The hiatus for the UFC is over as they take their talents to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Hometown hero, Jose Aldo, will hope to bring another exciting knockout to his fellow Brazilians again as he did last time he fought Chad Mendes. Two years is quite a while, and Chad Mendes has really sharpened up his striking game to go toe to toe with the featherweight champion. The co main event will be occupied by another Brazilian, Glover Teixeira, as he takes on a UFC top ten light heavyweight in Phil Davis. Teixeira has his hands full in this one, as Phil Davis has proven he is no easy test for any fighter, and has yet to be finished inside the octagon. The prelims hit Fight Pass at 7 pm EST, switch over to FOX Sports 1 at 8 pm EST, and finding its way to Pay Per View at 10 pm EST. Title fight, contendership status fight, with numerous intriguing prospect match ups; this UFC card is primed for excitement.
[C] Jose Aldo (24-1) vs. #1 Chad Mendes (16-1) Featherweight Championship Bout – First bout between the two was not much of a match up to be quite frank. Aldo finished Mendes in spectacular fashion, and memorably ran into the Brazilian crowd to celebrate with his countrymen after planting his foe with a knee in which led to Mendes’ first defeat in his UFC career. The rivalry has since then brewed between camps, especially when Aldo’s teammate and former bantamweight champion, Renan Barao, was defeated by a teammate of Mendes, T.J. Dillashaw. Now two years removed, the Alpha Male product has won five fights in a row, while showcasing his profound punching power and retooled striking skills. Aldo on the other hand, has been fighting off some nagging injuries, allowing him to fight only three times since his last bout with Mendes. The defending UFC featherweight champion is still one of the pound for pound best in the UFC, heavily relying on a heavy dose of leg kicks to chop down his opponents with ease. Mendes was able to avoid the leg kick onslaught for the most part in their last fight, but found himself on the wrong side of a fence grab, which is still a topic of discussion leading up to this fight. People want to see more out of Aldo, once a stone cold killer before coming champion, has seemed to have lost some his edge to get the finish. Many thought Mendes had the best shot to dethrone the champion last time, and now would be the ideal situation to knock him off. Chad Mendes via Unanimous Decision.
#4 Glover Teixeira (22-3) vs. #6 Phil Davis (12-2) Light Heavyweight Bout – Phil Davis’ game has just not evolved enough to stay relevant with the top-tier fighters in the UFC light heavyweight division. Teixeira has some of the best boxing in the division, and has lethal submissions if he’s able to grab a hold of an opponent’s neck. Davis does as well, but his game is still considered one-dimensional, and his striking is more volume than dangerous. Do not be mistaken though, Davis has some of the best wrestling in the division, and if Glover’s take down defense is not on par, Davis will grind him out with ease; but the power and diverse game of Chuck Liddell’s protegé might prove to be too much for the Penn State Alum. Davis has never been finished, and it would not be fair to say he will be in this one, but the damage he may receive is inevitable. Glover Teixeira via Unanimous Decision.
#15 Fabio Maldonado (21-7) vs. Hans Stringer (22-5-3) Light Heavyweight Bout – Maybe it was not the smartest decision for Fabio Maldonado to accept a UFC heavyweight fight against top contender, Stipe Miocic. The guy showed some marbles with accepting that fight, but light heavyweight, and even middleweight, should be considered by Fabio. The volume boxer loves to tangle on the feet, and those body shots of his are some of the best in the UFC. Whether or not Stringer would want to stand and bang with Maldonado has yet to be seen, but Stringer may do himself a favor on mixing up his MMA game. Stringer is still somewhat of an unknown among the light heavyweight roster, and has not fought anyone Maldonado’s caliber in his career. It will be interesting to see how he responds under the heavy pressure from Fabio, do not be surprised if he folds somewhere within the second round. Fabio Maldonado via Technical Knockout.
#13 Darren Elkins (18-4) vs. Lucas Martins (15-1) Featherweight Bout – This fight might be one of the most intriguing on the UFC card. Elkins has a variety of different aspects to his game he may utilize versus Martins; Martins though, is a finisher through and through. After walking through “The Spartan” Alex White, and finishing his last three opponents, Martins is really starting to hit his stride in the featherweight division. Elkins has fought some of the best in the division, but has not beaten the stiffer competition. Martins has the higher ceiling than Elkins, and can make an argument for a top 15 ranking with knocking off the 13th ranked Elkins. Lucas Martins via Technical Knockout.
Diego Ferreira (11-0) vs. Beneil Dariush (8-1) Lightweight Bout – Ferreira strikes and finishes are not pretty, but boy does that man pack a punch. Dariush prides himself on getting fights to his doghouse and submitting opponents at will, that will be a tough game plan to execute against a guy like Ferreira. Between the two, they have 11 submission finishes combined, with only three TKO/KO finishes. It is almost safe to say that either will look to dominate the other on the ground, or they could completely negate one another and make this a stand up battle. Either way, I think the fans in Brazil will be quite satisfied with the first pay per view fight of the night. Diego Ferriera via Unanimous Decision.
In other notable fights on the prelims, Scott “Young Gunz” Jorgensen will look to get his second victory in the row against Wilson Reis; while Andre “Touchy” Fili hopes to get back on track after being submitted by Max Holloway back in April. For anything and everything UFC, make sure to tune into the Guardian Liberty Voice as we provide the viewer will live event coverage and results after the conclusion of the card.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
Follow Justin’s coverage in the MMA Spotlight section
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports writer leading the coverage in MMA