Fighter Brazil's third season, featuring coaches Chael Sonnen and
Wanderlei Silva, continues, only on UFC Fight Pass...
The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 has been a series of highs and lows when it comes to the competitors and teams inside the Octagon. The show started with Team Wanderlei taking dominant control, running the table through the first few fights as the PRIDE legend continuously got one up on his American counterpart Chael Sonnen.
As they say, the night is always darkest before the dawn, and eventually the sun set on Team Wanderlei's winning streak. Team Sonnen has come charging back in the past few weeks with some big wins, setting the stage for the final heavyweight fight and things seem to favor the bad guys once again.
Team Wanderlei had control early and tried to pick off the weakest links on Sonnen's team, and given their win streak the theory worked out pretty well. Unfortunately, by using his strongest fighters to take out those competitors, Silva left his team vulnerable to the same kind of attack coming the other way. Now with one heavyweight fight left in the competition before the semifinal round begins, Sonnen may be putting forth his best fighter in the competition.
Marcos Rogerio de Lima, better known on the show as “Pezao,” has been Sonnen's ace in the hole since the show started. Pezao is not only one of the most experienced fighters on the team, but he's faced a laundry list of tough opponents in his day, including a stint in Strikeforce as well as holding a win over former WEC champion Paulo Filho. Pezao is well rounded - a dangerous striker with powerful submissions lurking in his arsenal. There's definitely a reason Silva wasn't picking on Pezao when he had control of the show's fight selections.
Still, Jollyson Francino steps into this fight as a bit of an unknown with nothing to lose against Sonnen's top fighter. Jollyson has only had four professional fights, but he does train out of a branch of Nova Uniao, which is the same camp that produced UFC champions Jose Aldo and Renan Barao. It's not going to be an easy task to derail Pezao, however, and the odds are Jollyson won't be making it to the next round of the tournament unless he pulls off a pretty massive upset.
Pezao is strong, agile and powerful for this weight class and he's technically sound. So long as he doesn't make any crazy mistakes, he should be punching his ticket to the semifinals and the next round of the TUF Brazil 3 tournament.
Once the fight with Pezao and Jollyson wraps up, it's then time to begin the fight selection for the semifinal bouts in the house. If Pezao is victorious, it will tie up Team Wanderlei and Team Sonnen at four wins apiece. A Jollyson win puts Wanderlei's team up 5-3, which gives him bragging rights over his hated foe, but also means he would have to put two of his fighters up against each other in the next round. That's never an easy choice for a coach.
When it comes to the semifinal matchups, UFC president Dana White will make another appearance this week to see what fights the coaches think are the best fit while also asking each individual competitor who they would like to face next.
Conventional wisdom in the past has put fighters going one of three ways when the fight selection question comes up.
The first choice is going with someone they match up well with and believe is the easiest path to the next round. This one seems to be the most logical choice given the entire point of this competition is to make it to the finale and win the show. There's nothing wrong with taking the path of least resistance, because no matter what happens in the semifinals, if you win, there's still going to be one more fight.
Second is to choose someone where a personal grudge is involved. Now there's always the chance that this selection coincides with a fight that might be the easiest one, but ultimately this comes down to wanting to beat a guy in the cage who has somehow irritated you outside of it. These are the choices made with emotion, and that's not necessarily wrong, but most fighters will say fighting angry or upset in some way is an easy road to defeat.
The third and final option is to say you'll fight anyone. Now this choice appears easy enough. You're the best guy in the competition and the other guys aren't, so you're happy to beat any one of them to move on to the finale. While this is definitely a noble gesture, it doesn't always raise fans awareness of who this fighter might be if the strongest statement they can make when asked 'who do you want to fight?' is 'anybody.’ It sounds good on paper, but usually lands like a dull thud when delivered.
Who will be in the semifinals? Can Wanderlei and Sonnen co-exist long enough to actually make their picks for the next round of the tournament? What are the matchups ultimately going to be?
The only way to know for sure is to tune into The Ultimate Fighter Brazil this Sunday night on UFC FIGHT PASS.