Injuries to Anthony Pettis and Josh Koscheck (which also resulted in Demian Maia being pulled from the card) have made the UFC's fourth trip to Brazil this year a very lackluster one.
Speaking of Pettis, Jordan is doing his best impression of the former WEC champ and staying off the UFC 163 predictions as I'm riding solo once again.
As always you can hit me up on twitter @LynchOnSports if you “Agree” or “Disagree” with my picks or leave your opinions in the comments section below.
Jose Aldo vs Chang Sung Jung
(Featherweight title fight)
James Lynch, TSN.ca (@LynchOnSports): The UFC featherweight champion looks to remain undefeated inside the octagon as he squares off with the entertaining "Korean Zombie" on Saturday night. Original title challenger Anthony "Showtime" Pettis bowed out due to injury earlier this month, giving way to the 26-year old having this opportunity of a lifetime.
Many pundits were critical of the decision to put Jung in the title fight, but clearly his exciting style and his international fan base aided in UFC matchmaker Joe Silva's decision to book this match up. Stylistically this should be an exciting match up, with both fighters known for their exceptional standup skills while also being well versed on the mat. Physically Jung holds a slight height and reach advantage, but the question is can he utilize that against the very speedy Nova Unio product. No doubt Jung will also have to be aware of Aldo's powerful leg kicks, something previous opponents Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber had trouble with.
The other issue is his time on the sidelines; generally fighters enduring long layoffs in between fights don't perform well. Consider if the fight heads into the championship rounds, will the Taekwondo black belt have the cardio to keep up? I don't see it happening. Aldo should have every advantage in this fight and this should be his fight to lose. I see the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt finding his range in the second, and knocking out the Korean Zombie.
Aldo via second round knockout
Lyoto Machida vs. Phil Davis
This matchup is a bit of a head scratcher in terms of the landscape of the 205-pound division. Since losing to Jon Jones at the end of 2011, the Machida has taken out two top light heavyweight contenders in Ryan Bader and Dan Henderson (a close decision, but he still won). Instead of a title shot, the Brazilian fights Davis which is a considerable step down. The 28-year-old Davis has one edge in this fight and that's his wrestling, being a former NCAA Division I wrestler at Penn State.
The Blackhouse member however proved that he can neutralize takedowns against top wrestlers, in his wins over Bader and Henderson. Bottom line, this is Machida's fight to lose and while I don't think he will finish the Alliance MMA fighter, he'll certainly out strike Davis on route to a unanimous decision victory.
Machida via unanimous decision
Cezar Ferreira vs. Thiago Santos
Unless you had the patience to watch the entire two seasons of TUF Brazil on Youtube with subtitles, don't worry if you're scratching your head as to who either of these fighters are.
Ferreira won the first season of TUF Brazil in the middleweight tournament and has trained mainly with UFC middleweight standout Vitor Belfort. Fellow Brazilian Santos participated on the second season of TUF Brazil, losing to finalist William Macario in the elimination rounds.
Ferreria clearly is the more well rounded fighter and considering Santos is moving up in weight to take this fight on short notice, the edge has to go to the 28-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelt. I see the Ultimate Fighter winner landing more strikes over three rounds and having his hand raised at the end.
Ferreira via unanimous decision
Thales Leites vs. Tom Watson
Four years is a long time, but the wait is finally over for former UFC middleweight title challenger Leites who returns to the octagon to face off with former BAMMA middleweight champ Watson.
Winning six of his last seven fights has earned the 31-year old Brazilian his UFC homecoming and no doubt he'll be looking to put on a show in front of his home country. The English fighter Watson meanwhile bounced back from a split decision loss to Brad Tavares in his UFC debut, knocking out Stanislav Nedkov back in February. This is a classic matchup between standup fighter and grappler, with Leites having 13 submission victories in 20 fights.
While no doubt this should be a competitive matchup, a slight edge has to be given to Watson who has been very active inside the cage compared to the Brazilian who hasn't fought since March of last year. Watson should be able to keep this fight standing and out point the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt over three rounds.
Watson via unanimous decision
John Lineker vs. Jose Tome
With flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson dispatching yet another title challenger this past weekend at UFC on FOX 8, this matchup between a pair of fellow countrymen could produce the next contender in the 125-pound division.
Despite Tome's stellar 33-3 record, I see the former Jungle Fight bantamweight champ using his superior striking and speed over three rounds to stop his foe sometime in the third round for his fourth straight victory.
Lineker via third round TKO
Undercard Picks: Maglahes, Nunes, Moares, McCall, Yahya, Oliveira, Andrade
Also be sure to tune into the “Weigh-In” on TSN Radio 1290 Winnipeg every Saturday as myself (@LynchOnSports) and Jordan Cieciwa (@FitCityJordan) go toe to toe in discussing the hottest topics in Mixed Martial Arts.