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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
It's hard to find a lot of positives in Saturday night's card from Brazil, and the main reason for that is its status as a pay-per-view event. Were this a card offered live on FX or Fuel, the fact that so many of its competitors were mostly unknown Brazilian competitors making their UFC debuts wouldn't be an issue.
Indeed, even a ravaged card like this one - headlined by a rematch no one was publicly clamoring for between Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva - would be great for fans on FX. They'd be getting free fights, after all, and it's hard to go wrong with free fights. However, with this being a pay-per-view event, that's where the problems arise.
The simple fact is there's nothing on this card that drives fans to spend $55, not when you compare it to pay-per-view cards before and after it, and especially when you look at the level of fights compared to several recent free events. There have been better fights than Franklin-Silva II headlining on FX and Fox, and there have been better fights in support on free cards than Fabricio Werdum vs. Mike Russow or either of the "TUF: Brazil" Finals bouts featuring fighters very few in North America have ever seen.
Some of this isn't the UFC's fault. They had lofty ideas for this event, and the initial plan of putting Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen II in a stadium absolutely would have erased any complaints about the undercard. That fight, had it gone through in a stadium, would have been huge, and well worth the pay-per-view dollars to see the spectacle.
Of course, noise ordinance issues in Sao Paulo and a U.N. conference in Rio de Janeiro forced the UFC to change things up, and in taking that fight from this card they took away it being a pay-per-view level event. When Vitor Belfort went down with an injury, that just compounded things.
Franklin-Silva II may very well be a fun fight; the rest of the night's main card may feature plenty of action and excitement for whatever MMA fans tune in. However, asking fans to pay for this level of card is not a winning proposition, and the UFC will be faced with their worst buyrate in years because of that.
Their hands may have been tied. They had it set as a pay-per-view event with Silva-Sonnen II planned, and with three events already on FX it's not something they could just move to the network. Additionally, they already had to cancel one pay-per-view this year with March's planned trip to Montreal. Really, this is one of the rare times when they've had ambitions bigger than what they could pull off, as they didn't anticipate having the issues they did. That leaves them with the weakest pay-per-view card in a really long time, and it's probably going to be a money loser for them.
With that out of the way, In lieu of a full-on preview for the card - and I can admit I have little, if any, legitimate analysis to give on any of the Ultimate Fighter contestants from the Brazil season - I've got some quick thoughts on the main card matchups for Saturday night, as well as some quick predictions below:
Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva (190 lb. catchweight): Franklin won the first meeting between the two back at UFC 99 in Germany, winning a decision in a three round fight. This time around, he's coming off a 16-month layoff after his decision loss to Forrest Griffin. Silva has won two of his last three, but he's got a 27 second knockout loss to Chris Leben sandwiched in between them. Franklin's chin is still better than Silva's, and this time around they've got five rounds to work with. Silva will try to rush the action early, but I'm fairly confident Franklin can still get the job done, and this time around he finishes it. Franklin by KO in the third round
Fabricio Werdum vs. Mike Russow (Heavyweight): Russow's a good wrestler with some big power in his punches, and he's lost just once in his entire MMA career. However, he's been picked apart in fights, and has never faced an opponent on Werdum's level. Werdum is the better grappler by far, and though Russow's got several submission wins his submission game isn't near Werdum's level. The fight just needs to hit the ground and Russow will be in Werdum's wheelhouse, but as we saw in the Roy Nelson fight Werdum can pour on some punishment as well. Either way, this is Werdum's for the taking. Werdum by submission in the second round
Yuri Alcantara vs. Hacran Dias (Featherweight): Alcantara has won 13 straight, and has just 3 losses in his career. Dias enters the UFC off eight straight wins, with just one decision loss in his career. Both fighters are exciting prospects in the featherweight division and want to prove themselves amongst the elite at 145 lbs. Alcantara has shown his skills twice in the UFC, Dias will try to show off for the first time himself. Both are adept at the submission game, and their ground skills are likely to cancel each other out. We should have a fun fight on our hands in this one, and I'll go with Dias by decision
Cezar Ferreira vs. Sergio Moraes (TUF Brazil Middleweight Final): Moraes is in this final as an injury replacement for the man that knocked him out in the semis, Daniel Sarafian. Ferreira ended his semifinal bout with a head kick knock out. Without knowing much more than that, I'm going with Ferreira by KO in the second round
Godofredo Pepey vs. Rony Mariano Bezerra (TUF Brazil Featherweight Final): As I admitted previously, I know very little of the competitors in this TUF Brazil season. With that said, my coin flip pick goes to Pepey via submission in the second round
Whether you're watching the event or not on Saturday night, make sure to tune in to our live round by round coverage, as we'll keep you up to speed on all of the action on FX and pay-per-view from Brazil!
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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