This weekend's pay-per view event ushers in the UFC's return to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Freshly crowned Fighter, and Female Athlete of the Year, Ronda Rousey attempts to defend her UFC title for the 6th time against fellow undefeated challenger, Bethe Correia. Correia's journey has been marked by her conquest over two of Ronda's teammates, but as we learned on the Countdown show, the third isn't in the UFC so she does not count. Additional Brazilian legends Shogun Rua, Bigfoot Silva, and the Noguiera brothers populate the card as an exercise in seeing who might still have something left in the tank. Vacated WSOF champ Jessica Aguilar makes her UFC debut to open the main card. The UFC also managed to shoehorn in a couple TUF finale fights to bring the fans an unusually lengthy main card. To the picks!
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The gulf between Ronda and the rest of the division is the widest we have ever seen in the sport. The closest second would be Anderson Silva vs specifically Forrest Griffin. The promos would have you believe that because Correia defeated two of the Horsewomen that this is somehow a compelling challenger. If you actually watched those fights, you will see Bethe taking longer than it should have to beat two fighters whose current UFC tenures can best be described as suffering from severe in-cage inactivity. At this point all we can really debate is how fast we think Ronda will take to win. If you go by Ronda's word that she wants to PUNISH Bethe, then you might be like Lavender Gooms and think that Ronda will toy with Bethe over multiple rounds. Or, you can be like everyone else and think that it will end in swift violence. Most people are picking submission, I'll take the punches. Ronda by TKO at 2:41 of the 1st round.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Historically, Shogun will go down as having had one of the best chins in the game, but we are long on the downward slope of its trajectory. Lil Nog on the other hand will be remembered as having a career with long periods of inactivity between fights. What we're saying is that Little Nog is Mr. Glass. When we last saw our hero, he was almost the first decapitation in UFC history by the hands of Anthony Johnson. Shogun is close to the end, but his striking is still far above competent. Shogun by KO round 2.
Shogun: Dr Law, Gooms, Kid P
Lil Nog: DJ Mark
TUF Brazil Lightweight/Bantamweight finale: Glaico Franca vs Fernando Bruno, Reginaldo
I was thinking I could make up some grand stories about what went on during this season of TUF Brazil, but let's be frank. I didn't watch it. You didn't watch it. I'm not even sure Brazil watched it because Globo is set to let their tv deal with the company expire. Franca is a solid favorite in the Lightweight finale. Lopes is a big favorite in the Bantamweight finale. That said, Lopes to cement his spot and Bruno to get the upset.
Stefan Struve vs Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Stefan Struve once again steps into the cage to see if he will ever put it together and reach the lofty expectations many of us have set for him. While both of the Nogueiras seem like they have already gone past the empty light, Big Nog will always have that ability to surprise us and show that he's got a little spark in him left. The key for Struve will as always be to utilize his length and reach advantage, and most importantly his youth against Big Nog's mileage ravaged body. Struve has never quite been a one shot KO guy, but with enough pressure he should be able to make Big Nog wilt. Of course, we've seen this 7 footer come crashing down one too many times to feel super confident about it. Struve by KO round 2.
Struve: Dr Law, Gooms, Kid P
Big Nog: DJ Mark
Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva vs Soa Paleilei
Two Giants clash, but one is without his TRT fuel. While I might jest, Bigfoot is probably the one fighter that actually needed TRT in a world where many other fighters falsely abused it. Soa has a pretty clear ceiling as to who he is a fighter, but so far since coming off of the treatment, Bigfoot has not come close to resembling a competent UFC heavyweight fighter. If he should get put down again, Bigfoot may have to take a long look and retirement. Soa by KO round 1.
Bigfoot: DJ Mark
Soa: Dr Law, Gooms, Kid P
Claudia Gadelha vs Jessica Aguilar
Aguilar enters the octagon for her first time. That her debut will serve us up the next title contender to Joanna Champion, shows the lofty expectations that have been set upon her. Riding a 10 fight win streak, Aguilar has been considered by some to be the number one woman in the Strawweight division. I would now argue this stance after having seen Joanna's last two fights, but it cannot be taken away from Gadelha that the lone blemish on her record is a split decision loss to Joanna. I think that says enough about Gadelha's fortitude , but add in the raucous home crowd and that adds up to a disappointing debut for Jessica. Gadelha by decision.
Gadelha: Dr Law, Gooms, Kid P
Aguilar: DJ Mark