOnSports) go head to head in our picks for this weekend's event. Let us know which side you're on! Tweet either #TeamLynch or #TeamJC, on Twitter. Also feel free to leave your opinions in the comment section below.
Vitor Belfort vs. Dan Henderson
James Lynch TSN.ca (@LynchOnSports)
A confusing, yet exciting rematch headlines the night as former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Belfort battles former PRIDE Middleweight champion Henderson.
I use the word "confusing" because Belfort is moving up to light heavyweight despite an impressive winning streak in UFC's middleweight division (since his loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 126).
These aren't lacklustre wins either; finishes against Anthony Johnson, Michael Bisping and most recently former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold. No doubt his usage of the very controversial TRT has played a major role in this decision, with his inability to earn a licence fight in various states in the U.S.
In addition with Chris Weidman becoming the new UFC middleweight champion at UFC 162, the 185lb class certainly has a logjam. Either way, a rematch with Henderson is an intriguing matchup for the hardcore fans, especially in Brazil.
For the Olympic wrestler Henderson, he's coming off two close decision losses to Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans and is in need of a win should he still have title aspirations.
At 43-years old, it does appear age has caught up with him, but he's still proven to be extremely durable and still possess dynamite in his right hand. With that said, even if the Team Quest captain is able to neutralize the 36-year old with his wrestling, he still won't have the power advantage in this fight like he usually does.
In Henderson's decorated 39-fight career he's never been knocked out and only submitted twice. Saturday night we'll likely see him stopped via strikes for the first time in his career, as Belfort is too strong and too fast for the former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion.
The Blackzillian member should find his range sometime in the third round and earn some revenge in front of the hometown crowd.
Belfort via third round TKO.
Jordan Cieciwa TSN Radio 1290 (@FitCityJordan)
There is not much that Dan Henderson does better than another fighter in his division.
I don't mean that with any disrespect, heck, the guy has been my boss for years. The thing is, he is usually the slower fighter.
On paper, he is normally less talented a boxer. His jujitsu is almost non-existent. Dan can wrestle, and throw a bomb of a right hand. No new tricks for this old dog. Yet, he is still a threat. It's strictly because more than he loves of winning, Dan hates losing. So he goes through the fight with the single goal of landing a huge punch, or neutralizing his opponent against the cage with his Olympic level Greco Roman wrestling.
This is going to be a very long night for fans, I expect this to be one of those fights that happens along the cage featuring lots of Dirty Boxing, and control. That doesn't bode well for Vitor Belfort. If Dan gets tired in the later rounds, it will end with a swarm from Vitor. If Dan is ready to go the whole fight, he should be able to control, the second he can't hold on to Vitor, it will end quick.
Henderson via third round (H-Bomb) knockout
Cezar Ferriera vs. Daniel Sarafian
A pair of Brazilian middleweights looks to please the crowd on Saturday night, as 6-2 Ferreira battles 11-3 Sarafian.
Both fighters competed on the debut season of TUF: Brazil and advanced to the tournament final, however Sarafian would bow out due to an injured elbow. The 31-year old Sarafian lost a surprising split decision to C.B. Dollaway at UFC on FOX 7, but would rebound earning his first UFC victory with an early submission of Eddie Mendez at UFC on FUEL 10.
Ferreira meanwhile would take home the title of TUF: Brazil champion and earned a submission victory in just 47 seconds against Thiago Santos at UFC 163. Similar to when Michael Bisping fought Matt Hamill back at UFC 75, this matchup will finally give credence as to who the real Ultimate Fighter winner will be.
Expect the younger Ferreira to emerge victories as his significant height and reach advantage will aid him in the win. The Vitor Belfort protégé will look to impress his coach and will likely edge out a decision.
Ferriera via unanimous decision
I'm excited to see this fight, both these fighters are starting their career and in my opinion aren't ready for the higher level competition yet.
They both broke into the UFC at the same time on TUF:Brazil. This is a good way for them to get a little more cage time and another camp at the level they should be at. This is going to be a sort of David and Goliath battle, with Ferriera having a substantial reach advantage, and coming out of Vitor Belfort's camp he will know how to strike and use the advantage.
That being said, Daniel Sarafian is no slouch, and his submission game is top notch. If there is a breakdown in the reach game, and it goes to the ground Sarafian gets the nod. Given the experience of Ferreira, I expect a break in defense. This will hit the mat, and it will go to Sarafian.
Sarafian via third round submission
Rafael Cavalcante vs. Igor Pokrajac
Two fighters in desperate need of a victory clash in the UFC's light heavyweight division as "Fejao" and Pokrajac go to war.
Since winning the Strikeforce light heavyweight title back in August of 2010, Cavalcante struggled, failing a drug test in his victory over Mike Kyle and losing his UFC debut to Thiago Silva brutally by way of first round knockout.
The Croatian kick boxer Pokrajac is in a similar situation, losing two of his last three fights including his most recent outing, a unanimous decision loss to Ryan Jimmo at UFC 161.
Fejao has fought tougher opposition, including Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal, Dan Henderson and Thiago Silva. But the 34-year old "Duke" takes the edge in experience, having 36-fights on his record compared to just 16 for Cavalcante. With 15 knockout victories between the two of them, fans can expect a standup affair that is sure to deliver fireworks.
Clearly this fight won't go the distance, so the question becomes who will get knocked out first?
The 32-year old Blackhouse member should be the superior fighter in this fight and we should see the UFC jitters wear off in his second octagon appearance. Expect the BJJ blackbelt to find his range in the second round and earn his 12th career knockout victory.
Cavalcante via second round knockout
Coming over from Strikeforce I had a lot of hope for Rafael Cavalcante.
He had a No Contest due to a performance enhancing drug in his system in his last bout in Strikeforce, and looked less than stellar when Thiago Silva knocked him out cold.
He's stepping in against Igor Pokrjac.
As a product of Mirko Cro Cop's team, Igor Pokrajac should be a devastating and aggressive kickboxer. That isn't what he has showed, and in fact, has put on one of the most boring matches in UFC history.
His match up with Ryan Jimmo didn't live up to the hype. It did light a fire under Pokrajac, and I think that this fight will see him more aggressive.
Good news for fight fans as Cavalcante will respond well to that. This will be an exciting stand up battle. The kind of fight most fans tune in for.
I'm expecting the iron chined Pokajac to get beat up for most of the fight, but win with a solid well placed shot.
Pokrajac via third round KO
Brandon Thatch vs. Paulo Thiago
UFC veteran Thiago makes his 11th octagon appearance Saturday when he faces off with rising star Thatch.
This is a classic matchup between two fighters headed in opposite directions, as Thiago has lost four of his last six fights and the Grudge Trainer Center product is on a current nine-fight winning streak.
Part of the issue is that the 32-year old Brasilla native still works fulltime as a policeman in his native Brazil, so his focus can't be solely concentrated on fighting.
Aside from his win over Josh Koscheck, anytime he's faced potential contenders in the division, he's faltered. His losses to Diego Sanchez, Martin Kampmann and Jon Fitch are evidence of this.
Meanwhile his 28-year old foe turned some heads when he brutally knocked out Justin Edwards in his UFC debut back in August, making use of his exceptional height and reach advantage in the win.
While Thiago poses a big step up in competition for the Denver native, he should have the power and speed advantage in this fight. Despite Thiago being undefeated in his native Brazil, Thatch should win this fight by knocking out the 20-fight veteran in the second round.
Thatch via second round knockout.
Paulo Thiago is one of the hardest working men in the UFC. He is one fight shy of a dozen and he's got a battle on his hands with Brandon Thatch. Thatch is riding an impressive nine fight winning streak. A win streak that has not had much in the way of top talent come his way.
This fight is interesting, in that Thiago is 2-4 in his last six, but still has the compete level and skill of a top UFC veteran. He'll be a good proving ground for Thatch. This should go to the younger, faster fighter. I don't see Thiago pulling any upsets on this one.
Thatch via second round knockout
Ryan LaFlare vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio
Arguably the most competitive matchup on the main card as Ponzinibbio makes his UFC debut against Ring of Combat champion LaFlare.
The 27-year old, who appeared on the TUF: Brazil 2 reality show broke his hand in his semi-final victory over Leonardo Santos which forced him out of the tournament.
Many pundits were picking the Team Tavares fighter to win the show, so a matchup against an undefeated American like LaFlare will certainly be an antiquate test.
Speaking of which, the 30-year old Long Island native had a successful UFC debut defeating Ben Alloway back in April. It's a coin flip who wins this fight, I give LaFlare the slight edge because he's undefeated.
LaFlare via unanimous decision
This is a good event for Ryan LaFlare to prove that a championship in another fight organization is truly worth something. LaFlare is representing Ring of Combat.
This fight will also give Santiago Ponzinibbio the chance to prove that he was as good as the opinion many experts had regarding his skills.
The TUF: Brazil 2 Tavares team member was unable to compete due to injury and left many wondering exactly the level of his abilities.
This one will go to the hometown, more experienced fighter.
Ponzinibbio has been in the UFC spot light for a while, it will be less of a shock for him than for LaFlare.
Ponzinibbio via unanimous decision
Rony Jason vs. Jeremy Stephens
A matchup initially slated for UFC Fight Night 29 is now the opening Saturday night's main card, as TUF Brazil 1 winner Jason faces Alliance MMA fighter Stephens.
After winning the inaugural season of TUF Brazil, the 29-year old dispatched Sam Sicilla and Mike Wilkinson to improve his octagon record to a perfect 3-0.
Stephens meanwhile got back on the winning track in his last outing, earning a decision over Estevan Payan at UFC 160 in his featherweight debut.
Prior to that, "Lil' Heathen" was coming off three straight losses to Yves Edwards, Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis. Not since defeating Rafael Dos Anjos way back at UFC 91 has the Iowa native earned a big victory in his career.
Many pundits are picking the Team Nogueira product in this fight, and why wouldn't they?
Jason is on an eight-fight win streak and generally Brazilians don't lose when fighting on their native soil. But Stephens experience should serve him well as I think he will use his wrestling and land the better shots over three rounds to earn a decision victory.
Stephens via unanimous decision
Rony Jason won the first TUF Brazil and has since moved to 3-0 in the Octagon.
Across the Octagon is a very accomplished mixed martial artist in Jeremy 'Lil Heathen" Stephens.
You can bet that this is going to be a fight where Stephens brings all his game to the table. The problem is, I don't know if that game is enough. This fight should go to the home town favorite.
Rony Jason via unanimous decision
Lynch: Sicilia, Akmedov, Tavares, Cruickshank, Tome
JC: Sicilia, Akmedov, Tavares, Cruickshank, Ortiz
Also be sure to tune into the "Weigh-In" on TSN Radio 1290 Winnipeg every Saturday as myself, Jordan and "Big Marv" Timog go toe to toe discussing the hottest topics in MMA.