The UFC returns to Brazil for this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 95 event at Ginasio Nilson Nelson in Brasilia. As you’d expect, it’s a card that features a number of the top Brazilian fighters on the roster competing, many of them in showcase fights, with the most notable being the headlining bout between Brazil native Cris “Cyborg” Justino and overmatched foreigner Lina Lansberg.
Here are the top-five things to watch for at UFC Fight Night 95.
1) Cyborg Returns in Main Event
The main event of UFC Fight Night 95 features what is essentially a squash match as Cris “Cyborg” Justino takes on UFC newcomer Lina Lansberg in a fight that almost certainly won’t go the scheduled 25 minutes. Cyborg is an absolute destroyer and has long been the most-feared female fighter in MMA, and in her Octagon debut she destroyed Leslie Smith in 81 seconds, showing the UFC audience why she’s long been considered such a dangerous fighter. In fact, Cyborg’s last 10 victories have all come via T/KO, making her by far the most dangerous female striker in MMA.
Her opponent for this 140lbs catchweight fight is Lansberg, who is making her UFC debut against a destroyer in Brazil. Lansberg is on a nice, six-fight win streak herself, but she’s fought nobodies and she’s never fought on a stage as big as this. She’s also three years older than Cyborg despite being in the sport for nearly a decade less. It looks to me like it all adds up to another easy knockout win for Cyborg.
2) Barao Gets Bounce-back Fight Against Nover
Former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao makes his second appearance as a featherweight when he takes on Phillipe Nover in what is essentially a bounce-back fight. Barao famously went on a 33-fight unbeaten streak and UFC president Dana White said he was the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in MMA, but after getting torched by TJ Dillashaw and losing his belt two years ago, he’s since fallen on hard times, losing three of his last four fights including his 145lb debut in his last outing against Jeremy Stephens. Barao is still a guy who has knockout power and submission prowess, but even changing weight classes, it’s hard to see him ever getting back to that championship-level again.
Fortunately for Barao, the UFC is giving him a relatively easy matchup against Nover, who is 1-4 overall over two stints in the UFC. Nover is a guy who has always had talent — White once compared him to Anderson Silva — but he’s never been able to put it all together, and it’s hard to see him doing that against a guy like Barao. At the same time, this isn’t the same Barao as the one we’ve seen in the past, so perhaps Nover has a better shot here than we think, but overall I think this is a fight that will get Barao some confidence back so he can make another run for the belt.
3) Nelson, Bigfoot Meet in Clash of Struggling Heavyweights
Two of the most rotund heavyweights on the UFC roster meet in a fight that likely isn’t going to last long when Roy Nelson meets Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. Nelson is now 40, and while he’s still a fan favorite, he’s only 1-4 in his last five fights, and it seems clear his career is fading away. His once iron-chin has now been compromised, his cardio is poor, and even his power doesn’t seem to be there anymore as he has only one knockout win in the last three years. While he was once one of the most feared one-punch KO artists in the Octagon, he now relies on his wrestling and clinch game to remain competitive in fights. He’s still fun to watch, but he’s not the same guy who won six of his first nine UFC bouts via T/KO.
As for Bigfoot, the former title contender is now 37 and his chin is completely shot as he’s been knocked out in five of his last seven fights. Bigfoot was once one of the most feared heavyweights in the sport, but with his chin failing him, it’s hard to see him winning another fight against a guy who has big knockout power like Nelson. At the very least, I think fans can expect a highlight-reel KO finish in this fight, but neither fighter can be expected to make another run for the top-10 at this point of their respective careers.
4) Surging Trinaldo Takes on Felder in “Fight of the Night” Contender
In what could be the “Fight of the Night,” surging Brazilian lightweight Francisco Trinaldo takes on Paul Felder in what should be an incredible fight between two men who prefer to stand and trade. Trinaldo may be 38, but he’s currently riding a six-fight win streak and has been torching everyone in his way. Overall he’s 10-3 in the UFC and has to be one of the most underrated fighters on the roster, but in a deep lightweight division, it’s not hard to see why he gets lost in the shuffle despite his impressive win streak.
As for Felder, he’s currently riding a two-fight win streak and is 4-2 in the UFC overall. Both of these fighters have excellent striking and are both extremely aggressive, so I believe fans can expect a high-paced bout that sees both men leave everything they have inside the Octagon.
5) Former Top Prospect Silva in Must-win Situation
It wasn’t long ago that Erick Silva was the UFC’s top welterweight prospect. The Brazilian burst onto the scene with a string of flashy knockout and submission wins, but after getting pushed up the ladder too quickly and losing to top contenders, including a brutal KO loss to Dong Hyun Kim that started his downfall, Silva is now on the verge of being cut. He’s lost two-straight fights and doesn’t look at all like the guy who was once tabbed as a future title contender.
After getting high-profile main card treatment for most of his UFC career, Silva is now relegated to the prelims when he takes on little-known Luan Chagas. It’s a must-win fight for Silva if he wants to avoid the dreaded three-fight losing streak, while for Chagas it’s a good opportunity to take out a recognizable opponent and put his own name on the map.
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