UFC’s upcoming Brazil card packs a punch. From former champs and MMA legends, to current contenders, Fight Night Fortaleza provides some must-watch contests.
Specifically, the main card, which features a Top 10 fighter in all but one of its six fights.
These are the Reasons to Watch Fight Night Fortaleza.
1 – A Tough Road
UFC legend Vitor Belfort has dropped three of his last four. But to be the best you have to beat the best and taking on the UFC’s elite is all Belfort has done lately (his three losses: Chris Weidman, Jacare Souza and Gegard Mousasi). Now, in the main event Saturday, Belfort attempts to sour Kelvin Gastelum’s middleweight run and take a step forward in one last title run.
Belfort currently sits ninth in the 185-pound rankings, but with many fighters above him slated for action in the coming months, a win over Gastelum could bring him near the Top 5. A loss, however, could end any future hope of getting one last shot at the belt.
2 – Big Enough
If Gastelum’s performance at UFC 206 didn’t prove his legitimacy as a middleweight then a win over Belfort should do the trick. Gastelum struggled to make the 170-pound mark several times in his recent UFC career. And when his bout was called off against ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone at UFC 205 the decision was made to move up a division.
One fight in, it appears to have been the right one. Gastelum dominated a ripped-up Tim Kennedy at UFC 206 and earned a third-round TKO and instantly cracked the 185-pound’s Top 10 rankings. On Saturday he has the opportunity to climb even higher.
3 – Light Heavyweight Opportunities
Shogun Rua and Gian Villante’s co-main tilt provides massive opportunities for each fighter. Shogun has the potential to earn his third consecutive win and move into the division’s Top 3. While Villante, a UFC veteran, is granted perhaps the best opportunity of his career: to fight a UFC legend in his native country.
A win in that environment, over the sixth-ranked 205-er, could give Villante a big leap in the rankings. There aren’t many names in front of him he can’t pass, considering he’d own wins over the current No. 6 and No. 7 (Corey Anderson) fighters.
4 – Within Reach
Edson Barboza and Beneil Dariush’s lightweight contest is another reminder of how stacked the UFC’s lightweight division is. Barboza is riding a two-fight win streak over former champ Anthony Pettis and former challenger - and Strikeforce champ - Gilbert Melendez. Yet he still finds himself on the outskirts of any title conversation. That may come to an end with a win on Saturday.
A win over Dariush could vault Barboza past Eddie Alvarez and Rafael Dos Anjos to No. 3 among lightweights. Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson obviously remain the clubhouse leaders for Conor McGregor’s next challenger. But Barboza would at least be relevant in the discussion.
5 – Stacked Main Card
Rarely does the fourth fight from the main event on a non-Pay-Per-View card have significant title implications. But that’s exactly what Jussier Formiga and Ray Borg offers. Formiga ranks third among flyweights and the two fighters in front of him have already lost to the champ.