The last time the UFC hosted an event in Brazil was 1998. Now, in 2011, they’re back.

The world’s top MMA promotion returns to Brazil for UFC 134 on Aug. 27. The event takes place at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro and features a number of Brazilians, both established stars and up-and-coming prospects. The wealth of local talent extends to the preliminary card, where some Brazilian fighters will make their Octagon debuts and others will return home having already achieved some amount of success under the UFC banner.

The prospects are an intriguing set. There’s welterweight Erick Silva and his late replacement opponent, Shooto 168-pound world champion Luis Ramos. There’s also Yuri Alcantara, who made a splash in his lone WEC appearance while fighting at lightweight and now transitions to featherweight, where he will face Felipe Arantes. There’s bantamweight Johnny Eduardo, who will fight under the UFC banner for the first time after nearly 15 years as a professional fighter. Eduardo will take on the Brazilian-born Raphael Assuncao.

There are also three UFC veterans in Paulo Thiago, Rousimar Palhares and Thiago Tavares who seek to have their hand raised in front of their countrymen as they attempt to work towards contender status in three different divisions within the UFC. Thiago, on a two-fight losing streak within the UFC, fights David Mitchell in welterweight action. Palhares faces Dan Miller in a middleweight clash. And Tavares locks horns with the always entertaining Spencer Fisher in the lightweight division.

Rounding out the Brazilian-heavy preliminary card is a lone match-up featuring two competitors from much farther north, as Oregon native Ian Loveland squares off with Canadian Yves Jabouin in bantamweight action.

As has become the norm, Facebook and Spike TV will deliver the preliminary card to fans watching from home. Five prelim bouts from the event will stream on Facebook, with a start time of 6 p.m. ET. From there, the broadcast transitions to Spike TV at 8 p.m. ET for a one-hour prelims special featuring the Palhares vs. Miller and Fisher vs. Tavares fights.

The MMA Corner’s panel of Corey Adams, Bryan Henderson and Rob Tatum dissect all seven preliminary card bouts in this edition of The Round Table.

WW: Erick Silva (12-1) vs. Luis Ramos (19-6)

Henderson: One great thing about a card in Brazil is that it opens the doors for a number of Brazilian prospects to make their Octagon debuts. And with Mike Swick forced out of his bout with Silva due to an injury, we’re even afforded the opportunity to see a Shooto world champion in Ramos.

Ramos is stepping in as a late replacement, and that also happens to mean that he’s stepping in fresh off a victory on July 23 over an out-classed Dimitri Burgos. The fight only lasted a bit over two minutes though, so it’s not as if “Beicao” will enter the Octagon following a long drawn-out war.

When fighting in smaller promotions, it can be easy to pad one’s record with sub-par opponents, but both of these men have only managed to add a couple of inexperienced opponents, or ones with significant losing records, to their resumes. Ramos, who trains alongside Jose Aldo with Nova Uniao, has posted some solid victories and is on a three-fight winning streak, but it’s Silva, a Team Nogueira product, who impresses me more. Undefeated over his last nine outings, he scored a TKO of Jose Ribamar and a submission of Gil de Freitas, both of whom are experienced foes with impressive winning records. Combine that with Silva’s aggressiveness – seven submissions and two wins by some form of knockout – and I like what I see.

Ramos is a decision machine, but he’ll have to avoid Silva’s submissions and fists for three whole rounds. He won’t be able to do it, and will instead succumb to a TKO at the hands of Silva.

Tatum: Much like Bryan said, one of the best parts of this event is the new talent that graces this card. For casual fans, Silva and Ramos aren’t going to ring any bells, but to those that pay attention to the international scene, this has all the makings of a great fight.

Ramos will carry an experience advantage, both in the sheer volume of fights, and time spent in the cage. His propensity for decisions, as Bryan pointed out, may be his doom in this fight.

Silva is best described as explosive. His aggressive nature, coupled with his solid ground game and dangerous hands, makes for a tough matchup for any welterweight. His resume is more impressive than that of Ramos and would’ve been a hell of a fight for Swick.

I’ll agree with Bryan that Silva comes out on top, but I think he’ll use his hands to set up a submission late in the second round.

Adams: I couldn’t agree more with my fellow panelists. Ramos will have a disadvantage coming into this fight that will be a key factor in determining a winner.

Ramos will be able to hang with Silva for about a round and a half, but the grittiness of Silva will come out midway through the fight. The majority of Silva’s wins have come by submission, so I’ll agree with Rob and take “Indio” by second-round submission.

BW: Yves Jabouin (15-7) vs. Ian Loveland (14-8)

Tatum: Two fighters coming off recent defeats are set to lock horns, as Canadian Yves Jabouin makes his 135-pound debut against Team Quest product Ian Loveland.

The former WEC competitor Jabouin will look to use his striking prowess to bounce back from a submission defeat to Pablo Garza at UFC 129. The drop in weight class is essentially a last-ditch effort, as he has now dropped three of his past four fights and is liking facing the chopping block against Loveland.

Loveland enters the fight following a decision loss to top-ranked bantamweight Joseph Benavidez. The defeat put an end to Loveland’s seven-fight win streak, as Benavidez used his significant speed advantage to frustrate Loveland. The well-rounded Oregon native’s biggest hole has always been his submission defense, but don’t expect Jabouin to test it in this fight.

Ian Loveland (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

This is Loveland’s fight to lose. Jabouin will be desperate to save his job and will look to land a knockout blow. Look for “The Barn Owl” to utilize his wrestling to put the Canadian on his back at will en route to a clear-cut decision win.

Adams: Rob made a great case for Loveland to take this one and I’m going to agree with him. Loveland took a big step up in competition when fighting Benavidez, but should better prepare himself as he progresses in his young career.

For Jabouin, I agree that he has a puncher’s chance in this bout. It is very possible for the Haitian-Canadian to score with a devastating knockout, but Loveland should be prepared for that.

I’m going to take “The Barn Owl” as well by decision.

Henderson: I can’t really argue with my fellow panelists here. Jabouin is holding on to his Zuffa career by a thread. He’s only managed one win to three losses under the combined banners of the WEC and UFC. And his one-dimensional game does not help him one bit.

Hailing from the Team Quest camp, Loveland will come in with superior wrestling and has demonstrated an ability to win by submission. That’s going to be key here, as he’ll look to take Jabouin down and work towards a submission.

While we all agree on the winner in this one, I’m more inclined to believe Loveland can get the job done without getting the judges involved. Loveland via submission in the second round.

FW: Yuri Alcantara (25-3) vs. Felipe Arantes (13-3)

Adams: Two Brazilians will do battle on Saturday as Alcantara, a winner of 11 straight fights, looks to dismantle “Sertanejo”.

Alcantara will make his featherweight debut in this fight after coming over to the UFC from the WEC. He only competed once in the blue-mat promotion, knocking out Ricardo Lamas in the first round. Alcantara is known as a finisher with more than 10 wins each by knockout and submission in his career.

His opponent Arantes is not known by many, as he will making his Octagon debut. At only 23-years-old, he has competed 16 times as a pro and loves throwing kicks and is a solid grappler.

In this bout, the ground games of both men are pretty even, which cancels them out. If the fight stays on the feet, I give the advantage to the proven finisher Alcantara. Look for an early knockout by Alcantara.

Henderson: I have to disagree about the ground games of these fighters. Alcantara is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, while Arantes only holds a purple belt at this point in time. I’d give Alcantara the edge if the fight hits the mat.

However, this look like an amazing striking match-up to me. We’ve already seen one demonstration of Alcantara’s skills at knocking someone out in a Zuffa-owned cage, and Arantes holds a Muay Thai background which ensures that he brings to the Octagon a solid striking game.

This could be a great contest on the feet, but could also turn into a grappling-heavy affair. I’m expecting we see a little bit of both, though. Alcantara has dropped down from lightweight for this fight, and that might give him the size advantage to go with what I see as the superior overall skill set. I don’t think it’ll be an early knockout, but rather a late finish following a tough battle. In the end, Alcantara emerges successful in his 145-pound debut.

Tatum: I’ll agree with both of panelists on the winner of this bout, as I think Alcantara is going to be too much for Arantes to handle in all aspects of the fight. The former lightweight made quite the first impression by finishing Lamas in his lone WEC bout, and I would expect more of the same in this fight.

As Bryan noted, for Arantes to have any success, he has to keep the fight standing in order to avoid the dangerous ground game that Alcantara possesses. And at the same time, he must avoid the big shots. While his background in Muay Thai may keep him competitive, his skill set simply isn’t on the same level.

I’ll echo Corey’s opinion and go with Alcantara by first-round knockout.

BW: Raphael Assuncao (16-4) vs. Johnny Eduardo (25-8)

Tatum: Another former WEC featherweight will be making his debut in the 135-pound division as grappling specialist Raphael Assuncao welcomes fellow Brazilian Johnny Eduardo to the UFC Octagon.

Both fighters are well-versed on the ground, which might lead to a striking affair. That scenario could spell trouble for Assuncao, who after opening his career at 15-1, has dropped three of four including a brutal KO loss to Erik Koch at UFC 128 in March.

Eduardo has an experience advantage, having started his career all the way back in 1996. However, the level of competition that he has faced while competing in Shooto Brazil and Jungle Fights in his home country is not at the level of Assuncao. And surprisingly, seven of his eight career defeats have come by way of submission. That’s a recipe for disaster against someone with Assuncao’s grappling accolades.

Raphael Assuncao (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Eduardo will give Assuncao a scare on the feet for the opening round in this fight, but ultimately, Assuncao will get the fight to the ground and will lock on a fight-ending rear-naked choke during the second round to spoil the veteran’s big show debut.

Henderson: Sure, Assuncao has had his difficulties since the start of 2010, but losses to the likes of Urijah Faber, Diego Nunes and Koch hardly lead me to believe he cannot handle Eduardo.

While a large number of Eduardo’s defeats have come via submission, it’s also relevant to note that a significant amount of his victories have resulted from submissions. Eduardo doesn’t seem fearful of heading to the ground, even against jiu-jitsu specialists.

Eduardo might be more than willing to meet Assuncao in his world, which indeed would spell doom. Assuncao takes this one via an early submission.

Adams: If I had to make a case for a lopsided fight, it would be this one. Assuncao deserves more credit than he is given, as he has faced many talented fighters. He should come out looking to make a statement against Eduardo.

Eduardo does have many submission victories in his career, but until he proves to have worked on his grappling defense, I cannot give him the advantage on the mat. All signs point to Assuncao, who locks up a submission hold early in the second round.

WW: Paulo Thiago (13-3) vs. David Mitchell (11-1)

Henderson: For a while, with wins over Josh Koscheck and Mike Swick, Thiago appeared to be a legitimate contender. However, back-to-back losses to Martin Kampmann and Diego Sanchez have sent the Brazilian special ops police officer back down the welterweight ladder. Now, he’s paired up with a prospect in Mitchell who is still seeking his first Octagon win.

Thiago has been training with Black House affiliate Contrictor Team, and will be fighting in his native Brazil. While he did score a huge knockout over Koscheck, Thiago is really known for his grappling.

Mitchell is in a tough situation here. Also a grappler, he doesn’t have the proven striking game to give him multiple paths to a victory. He needs to control Thiago, preventing the Brazilian from maintaining top control or unloading any knockout blows in the stand-up game. Mitchell has posted wins over fighters such as Tim McKenzie, Bobby Green and War Machine, but Thiago is at a much higher level.

Paulo Thiago (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Mitchell’s game just seems too one-dimensional for someone of Thiago’s abilities. He will have to be at his best to out-grapple Thiago and won’t stand much of a chance on his feet. Thiago won’t need to worry about the threat Mitchell poses on the mat, as he’ll finish “Daudi” via TKO.

Adams: As Bryan mentioned, Thiago was once considered one of the best welterweights in the promotion, and I believe he can get back to where he once was.

Some may think that two straight losses in the UFC is terrible, but you have to look at the two guys he lost to: Martin Kampmann and Diego Sanchez, two very talented fights. Dana White is not going to release him anytime soon, as he fought hard in both bouts, earning Fight of the Night honors in the fight with Sanchez. I look for Thiago to make a statement in this fight against Mitchell.

I have not seen enough of Mitchell to break down his game, but what stands out is his 11-1 record with nine of those wins coming by submission. With Mitchell being a good grappler, Thiago would be smart to keep the fight standing.

That is what I expect him to do. I’m going to agree with Bryan and take Thiago by TKO midway through the fight.

Tatum: Every once in a while, a proven fighter will hit a rough patch. That’s the case with Thiago. His steady diet of top-notch competition in the welterweight division eventually took its toll and his opponents figured out his game plan. Hence the reason for the back-to-back defeats to Kampmann and Sanchez.

In order to bounce back from the tough situation, Thiago has been given a fight that appears to be a gift on paper. Taking nothing away from Mitchell, a strong grappler in his own right, but he’s simply not at the level of Thiago at this point in his career. As noted by Bryan, his fight game is largely one-dimensional, something that will not suit him well against the well-rounded Thiago.

Mitchell’s best chance in this fight is to try and take Thiago into deep waters and hope that he fades like he did against Sanchez. He’ll have to survive a great deal of punishment to accomplish that and will likely end up on the wrong side of a decision if he makes it that far.

Thiago gets back on track with a brutal second-round stoppage due to strikes.

MW: Rousimar Palhares (12-3) vs. Dan Miller (13-5)

Adams: This fight will match-up two fighters who have lost to Nate Marquardt recently, Palhares in Sept. 2010 and Miller at UFC 128 in his last bout.

Rousimar Palhares (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Palhares bounced back after his loss to Marquardt by defeating Dave Branch in March. That win came by kneebar in the second round, and he has nine total submission wins in his career while training at Brazilian Top Team.

This is a fight that the N.J. native Miller needs. In his career, he hasn’t beaten guys in the upper echelon of the sport, with wins over average guys including John Salter and Joe Doerksen. He too has an impressive ground game, but may need to keep this fight standing to defeat Palhares.

If this fight hits the mat, the jiu-jitsu advantage goes to the Brazilian Palhares. For Miller to win this fight, he needs to stay on his feet and wear out Palhares to earn a decision. He may have the power to knock him out, as did Marquardt, but a decision is a safe pick in this fight.

I’m going to go with Miller to play it safe and pull out a decision victory to get him back on track.

Tatum: As likeable as Dan Miller might be, his performances against the top-ranked middleweights leaves something to be desired. As Corey pointed out, he’s beaten mid-tier fighters with regularity, but stumbles against tougher competition.

The Brazilian Palhares has demolished five of the seven fighters he faced in the UFC, four of which by submission. His two defeats came to former title challenger Marquardt and current Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson. His ground game is one of the most dangerous in the division and he will look for any opening to to apply one of his patented leg locks.

Corey is right in his analysis that Miller has to keep this fight on the feet if he hopes to achieve victory. Unfortunately for the New Jersey native, I don’t see that happening for the entire fight. While Miller’s grappling has kept him in a number of fights in the past, he won’t be able to match Palhares on the mat. Look for the Brazilian to work his way back into the title picture with a second-round leg lock.

Henderson: Palhares can be extremely dangerous if he latches onto a leg. Not even just because it could result in a loss, but because his past antics also make serious injury an issue when facing the Brazilian.

Dan Miller (r) (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

The biggest issue I see with Palhares is his UFC resume. He’s defeated all but the best the organization has thrown at him, but there seems to be a big gap between the best and the rest. Nate Marquardt and Dan Henderson handed Palhares defeats, but the fighter who “Toquinho” has posted wins against don’t line up as the next rung down the ladder. Nobody is considering Ivan Salaverry, Lucio Linhares, Tomasz Drwal, Dave Branch or an aging Jeremy Horn as just one step down from Marquardt and Henderson. Where’s the test against someone better than a Linhares, but not quite as good as a Marquardt? It just isn’t there.

So, is Miller that test? Quite possibly. While the AMA Fight Club product has experienced a tough stretch, losing four of his past six outings, it’s essential to look at his competition. He’s gone to decisions against Chael Sonnen, Demian Maia, Michael Bisping and Marquardt in his losses, while beating a similar level of foe as Palhares. It’s the losses that show Miller’s toughness. He’s not an easy out whatsoever. In fact, all of his career losses have come via decision.

I’m not yet convinced that Palhares is capable of defeating someone of Miller’s caliber. Miller has gained a lot of experience fighting contenders and has a solid grappling game of his own, which should keep him out of too much trouble on the mat. This is going to be a back-and-forth fight, with both men threatening with submissions and spending time in dominant positions. In the end, we’re headed to the judges, where Miller will eke out a split decision.

LW: Thiago Tavares (15-4-1) vs. Spencer Fisher (24-7)

Henderson: Lightweights Tavares and Fisher just can’t seem to get things moving their way for long.

Every time Tavares picks up a win to get things back on track, he follows it up by suffering another setback. The man has not been able to put two consecutive wins together since having his hand raised in his first two UFC bouts. It’s been a roller-coaster ride for the Brazilian ever since.

Spencer Fisher (l) (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Meanwhile, Fisher has the veteran savvy to always remain competitive, but has fallen in three of his last four outings. He’s capable of finishing opponents via knockout or submission, but can often find himself on the wrong end of a decision in bad match-ups.

While Fisher has an almost even balance of knockouts and submissions, it’s not hard to envision this as a striker-versus-grappler affair. Tavares, a BJJ black belt, will definitely want to take this fight to the ground, while Fisher will hold the clear advantage should the two stand toe-to-toe.

It’s been clear for some time that Fisher’s biggest issue is with wrestlers. However, Tavares is more of a pure grappler. Tavares might have to get creative in an attempt to catch Fisher in something, but Fisher is no slouch at defending against a grappler. Fisher finds his way back into the win column by picking apart Tavares on the feet and stuffing the submission specialist’s takedown attempts.

Tatum: This might be the toughest fight to pick on this entire card. Both fighters have been largely inconsistent and may need a win to avoid being cut from the crowded lightweight division.

The grizzled veteran Fisher will have a significant advantage in the striking department, as Bryan mentioned, but he hasn’t finished a fight with strikes in nearly five years. It’s possible that time has simply caught up with the once explosive finisher. Sure, it is hard to ignore the 19 finishes he holds in 24 career wins, but recent performances have certainly changed how Fisher is viewed by most in the sport.

Thiago Tavares (Ken Pishna/MMA Weekly)

After starting his career with 12 straight wins, Tavares has now dropped four of his last eight bouts. His last outing against Shane Roller started well, but ended violently as he was knocked out cold in the second round. The grappling ace has never been submitted, and has finished 11 opponents with his slick ground skills.

Bryan essentially nailed this one, it’s a striker vs. a grappler. But I’m going to disagree with the outcome. Fisher’s killer instinct appears to be a thing of the past and at some point during the three rounds, he’ll have to deal with Tavares’ dangerous ground skills. In what very well could be the fight of the night, I’ll take the Brazilian to submit Fisher late in the final round.

Adams: I hate to predict fights that are worthy of being Fight of the Night, but I’m going to do it again concerning this lightweight battle.

Both men are in need of a win, which means they are likely going to step into the Octagon and fight their butts off.

Tavares is a talented grappler, with more credentials than Fisher, but my hunch is that the Brazilian will not be able to take him to the ground. Fisher has a bit of a Muay Thai game and also can stuff takedowns well.

I expect this fight to remain on the feet for the most part with “The King” taking control of the striking game. My guess is that Fisher gets the win by split decision.

Top Image Credit: Rousimar Palhares (Sherdog)