The UFC heads back to Brazil on Saturday night for UFC 163 in Rio de Janeiro. The once healthy fight card has taken a few hits over the last month or so and the result is something that, although exciting, may not have much appeal for fans outside of Brazil.

Most fans will be tuning in for guys like Jose Aldo, “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, Lyoto Machida and maybe even Phil Davis and Ian McCall. From there, the names get quite unfamiliar for the UFC fan base, but rest assured when I tell you there are some diamonds in the rough fighting this weekend.

Beyond the more recognizable names that top this card, the first fight of the pay-per-view portion of the lineup features John Lineker against Jose Tome. If you ever wanted to see two guys go at it at breakneck speed, you’re not going to want to miss this fight. If you just glance at the fight card without knowing the history of many of these fighters, you may discard most of them, including Lineker and Tome.

While the sales figures will most likely not be great, chances are this card will be exciting. There is a good mixture of power, technique and submissions sprinkled throughout the event.

UFC 163 gets started with Facebook prelims at 6 p.m. ET. The action then moves over to FX at 8 p.m. ET, then flows right into the pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET.

The MMA Corner’s Joe Chacon, Vince Carey and Gregory Chase break down the entire fight lineup in this edition of the Round Table.

FlyW: John Lineker (21-6) vs. Jose Maria Tome (33-3)

Carey: John Lineker may be the fastest rising prospect in the flyweight division, but before he starts competing with the elite at 125 pounds, he’s going to have to take out UFC newcomer Jose Maria Tome this weekend. Even though Tome is all but unknown by most fight fans, he has a ton of experience fighting on the Brazilian regional scene and a solid 33-3 record to show for it.

This may be a tougher fight for Lineker than a lot of people anticipate, especially if things hit the mat. Tome has a solid 13 submission wins on his resume. Considering half of Lineker’s losses have come by tapout, he needs to be wary on the mat.

I’m almost tempted to pick the upset here, but I think Linker’s takedown defense is good enough to keep him upright, which is his key to victory in this fight. Both guys have heavy power and granite chins, but Lineker’s striking has looked on point in his last two fights and I think it will continue Saturday. Lineker by decision.

Chase: This is a fight that Lineker will be able to capitalize on and truly make a statement for his place in the division. Lineker comes to fight and he comes to finish, and the best part is that he can do it from anywhere.

However, Tome is a guy you do not want to be on the ground with. His submission game has launched him into great success. The mat is where Lineker has faltered. While Lineker can hold his own on the ground, I don’t expect him to look to take the fight there. Lineker is going to start off fast and establish control of the cage. His takedown defense is solid, but he will want to move in and out and look for sports to put on a flurry of punches or counterstrike anything Tome will throw at him.

I will second Vince’s prediction—Lineker by decision—though I’ll also allow for the possibility of a second-round TKO.

Chacon: This is one fight I’m really looking forward to, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it earned “Fight of the Night” honors.

Both Lineker and Tome are explosive, and they are two fighters who can show the casual fan that the flyweights have knockout power. The UFC would love nothing more than to see some knockouts get sprinkled into the flyweight division to supplement the great technical bouts the guys within the division display time and time again.

As long as Lineker doesn’t get tripped up and taken down, we’re going to see one heck of a three-round fight. Let’s not discount Tome though. Anytime somebody can rack up 33 wins in 36 professional fights, you have to at the very least be cautious in going all-in against them. Considering the fact that Tome hasn’t lost in five years, he wouldn’t be a bad upset pick.

However, I’ll go with Lineker in an exciting split decision win. Let’s go one step further and predict “Fight of the Night” for these two as well.

MW: Thales Leites (20-4) vs. Tom Watson (16-5)

Chase: Thales Leites is a fighter who I am always intrigued to watch compete. Sometimes he delivers a lackluster performance, but he has been utilizing his roots more and is a fantastic submission expert. This is where his draw is and where his success really lies.

Tom Watson brings the other side of the game to this fight. He has great striking that has allowed him to pad his record with knockouts and TKOs. He utilizes his hands, legs and knees in a way that Leites will need to be wary of, especially if Leites is looking for a takedown.

This fight comes down to technical skills and experience though, and Leites has the edge in both. He has fought better caliber opponents than Watson and opponents that have posed a more significant threat on the feet. Leites will stick to his guns and we will see him deliver a first-round submission finish.

Chacon: Indeed, this match-up features a stylistic difference between the two fighters. Leites has had every one of his fights since 2005 end in either a submission or decision. Watson has seen all of his fights end in some form of knockout or decision since 2007. Something has got to give when these two face off.

Leites has a bit of a reach advantage that should be used well enough to stay away from the knockout power of Watson. This fight will not be one of the more exciting fights of the night, but Leites should win by decision before the third round.

Carey: It’s almost cliché at this point to say a fighter’s chances at winning depend on his takedown defense, but that’s really what this fight comes down to for Watson. He has good striking and decently heavy hands, so if he’s able to keep Leites on the feet, then he should be able to score a TKO.

Leites is an improving striker, but his bread and butter is still his jiu-jitsu. He’d be much more comfortable if he could get this fight to the floor. Leites isn’t exactly Chael Sonnen when it comes to scoring takedowns, but he’s good enough to drag most of the fighters at 185 pounds to the mat if he’s tenacious enough. That will be the key to defeating Watson. The first few attempts to get the Brit to the mat may not work out for Leites, but eventually his persistence will pay off and he’ll be able to work his top game.

Leites in control and working submissions on the mat is a scary proposition for anyone, and Watson won’t last long before he’s forced to submit. Let’s make it three for three and take Leites by second-round tapout.

MW: Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira (5-2) vs. Thiago Santos (8-1)

Chacon: Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira, the TUF Brazil middleweight winner, hasn’t fought in over a year due to either an injury to his opponent or himself, so it’s tough to gauge what we will see from him in his fight against Thiago Santos. What we do know is that we’ll see the heavy hands we have seen in the past from Ferreira. Those hands will be his best shot at beating Santos.

Santos, who competed at welterweight on TUF, is also a dangerous striker, which is evident by four of his eight wins coming via knockout.

Quite honestly, I feel this fight is a coin flip, but I believe Santos is going to have more in the tank to grind out a decision.

Carey: Santos is an interesting striker, but unless Ferreira shows up to this fight looking completely lost, I’ve got to disagree with Joe on this one.

Ferreira was one of the most well-rounded cast members on the first season of TUF Brazil, finishing opponents by both knockout and submission. He was easily the most dominant fighter on the show.

Santos has some finishing power, but I’d be surprised if he was able to out-strike Ferreira. Mutante can probably win a decision rather easily, but as long as ring rust doesn’t completely ruin his game, this one should be wrapped up in under 10 minutes with Ferreira scoring a second-round TKO.

Chase: I’ll have to side with Vince on this one.

Ferreira was one of the better-rounded fighters on the show and looked dominant in his performances. He is a finisher, and I expect if anyone is going to get a knockout or submission in this fight, it would be him.

Santos poses a striking threat, as do most of Ferreira’s opponents, but I concur with Vince in thinking that he will not be able to out-strike him. As far as ring rust goes, I think it does affect a fighter and could be a factor in this fight, but all-around, I still have to go with the TUF winner as the victor here. He’ll take the win by way of a KO/TKO in the first or second.

LHW: Phil Davis (11-1) vs. Lyoto Machida (19-3)

Chase: Now this is an interesting style match-up. You have a strong wrestler in Phil Davis, who has a great submission game as well, and then you have Lyoto Machida, who brings a very unique striking and counter-striking attack to this fight. Both men have a unique signature to the way they fight, and that is what makes this contest so interesting.

Davis is going to want to take this to the ground as quickly as possible, not because he doesn’t stand a chance on the feet, but because his chances are very slim. His wrestling and submission prowess comprise his true weapons in this fight, but it will be a matter of whether he can catch Machida and take him down, and then if he can hold Machida there and do effective work.

Machida is a very unorthodox striker and a great counter-striker. He is elusive and patient in his attack. Although he does have a ground game, which we rarely see, it has been his striking that has defined his persona. He will want to keep this standing and wait for Davis to make a mistake.

This fight could be a very exciting striking display or, based on the styles, it could be a little lackluster. At the end of the day, I still have to go with Machida by TKO or a dominant decision.

Carey: Davis is one of the most talented and athletic fighters in the light heavyweight division, but he’s going to have his hands full with Machida.

For things to go “Mr. Wonderful’s” way, he’s going to have to get inside on the elusive former champion. As we’ve seen before, getting your hands on Machida is easier said than done.
Machida’s ability to give a few shots without taking any in return is his greatest weapon, especially when he’s able to establish his range early, which shouldn’t be too difficult against Davis and his improving but still not quite elite striking skills.

Unless Davis rushes in a la Ryan Bader and makes a fatal mistake, I think he survives. However, I also don’t see him doing enough to make this fight all that close. Davis will spam takedown attempts and try to keep Machida on the retreat, but eventually “The Dragon” is going to open up on the feet and start landing shots, which will mark the beginning of the end for the Penn State alum. I’ll agree with Mr. Chase and take Machida by a lopsided 30-27 decision.

Chacon: This is going to be Davis’ breakout party, and I say that with a lack of enthusiasm. That’s not because I don’t like Davis, because I do, but it means I think he’s going to be able to smother Machida for three rounds and grind out a win in one of those fights that, as fans, we hate to see.

Machida is one of my favorite fighters to watch. The way he moves and bounces in and out of trouble is a thing of beauty. Davis, in my opinion, is the opposite. He epitomizes what a wrestler is and will spend his time keeping distance from Machida until he spots a counter to take him down. From there, he’s going to smother Machida until the final horn.

Davis won’t submit Machida, but he will earn a unanimous decision victory and UFC President Dana White will tweet, “that sucked,” shortly thereafter.

FW Championship: Jose Aldo (22-1) vs. Chan Sung Jung (13-3)

Carey: When Anthony Pettis went down with an injury, a lot of fans cried foul when Chan Sung Jung, aka “The Korean Zombie,” was awarded the featherweight title shot against Jose Aldo. I wasn’t one of them.

Sure, Ricardo Lamas had a solid case to get a shot of his own, but there’s no denying the excitement that Jung brings every time he steps foot into the Octagon. With a main card that’s lacking in star power, it’s a good call by the UFC to put together the most exciting fight.

As for when the actual bell rings, Jung really doesn’t stand much of a chance. Aldo is one of the best strikers on the planet and his takedown defense is so good that he really won’t have to worry about Jung getting him to the mat. Zombie has pulled some crazy tricks out of his bag before, but I doubt anything will be all that successful against Aldo.

Best-case scenario, Jung hangs tough for a few rounds and eventually crumbles under the onslaught that Aldo brings to him. Worst-case scenario, we see something along the lines of Anderson Silva’s destruction of Forrest Griffin and Jung doesn’t make it out of the first round.

Either way, Aldo wins and the fans leave entertained.

Chacon: Call me crazy, but I believe that if Jung were able to knock out Aldo, it would be as great of an upset as Weidman knocking out Silva. That’s how overmatched Jung is in this fight. I’ll also say that if Jung’s nickname wasn’t “The Korean Zombie,” it would seem like even more of a mismatch.

Aldo has won 15 fights in a row. He has defeated numerous big-name fighters and he’s still only 26 years old.

jung is also only 26 and brings a lot of excitement to the Octagon. However, Vince is correct in suggesting that Jung really doesn’t have a chance. I really hate to say that about any fight, because crazy things do happen, but I’d literally be floored if Aldo lost this contest.

I’ll go with a second-round knockout by Aldo via the flying knee.

Chase: Like Vince, I was not one of the people upset by the decision to insert Zombie into this fight when Pettis went down with an injury. I wanted this fight to happen for a while and thought it should have happened sooner. Call me crazy, but I think Jung has a better chance than people might give him. I am realistic, though, and wouldn’t necessarily bet lots of money on Jung to take the fight, but I believe he can do exactly that.

His striking is not on the same technical level as Aldo’s, no matter how you cut it. However, he is unorthodox and keeps coming at you. He won’t wait for you to engage, and when you do, it gives him more fire to respond. While his striking displays have been sloppy in comparison, he still has a very technical ground game and, overall, has heart. He has a continuous drive in his fights to look for a finish and stay active. This kind of work can never be ignored.

It would serve Jung well to have this fight on the ground, but Aldo is not going to go down easy. Aldo will want to use his kicks and knees, and this is where I think you will see most of his attention focused. I’d put my money on Aldo, but I do think Jung has the chance to stun the world.

Preliminary Card
WW: Viscardi Andrade (14-5) vs. Bristol Marunde (12-8)

Chacon: Bristol Marunde’s only shot of beating Viscardi Andrade is to get him to the ground early and end the fight within the first two rounds. Andrade is better standing up, and should he be able to get Marunde in a dominant position on the ground, he would win the fight there as well. Unless Marunde does something surprising early on in the fight, I expect Andrade to win this by knockout in the second round.

Chase: This fight goes to Andrade pretty one-sidedly. He has better striking and will stop any attempt by Marunde to get this fight to the ground. I expect an early finish, late in the first round, from Andrade.

Carey: I’ll make it three for three and take Andrade as well. Marunde has never been a great striker, and his chances at getting this to the mat are slim to none. This one won’t last long before Andrade exits the cage with a knockout victory.

LHW: Francimar Barroso (15-3) vs. Ednaldo Oliveira (13-1-1)

Carey: Don’t expect this one to go the distance. Ednaldo Oliveira is a training partner of Junior dos Santos. He has over half of his career wins coming by knockout, but he was absolutely wrecked in his UFC debut against Gabriel Gonzaga last year. Now dropping down to 205 pounds, Oliveira should be much more comfortable on the feet. As long as he shrugs off a few takedown attempts from Francimar Barroso, I think he gets the win here. I’ll take Oliveira by early knockout.

Chase: Oliveira by an early knockout. He may have been dominated in his UFC debut, but now that he is over the UFC debut jitters, we will see him in a more similar light from his previous fights.

Chacon: I’m going to ride my colleagues’ coattails on this one and take Oliveira by knockout. I don’t see it happening in the first round, as I expect the two to have a bit of a feeling-out period, so I’ll take Oliveira by TKO in the second round.

FW: Josh Clopton (6-1-1) vs. Rani Yahya (18-7)

Chase: Rani Yahya should go into this fight confident. There is very little chance he doesn’t walk away from this with anything less than a great performance. He will get a submission on Josh Clopton early, and it will be clear where the experience lies. Yahya by submission in the first.

Chacon: I’m with Gregory on this one. I can’t picture Clopton coming out ahead in this fight. One thing I do know is that there will not be a knockout. Yahya in a first-round submission.

Carey: I’m really not sure what UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby was thinking here. Yahya is a solid WEC and UFC veteran on a two-fight winning streak, whereas Clopton is an inexperienced fighter coming off a loss in his UFC debut. Throw in an over 18-month layoff for Clopton, and this one is a complete mismatch. Yahya by first-round submission.

FlyW: Ian McCall (11-4-1) vs. Iliarde Santos (27-7-1)

Chacon: Ian McCall needs to win this fight against Iliarde Santos to avoid the freefall of his UFC career. Yes, he’s been losing to the best the division has to offer, but a fourth consecutive fight without a win would be damaging. It won’t be easy for McCall as he steps into the Octagon with Iliarde Santos, who has won six of his last seven. This fight will go the distance, and I’m going to go with a very determined and motivated McCall to win the split decision.

Carey: I like McCall here too, even though it’s practically prediction suicide to choose an American in Brazil. Even though he’s in the midst of a rough stretch, McCall is still among the top four or five flyweights in the world and shouldn’t have much of a problem here. Santos is well-rounded and a finisher, but I don’t see anyone getting put away. McCall is the better points fighter and he’ll grab the decision win as a result.

Chase: I have to agree with my fellow panelists. McCall, despite his tough stretch in the UFC, is the much better fighter and will prove that at UFC 163. He will have a dominant performance over Santos and will launch himself back to the main card of UFC events. I predict a unanimous decision win, but I won’t rule out the possibility of a submission in the second.

WW: Neil Magny (8-1) vs. Sergio Moraes (7-2)

Chase: Tough call, but I will have to go with Sergio Moraes. He will use his submission forte to take this fight and send Neil Magny home with his second submission loss. It will come later on in the fight, but he will find a way to win this on the ground and ultimately tie up their records.

Carey: This is a really interesting fight. Moraes is going to need to get this fight to the mat, but Magny’s long reach and quick jab are going to make that extremely difficult. If Moraes can actually get the fight to the floor, I like his chances. Magny doesn’t inspire enough confidence to go against my “Never pick against a Brazilian in Brazil” theory. I’ll take Moraes by submission.

Chacon: After reviewing the stats and tape that I found for Magny and Moraes, there’s nothing that scares me in picking Moraes for the win. Unfortunately, this fight reeks of a fight that will be a slow-paced battle for control on the ground. In the end, Moraes wins by unanimous decision.

Women’s BW: Sheila Gaff (10-5-1) vs. Amanda Nunes (7-3)

Carey: This fight between Sheila Gaff and Amanda Nunes should be a lot of fun. Nunes is a monster on the feet, knocking out her opponent in six of her seven wins, but Gaff is a solid striker in her own right and could have an advantage on the mat. These two won’t waste any time. This is one of the closest bouts on the card, but Nunes hits just a bit harder than Gaff. That will make the difference early. Nunes by first-round TKO.

Chacon: Whenever I get excited for a slugfest, it turns into a snoozer. However, I think Gaff and Nunes will deliver for me. Gaff has had 60 percent of her wins come by knockout, and Nunes has had 85 percent of her victories come via knockout. Nunes fights a bit smarter, but Gaff knows she can’t lose her first two UFC fights. Gaff via first-round knockout.

Chase: These are both tough women, but Nunes is the more well-rounded fighter. I agree with Vince in thinking that both women will not come out timid. They will come to fight and to finish. Based on history, Gaff will have the striking advantage and Nunes will enjoy the edge on the ground. This one will go to the mat and Nunes will take it from there.

LHW: Vinny Magalhaes (10-6) vs. Anthony Perosh (13-7)

Chacon: Although there would be more of a chance to predict a submission or decision outcome in this fight, I’m going to go with a Vinny Magalhaes knockout over Anthony Perosh in the first round. Perosh has had five of his seven losses come by knockout, including getting blasted in just seven seconds last year against Ryan Jimmo. Magalhaes is a submission specialist, but look for him to display his striking in this one.

Chase: Another tough one to call, but I have to go with Magalhaes. He has looked much more consistent than Perosh and has the edge on the ground as well. I agree with Joe that he will probably try his striking with Perosh, especially since that is the main way in which Perosh has lost in the past. But if that fails, Magalhaes can revert and stick to his ground game to win this fight. Magalhaes by a first-round TKO, though it could end up being a second-round submission.

Carey: I’d love for these two to go at it on the mat, but Magalhaes should have a big enough advantage on the feet that he’ll decide to strike. There’s a chance Perosh may be able to force it to the ground, but even there he’s not safe. The more likely result is Magalhaes peppering Perosh with strikes before landing a big one that sends him to the mat. I don’t think Magalhaes will be able to knock the Aussie out with one shot though, so a follow-up submission on a rocked Perosh sounds more likely. I’ll take the same winner, but by a different method. Magalhaes by first-round tapout.

Photo: Jose Aldo (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Joe Chacon
Staff Writer

Joe Chacon is a Southern California writer that has also spent time as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, as well as a Staff Writer for Operation Sports. Joe has a passion for the sport of MMA, as well as most other sports.