The Ultimate Fighter Brazil debuts this weekend. This is the first time the reality series has moved out of Las Vegas and they couldn’t have found a better location. Brazil has long held MMA fans hearts and minds. The country has produced amazing stars and champions through the years, from Royce Gracie to Anderson Silva.

This season follows a familiar format that will feature two weight classes and two legends as coaches. This year’s crop of fighters will be coached by MMA legends Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort. The coaches will have a rematch from their 1998 classic bout at UFC Brazil.

I already discussed the featherweights on this season .  Now let’s meet the middleweights:

Favorites:

Sergio Moraes (6-1)

If you are looking for decorated BJJ black belts, it doesn’t get much better than Moraes. Moraes is a four-time World BJJ champion and holds a victory over Rickson Gracie’s son Kron in the sport. He has been the BJJ instructor for the Black House gym in San Diego. Moraes is 6-1 in MMA which includes a victory in Bellator. It is no surprise that five of his victories are via submission.

Delson Heleno (23-6)

Heleno is not only the most experienced middleweight, he is also the best known. The former IFL and M-1 veteran is also a BJJ world champion and a Capoeira master. Heleno has finished 15 of his professional MMA bout; 13 via submission. The 34-year-old is looking for his first chance on the big stage, but his size is a concern. Heleno has spent his career at welterweight.

Francisco Drinaldo (10-1)

Drinaldo has trained with UFC veteran Paulo Thiago. He is also a Brazilian kickboxing champion.  Drinaldo has seven stoppages in his 10 career wins. His lone loss is to WEC and UFC veteran Yuri Alcantara. He will be one of the smaller competitors in the weight class since he usually competes at lightweight.  However, he may become a sentimental favorite if he makes the house due to his dire financial situation. He has said in the past there have been times he hasn’t trained because he couldn’t afford the bus fare to get to the gym.

Thiago Perpetuo (8-1-1)

Perpetuo has spent his career at light heavyweight. He is a striker who successfully mixes in attacks to the entire body. On the ground, he is looking for ground-and-pound. He has secured six wins via knockout. It is no surprise that his lone loss was via submission. If he can maintain his power, the drop down in weight should help him especially in preventing the takedown.

Gustavo Sampaio (5-1)

Sampaio is an expert in Uechi-Ryu, a form of Karate. He has medaled in numerous competitions. While Sampaio has been competing in karate tournaments, he has also been transitioning his skills into MMA. He is currently on a three-fight win streak, all of them stoppages.

Charles Maicon (8-1)

After losing in his debut, Maicon has rattled off eight straight victories. Maicon has heavy hands and a killer instinct. All of his wins come via knockout; seven of them happened in the first round and five occurred in less than 30 seconds. His last victory was by far his best as he knocked out an opponent with 18 fights under their belt in just 17 seconds.

Leonardo Mafra Teixeira (5-0)

Teixeira fights out of Chute Boxe. He is a striker that delivers strong leg kicks, decent punching, and vicious ground-and-pound. Three of his victories have come by knockout. Teixeira has competed as a welterweight most of his career so this will be a step up in the size of competitors he will meet.

Renee Forte (7-1)

Frote trains out of Nova Uniao. He is a BJJ black belt. He started his career with six straight wins with all but one by either submission or decision before he suffered his first career loss. However, his last two victories have both come from knockouts.

Underdogs:

Cezar Ferreira (4-2)

Ferreira is a Brazilian that trains as part of Team Belfort in Las Vegas. He is a master of Capoeira; the Brazilian martial art that combines music, dancing, to fighting.  Ferreira had a three-fight win streak snapped in his last outing. His fights tend to end in a hurry. He has three victories that have ended in under 90 seconds and a loss that lasted just 25 seconds.

Daniel Sarafian (7-2)

Sarafian holds a unique record. He appeared in the first fight in Bellator’s history; he also holds the first loss in the promotion’s history. Since that loss in Bellator, Sarafian has rattled off four straight victories; three of those ended in the first round. Sarafian’s only other loss came against TUF veteran Mike Whitehead back in 2007.

Richardson Moreira (3-0)

Moreira is by far the most inexperienced fighter this season. Not only does the Team Nogueira fighter only have three MMA fights in his career, his opponents combine for only  a 1-0 record heading into the fight with him. He did finish all three opponents in the first round. Moreira showed great power and ground skill, even at heavyweight where he has competed in the past. However, he has also shown limited ability on his feet.

Fabio Luiz Vital da Costa (9-0-1)

Da Costa seems like a surprise entry into TUF Brazil. He had eight fights from 2003 to 2005. He then did not have another fight until 2009, which was the last year he had a fight. After a three-year layoff, he is making a return. Thus far in his career, he has only managed one stoppage, a knockout in his last fight.

Joao Paulo de Souza (8-4)

De Souza is an experienced fighter but has seemed to slow down. In the last two years he has only had three fights. De Souza competed just one time in 2011, a loss.  All eight of his victories have come from either KO’s or decisions.

Thiago Rela (3-1)

Rela has what any fighter would want, a chance. The 22-year-old has limited experience and faced limited competition. At 3-1, he has won all of his fights via submission. But the competition he has faced in his four fights leaves a little to be desired. In his wins, his opponents had a combined record of 3-3 heading into the fights and his loss his opponent had just a 1-0 record at the time. Mix in that Relo typically fights at welterweight and it becomes clear that a lot has to go right for the young fighter to make it far in the house.

Gilberto Galvao (19-4-1)

Galvao is one of the more experienced fighters on the show. His strengths are his physical power and his submission game. Thirteen of his career victories come from submission.  However, despite having two career knockouts, he looks extremely uncomfortable on his feet and will do whatever he can to get the fight to the ground.

Samuel Trindade (6-1)

Trindade is a well-rounded fighter who does prefer to get it to the ground. However, he appears to have an inflated record. In his wins, he never faced an opponent with a winning record.  His loss came from UFC veteran Ronys Torres.

Photo: Sergio Moraes works from the mount (Sherdog)

About The Author

Richard Wilcoxon
Staff Writer

An East Coast native, Richard Wilcoxon grew up a die hard fan of traditional team sports. In the early 1990's, he stumbled onto the sport of MMA and has been hooked ever since. He started writing about the sport on his Sporting News member blog in 2005 where he worked to spread his passion for the sport. He eventually became an official staff writer for Sporting News' "The Rumble" MMA/boxing blog before joining The MMA Corner.