Posted 05/29/2014 by Mike Fagan in Untethered MMA
 
 

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 Finale Preview

What a clusterfuck. Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva were supposed to headline the The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 Finale on account of being coaches and everything. Then Wanderlei goes and hurts his hand and the fight gets pushed back to UFC 175. (More on that in a second.) Junior dos Santos and Stipe Miocic step in, and, hey, this still isn’t a great card or anything, but this is a legitimate main event and we’re getting it for free on Fox Sports 1. So then dos Santos goes and hurts his hand, and the UFC scrambles to insert Fabio Maldonado opposite Miocic. Maldonado’s a light heavyweight who just fought Gian Villante in a pretty grueling three rounder back in March. So here we are!

ABOUT THAT SILVA-SONNEN FIGHT…

I don’t think anyone’s gonna complain too much if I keep the The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 Finale talk to a minimum. So, instead, let’s talk about Vitor Belfort stepping in for Wanderlei Silva to fight Chael Sonnen at UFC 175.

The news broke sometime in the early afternoon yesterday, and the MMA Twitter universe exploded as it typically does when big breaking news drops. There’s a few big points to highlight:

1) Everyone saw this coming. That it dropped out of nowhere and that Vitor Belfort stepped in was surprising, but I don’t think anyone who follows the sport with any vigor is surprised that this happened. In addition, it seems like the vast majority of people, if Twitter is to be believed, prefer Belfort/Sonnen over Silva/Sonnen. I guess I’m just a sucker for a good ol’ fashioned grudge match. Or “grudge” match with a bunch of winks and nudges and such.

2) Vitor Belfort passed all his drug tests. Belfort felt confident Nevada would license him to fight, but speculation persisted that he would have to continue fighting outside their jurisdiction. Now it looks like he’s all good.

3) Wanderlei Silva refused to take his drug test. I don’t know if Sonnen is correct when he says Wanderlei literally ran away from a testing official, but according to a source who is involved at Wand’s gym, a testing official did show up and Wanderlei refused to take a blood test. I assume, in Wanderlei’s mind, not completely tarnishing his legacy with a positive test is better than refusing and losing the fight (and whatever paycheck was in line for him).

I wouldn’t say definitely that Wanderlei Silva’s fight career is over. The UFC will exploit any value left in his name. That said, it’s difficult to figure out how they would use him at this point. The Sonnen fight is toxic at this point, and on hold indefinitely if Sonnen earns a title shot against Belfort. And what else is there? Another fight in Japan or Brazil against a mid-level middleweight/light heavyweight? At a catchweight? I guess there’s a rematch with Michael Bisping if Bisping gets by (snicker) Cung Le, though I still think the UFC should target Bisping for Anderson Silva’s comeback. Past that, I’m struggling to come up with a name that makes any sense beyond “here’s a body for your last fight.”

As for Belfort and Sonnen, I usually shake my head when pundits say things like, “Who can predict fights? Anything could happen,” because that’s, like, the whole point of predictions and probabilities and stuff. But this is a fight with a lot of different variables that make it very difficult. Both men will be off TRT for the first time, and I’m not sure who loses more from that. Vitor sure seemed like he gained more on TRT what with all the explosive knockouts and such, but if Sonnen loses a bunch of his drive and energy, he might have a tough time taking Belfort down.

Both guys also have a history of quitting during fights. We saw that in Sonnen’s most recent fight against Rashad Evans. Sonnen had no answer when Evans put him on his back, and essentially allowed himself to get pounded out. It’s been a while for Belfort, who is 10-2 since losing to Dan Henderson in October of 2006, with his two losses coming to Jon Jones and Anderson Silva. Should Sonnen control the first round, however, Belfort may be unable to recover.

OTHER STUFF

-Miocic’s a 5-1 favorite at the books, but this is a very dangerous fight for him. He should beat Maldonado, but Maldonado is dumb tough, and he’s risking very little here. He’s already won the hearts of Dana White and co., and a loss to Miocic at heavyweight doesn’t sit him back one bit.

-We were this close to seeing Demian Maia headline a UFC card against Alexander Yakovlev.

-Remember Paulo Thiago? Yeah, he’s fighting some nobody on the Fox Sports 2 prelims.

Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter

 


Mike Fagan