Check out the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America on UFC FIGHT PASS on Tuesday at 12am ET
The running theme of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America this season has been a running beatdown by Team Velasquez, as they've dominated Team Werdum through the team competition to this point in the season. Outside of the upkick from hell that Marlon Vera delivered to Henry Briones in the fifth fight of the season, it's been a virtual shutout for the Mexican side as the victories just continue to pile up.
The last time a season of The Ultimate Fighter was as one-sided as the current version with Mexico vs. Latin America was earlier this year when TUF Nations: Team Canada vs. Team Australia debuted. It was clear from the opening moments of the competition that the Canadian side had vastly more MMA experience, and outside of a couple of hiccups, the team ran roughshod over the Australians.
It honestly didn't seem that the two sides this season were that far apart, but the Mexicans have been nothing short of stifling as one win became two wins became three wins and so on as the competition has continued.
This week might be Team Werdum's best shot at dominance, however, as they put Guido Canetti up against Team Velasquez fighter Marco Beltran.
Canetti has been one of the more vocal leaders all season long for the Latin America squad, and with good reason, considering he had some of the biggest fights of anyone going into the house, with an impressive record overall. Beltran can match him in terms of overall fight experience, but he hasn't had as much success as Canetti, especially in the three-fight losing streak that happened just before he came to the reality show.
At 34 years of age, this show really is make it or break it time for Canetti. He's found real success in his MMA career, especially in his last few fights, where he's gone 4-0, including a blistering 11-second knockout over former WEC fighter Rafael Dias. Canetti also made his United States debut in August 2013, where he took out Eliazar Rodriguez by submission in the Jackson's Fighting Series in New Mexico.
To appear on The Ultimate Fighter, Canetti had to leave his home in Argentina, where his son was just recently born. Being secluded on The Ultimate Fighter is tough for anyone, but being stuck there with no outside communication for six weeks while knowing that your son was just born can't be easy on anyone, even a veteran like Canetti.
On the other side of the cage stands Beltran, a young, hungry competitor out of Mexico who started off his career fast, going 5-0 before dropping his last three fights before the show started. It has to be noted that Beltran fought several times outside of his featherweight category, so it's hard to say how many of those performances can be chalked up to a size difference against his opponents.
Before the fight goes down this week, the fighters are treated to a little time outside the house in a competition that will certainly fuel their spirits - or at least it will for the winning team. Without giving away too many details, think of this as a coach's challenge for the players and the grand prize is like Christmas morning wrapped up with a birthday celebration for the fighters who have been locked away in the house for a month at this point in the show.
While the fights haven't been going their way, this could be just the boost the Latin America team needs to help get over the hump. Then again, a Team Velasquez win could shatter the other team's hopes and send them even further into disarray.
The matchup this week certainly gives the Latin American side their best chance at victory.
Canetti is a beast on the feet and on the ground and he doesn't show much weakness in any one area of the game. He's a punishing finisher with lightning quick hands and has been ever improving in his submission arsenal, where he seems to favor the rear naked choke.
As a matter of fact, Canetti has put away three of his five wins by that maneuver, so if he takes Beltran's back at some point during this fight, it could end in a hurry.
Beltran is no slouch and has youth on his side in this matchup. He may have suffered a few losses going into the house, but this could serve as the perfect motivation to get him back to his winning ways. In his first five fights, Beltran finished all his opponents by submission or TKO. Only one time in those five fights did an opponent make it out of the first round.
Canetti appears to be the stronger fighter on the feet and on the ground, but Beltran is scrappy and won't go away easy.
Both fighters will also have to deal with some serious controversy in this fight, and the only way to see how it all goes down is to tune into this latest episode of TUF: Latin America. Needless to say, there are going to be more than a few upset people when the incident happens during the episode.
The only way to find out what happens is to tune into the new episode of TUF: Latin America this Tuesday, only on UFC Fight Pass.