A Card Made For Brazilian Redemption
By James Lee
As Brazil is set to host their first UFC event of the year, the stakes for those competing are surprisingly different.
As the country has long witnessed glory and championship success, the main aim of their countrymen competing on Saturday is redemption.
For those who were once tipped for championship success to now craving a return to success, and perhaps, there is no better place than in the heart of their home country to do that.
Of note, there are four fighters who desperately require success. Renato Moicano, Johnny Walker, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and Jussier Formiga.
Moicano and Walker share similar traits in the fact they both have the ability to finish fights. A multitude of favourable factors including division shallowness meant they both were once tipped close to the championship, but both were finished in the first round of their latest fights to subdue that.
Walker’s loss seems like a blip but Moicano once again proved he cannot get over that hurdle; being the very best in the world at featherweight. Losses to Brian Ortega, Jose Aldo and Chan Sung Jung are certainly nothing to be embarrassed about but Moicano will be the first to admit his personal title ambitions and that final hurdle must be overcome to achieve that, although the step to reaching that hurdle once again begins against Damir Hadzovic this weekend.
In difference however, Moicano will make his lightweight debut as he begins a new adventure. If there is one thing evident about the 155 lbs division though is that there is little room for mistake so it is vital the 30-year-old is successful early.
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos is in a similar situation, but after his long winning streak at welterweight was broken by Li Jingliang, dos Santos has been forced to start again.
As with the 170 lbs division, it is acknowledged that the path to welterweight gold is painfully long and political, but he again must return his hype, against Alexey Kunchenko who is coming off his first professional defeat after a 20-fight win streak.
In slightly differing circumstances, Jussier Formiga could earn a title shot with a win against Brandon Moreno, despite losing last June.
The flyweight division has struggled to acquire what should be its deserved recognition, but with the title seemingly open, Formiga or Moreno should be next. Dana White made it clear last week his intention is to rematch Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo for the vacant title, therefore despite losing to the American in his last contest, Formiga is in a good spot considering he beat Figuiredo in the fight before that.
So providing both Brazilians win their respective fights, it is very possible they will be matched again for the flyweight throne.
In addition, jiu jitsu legend Rani Yahya and former ADCC champion will look to keep his place in the sport’s premier promotion secure when he faces Enrique Barzola on the preliminary card.
The event poses an odd and unusual spot for a country that has had a large amount of martial arts success since the sport’s existence, but as time has progressed, so has the level of the competition.
For those mentioned above, success in Brasilia is necessary. Although the matchmaking selected is mostly favourable for all, it is vital they take advantage of that.