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Opening Round: The Rumble in Rio

The UFC is back in Brazil less than six months after their epic event last August with a card lacking UFC 134’s star-power but still full of potential where providing an entertaining evening of action is concerned. Set to unfold fro Rio de Janeiro on Saturday night its UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes!

Below you’ll find some quick picks for the evening’s earlier fights followed by a more detailed breakdown of the evening’s co-headlining clashes, the first involving former UFC champion Vitor Belfort taking on power-punching wrestler Anthony Johnson, and the latter featuring featherweight phenom Jose Aldo put his divisional title on the line against unbeaten grappler Chad Mendes.

After reading my predictions make sure to check back at MMATraining tomorrow night starting at approximately 7:00 PM EST when preliminary results start rolling in to see if things unfolded as I’ve expected (or as you may have guessed instead depending on where your opinions differ from mine).

Antonio Carvalho def. Felipe Arantes via Unanimous Decision
Rousimar Palhares def. Mike Massenzio via Submission Round 2
Mike Pyle def. Ricardo Funch via Submission Round 1
Yuri Alcantara def. Michihiro Omigawa via Split Decision
Edinaldo Oliveira def. Gabriel Gonzaga via TKO Round 1
Sam Stout def. Thiago Tavares via TKO Round 3
Terry Etim def. Edson Barboza via Unanimous Decision
Erick Silva def. Carlo Prater via Unanimous Decision

Vitor Belfort vs. Anthony Johnson

It will be very interesting to see how “Rumble” reacts to facing an opponent who is the same size as him rather than a bunch of welterweights he was out-cutting in the sauna to gain an advantage on. He may pack a lot of power but he’s never faced a striker with Belfort’s stand-up. The closest he’s come to taking on an opponent in the Octagon who posed any sort of real threat in that department would either be Josh Koscheck (who beat him somewhat soundly) or Dan Hardy (who he opted to wrestle against). My suspicion is that he will come in, taste Belfort’s power and then instantly attempt to shoot takedowns the rest of the fight. If he’s successful he could grind out the win but I think Belfort is too game of a competitor and will stuff his attempts for the most part, eventually catching him with a solid combination before sealing the deal with some follow-up fireworks.

Winner – Vitor Belfort def. Anthony Johnson via TKO Round 1

Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes

I’m actually fairly torn on this match-up. While Aldo is the superior overall fighter you cannot discount Mendes’ wrestling ability. He doesn’t have to make it pretty to win – he just has to come away with his hand raised when things are said and done. I don’t think Mendes will hesitate to go for the takedown early/often, opting to grind Aldo out from above rather than risk being reversed or submitted by acting in an overly aggressive manner. He’s strong enough to deal with Aldo in the clinch and fast enough to catch a kick or two, then drag the champion down to the mat to work from top position. This could very easily turn into a bout similar to Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen minus the submission-based theatrics at the end.

On the flipside, Aldo is a dynamic talent who can end an opponent’s evening in a strike or two and is well-versed on the mat as well. He’s probably focused the bulk of his camp on takedown defense, knowing Mendes has little to threaten him with outside of that. Based on each man’s overall skill-set I’m going with Aldo but will in no way be surprised if Mendes pulls out a decision win to as loud a chorus of boos as you’re likely to have ever heard at a UFC event.

Winner- Jose Aldo def. Chad Mendes via Unanimous Decision

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

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