It's been a rough start to the season for the blue team better known as Team Nogueira and after losing the first few fights in the team competition on season four of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil, they are looking for a way to turn things around as they enter the next bout this week.
From the start of this season, the team has been embroiled in turmoil, especially considering that before the first fighter had a chance to step into the Octagon, Anderson Silva was already leaving the show and being replaced by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Things haven't been any easier since then, as Team Shogun has continued to reign supreme in the fights as well as the bout selections, where they have been systematically cherry picking the best possible matchups for their fighters.
Team Nogueira has struggled to get any sense of balance from the moment Silva left the show and while Rodrigo and his brother Rogerio have done everything possible to at least bring balance back with their coaching, the athletes are still mired in defeat. A losing streak can be impossibly tough to break, especially when momentum starts to build on the other side and what begins as a pebble's worth of problems can quickly snowball into a boulder barreling down the hill at what seems like a hundred-miles an hour rate.
Team Nogueira definitely needs to get out of their funk, and to hopefully knock Team Shogun off their perch they will look to one of the youngest fighters on the entire show.
This week's matchup features the tallest member of either team as 6-foot tall lightweight Glaico Franca from Team Shogun takes on 22-year-old prospect Nikolas Motta from Team Nogueira.
Before Team Shogun looks to keep their current streak alive, both sides will once again engage in a competition, with the winner getting a monstrous prize that could change the course of the entire show depending on how things play out. The last competition saw Team Shogun beat Team Nogueira and win a day on the slopes along with the Octagon Girl hopefuls that are also competing for a spot on the UFC roster this season.
While that skiing trip was undoubtedly more enjoyable, the prize up for grabs this time will play a part in the fights this season unlike anything we've ever seen before. A team effort will definitely be needed to get the win and there's no doubt that the victorious side will have a leg up on the others when it comes time to cash in this particular bonus.
Regardless of the winner in the team competition this week, UFC President Dana White will treat all the fighters to one extracurricular activity to help bring down the stress levels of the competition and the tournament ongoing between all the athletes living in the house. At this point, all 16 fighters have been living in Las Vegas for about a month, which means four weeks away from home, and for these competitors, that's thousands upon thousands of miles away.
Team Nogueira could certainly use some stress relief after the rugged run of fights they've had so far this season.
When it comes down to the matchup itself, Franca vs. Motta is an interesting stylistic battle between a tall, lanky lightweight and a shorter, more compact and heavier striker.
Motta started out his training in Muay Thai, which was his first love before dedicating himself to MMA. He's born and raised in Minas Gerais, but he moved to Rio de Janeiro to train for fighting full-time, leaving his family and friends behind. Motta now trains at Nova Uniao at the main academy alongside featherweight champion Jose Aldo and former bantamweight champion Renan Barao.
Motta is an ultra aggressive fighter with heavy hands -- think of the classic Chute Boxe style that encompassed the best days of fighters like Wanderlei Silva or even Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. He's still young and inexperienced in many regards, but what he lacks in overall fight knowledge, Motta more than makes up for with devastating power in both hands and the ability to overwhelm an opponent before they know what hit them.
As for Franca, he's definitely going to be a tough counter for Motta with his long range and size, especially if he can use his reach to keep his shorter Brazilian counterpart at bay. Franca has 15 professional fights on his record so he's no stranger to all kinds of different styles inside the cage. Franca is very well-rounded, but he's definitely got a slick variety of submissions at his disposal, especially the rear naked choke and the anaconda choke, which he perfects with those long, snake-like arms he can usually wrap around an unsuspecting opponent before earning the tap out.
Franca has to avoid Motta's striking on the feet and he's got plenty of weaponry in his arsenal to counter. He can use a long jab to keep Motta away or allow the youngster's own aggressiveness to play into his hand as he backs out and counters until he finds an opening to drag the fight to the ground.
On paper this seems like another favorable matchup for Team Shogun, but with morale already taking a hit, maybe Team Nogueira can rally to steal one with Motta and begin to turn the tide for the season.
Can Team Nogueira finally get on the board or will they be left with another fat zero next to their name when they meet Team Shogun again this week in battle? The only way to find out is to watch the new episode of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil debuting this Monday on UFC FIGHT PASS.