Niko Price has produced one of the knockouts of the year at UFC Tampa.
The UFC returns to the Brazil on Sunday for the first time since the much lauded UFC 134 back in August. This will probably be the first show of many for the Brazilian fans this year, with the success of UFC 134 spawning a Brazilian version of The Ultimate Fighter as well as talk of a stadium show.
With all that said, it is a somewhat quiet return to the country. UFC 142 does not feature the names that UFC 134 did, but it still features a compelling title fight and a series of well put together match-ups that could make this show a sleeper hit.
The title fight in question is a featherweight duel between the fast twitching muscle fibres of Jose Aldo and the brute force American wrestling of Chad Mendes.
The champion, Aldo, brought a fearsome reputation to the UFC after going undefeated in eight bouts in the WEC with seven brutal knockouts. His transition to the UFC has not amounted to the same level of fireworks however.
His five round battle with Mark Hominick was incredibly entertaining but it wasn’t the buzzsaw we had seen run through Mike Thomas Brown or Manny Gamburyan. He followed that up with another decision win over Kenny Florian in a fight that never reached any great heights.
It is possible a return to his home country could get him back to his violent roots but he will have to do so against the worst style match up for him in the division.
Chad Mendes has gone undefeated in his career by imposing his bulk and wrestling ability on his opponents. He fights a simple fight where if he realises he can’t knock you out on the feet he will then use his wrestling to sit on you until the clock runs out. It’s not usually pretty but it’s damn effective.
Aldo showed some cardio issues in his fight with Hominick, as well as a bottom game that won’t put too much fear into Mendes’ mind. Mendes won’t outstrike Aldo but if he has success with his takedowns it will be his fight to lose.
This event will also mark a homecoming for former UFC light heavyweight champion, Vitor Belfort who will meet the upsized Anthony Johnson in a middleweight bout in the evening’s co-main attraction.
The match-up came out of the blue as Anthony Johnson has spent his entire UFC career at welterweight or as close to welterweight as his dehydrated body would allow.
His last performance was a complete annihilation of Charlie Brenneman where the different in size between the two was ridiculous. But it appears, Johnson favours his kidneys too much to continue cutting that much weight and has opted to fill out and become a pretty normal sized middleweight.
What we’re left with is a pretty quality match-up with fireworks written all over it. Johnson has been known to switch things up on occasion and use his wrestling to smother his opponents but I think Belfort is more than capable of stuffing his shot. If that is indeed the case then we have the makings of a pretty vicious and a pretty short fight.
This bout is especially interesting for Belfort who already has a stint as coach on the Brazilian TUF lined up as well as a bout against rival coach Wanderlei Silva immediately after that. That’s a pretty full plate and potentially a distracting one.
An unfocused Vitor is usually a losing Vitor and probably Johnson’s only hope in this fight. If Vitor is on, he should be bigger or at least the same size as Johnson which should throw “Rumble” off and probably lead to a violent, night ending flurry.
The rest of the night’s main card action sees a host of Brazilian talent meeting foreign competition. In particular, Rousimar Palhares will look to make it three in a row and add to his collection of legs when he meets the well travelled Mike Massenzio.
This fight is really only a question of how long it will take Palhares to find a leg and snap it. No offence to Massenzio but he is made to satisfy Palhares’ leg lust. The Brazilian is always good for a brain snap or several, so be sure to check out the fight anyway.