Mauricio "Shogun" Rua’s legacy has already been written. He’s one of the most decorated and exciting fighters in MMA history. He’ll always be remembered regardless of what happens from here.
But that doesn’t mean he can’t still add to his accomplishments. This fight against Ovince Saint Preux at UFC Fight Night on FOX Sports 1 on Saturday in Uberlandia, Brazil does not seem like a favorable style matchup. But "Shogun" is still hanging out here in the light heavyweight contender top 10. If he can knock Saint Preux out, we’ll be talking about a big, important fight for the former champion next.
On the other hand, Saint Preux could nab the biggest win of his career in Rua’s home country. It’s a massive fight for both men, though maybe not as exciting from an aesthetics perspective as Rua against Jimi Manuwa might have been.
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Who will pull off the victory Saturday? We’ll look into the crystal ball and tell you below.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Ovince Saint Preux
Will "Shogun" be celebrating Saturday night?
Rua had something of a more favorable style matchup when he was slated to face Jimi Manuwa on Saturday night. Manuwa is a less experienced fighter who, one would figure, was going to stand and trade with "Shogun." Even past his prime, Rua remains a very dangerous striker. And when he connects, bad things happen to his opponents. Just ask James Te Huna.
This is not to say Rua won’t be able to find Saint Preux’s chin at some point, but you have to believe the former University of Tennessee college football player is going to use his wrestling and physicality to try to grind "Shogun" out here. Rua’s cardio is not one of his strong suits nowadays, though he does keep coming (and swinging) even when tired.
Rua’s best chance is to connect and hurt Saint Preux with strikes early on. If Saint Preux is smart, he’ll make this bout as boring as possible — lots of clinching, pushing against the cage and top position. The longer he tests Rua in the striking game, the more of a chance "Shogun" has of knocking him out. Saint Preux’s superior reach, athleticism and wrestling should be the difference here if he executes properly.
Prediction: Saint Preux by unanimous decision
Warlley Alves vs. Alan Jouban
This bout is flying under the radar, but there is a definite chance for fireworks. Both men are content with trading on the feet with power until someone drops. But Alves and Jouban are also both excellent on the ground with finishing skills there, too. Alves, coming off his Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 victory in May, is the clear favorite here. At 23, he’s one of the best prospects coming out of the country in all of MMA.
Jouban, though, cannot be counted out, especially not when you consider his training. The Los Angeles resident does his striking at Black House with the likes of Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida, and his grappling at 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu. Jouban also showed one heck of a chin against Seth Baczynski in his UFC debut. Alves’ athleticism and sheer physicality might take over in this one, but Jouban is resourceful enough to keep it close.
Prediction: Alves by unanimous decision
Claudio Silva vs. Leon Edwards
Warlley Alves is a top prospect.
Silva is from Brazil, but this is a battle between two men who train in England. Edwards, a Brit, is making his UFC debut after going on a six-fight winning streak with five straight finishes. Silva, who trains out of London Shootfighters, is a submission specialist who won his UFC debut against Brad Scott back in March.
Edwards is more of a striker and he has power in his hands. He’s athletic enough to stop Silva’s takedowns and will absolutely have the advantage standing up. Silva will have to be creative and figure out a way to get inside and in on the legs of Edwards — and away from his strikers. If he can do that, he can win. If not, Edwards could lump him up.
Prediction: Edwards by split decision
Juliana Lima vs. Nina Ansaroff
Claudio Silva is looking to go 2-0 in the UFC.
Lima had some hype coming into the UFC, but was somewhat lackluster in her debut, though that might have had more to do with the striking of Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The Brazilian remains pretty athletic and long for 115 pounds. She doesn’t really have any finishing ability but is adept at outpointing her opponents — when she isn’t at a huge skill disadvantage like she was against Jedrzejczyk anyway.
Ansaroff is making her UFC debut, but she’s much more experienced than Lima. Ansaroff has been in the cage with two of the best female fighters in the world in Carla Esparza and Barb Honchak. She lost both those fights, but was competitive. Lima won’t bring anything to the table that Ansaroff hasn’t already seen. Ansaroff is younger with more finishing ability and should take this one.
Prediction: Ansaroff by unanimous decision
Juliana Lima is a slight underdog in her second UFC fight.
You might not want to miss the prelims on Fight Pass or FOX Sports 2 on Saturday, because a pair of top prospects will be competing. Colby Covington, a welterweight out of American Top Team, takes on Wagner Silva and Thomas Almeida, one of the top Brazilian prospects in MMA, makes his UFC debut against Tim Gorman at bantamweight. Both should take care of business here and move up the ladder. They are both definitely worth watching.
Dhiego Lima did not have the TUF Finale he wanted against Eddie Gordon in July. Gordon caught him with big punches early and finished him in 1 minute, 11 seconds. Lima, a Brazilian who trains out of Atlanta with his Bellator MMA champion brother Douglas, is better than that and will have a much better outing this time. Lima is a legitimate welterweight prospect at age 25 and should take care of business Saturday against Jorge de Oliveira.