One of the best parts about a card like UFC Fight Night in Brazil is the chance to discover the next wave of talent that will try to make an impact in the Octagon, where a thin line exists between being pushed towards the top ten or the possibility of fading into obscurity, all within a single fight.
The card in Brazil is stacked from top to bottom with rookie prospects who could become contenders, while some late replacements look to cash in on their ability to step in from the unknown and walk away victorious.
A few fighters are coming off of losses as well, so the pressure to get a win for a great number of them is paramount. Today we will examine the preliminary card and get to know some of the rookies you will discover on fight night, and who has the advantage going into Wednesday night's card.
1. There are a number of prospects to watch on this card, but one in particular to keep an eye on is newcomer Elias Silverio. Now it has to be noted, Silverio is taking his fight against Joao Zeferino on short notice, and this is his UFC debut, so the odds are against him a bit. What Silverio has on his side is a style that works well in the early going of fights, and that could help get him a win this time around. Silverio loves to move forward in his fights, and unload a barrage of punches and knees to keep his opponents playing defense before they are kissing the mat goodnight a few seconds later. Zeferino has only one fight in the UFC, but now he drops down to welterweight, which is a more natural weight class for him. Zeferino is a ground fighter, so he has to look to take Silverio down quickly in this one because if not, he might wake up wondering what happened and how he got there. This fight really comes down to where it takes place, but given Silverio's love of the striking game the edge falls with him, especially if he can hurt Zeferino early.
2. Another name to keep an eye out for on the card is Brazilian Felipe Arantes, who returns to action against promotional rookie Kevin Souza. In his last trip to the Octagon, Arantes brutalized former Ultimate Fighter finalist Godofredo Pepey, and looks to make it two in a row when he faces a very tall and lanky fighter in Souza. Standing 6-feet tall and fighting at 145 pounds, Souza is a tough fighter to figure out because he has reach that most featherweights could only hope to have. Souza is a knockout artist who has put away 12 of 13 opponents by knockout or TKO. But with his UFC debut coming against an extremely tough test in Arantes, he may not get a chance to show off much of his stand up skills in this one. Arantes is very well-rounded, and if he can land on top of Souza, he might just go two-for-two with ground stoppage victories.
3. Two big bantamweights will battle it out in Brazil when Lucas Martins makes the move all the way from lightweight down to bantamweight as he takes on another newcomer in Junior Hernandez. Hernandez comes from the same Miletich Fighting Systems camp that many greats in UFC history have worked under, including welterweight icon Matt Hughes, but make no mistake, he's nothing like the former UFC champion in terms of strategy. Hernandez is a polished striker that loves to stand and trade with an opponent, but does sometimes have trouble putting his foes away. Martins doesn't have that issue at all.
Martins has only gone to the judges once in his life, and he is a finisher that will look for the knockout whether the fight is only a minute old or has just seconds remaining. This is also Martins' third fight in the UFC, and you can never discount experience when it comes to the Octagon. Martins is fighting in his home country, and he has to be aware that Hernandez is no slouch with his hands, but ultimately he should be able to put together the kind of combinations necessary to win the fight, and finish it before the final horn sounds.