This Saturday, we'll see a big time Heavyweight matchup, with Derrick Lewis stepping up on late notice to face surging contender Jailton Almeida. Preceding this is a laundry list of rising stars and established finishers. Like every time the UFC comes to Brazil, I expect this card to have plenty of finishes and a rowdy crowd. Let's take a look at the fights on the main card.
Bonfim has won four of his last five outings, with his lone UFC victory coming over Terrance McKinney (15-6-0). He is an exceptional striker with great technical boxing and fantastic range management. He does a great job of varying his shots, attacking the head and body evenly, and constantly pursuing a finish. Bonfim is willing to brawl inside the pocket, has devastating knees, and throws everything in combination. He is highly explosive and always coming forward, often looking to land countershots. Training at Cerrado MMA, he has great cardio and can throw with power and volume, never gassing himself out or overextending. Bonfim is at his best when dictating the pace and controlling the center of the octagon, searching for counters and fight-ending shots.
Pichel has won three of his last five bouts and holds wins over Jim Miller (36-17-0), Roosevelt Roberts (12-4-0), and Joaquim Silva (12-5-0). He’s an experienced striker with an awkward style and excellent footwork. He tends to keep his hands down and lean forward to throw looping shots, as well as heavy low kicks. Pichel never telegraphs his attacks and constantly moves, often entering the pocket at odd angles to unleash combinations. Training at FactoryX Muay Thai, he holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and averages three takedowns landed per fifteen minutes, but usually only resorts to grappling when he’s losing striking exchanges. He has an excellent chin and never remains in one spot for long, making him highly elusive. Pichel has been in the UFC since 2012 and has a wealth of experience, making him comfortable wherever the fight goes.
Vieira has won three of his last five fights and has UFC victories over Cody Brundage (9-5-0), Dustin Stoltzfus (14-5-0), and Saparbeg Safarov (9-3-0). He is among the most credentialed Jiu-Jitsu players in MMA and has won gold medals at the ADCC, World Championships, AJP Abu Dhabi World Pro, and more. He’s averaging nearly four takedowns landed per fifteen minutes and is very explosive, able to land takedowns in open space and along the fence. Vieira has a 100% finish rate, and all of his submission wins have been via choke, making him highly dangerous if he gets a hold of his opponent’s neck. On the feet, he uses basic boxing combinations and stays behind his jab, possessing solid power and typically using his striking to set up his grappling. Training with Team Nogueira, he advances with lightning speed on the ground, has heavy top pressure, and powerful ground and pound. Vieira has shown consistent improvement in his striking and is more willing to engage in striking exchanges, but he is still far more comfortable on the mat.
Petrosyan has won four of his last five outings and has UFC victories over Gregory Rodrigues (14-5-0), AJ Dobson (7-2-0), and Christian Leroy Duncan (8-1-0). A former professional kickboxer, he held a record of 70-22-1 with 27 knockouts. He’s an excellent technical striker who possesses both speed and power. Training at Academy MMA, Petrosyan has great timing and accuracy with his strikes, often able to land shots and slip out of the pocket without taking damage. He does a great job mixing kicks into his combinations and attacks the head and body evenly, as well as providing a steady dose of leg kicks. He’s not likely to initiate grappling exchanges but has shown a solid ability to get off his back and return to his feet, where he’s most comfortable. Petrosyan is a highly active fighter, having fought 8 times between 2021 and 2023.
Borralho is undefeated since 2015 and has UFC wins over Michal Oleksiejczuk (19-6-0), Makhmud Muradov (26-8-0), and Armen Petrosyan (9-2-0). He is a well-rounded fighter with technical striking and a slick submission game. On the feet, he’s constantly moving and is very elusive, landing, on average, nearly twice as many strikes per minute than he absorbs. Training with the Fighting Nerds, Borralho looks to land kicks at range before entering the pocket to land powerful hooks. On the mat, he has excellent top pressure, great sweeps, and constantly pursues a finish. He’s averaging over 2 takedowns landed per fifteen minutes and is very explosive, often landing takedowns in open space. Borralho has excellent cardio and pushes a heavy pace throughout the fight, making him dangerous at all times.
Magomedov has won three of his last five fights , making a splash with a 19-second KO victory over Dustin Stoltzfus (14-5-0) in his UFC debut. He is a lengthy striker who prefers power over volume, typically blasting his opponents with a barrage of kicks. He throws everything with fight-ending intentions and is at his most dangerous early, with 15 of his 20 finishes coming in round one. Magomedov is always pressuring forward and constantly switching stances, damaging his opponent's body and head evenly. He’s willing to grapple and is a solid wrestler, able to land his own takedowns and often reverse ones attempted on him to land on top. Training at UFD Gym, he transitions quickly on the ground and is active on top, always throwing ground-and-pound or pursuing a choke. Despite a short tenure in the UFC, he’s a very experienced fighter, having made a run through the playoffs to the PFL Middleweight championship in 2018.
Nascimento has won four of his last five bouts and has victories over Tanner Boser (21-10-1), Ilir Latifi (17-9-0), and his current opponent, Don’Tale Mayes (10-5-0). He’s a well-rounded scrapper with excellent grappling and solid cardio. On the feet, he’s always coming forward, throws everything in combination, and is willing to eat a shot to land one. Nascimento tends to drop his head and throw big overhands and looping hooks, throwing every punch with knockout intentions. Training at American Top Team, he has great timing on his takedowns, usually getting in deep and using his weight and size to drag his opponent to the mat. He has excellent top pressure and advances position quickly, never just sitting in his opponent’s guard. Although he can push a consistent pace across 15 minutes, six of his eight career finishes came in round one, making him most dangerous early on.
Mayes has won three of his last five fights with one no-contest and has UFC victories over former UFC Heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (34-22-0), Josh Parisian (15-7-0), and Roque Martinez (16-9-2). Training at Jackson-Wink MMA, he’s a heavy-handed striker who looks to counter-strike and throws every shot with knockout intentions. He tends to blitz forward and unload combinations before returning to range and firing off kicks. Mayes has solid control and striking in the clinch, able to land significant damage without much space. He occasionally throws flashier attacks, like jumping kicks or Superman punches, which is a sign he’s comfortable with the striking exchanges. Although he won’t usually initiate grappling exchanges, he has shown a tendency to panic wrestle and can do severe damage if he finds himself in top position. Mayes has one-shot knockout power and is willing to brawl in the pocket, but with all his finish losses coming in round 2 or later, his cardio has let him down in the past.
Bonfim is undefeated, with two UFC wins over Mounir Lazzez (11-3-0) and Trevin Giles (16-5-0). Currently, he’s on a streak of four first-round finishes, and he comes out guns blazing, throwing every shot with maximum power. Fighting behind his jab, he uses crisp boxing and always throws in combination, possessing excellent speed and power in his hands. Bonfim is always willing to engage in the pocket and tends to headhunt but won’t get sloppy, always keeping his guard high and his punches tight and straight. He has a deadly submission game, can find chokes from seemingly anywhere, and has fantastic takedowns. Training at Cerrado MMA, he advances with lightning speed on the ground and is always pursuing a finish, and currently has both 100% takedown accuracy and defense in his brief UFC tenure. Bonfim has finished all his professional wins and pushes a crazy pace from the first bell to the last.
Dalby has won four of his last five outings and holds UFC victories over Muslim Salikhov (19-4-0), Warlley Alves (15-7-0), and Daniel Rodriguez (17-4-0). He is a cardio monster, in perpetual motion and constantly pushing the pace. Favoring volume to power, he throws everything in combination and is constantly switching stances and entering the pocket from different angles. Dalby varies his shots well, attacking the head and body evenly, never telegraphing anything. He’s averaging just over one takedown landed per fifteen minutes and has excellent clinch control, often wearing his opponent down against the fence with knees and elbows. Training at Rumble Sports, he’s never been finished and never stops coming at his opponent, constantly moving forward and unloading punches. Dalby has solid takedown defense to back up his offensive grappling and is comfortable wherever the fight goes.
Almeida is on a fourteen fight win streak and has UFC wins over #12 ranked Heavyweight Jairzinho Rozenstruik (13-5-0), Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-8-0), and Danilo Marques (15-5-0). One of the most dominant grapplers in the Heavyweight division possibly ever, he’s a brutal wrestler who loves to ragdoll guys bigger than him. He won’t waste much time on the feet, typically shooting in and landing a slam takedown immediately. Almeida is very fluid on the ground and has excellent top control, making it nearly impossible for his opponents to escape. Training at LG System, he’s finished all his victories and has 10 wins via rear naked choke, making him extremely dangerous if he gets to his opponent’s back. He has vicious ground and pound and is always working for a finish, constantly advancing position, and never overcommitting to anything. Almeida has absorbed just two significant strikes in 5 UFC fights and has won three Performance of the Night bonuses.
Lewis has won two of his last five fights and has UFC victories over #5 ranked Heavyweight Curtis Blaydes (17-4-0), #6 ranked Heavyweight Alexander Volkov (37-10-0), and #11 ranked Heavyweight Marcin Tybura (24-8-0). Famous for his kill-or-be-killed approach, Lewis is arguably the most powerful puncher in the Heavyweight division. Training at 4oz Fight Club, he has a very unique, patient style, often going from 0-100 in the blink of an eye. Along with his punching power, Lewis has a surprising arsenal of flashy attacks, particularly jumping kicks and flying knees. He doesn’t often initiate grappling exchanges and is well known for his non-technical wrestling style of “just getting up,” but he can do severe damage if he gets on top of someone. He’s incredibly resilient and is never truly out of a fight, especially since he only needs to land one clean shot to find a finish. Lewis is the all-time record holder for UFC knockouts at 14 and looks to add to that number every time he fights.
Caio Borralho by Finish: Borralho has proven to be one of the most well-rounded prospects in the sport, defeating strikers and grapplers alike in his promotional tenure. Magomedov is coming off a frankly embarassing loss to Sean Strickland in which he showed a severe lack of cardio, and he may be in for a long night (or a very short one).
Rodrigo Nascimento Moneyline: I'm a bit confused by this matchup considering these two fought just three years ago. Nascimento submitted Mayes in the second round after a decently contested first round. Neither fighter's styles have changed much nor has either improved significantly, so I expect the same outcome.
Jailton Almeida by Finish: As a massive Derrick Lewis fan, this pick pains me a bit, but I have to be realistic. Almeida is the worst possible matchup for Lewis: a powerful, high-cardio grappler with brutal wrestling. Lewis always has a chance to land a big shot, but I expect Almeida to land a takedown quickly and get him out of there.