It's down to the final two episodes on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 4, as the members of Team Shogun and Team Nogueira get ready to face off in four bouts that will determine the finals for the upcoming UFC Fight Night card in Florida on June 27.
This week’s episode will see an all Team Shogun affair, as Glaico “Nego” Franca takes on Joaquim “Netto BJJ” Silva in the lightweight division while Dileno Lopes faces off with Matheus Nicolau in the bantamweight division.
All four fighters represented coach Mauricio “Shogun” Rua this season, so it's undoubtedly going to be a tough road for the competitors to travel this week as they try to make the finals while eliminating a friend and teammate along the way. It's the one downside to so much success early in the season because it eventually leads to teammate versus teammate in the future rounds of the tournament.
Rua will pull his team aside early in the upcoming episode to let them know how he's going to treat the two fights where his fighters will face off with each other in regards to the corner men and training in the final days of the competition. As proud as Rua is to see his team find so much success this season, the two fights taking place this week will force him to bow out for the most part to become nothing more than a spectator so he doesn't favor one fighter over the other.
The first fight up this week will pit Franca against “Netto BJJ” Silva, with the winner moving into the finals of the lightweight division.
These two fighters have not only been teammates all season long, but they also became close friends over the past six weeks of living and training together, so it's a particularly tough moment for both Franca and Silva as they prepare to face each other in the Octagon.
Franca has quietly become one of the real favorites in this tournament, with his devastating ground skill and wide array of submissions. While he hasn't been the flashiest with the way he's finishing his opponents, Franca has fought twice so far and submitted the fighters he faced in both fights. In his debut bout, Franca put away Raush Manfio by rear naked choke in the second round. In the quarterfinal matchup, Franca made short work of Nikolas Motta with another second round rear naked choke.
Franca has an innate ability to not only get his opponents to the ground with good takedown skills, but he wastes no time improving his position and transitioning to take the back like a snake coiling around its prey and sucking the life out of them. Franca keeps to the basics with his movement, but he's methodical with the way he sets up an opponent and then quickly moves into position to get the finish. If he can take this fight to the ground, Franca will be at a huge advantage.
As for “Netto BJJ,” despite his nickname, this Brazilian prospect loves to strike and he will look for the knockout early and often in this one. Netto BJJ won his fight to get into the house by third round TKO and also ended up going three rounds with Erick da Silva in his last fight. While that shows his ability to go hard for all 15 minutes, it's also hard to ignore that Netto BJJ has gone through almost two complete fights since joining the show six weeks ago. That kind of wear and tear on the body can't be ignored. Even if he's been victorious, Netto BJJ cutting weight for a third time and then preparing for what could be another three-round war could put him at a disadvantage.
Once Franca and Netto BJJ settle things in the lightweight division, it will be time for Rua and coach Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to compete in the infamous coaches challenge, where the winner will claim $10,000 in prize money while their team members will collect $1,500 each. It's been all Team Shogun in the team competitions this season, but now it's up to the coach to pull off another victory in the final game for the year and make it a clean sweep while handing out some spending money to his team.
The competition this year has to be one of the more inventive games The Ultimate Fighter has ever come up with, as Shogun and Nogueira square off in a race with construction vehicles. While it's not just about speed, but also skill, this will definitely be one of the more interesting competitions in show history.
From there, things move right into the final fight for the episode, as Dileno Lopes takes on Matheus Nicolau in the other all-Team Shogun matchup.
Lopes was an early favorite to do very well on the show with his vast array of experience, as well as a world-class submission game on the ground. Lopes went through the rigors of trying out for the show and losing in the elimination round three seasons ago, so he knows how hard it is to get here and how it's even harder to go home with a loss. Lopes has looked outstanding so far through two fights, but the pressure is definitely on to pull out a huge win this week to make the finale.
As for Matheus Nicolau, he's definitely the underdog, but more than capable of pulling off the knockout in this matchup. He will have a reach and height advantage over Lopes and he's got the kind of striking arsenal, especially in his kicks, that could give his fellow Team Shogun squadmate nightmares by the second or third round. Obviously, Nicolau has to be aware of the takedowns, but if he can find his range and distance, he could keep Lopes guessing as he starts ankle diving in a desperate attempt to get the fight to the mat.
Who will make the finals from Team Shogun? There are two fights in one episode, so don't miss the latest Ultimate Fighter Brazil 4 this week.