It was just under a year ago that UFC fans were introduced to Hacran Dias, an underdog Brazilian who was matched up against the highly touted and established Iuri Alcantara. That was UFC 147, and that was the last time we saw the talented grappler showcase his skills in the Octagon.

Fast forward to present day. Dias makes his awaited return on Saturday when he meets Nik Lentz on the preliminary card of UFC on FX 8 in Brazil. Take a second to let that soak in: Dias, a man whose UFC debut was a victory over a contender in Alcantara, finds himself featured on the preliminary card against another contender in Lentz.

Perhaps his time on the shelf let his name cool off or maybe he doesn’t have the style a free-television card warrants, but one would think Dias would be featured on FX. In fact, one would think Dias and Lentz deserve a main-card slot over Rafael Natal and unknown newcomer Joao Zeferino.

Dias’s fight with Lentz promises to launch a man into contendership with a victory. Lentz has been stellar since dropping to 145 pounds, and Dias has already shown to be a tough out with his aforementioned victory over Alcantara. Perhaps this is the key to getting Dias featured on a main card.

Lentz is a highly credible opponent that Dias could use to catapult himself up the rankings. Lentz’s wrestling will definitely test the skills of Dias, including his takedown defense and off-the-back grappling. Dias must show competence in striking as well, since a solid all-around performance likely would not keep him down on the prelims much longer.

With a win over Lentz, we could see Dias take a fight against a top name in the division. Featherweight is full of top talents, from Cub Swanson to Dustin Poirier to Chad Mendes. Mendes was a guy Dias was already slated to fight, so a victory in impressive fashion could get him a second opportunity versus Mendes. That would be the biggest fight of his career, and considering the streak Mendes is on, it could even provide Dias with a quick route to title contention.

For now, however, Dias must work through the outlandish thought that despite his skills, he is a preliminary card fighter. His main focus should be on Lentz. Should he get past him, expect big things from the Brazilian ace. And don’t expect to see him on the prelim stage of the card for much longer.

Photo: Hacran Dias (R) throws a kick (Sherdog)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.

  • Robby Collins

    Dias’s victory over Alcantara was one of the most dominant and impressive wins of 2012. It’s almost criminal that he’s not on the main card.