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On last week's episode of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil, it was revealed that former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva had tested positive for an illegal substance around his last fight in January against Nick Diaz and would be forced to leave the show.
Silva had just assembled his team and started to prepare for the first fight of the season when he got the news that sent a shockwave throughout the entire house, but especially with the fighters he selected days earlier.
One person who was hit particularly hard with the news was lightweight competitor Andre “Dede” Ricardo, who was actually a teammate of Silva's before the show ever started, so the chance to train under him with a UFC contract on the line was a huge moment for him. He was visibly shaken last week when Silva had to break the news to the team, and his fragile emotional state carries over into the latest episode as he struggles to deal with the loss of his coach and mentor.
While coaches have been forced to leave the show in past seasons, rarely has it happened so early on, and even then it's not often that they've been so involved with at least one member of the team the way that Silva was almost a big brother to Dede going into the show. To make matters worse following a win last week, Team Shogun decided to pick Dede for the fight this week where he takes on Nazareno Malegarie, who happens to be one of the most experienced fighters on the entire cast.
If there's a bright side to the entire ordeal of Silva leaving the show it's the fact that the UFC was able to secure Rodrigo Nogueira and Rogerio Nogueira to replace him as coaches and there may not be a better choice for this team. Both fighters are veterans and have coached fighters for years, plus Rodrigo Nogueira has coached The Ultimate Fighter on previous occasions so he's well aware of what it takes to help his team reach the top.
To make sure the transition goes smoothly, Nogueira even spends some extra time with Dede during his weight cut preparing for the fight while helping him with strategy ahead of the showdown with Nazareno just a couple of days away.
While the fighters are training and preparing for battle, Team Shogun reaps the rewards of their team win from last week as they get to go play in the snow for a day and they get to be accompanied by the contestants in the latest Octagon Girl competition from this season as well.
Eight fighters, a car full of models, snowboards and Las Vegas. What could possibly go wrong? Watch the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil to find out, and according to one fighter, this is the time when a few wives and girlfriends back in Brazil might want to change the channel.
Once the fighters return from a day on the slopes, it's time to focus on training and preparation for the fight. Dede Ricardo is still concerned about making weight, which could end up being a distraction as he gets ready for the fight, but the Nogueira brothers are never far away, so they help keep him focused as the hours and minutes tick away until it's time to face off in the Octagon.
The matchup this week is a classic grappler versus striker affair, with Nazareno being a tough as nails wrestler with dangerous submissions taking on Ricardo, who is much happier on the feet as he’s looking for the knockout.
In the preliminary rounds, Dede won his way into the house with a vicious second round TKO while Nazareno went the distance and got a unanimous decision win after a wrestling-heavy performance.
The fight between Nazareno and Dede really does come down to who controls the fight and whether or not the action hits the ground. Nazareno is very good at dragging his opponents to the ground and he's got a long list of submission victories where he passes guard and then starts to apply his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game.
If Nazareno can find a way to get Dede to the mat early, he will automatically find an advantage because then the Team Nogueira fighter has to deal with the possibility that takedowns will be coming at him for the next ten minutes and it could absolutely affect his ability to throw strikes without fear of being over extended and put back on the ground.
Dede has a solid base for his striking, but kicks are one of his best weapons as showcased in his win to get into the house. If he's not able to employ that strategy, Dede can still get the finish with his hands, but any time you take a fighter's weapons away it makes them vulnerable and not as comfortable in their offense.
Judging by their first round matchups and the styles that they present, Nazareno should be able to find a way to get the win. He has a huge experience edge over Dede, and considering what was happening in the days leading up to this fight with Silva's exit and his team's mindset, this could just be the time for Team Shogun to take advantage.