Will Brazil dominate the UFC in 2014?
When Glover Teixeira steps into the Octagon at UFC 172 tonight with the mission to end the reign of Jon Jones at light heavyweight, Brazil - which currently has Jose Aldo (featherweight) and Renan Barao (banthanweight) as champions of the organization - will begin its attempt to end the 2014 season as its most dominant ever.
Besides Barao and Aldo, the United States dominates all other seven divisions, even though Brazil once had four simultaneous belts in 2012, a record so far for the nation. But currently, at least five Brazilians are guaranteed to compete in title fights or title defenses. So what are the possibilities?
Bantamweight: Renan Barao widens his margin of dominance with each performance. His next appointment will be against American TJ Dillashaw at UFC 173 on May 24.
Breakdown: Dillashaw is another wrestler who exerts dynamic control of the fight and relies on his striking as well, a mix which has already proved to be insufficient to halt the versatile and explosive game of Barao, who won twice against Urijah Faber, the mentor of Dillashaw, and if this pattern continues, it will be insufficent to stop Barao.
Featherweight: Jose Aldo does not have a fight scheduled yet, but he will possibly have a rematch against Chad Mendes later this year.
Breakdown: The teammate of Barao, Aldo is expected to eventually move to lightweight to face skilled champion Antonny Pettis.
Middleweight: Lyoto Machida gets a shot at champion Chris Weidman. The fight was postponed from May to July because of a knee injury to the American.
Breakdown: With two wins in the middleweight division, the Brazilian karateka transformed himself more in the physical aspects - gaining agility and speed, for example - than technically in the new weight class, which keeps his movements and counterstrikes always sharp. In his last performance against Gegard Mousasi, he showed strategic maturity and total control of the fight to gain the victory.
Weidman has something no one else has: two wins over Anderson Silva and a the daunting reputation of the “destroyer of legends.” The fight against Machida will be the first for the U.S. fighter since the Silva fights, with names like Vitor Belfort, Ronaldo Souza and Luke Rockhold all waiting for him should he beat Machida.
Heavyweight: Fabricio Werdum is next to face champion Cain Velasquez after a dominant triumph over the Hawaiian Travis Browne at UFC on FOX 11.
Breakdown: Velasquez is a different physical specimen as a heavyweight, which sets up a big nightmare for any challenger. He has the best fitness in the category and the ability to act as an engine of constant destruction.
Werdum showed certain some cardio issues against Browne, but he recovered well and gave a good striking performance again standing up.
At first glance, the champion is the clear favorite. But the Brazilian has the best guard work on the ground in the division, which can be an essential factor to stop the ground and pound of Velasquez.