5 Reasons You Can’t Miss The Brazilian Fighters Taking Over UFC 198

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At a time when the UFC is gearing up for huge events like UFC 200 and a November bout in Madison Square Garden, the best fight of the year might actually take place this weekend. Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, which is normally Clube Atlético Paranaense’s home, will serve as the venue.

The site and the crowd itself can create an electric atmosphere, and therefore, make any event better. With a stadium capable of holding more than 40,000 and a card featuring 12 Brazilians – three of whom are fighting in their hometown – UFC 198 will likely attract one of the best crowds. The event has a lot to live up to, since the last event at a soccer stadium (UFC 193 at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium) had more than 50,000 fans in attendance to witness “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey get beat up by Holly “fake respect fake humility bitch” – Holm.

Up until Tuesday, UFC 198 included Anderson Silva – possibly the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. However, he had to drop out because of abdominal pain that may require the removal of his gall bladder, MMA Fighting reports. Still, there are a lot of exciting things happening this weekend. Here are five things to watch out for:


Cyborg's UFC Debut

Cristiane Justino (aka Cyborg) hasn’t lost since 2005, and no one has even managed to last a full fight against her since 2008. The Invite Featherweight Champion will make her UFC debut against Leslie Smith – a competitor who hopes to make a name for herself with an upset.

Smith deserves credit just for taking on a fight with such a dangerous opponent. Justino lobbied hard to fight in her hometown. If she dominates, the hype will build for a possible showdown with Rousey, though it’s unlikely to ever happen (because Ronda has refused to fight at a catchweight and has accused Cyborg of being on steroids). But if the money is loud enough, the UFC will try everything possible to make it happen.

Win or lose, Cyborg has given us a good perspective on the world of prize fighting, especially the one women inhabit. On the first episode of UFC Embedded, her niece asks if she’ll greet Smith if she sees her, and Cyborg says she will. When her niece further questions why she’d bother exchanging pleasantries with her enemy, Justino replies, “No, we are athletes. We are going to fight, and say goodbye.”


Jacare and Vitor are fighting to be the No. 1 contender.

Although Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Vitor Belfort won’t end with one of them hoisting a belt over their heads, the fight has serious championship implications. They are ranked No. 2 (Jacare) and No. 3 (Vitor) in the UFC’s Middleweight division, and with champion Luke Rockhold defending against top contender Chris Weidman in June, the winner of this bout is next in line.

Souza is coming off a split-decision loss to Yoel Romero, a Cuban fighter who is currently unranked because he’s serving a suspension from the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Souza has a sterling record. Other than the Romero loss, he’s won 12 of his last 13. He started fighting professionally in 2003, but his UFC debut didn’t come until 2013.

Belfort, on the other hand, is about as OG UFC as you can get. He began fighting in the promotion at UFC 12 in 1996. He’s a former UFC Heavyweight champion, and he’s no stranger to title runs. In recent years, he’s fought for the Middleweight Championship twice and once for the Light Heavyweight Championship, losing all three fights. This fight is potentially his last chance at earning a title shot.


Fabricio Werdum is a lovable, gigantic man.

Fabricio Werdum is a character. Just watch the following interview and try to find a way to hate him:

In this 2014 clip, Werdum answers the questions in Spanish and goes one step further by self-translating them into English and Portuguese. He then asks that the UFC book Mexico City as the location for his upcoming championship unification fight against Mexican-American Cain Velasquez. Finally, he ends the interview by trying to sing “Cielito Lindo” – his walkout song for the night – with the crowd. Oh, and he’s also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master who choked out Velasquez in Mexico City. Werdum will be making his first championship defense against Stipe Miocic, who is five years younger and fighting for a belt for the first time.


All Killers, No (Or Very Few) Fillers

This is one of the rare UFC cards you’ll want to start watching from the very beginning. The preliminary card on Fight Pass (UFC’s streaming service) is headlined by Antônio Rogério Nogueira. It would be nice if “Little Nog” gets the win and then hangs it up, but he has no plans to retire. On the preliminary card on Fox Sports 1, former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nate Marquardt takes on Thiago Santos and The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 winner Warlley Alves faces Bryan Barberena. A bout between two top 10 welterweights headlines the FS1 portion of the evening.

Demian Maia is one of the most skilled Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in MMA, but his opponent, Matt Brown, has only lost to current Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler and former champion Johny Hendricks in the last four years. Filling out the main card is another former champion, Maurício “Shogun” Rua, who has struggled since losing his belt in 2011 and is in danger of losing his spot in the top 10 to up-and-comer Corey Anderson.


The Brazilian nicknames.

UFC 198 is also a great reminder that Brazilian MMA fighters have the best nicknames. This card features Vai Cavalo (“Giddy Up”?) Werdum, Jacare (“Gator”) Souza, “Shogun” Rua, and Cris Cyborg. There’s also “Little Nog,” whose twin brother, “Big Nog” Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, recently retired.