"Shogun" (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)The MMA Corner Round Table: UFC Fight Night 38 The MMA Corner Staff March 19, 2014 Events, Previews, Spotlight The UFC is defined by its epic fights. In the early years, it was Royce Gracie’s fights with Ken Shamrock, Kimo Leopoldo and Dan Severn. In 2005, it was The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale bout between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar that altered the fortunes of the UFC and elevated mainstream awareness of the sport as an entertaining battle of heart and will. Among fights from the more recent past, there may be none that stand out quite as much as the five-round war between Dan Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139 in 2011. Gracie and Shamrock had their rematch. Griffin and Bonnar had their rematch, too. Now, it’s time for the encore from Henderson and Shogun. The two light heavyweights take center stage on Sunday, March 23, when the UFC heads to Natal, Brazil, for UFC Fight Night 38. The pair engaged in a back-and-forth battle at UFC 139. Henderson gained the upper hand in the early rounds, but Shogun came on strong when the two entered deeper waters. Henderson claimed the unanimous verdict, but he has lost his three subsequent fights. Shogun, meanwhile, won his next fight, lost two in a row and bounced back with a recent knockout victory over James Te Huna. The two men are already legends in the UFC, but now they’ll seek to add another chapter to their storied careers. The rematch between Henderson and Shogun tops a card filled with Brazilian talent, including The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil winner Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira and The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2 winner Leonardo Santos. The evening’s action gets underway with two fights on UFC Fight Pass at 4 p.m. ET. Then, it’s off to Fox Sports 1 for the remaining four prelim bouts at 5 p.m. ET and the six-fight main card at 7 p.m. ET. The MMA Corner’s RJ Gardner, Zach Miller and Bryan Henderson break down the entire 12-fight lineup in this edition of the Round Table. FW: Rony Jason (13-4) vs. Steven Siler (23-11) Gardner: The opening fight of the main card is a featherweight tilt between two men looking to get back into the win column. Rony Jason is coming off a vicious head-kick knockout delivered courtesy of Jeremy Stephens, and Steven Siler is seeking to rebound from a hard-fought decision loss to Dennis Bermudez. Jason should have a slight advantage in this battle of former TUF competitors, but he is going to have his hands full with Siler. Siler is very tough. He has shown flashes of top-tier potential, but he just can’t seem to take that final step. Although Siler has yet to be finished in his UFC career, nine of his 11 losses have come by way of stoppage. That is very telling. Siler won’t get put down with strikes, but Jason will catch him with a submission midway through the second round. Miller: It doesn’t look like there are many ways in which Siler can win. Although he does have the superior size and reach, the amount of times he’s been finished is a concern. Siler has some wins over very notable opponents like Mike Brown, but Jason is on another level. Jason, though he was absolutely demolished by Stephens, is an extremely talented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt who trains with Team Nogueira. He was on quite the run before his streak was derailed, and he will get back on track against Siler. Jason by submission. Henderson: Siler has several stoppage losses, yes, but there’s certainly two sides to his career. He went just 5-7 in his first 12 fights, then flipped a switch to go 18-4 over his most recent 22 fights. He has only lost via stoppage twice in those 22 fights, and one of those losses came to perennial featherweight contender Chad Mendes. His two most recent losses came against grinders Dennis Bermudez and Darren Elkins, a pair of men capable of controlling a fight through their wrestling and takedowns alone. Where these two diverge is in terms of their skill sets. Jason holds black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing. He is capable of submitting opponents, but also has the ability to score knockouts. Siler, meanwhile, gravitates towards grappling, though he is quite capable on his feet. Unless Siler is able to use his height and reach advantage to thwart Jason’s game, this fight ends with the Brazilian as the victor. He’ll get the submission finish in the second round. LW: Michel Prazeres (17-1) vs. Mairbek Taisumov (21-4) Miller: This is where we’re at in the UFC these days: two guys on the main card don’t have a Wikipedia page…hey, that rhymed! Anyways, that doesn’t mean that we can’t talk about the fight, and besides, complaining about the UFC product is a different discussion for a different time. Michel Prazeres is filling in for Gleison Tibau after Tibau withdrew in February due to an injury. Prazeres made his debut in May 2013 when he was outpointed by Paulo Thiago for a unanimous decision loss. He rebounded at UFC 165 when he defeated Jesse Ronson in a split decision. Most of his victories are either submissions or decisions, so the ground game will probably be the deciding factor here. On the other side of the cage will be Austrian native Mairbek Taisumov. Taisumov, despite being only 25 years old, still has more fights than his opponent, Prazeres, who is 30. Taisumov has been on a four-fight winning streak and made his UFC debut on the first UFC Fight Pass card in Singapore. The man is clearly a finisher. His 21 wins are comprised of 10 KO/TKO’s and nine submissions. Still, the question that looms with all these lower-tier guys is who they have been beating. Yes, Taisumov is clearly talented and younger, but his debut was against fighters who frankly shouldn’t be competing in the UFC. If he can keep it standing, he’ll pull it out, but if Prazeres gets it to the mat, then it could be game over. I could see a lot of clinching in this one, but hey, who knows? When in doubt, I take Brazilians at home: Prazeres by decision. Henderson: What’s next? MMA limericks? I’ll spare the analysis of my cohort’s rhyming skills, though, and get straight to the fight. These men might not have Wikipedia pages yet, but that’s really a formality. Prazeres is a second-degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and Taisumov, a Tiger Muay Thai product, has taken honors in BJJ tournament competition within the European region. Taisumov has defeated a number of European circuit mainstays such as Artiom Damkovsky, Niko Puhakka and Ivica Truscek, but it was his UFC debut against Tae Hyun Bang that left me unimpressed. He did enough to dominate and win, but his reputation as a finisher warranted more than just a decision win. Prazeres is a big lightweight with superior grappling and an arsenal of kicks that can chop down opponents. He was impressive even in defeat against Thiago in a welterweight contest, and performed well enough to secure a split decision over Ronson in his most recent UFC outing. However, he faded against Ronson as the fight wore on. This could be a close fight where both men score in different ways. Taisumov has the wrestling advantage and the better hands, but Prazeres has the better submission game. This one is going the distance with neither man making an emphatic case for the victory. Prazeres via a split decision. Gardner: To be honest, this match-up does not belong on the main card. But that’s what happens when the talent pool has not caught up with the number of events a promotion wants to put on in a year. That said, this fight does have some potential, and, as my fellow analysts suggested, these two fighters look to win in very different ways. Prazeres will have the advantage of fighting in front of a home crowd, but outside of that I really don’t like him in this match-up. Taisumov is the better wrestler and the better striker, so he will be able to dictate where this fight takes place and he will take Prazeres out of his comfort zone. Look for Taisumov to get back to his finishing ways when he catches the Brazilian with a big knee from the clinch and puts him away with punches in the first round. LHW: Fabio Maldonado (20-6) vs. Gian Villante (11-4) Henderson: It seems fitting that Fabio Maldonado picked up a win over Joey Beltran in his last outing. In a way, it was a passing of the torch. Beltran departed the UFC and Maldonado stepped into his place as the tough brawler who can take a ton of punishment without achieving a ton of success. The Brazilian does have an opportunity to extend his UFC winning streak to three fights at UFC Fight Night 38, but he’ll have to get through Gian Villante, a Strikeforce veteran who is 1-1 inside the Octagon. Maldonado possesses a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but his style is a reflection of his years spent in the boxing ring. The man likes to punch people. He scored 21 knockouts as a boxer and has 12 wins by some form of knockout as a mixed martial artist, though only one of those victories came under the UFC banner. Inside the Octagon, he scored a TKO of TUF 10 alum James McSweeney, but followed that performance up with a pair of decision losses to Kyle Kingsbury and Igor Pokrajac and a TKO defeat at the hands of Glover Teixeira. Maldonado has won his two most recent fights, but the victories came on the scorecards, with a unanimous nod over Roger Hollett and a split verdict against Beltran. Villante is a former high school state wrestling champion who wrestled alongside UFC middleweight champ Chris Weidman in college. Despite his wrestling background and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Villante, like Maldonado, prefers to hunt for the knockout—he has seven wins via strikes. The 28-year-old compiled a 3-2 record in Strikeforce, but he struggled against the best competition he faced there, with losses to Lorenz Larkin and Chad Griggs. He has carried that trend to the UFC, where he dropped a technical majority decision to Ovince St. Preux, but dished out a TKO against Cody Donovan. Maldonado’s willingness to stand in the pocket and exchange with anyone makes him an exciting fighter to watch under certain conditions. Those conditions involve his opponent’s willingness to accommodate Maldonado in engaging in a stand-up brawl. Villante does have wrestling skills and could seek takedowns, but those are not always his first instincts. He might oblige Maldonado in a slugfest. If that’s the case, then Villante is going to pay the price. Maldonado packs a lot of power and a solid chin, and he’ll display both qualities en route to either a late TKO victory or a hard-fought decision win. Gardner: If you are looking for a show of technical excellence, then please look elsewhere because this one is going to be an ugly slugfest between two tough bangers. Neither guy is ever going to be a force in the UFC, but they are both important role players in the division because they will test the mettle of whomever they are paired against. This will be an entertaining bout nonetheless. It would be nice to see Villante use his wrestling for once, but don’t expect to see it here. He and Maldonado are going to go toe to toe for three full rounds, and Villante will likely be battered and beaten by the former undefeated boxer. Maldonado wins this one by unanimous decision in a competitive but one-sided slobberknocker. Miller: I like Maldonado as a fighter. Yes, I understand he will probably never wear UFC gold around his waist, but this is the type of fighter that fans and promoters love. He’s willing to fight anyone, and you know what you’re going to get. True, Maldonado was on the wrong end of a couple decisions, but he didn’t get completely outclassed. If he’s conscious, it’s going to be competitive. Despite the stats that my fellow panelists offered up regarding Villante’s not-so-great record, it doesn’t tell the whole story. He started in Strikeforce with two losses, but he has gone 4-1 since then. It’s all about what you’ve done lately, not necessarily losses that haunt your record. It’s still a coin flip. I’m going to go against my trend of picking just Brazilians and pick the American, Villante, simply because he has more ways to win. Villante by decision. LW: Norman Parke (19-2) vs. Leonardo Santos (12-3) Miller: This looks like it’s going to be a very solid match-up between two TUF winners. Granted, winning the reality show doesn’t have the same importance that it used to, but make no mistake that Norman Parke and Leonardo Santos are both talented prospects. Parke, hailing from Northern Ireland, was one of the winners on the TUF Smashes season, where Ross Pearson was his coach. The 27-year-old has only two blemishes on his record, and his last loss was from four years ago. Since then, he has gone on a nine-fight winning streak, and more importantly has gone 3-0 in the UFC. All those wins are decisions, but three wins in the UFC is three wins in the UFC. Santos made the most of the opportunity when he won his season of TUF after Santiago Ponzinibbio, the man who defeated Santos in the semifinals, had to back out of the finals due to an injury. That semifinal-round fight with Ponzinibbio was also voted “Fight of the Season” for TUF Brazil 2. Unlike Parke, Santos will be taking part in his first fight since winning the reality-show tournament. Both fighters have looked good as of late, and there’s no obvious reason to pick one over the other. Parke has more Octagon experience and is younger than his 34-year-old opponent, but Santos trains at Nova Uniao, one of the best camps in the world. I’m going to stick with my theme of picks and take the Brazilian. Santos by submission. Gardner: Since both men are talented and accomplished grapplers whose strengths could just cancel each other out, this match-up is either going to be a really fun grappling exhibition or a lackluster striking affair. It has been four years since Parke’s last defeat, but both of his losses came by way of rear-naked chokes, and that is not the one glaring weakness you want coming into this match-up. Santos is a four-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Cup champion with a host of other accolades under his belt, and he just so happens to train at an elite camp with two current UFC champions. With the home fans behind him, look for Santos to come out with an impressive showing. He will submit Parke in the first round. Henderson: I certainly hope we don’t see one of those lackluster fights where two grapplers opt to display their kickboxing skills. There’s too much grappling talent here. Santos, whose brother is fellow mixed martial artist Wagnney Fabiano, has the trophy case of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu honors, but Parke has a judo background and an Irish freestyle wrestling championship to his credit. That means that Parke has the takedowns (and presumably the takedown defense), whereas Santos has the elite submissions. Both men prefer to hunt for submissions, but Parke won’t have the same luxury of using his wrestling to grind his way to a decision like he did against Colin Fletcher, Kazuki Tokudome and Jon Tuck. He’s going to have to be cautious when he’s fighting Santos on the mat, or the BJJ champ will find a choke and finish the fight. It’s difficult to imagine someone like Parke, even with his accomplished record, controlling and defeating a longtime black belt from Nova Uniao. We’ll probably see some hesitancy from Parke to take this fight to the mat, but it’ll go there eventually. There will be some tense scrambles for position before Santos finds a submission in round two and ends the Irishman’s night. MW: C.B. Dollaway (13-5) vs. Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira (7-2) Gardner: In a classic wrestler vs. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner match-up, TUF Brazil winner Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira takes on fellow TUF alum C.B. Dollaway. Will their grappling cancel out or will the fans be treated to a high-level chess match on the ground? Where this fight takes place will largely depend on how Dollaway approaches the bout. As the more skilled wrestler, he will ultimately dictate where this fight takes place, even though Ferreira is a talented wrestler who trains at an elite gym. On the feet, Ferreira will have the advantage, so look for Dollaway to press for the takedown. On the ground, things will be very interesting. Both men are talented grapplers and threats to finish, but this fight will be decided in the transition game. Dollaway is going to control the action, but Ferreira will force some scrambles. That is where he will catch Dollaway. Dollaway will leave either an arm out or his neck exposed, and Ferreira will jump on it and lock in a submission. Henderson: Dollaway just might be the most inconsistent fighter on the UFC roster. The real question comes down to his opponents. Ask the question, “Does this guy really belong in the UFC?” for anyone who throws down with Dollaway. If the answer is no, then Dollaway typically scores the win. If the answer is yes, the Power MMA Team product tends to walk away with the loss. It’s not an absolute—he did defeat Daniel Sarafian and lose to Jared Hamman—but there’s enough evidence in his losses to Mark Munoz and Tim Boetsch and his wins against almost everyone else that supports this theory. Mutante is still a fresh prospect in the UFC. He hasn’t tasted defeat inside the Octagon and he carries the privileged label of an Ultimate Fighter winner every time he steps into the cage. However, this is his first real test. He took a unanimous decision win over Sergio Moraes in the TUF Brazil finals, submitted TUF Brazil 2 participant Thiago Santos and eked out a split verdict over Daniel Sarafian, who was his original slated opponent for the TUF Brazil final. Now, he’s fighting an opponent with an established MMA record against non-TUF personnel. So, does Mutante belong in the UFC? My answer is that he does. Therefore, the odds seem stacked against Dollaway in this fight. Dollaway may have a strong wrestling base, but he’s not always smart in how he applies that wrestling. Mutante is going to get some mat time in this fight, whether on top or bottom. Even from the bottom, he’s quite capable of forcing Dollaway to tap. Miller: Yeah, I don’t know what it is about Dollaway that keeps him from being elite. He’s clearly physically talented, a great wrestler and has tons of experience, but something happens when he faces tougher competition. I’m not Dollaway, so I couldn’t say for sure, but it’s got to be some mental lapse. Look no further than his season of The Ultimate Fighter, where Dollaway was an obvious favorite but got tapped out by Amir Sadollah twice. Sadollah, though extremely durable, is not that great a fighter. But then Dollaway will have moments where he actually looks like a NCAA Division I wrestler. Ferreira is very good, no doubt, but you have to consider that Dollaway has so much experience in the Octagon and has also gone to Brazil and won in enemy territory before. Nevertheless, I’m picking talent over experience. Ferreira by submission. LHW: Dan Henderson (29-11) vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (22-8) Henderson: What to do with two men who have seen better days? How to utilize two fighters who have gone a combined 2-5 since they last met? Why not spark some nostalgia by tossing them in the cage together for a rematch of one of the most epic fights of 2011? That, along with UFC Fight Night 38’s setting in Brazil, had to be a good part of the reasoning for the UFC’s decision to once again pair Dan Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. The last time these two Pride legends met, Henderson was fresh off a 3-1 run in Strikeforce in which he defeated Fedor Emelianenko. The two-time Olympic wrestler was already 41 years old, but he was still going strong with a 6-1 mark since losing his UFC middleweight title bid against Anderson Silva. In contrast, the now 43-year-old Henderson is on a three-fight skid. He kept it close in split decision losses to Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans, but he was brutally knocked out by the other high-profile testosterone-replacement therapy-using, therapeutic-use exemption-receiving fighter on the UFC roster, Vitor Belfort. Shogun hasn’t been a consistent presence in the UFC light heavyweight division since he first set foot in the Octagon. It’s a shame, really, following a Pride career in which the Brazilian went 12-1 and only suffered his loss to Mark Coleman as the result of a severely broken arm. In the UFC, knee injuries have hampered his momentum. Rua had an impressive pair of title fights against Machida, but lost the title to Jon Jones. He avenged his UFC debut loss to Forrest Griffin and then put on the entertaining performance with Henderson. Since that fight, he has defeated Brandon Vera and James Te Huna and lost to Alexander Gustafsson and Chael Sonnen. The beauty of this fight is that it still carries the potential to deliver in much the same way as their UFC 139 bout. Sure, Henderson is two years older and didn’t look like his usual self against Belfort, but Rua’s inconsistency is a wild card. Shogun can challenge for the belt and turn around a few fights later to lose to Sonnen, a fighter who belongs at middleweight. Who knows which Shogun we’re going to see in this fight. It wasn’t until the midway point of their first encounter when Rua finally shifted the momentum. Henderson had the upper hand through the first three frames of the five-round affair. However, after Belfort’s destruction of “Hendo,” it’s difficult to imagine that we’re in for a repeat performance of that epic 2011 fight. Remember that Shogun did rock Henderson in the first stanza, but Henderson recovered. His chin doesn’t seem to be as rock solid now as it was then. There’s also the issue of cardio. Rua swung the momentum in his favor after Henderson tired. With Henderson now even further into his 40s, cardio could be an even larger issue in this second encounter with Shogun. We always talk about size advantages, but this could be one fight where the age advantage comes into play. Henderson is 11 years the elder, and it will show now more than it did in their first affair. Rua still has power and enough speed to make that power count against Henderson. The Brazilian needs to dispense with his strategy of takedown attempts from their first fight. Until Henderson visibly tires, the Olympian can still stuff anything Rua has to offer in the form of wrestling. As long as Shogun commits to a striking approach and circles away from Henderson’s power, he should be able to recreate Belfort’s performance against Henderson and end this fight via TKO before the close of the second round. Miller: There are some match-ups that are just fireworks. Much of the time that has to do with style: Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida put together two fighters who were happy to brawl in a cage, and what happened? Much to the delight of anyone who likes violence, it was an absolute brawl. Other match-ups that come to mind are Chan Sung Jung vs. Leonard Garcia and, of course, Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler. Maybe the first match-up between Henderson and Rua wasn’t the most technical display, but by God was it entertaining, and it absolutely deserves to be up there in the best fights of all time list. As my esteemed colleague suggested, the fighters are not in the same situations they were in back in 2011. Shogun was working his way back to Jones after absolutely annihilating Griffin, and Hendo had just gone up a weight division to defeat one of the best of all time. Henderson may have since been knocked out for the first time and Rua may not have won two fights in a row since 2009, but—luckily—neither fighter’s style has changed over the past three years. Henderson still presses forward with his hands up looking for his signature “H-Bomb,” and Rua always comes forward and looks to land punches and attack legs with kicks and submissions. It’s a guarantee that there will be excitement, but it might not live up to the standards of the last battle. Neither fighter’s cardio has ever been that great, and there haven’t been any signs of improvement either. There could be dull moments of hugging in the clinch against the cage, with neither fighter doing much except breathing heavily. I’m also not sure what to make of Henderson getting finished by Belfort. It isn’t necessarily indicative of Henderson losing his chin, but the dude is getting really old. Shogun is due for two wins in a row, and he gets it done here. Hopefully, for the sake of his health, Henderson will not be fighting too many more wars after this scrap. As long as Rua survives the first two rounds when Henderson is fresh, he should be able to win by decision, or maybe get a TKO or submission. Gardner: Even though their combined age is 75 and between the two of them they have 70 career fights, this one has all the potential to be as exciting as the “Fight of the Year” they put on back in 2011. With these two fighters, you can really throw records and age out of the window. Henderson and Rua were simply made to fight each other. Both men have knockout power and good chins, both men are talented grapplers and, most importantly, both men move forward and look for the finish. Given all the decisions in the UFC as of late, Henderson and Rua seem to be a dying breed of “live by the sword, die by the sword” fighters. Henderson may be coming off three consecutive losses for the first time in his career, but don’t count him out here. The former two-division Pride champion and living MMA legend is on the final lap of his illustrious career, and you should expect him to leave it all in the cage. Henderson will get another unanimous decision victory over Rua, but it is going to be every bit the barn-burner their first fight was. Preliminary Card LHW: Francimar Barroso (16-3) vs. Hans Stringer (21-5-3) Gardner: The opening bout of the evening features a light heavyweight clash between Hans Stringer and Francimar Barroso. Stringer is coming into his UFC debut riding a six-fight unbeaten streak, but that is going to change. Barroso will be fighting in front of his countrymen, and that added motivation will propel him to win in impressive fashion. Barroso won’t be able to put the Dutchman away, but he will throw a thorough beating on him en route to a unanimous decision victory. Miller: This is another hard one to call. Barroso trains with Nova Uniao and Stringer trains with the Blackzilians, and both have a fair amount of experience. Those leg kicks that Barroso used in his last fight were vicious. If he can use that to get rid of Stringer’s mobility, the fight is his to lose. Barroso by TKO. Henderson: Stringer is finally making his UFC debut after an impressive 16-2-1 stretch that started in 2008. He’ll have his hands full with “Bodao,” a proven finisher and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. Stringer has won a number of grappling tournaments, but he’ll be outclassed by Barroso should this fight go to the ground. More likely, it’ll be a stand-up affair where Barroso’s devastating leg kicks will have to make up for his lack of a chin (all three of his losses came via knockout or TKO). Leg kicks are usually meant to wear down an opponent over a long, grueling battle, but Barroso’s chin may not afford him the luxury of time. Stringer has power behind his strikes and a tendency to go for the quick finish. The Dutch fighter will score the first-round TKO victory. FW: Noad Lahat (7-0) vs. Godofredo “Pepey” Castro (9-3) Miller: I’m actually really excited for Noad Lahat’s debut in the UFC. Not only is he undefeated and training with a great team at American Kickboxing Academy, but he’s also an Israeli, and I know from firsthand experience that those guys (and girls) are tough as hell. Castro is talented, but not really talented enough it seems to hang around in the big leagues. Castro has been stopped in his past two outings. Expect Lahat to get the finish in the first round. Henderson: There are a lot of black belts at play here. Pepey holds the rank in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai, whereas Lahat holds the rank in BJJ and judo. Lahat also captured a World championship in BJJ as a brown belt in 2010. This could turn into an excellent grappling affair, but both men are also capable on their feet. Zach’s point regarding Pepey’s ability to hang in the big leagues really resonates. The Brazilian has not only lost his last two, but three of his last four. He hasn’t been stopped by submission in the past, but he hasn’t fought a grappler the caliber of Lahat. Lahat may have to settle for a decision win, but there is a chance he can finish Pepey via submission. Gardner: Castro just has not been all that impressive in his UFC career. He is 1-2 in the organization with his lone win coming by way of a razor-thin split decision that could have easily been a loss on his record. Lahat may be fighting in hostile territory, but this undefeated newcomer is a beast and he will make a statement in his debut. Lahat via unanimous decision. WW: Thiago Perpetuo (9-2-1) vs. Kenny Robertson (12-3) Henderson: After losing a back-and-forth “Fight of the Night” battle to Omari Akhmedov in November, TUF Brazil alum Thiago Perpetuo is dropping down to welterweight for his fight with Kenny Robertson. Perpetuo’s brawl with Akhmedov highlighted the Brazilian’s tendency to look for the knockout at all costs. However, he’s fighting a four-time NCAA Division I wrestling national qualifier in Robertson. If Robertson can get the fight to the mat, he can neutralize a large part of the Brazilian’s offensive game. That’s an excellent approach in theory, but Robertson has only completed 15 percent of his takedown attempts in the UFC and he’s facing a fighter who, as a former middleweight and light heavyweight, should enjoy a size advantage and has demonstrated strong takedown defense inside the Octagon. Perpetuo will avoid Robertson’s ground game and land a knockout blow in the second or third round. Gardner: Perpetuo is indeed a brawler by nature, and he is going to look to throw a beating at Robertson. However, Robertson isn’t given the credit he deserves for his toughness. If Robertson can get this fight to the ground, then he might just have a shot. Perpetuo is just too big and strong for him, though. Perpetuo will catch Robertson with a big shot early and put him away midway through the first round. Miller: No arguments here, fellas. Bryan raised the most crucial point in that Perpetuo is a big dude. If Robertson can weather the onslaught he’ll face in the beginning, then he’s got a shot. I don’t know if he can take it, though. Perpetuo by knockout. FlyW: Jussier “Formiga” da Silva (15-3) vs. Scott Jorgensen (14-8) Miller: Man, what has happened to Scott Jorgensen? This is the guy who fought Dominick Cruz for the WEC bantamweight title back in the day, and now he’s 1-4 through his last five…rough. Jussier “Formiga” da Silva has lost to John Dodson and Joseph Benavidez, but those are two of the best in the flyweight division. Formiga is good enough to beat Jorgensen. Formiga by decision, and you’d have to think that Jorgensen gets cut from the promotion after another loss. Gardner: Jorgensen may be 1-4 in his last five, but look at who those losses have come against—Renan Barao, Urijah Faber, Eddie Wineland and Zach Makovsky. That’s a murderer’s row of little guys. But that doesn’t mean I disagree with Mr. Miller here. Formiga has the slight edge in this one for two reasons. First, he will be fighting in front of a home crowd and, second, he trains at Nova Uniao. Formiga wins via unanimous decision, and Jorgensen will likely be relegated to the regional MMA scene. Henderson: In the past, I was quick to sing Formiga’s praises. Now, however, I’m not ready to jump on the bandwagon of the Brazilian in any given fight. It’s been a few years since he defeated prime talents like Shinichi “BJ” Kojima, Jose Maria Tome and Mamoru Yamaguchi and only had a loss to Ian McCall on his record. Now, Formiga is coming off a stretch where he topped Chris Cariaso and lost to Dodson and Benavidez. Let’s return to that list that RJ provided and add in Jorgensen’s last loss prior to his recent 1-4 stretch—a decision loss to Dominick Cruz. So, the former bantamweight lost to two dominant champions, a former champion with a wrestling pedigree, another strong wrestler in Makovsky and a knockout artist of a brawler in Wineland. Formiga’s wrestling is nowhere close to that of Makovsky or Faber, his striking isn’t on par with Wineland and he doesn’t have the dominating nature of Barao or Cruz. Jorgensen has the strength and ability to stuff Formiga’s takedowns and the striking to either rock the Brazilian or, at the very least, outpoint him. The biggest risk for the WEC veteran is that he could overcommit in the clinch and find Formiga taking his back while standing, or he could get careless in a takedown attempt and leave himself open for a submission. I think my colleagues are selling Jorgensen short, so I’ll go against the grain and say Jorgensen scores the upset with a win on the scorecards. MW: Ronny Markes (14-2) vs. Thiago “Marreta” Santos (8-2) Gardner: Ronny Markes is in need of a breakout performance, and he has a great shot to do just that against Thiago Santos. This is a perfect fight for Markes to showcase his skills and put on a show. Markes has yet to pick up a stoppage win in the UFC, but that will all change when he scores a TKO of Santos in the first round. Henderson: Markes was on a roll before he ran into Yoel Romero. Had he emerged with a win in that fight, he’d be in the discussion for a top-15 spot in the middleweight rankings right now. Instead, he has to start building up wins again. Santos hasn’t demonstrated the same potential. He’s one for his last three and lost to Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira via submission in just 47 seconds. Markes should claim the victory regardless of where this fight takes place, but given the striking preference displayed by Santos in his victories, Markes might opt to take the fight to the mat and hunt for the submission win. Miller: I expect Markes to win this one with ease. There’s no shame in losing to Romero. The dude’s a hot commodity right now. Markes will get back to his winning ways with a submission. Santos could make it interesting, though. FW: Diego Brandao (18-9) vs. Will Chope (19-6) Henderson: I wonder if UFC President Dana White will have a stepladder handy for the weigh-ins so that Diego Brandao isn’t forced to have a staredown with Will Chope’s navel. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the height discrepancy between these two featherweights registers at an astounding nine inches. Unless Chope, who has a background in sanda and Muay Thai, adopts an extremely low stance, Brandao is going to have a hard time connecting with anything, especially those flying knees that he has utilized with great effectiveness throughout his career. That doesn’t mean the TUF 14 winner is destined to lose this fight. In Chope’s debut, the Thailand transplant lunged forward to throw his strikes, which left him open to counters. Furthermore, Chope didn’t show many dimensions to his game beyond those lunging punches. Brandao, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, could opt to test Chope’s takedown defense and grappling skills, but the Jackson’s MMA product prefers to stand and bang. Give him a round to get comfortable with the reach and timing of Chope, then Brandao will start landing counters until he finds the knockout. Miller: In my head I thought Will Chope was Chris Cope for a second, and I thought, “How did that guy make it back?” Fortunately, that’s not the case, as Chope looks like he could be very talented in the future. Just like it took heavyweight Stefan Struve a little bit to find his groove (another sweet rhyme), the same will hold true for Chope. In his loss to Max Holloway, we didn’t really see much besides that he’s tough and can take a punch. Brandao is such a beast, though, and a scary beast at that. I mean, who threatens to stab someone backstage at a weigh-in? This is not the right match-up for Chope to get his first win. Brandao by TKO. Gardner:How a fighter can be 6-foot-4 and compete in the featherweight division is beyond me, but that that’s a discussion for another time. Chope is an intriguing prospect—and with his length, he is a match-up nightmare for everyone in the UFC featherweight division—but he is not ready for the big time yet. Brandao, however, is ready for the big time, and he is just as scary a guy as Zach said (I mean, the guy is Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett scary). It will take a little bit for Brandao to find his range, but once he does, Chope is going to be in trouble. Brandao by first-round TKO. Pingback: Henderson: MMA career will continue without TRT – MMAjunkie.com | MMA NEWS() Pingback: » Henderson: MMA career will continue without TRT – MMAjunkie.com() Pingback: » UFC Fight Night 38 weigh-in video – MMA Fighting() Pingback: UFC Fight Night 38 weigh-in video – MMA Fighting | MMA NEWS() CharlieBrown All I can say is I hope you’re wrong on most of these picks, for the sake of my bets! Definitely going against the grain on a lot of them. Also, Jorgensen winning wouldn’t be an upset, he’s a pretty heavy favorite going into the fight.