It's all come down to this, the final two fights to determine who will become the next participants in The Ultimate Fighter Brazil finale taking place on May 31 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Last week, Team Sonnen's Warlley Alves punched his ticket with another impressive performance as he quickly became the favorite to win the entire show, while Team Wanderlei's Antonio 'Cara De Sapato' Carlos Junior made quick work of Marcos Rogerio to separate himself in the heavyweight division.
This week the other two semifinal matches take place, as Team Wanderlei's top pick Ricardo Abreu takes on Marcio 'Lyoto' Junior in the middleweight division while Richardson 'Rick Monstro' Moreira faces the man with possibly the best nickname in MMA, Vitor 'Lex Luthor' Miranda.
Before we break down the fights, there's still a little more outside the Octagon action to get to as the final episode sets down upon us. First of all, this season of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil has allowed the competitors a few more liberties than their American counterparts, most notably the Octagon Girl contest that took place all season long. Now that part of the show is finished, but it was surely a highlight for all the fighters locked away in that house for six weeks.
On the latest episode, the fighters get treated to a personal tattoo artist coming into the house to give a few of the guys some ink. No spoilers on what the fighters get as far as their new tattoos, but talk about a worthwhile distraction in the last days before getting to go home and escape the solitude of the house!
One other aspect that has been great about The Ultimate Fighter Brazil this season has been the incredible list of guest coaches that have come by throughout a number of the episodes. Several Brazilian legends have joined the teams to help out as well as a few UFC notables such as Bruce Buffer, who made the trip to Brazil to greet the future hopefuls as they got ready for battle. This time around, it's a pair of brothers who join Team Wanderlei's side as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira both drop by to see the competitors as they get ready for the final fights on the show. It's also worth noting that the Nogueira brothers were often the target of many of Chael Sonnen's verbal attacks over the years, so you have to wonder if they might run into each other while spending time in the same gym?
On to the fights - first up in the middleweight division is Team Wanderlei's top pick Ricardo Abreu taking on Marcio 'Lyoto' Junior.
The tone was set in the early going of the show that Abreu was not only one of Wanderlei's students before the series started, but a favorite to run roughshod over the competition. A powerful fighter at 185 pounds, Abreu packs a vicious punch while also possessing great ground skills, and given his opponent this time around, he'll probably want to go that route for his easiest chance at victory. Now as highly-touted as Abreu was coming onto the show, his performance in the quarterfinal round left something to be desired. He struggled at points to overwhelm Guilherme Vasconcelos, and his conditioning seemed to be a factor.
This time around, Abreu will have to be in top shape considering these semifinal round matches go three rounds, and unless he can finish early, he'll need plenty of gas in the tank to get to the finals.
His opponent, Marcio 'Lyoto' Junior, earned his nickname for a very simple reason - his style mimics that of top middleweight contender Lyoto Machida. Quick on his feet with lots of in and out and side to side movements make Marcio a tough fighter to face, especially if he can keep an opponent at a distance. Marcio showed he had good cardio in his last fight against Paulo Costa, so that could be his advantage in this one as well.
For Abreu to win he needs to put his power on Lyoto early and try to get a finish within the first round if possible. Beyond that, the longer the fight goes the more it will favor the fighter from Team Sonnen.
In the heavyweight division, it's a classic battle of grappler vs. striker as Rick Monstro takes on Vitor Miranda. Monstro is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace with slick transitions into arm and leg locks, especially when he gets the takedown and maintains top control. Monstro trains under the Nogueira brothers, so he's well aware of how to use the guard as well considering Rodrigo Nogueira might just have the most dangerous bottom game in heavyweight history. It's the feet where Monstro is sorely lacking, so the last thing he can do in this fight is not get Miranda to the ground.
Vitor Miranda might be the best striker in this entire competition given a professional kickboxing career where he amassed a record of 24-8 while competing over the span of 10 years. Miranda didn't give up that career years ago either - his last fights took place in 2013, so he's well versed in his kickboxing tools. On the MMA side, Miranda has a 9-3 record overall with his only losses coming to two UFC veterans, Fabio Maldonado and Guto Inocente. Miranda is normally a light heavyweight fighter, so he will be giving up some size to Monstro, but the technicality of his standup should even the playing field in this category.
Look for Miranda to batter Monstro with punches and kicks, and if he can avoid the early takedowns, he can put a stop to this fight just like he did his past two opponents on TUF Brazil 3. Miranda is a very talented fighter who will certainly make waves in the UFC once he arrives, and this should be the bout that will punch his ticket.
It all goes down Sunday night on the final episode of TUF Brazil 3 before the fighters venture to Sao Paulo next Saturday night for the finale card headlined by top 10 heavyweight Stipe Miocic taking on the always tough Fabio Maldonado in the main event.
TUF Brazil 3 - Episode 12 Preview
The Ultimate Fighter Brazil's third season, featuring coaches Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva, continues, only on UFC Fight Pass...