When the Octagon heads down to Brazil for UFC 198, the card will be most reminiscent of the Brazilian cards the company put in 2011 and 2012 when it re-entered the country. The list of Brazilian legends competing on the card includes Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort, ‘Jacare’ Souza, ‘Shogun’ Rua, Demian Maia, and of course UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum. Aside from the Belfort-Souza bout, could we be in store for another night like UFC 134 where everything goes right for the home country? Werdum will be defending his title against Stipe Miocic in the main event. Werdum has won all six of his bouts since returning to the UFC, showing massively improved striking each time out, and that could play a role again as he takes on another strong wrestler in Miocic. The Ohio native Miocic has won five of his last six bouts, with the only loss coming in a very close decision to former champion Junior dos Santos. The co-main event is a Brazilian dream match. One of the most explosive strikers in MMA history, Vitor Belfort, will be taking on perhaps the most accomplished submission grappler to ever enter the sport, ‘Jacare’ Souza. This is far from a striker versus grappler bout though. Belfort nearly submitted UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, and has always shown a dangerous submission game, while the striking of Souza has improved leaps and bounds since he transitioned to MMA. If Belfort isn’t the most dangerous striker in MMA history, Anderson Silva might be. While there’s no question ‘The Spider’ isn’t the same fighter as at the peak of his powers, he had Michael Bisping in danger any time he wanted to in their recent bout. Pulling the trigger seems to be his issue more than skill or physical limitations. The exact same could be said of his opponent Uriah Hall, which makes their middleweight contest a supremely intriguing bout. UFC 198 also features the UFC debut of Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Santos, the woman who was considered the top female fighter in the sport before the rise of Ronda Rousey, and is considered by many the same with the shuffling at the top of the UFC women’s bantamweight division. Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua will be taking on Corey Anderson in the opening bout of the main card, and Demian Maia faces Matt Brown in the featured prelim at UFC 198. The lines have been released for these top six fights already, but today MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for the remainder of the card at Several Bookmakers. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (Pay-Per-View, 10pm ET)
——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (Fox Sports 1, 8pm ET)
——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 6pm ET)
——————– Brad’s Analysis: Warlley Alves isn’t all the way there as a prospect, and we’ve already seen that Bryan Barberena is a good test for prospects, being particularly adept at dragging them into deep waters. However, Warlley Alves is not Sage Northcutt. He’s much more dangerous everywhere, has been in with better competition, and should be able to survive even if he’s tired in round three and Barberena is still around. This is the “get the Brazilian prospect a win in front of the home crowd” fight, and one of many that seem to be friendly matchups for Brazilians on UFC 198. There’s a very good chance that Thiago Santos is going to kick Nate Marquardt’s head clean off. The Brazilian has massive power in his legs, has improved his wrestling significantly, and Marquardt’s offense is mostly anemic. Marquardt still has the skills to perhaps land something like he did to CB Dolloway, but even at over +200 I don’t want to take the shot. It’s hard to see John Lineker and (insert opponent here) producing anything but pure violence in the cage. In this case “(insert opponent here)” is Rob Font, and he might be able to give Lineker some trouble early with his physical advantages and sharp striking. Eventually though, Lineker will work his way inside and it will be hard to see Font being able to match his punching power and chin once the exchanges really get going. I think Lineker scores another impressive win at bantamweight, and moves into discussion as a contender. If the line stays put or drops, I have to take a shot on Lineker. This fight seems destined to be a repeat of Nogueira’s bouts with Ryan Bader and Phil Davis, where a much bigger, stronger, better wrestler was simply able to grind him out for 15 minutes. The blueprint is clearly in place for Cummins, he has the skills to execute it, and he just needs to avoid getting clipped on the way in. The defense Cummins showed in the OSP fight (among others) is the reason this line is so low, and I think it’s one to take advantage of. Everybody’s favorite Brazilian Grandpa, Trinaldo is back in action. The ageless ‘Massaranduba’ is on by far the best run of his career, with five straight wins in the UFC. While he’s not going to be making a title run any time soon, Trinaldo’s improvement has been marked in both his striking and ability to manage his cardio in fights. Against Yancy Medeiros, he’s facing someone who is dangerous, but defensively deficient. I think Trinaldo is able to strike effectively with Medeiros, and avoid the big attacks from the Hawaiian in order to pick up his sixth straight. As long as Sergio Moraes doesn’t convince himself he’s a striker after his knockout win against Omari Akhmedov, he’s got an absolutely enormous grappling advantage over Luan Chagas. On the feet, Chagas is faster and hits harder, but Moraes is a good enough wrestler to get this down and has the BJJ skills to find a quick sub. This could play out as many expected Moraes’ bout with Mickael Lebout to, but I certainly won’t be laying the price. What an opening fight. Both Zubaira Tukhugov and Renato ‘Moicano’ are good featherweight prospects, and generally in fun fights. Tukhugov is the better striker, but Carneiro’s length and kicking game could give him some trouble on the feet. ‘Moicano’ has a big advantage on the ground, but may struggle to take Tukhugov down. Luckily, he’s the type of grappler who excels in dragging fights to the ground from the clinch or jumping on an opponent’s back in a standing position. I think that Carneiro’s more well-rounded skill set carries him to victory in this battle and gets the night started right for Brazil.