On Saturday, March 14th, the UFC heads to Brazil for the first time in 2020, bringing fans a fantastically deep and talent-stacked UFC Fight Night 170 card.
The main event will see top lightweight contenders Kevin “The Mo-Town Phenom” Lee and Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira battle over five rounds, whereas the co-main event sees Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu masters Demian Maia and Gilbert Burns go head to head with a top ten place in the welterweight division.
Here, I will be previewing the preliminary card. The prelims card involves many talented fighters challenging each other throughout a wide range of weight classes.
Veronica Macedo vs. Bea Malecki
Opening up the card is a women’s bantamweight bout between Venezuela’s Veronica Macedo (6-3) and undefeated prospect Bea Malecki (3-0). Veronica Macedo got off to an awful start in the UFC, going 0-3 over a space of two and a half years. However, in August of last year, she picked up her first UFC victory impressively, submitting Polyana Viana in the first round. Bea Malecki competed on The Ultimate Fighter Season 27 and made her UFC debut last year in Stockholm, where she finished Duda Santana.
Malecki will have a six-inch height advantage and a ten-inch reach advantage being the much bigger fighter in this fight, as Macedo is a natural flyweight moving up. The difference in size will be matched by the difference in speed. Macedo is very fast, fluent and technical. Skill-wise, I feel the Venezuelan has an advantage in every area and can outclass Malecki with ease. However, if Malecki can use her weight advantage to break Macedo, who has been dominated and out-strengthed by flyweights, she may be able to pull off an upset win.
Bruno Silva vs. David Dvorak
In the second fight of the night, we have an exciting flyweight bout between Brazilian Bruno Silva and Czech Republican David Dvorak. Silva is 0-1 in the UFC, suffering a submission loss to Khalid Taha at UFC 243. David Dvorak is making his UFC debut on Saturday, coming into the octagon with a record of 17-3 on the European regional scene.
This is probably the most low-stake bout of the entire card. However, it will get the crowd buzzing, as their native fighter, Bruno Silva, looks to defend his territory. That’s something we know is a theme that Brazilian MMA fans are used to and are always passionate about. With limited reputable footage on Dvorak, it’s hard to tell how valuable his skill set will be in the octagon. However, he has shown very well-rounded abilities, with finishes of fights everywhere. The same can be said for Bruno Silva.
If I were to lean one way in this bout, it would be in favour of Dvorak. He is a natural 125lb fighter, as opposed to Silva, who is dropping down from bantamweight. I feel Dvorak will have the speed and cardio advantage. I feel that he will march into enemy territory and take out Bruno Silva by outclassing him in every range. Making a statement to the brittle flyweight division.
Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Maryna Moroz
Here, we have an exciting bout within the women’s flyweight division. Mayra Bueno Silva (6-0) punched her ticket to the UFC with a 62-second submission finish of Mayana Souza on Dana White’s Contender Series. She then made her Octagon debut less than two months later. She handed grappling specialist Gillian Robertson the first submission loss of her career with an armbar off of her back.
Like her opponent, Maryna Moroz (9-3) started her UFC career with a record of 5-0 and kicked her octagon career off with a 90-second flying armbar finish of Joanne Calderwood. She would then go on to lose three out of her next five. Despite the bad spell, which included an injury sitting her out for a year, she made a successful return to the octagon. She beat Sabina Mazo by decision in March of 2019, which was her last fight.
Ultimately, there is limited footage of Silva, which makes it tricky to predict how she will match up on the feet at all with Moroz. Moroz is a very talented boxer and even coaches with the Ukraine Olympic Women’s boxing team. However, what we do know is that Silva’s grappling is fantastic and she will likely be gunning to implement that heavily in the fight. However, the experience of Moroz should be able to carry her through this fight. She is no slouch on the mat herself at all and, from what we can assume, she is the far superior striker. This will be an entertaining bout and a chance for the undefeated prospect Mayra Bueno Silva to make a statement.
Rani Yahya vs. Enrique Barzola
Here we have an exciting bantamweight contest between an MMA veteran in Rani Yahya and a former featherweight making his 135lb debut, in Enrique Barzola. Similarly to Demian Maia, Rani Yahya (former ADCC submission wrestling champion and 2nd degree BJJ black belt) has found a way to build his game solely around his elite grappling skills throughout his career. It has been a surprisingly successful approach, considering that the blueprint to beat him is staring into his opponents’ eyes.
Every fight Enrique Barzola has had in the UFC has gone to decision. He finds himself 6-3 within the promotion now. He’s coming off a loss last October to Movsar Evloev, who is a great fighter in his own right. The clear path to victory for Barzola is to stay with a low base and, unlike his usual fights, stay on the feet with Yahya as much as possible. He has the clear striking and cardio advantage with the only way he can lose being by submission. If Barzola doesn’t let Yahya submit him within the first round, I feel this is his fight for the taking. It will take a great performance from Yahya to cause the upset and grab a victory.
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Alexey Kunchenko
Prior to his fight against Li Jingliang, Elizeu Zaleski ‘Capoeira’ dos Santos (21-6) had put together a seven-fight winning streak filled with exciting and violent finishes. He found a brief place in the rankings at one point. Aleksei Kunchenko (20-1) successfully defended the M-1 Welterweight belt four times before joining the UFC. With the UFC, he’s beaten veterans Thiago Alves and Yushin Okami in successive appearances. He then lost his undefeated record, when Gilbert Burns stepped him on short notice and beat him by decision after Laureano Staropoli stepped out of their scheduled contest.
Kunchenko gives up four inches of height and three inches of reach to the Brazilian. I feel ‘Capoeira’ has the advantage everywhere in this fight technically. He is a great striker, can hold a solid pace and has great BJJ skills. The question is, can Kunchenko push a horrid pace on him and work him against the cage in order to take the pop out of his shots and from there control him? We will have to find out on Saturday. However, I’m leaning towards us seeing a violent and special performance from Dos Santos.
Randa Markos vs. Amanda Ribas
Amanda Ribas (8-1) first signed with the UFC back in 2017, only to run headfirst into USADA and serve a two-year suspension. She’s made up for lost time, submitting Emily Whitmire and taking a dominant decision over the then-unbeaten Mackenzie Dern. Randa Markos (10-7-1) is still yet to win consecutive fights during her five-year stretch in the Octagon. She’s presently 2-1-1 in her last four. She’s rebounding from a loss to Cláudia Gadelha with a split decision over Ashley Yoder.
The odds see this one heavily in favour of Amanda Ribas, which is not really a surprise to me. Markos is definitely a much more well-rounded fighter than Ribas’ last two opponents. However, I feel the Brazilian will still be able to have her way with her. On the feet, this is evenly contested, if not slightly in favour of Markos. Still, Ribas is so well-rounded and I believe that she will take Markos down and outclass her on the mat. Randa has had consistent issues with grappling heavy performances from opponents before.
Jussier Formiga vs. Brandon Moreno
In the featured bout of the prelims, we have a sensational flyweight bout with title implications. Both these fighters are amazing, one even having the only win over Deiveson Figueiredo, who many consider champion of the 125lb division. Despite him missing weight in his fight against Benavidez two weeks ago, where he got a knockout victory. UFC president Dana White says that they are leaning towards doing a rematch between Benavidez and Figueiredo for the ‘vacant’ flyweight title again, which, in my eyes, is the complete wrong move.
In my opinion, the winner of this fight should be challenging Deiveson Figueiredo for the strap at UFC 250 in Brazil. However, the UFC brass doesn’t see it that way and wants to hold up the division on an immediate rematch of a fight that we just saw a clear winner in. Either way, I do believe that a victory here for either fighter can be used as a statement to prove their worth as the top contender in the division.
Brandon Moreno (16-5-1) has looked fantastic since his return to the UFC after being released and winning the LFA flyweight title. He came back in September of last year to a fight with undefeated Askar Askarov and picked up a majority decision draw. However, I thought he won that fight very clearly. His last outing came in December of 2019, when he outclassed Kai-Kara France as an underdog at UFC 245.
A four-fight win streak capped off by a decision over the red-hot Deiveson Figueiredo brought Jussier Formiga (23-6) very close to the No. 1-ranked contender spot he held early in his career last year. However, he fell short against Joseph Benavidez in their rematch, which was a title eliminator bout, losing by TKO in the second round.
Formiga is two inches shorter than “The Assassin Baby” and surrenders three inches of reach. If there was an underdog on this card that screamed out to me as a moneymaker, it is Moreno. Formiga has been a very successful fighter in his time, however, I feel his style simply doesn’t pose a threat to Moreno.
Brandon is so much more well-rounded. I feel that Formiga’s stalling on the back or on top style will not be something that takes Moreno by storm. ‘The Assassin Baby’ is the much better striker and is one hell of a scrambler. The only way I see him losing is if he over-swings into all of his shots and therefore allows the agile and speedy Formiga to initiate the clinch and hold a dominant position, watching the clock go down.
We have a fantastic card ahead of us and I hope you all enjoy.
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