The UFC returns to pay-per-view on Saturday night for UFC 212, live from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Fittingly, the main event will feature one of the best fighters to ever emerge from Brazil, with Jose Aldo returning to action for the first time since last summer, where he will take on interim featherweight champ Max Holloway. Of course, many fans still consider Conor McGregor the true featherweight champ, even if the UFC did yank the belt off him when he won the lightweight title too.
The co-main event was supposed to feature Anderson Silva, another Brazilian legend of the sport. However, his scheduled opponent Kevin Gastelum was flagged by USADA for a potential doping violation and pulled from the card. Despite their best efforts, the UFC and Silva couldn’t agree on a replacement opponent, which ultimately left the former middleweight kingpin off the card in his home country. Instead, a female Brazilian will get a chance to shine in the co-main event, with top women’s strawweight contender Claudia Gadelha taking on Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
Here’s our official fight breakdowns and predictions, with all betting odds supplied by Bodog. We’re skipping the UFC Fight Pass prelims, because it’s filled with a bunch of no-namers. Let’s jump right into the free undercard fights on Fox Sports 1.
Fox Sports 1 Prelims
There aren’t many recognizable names on the undercard, so here’s some quick predictions for the prelims.
Iuri Alcantara (-315) vs Brian Kelleher (+245) – Alcantara, an MMA veteran with 43 total fights so far, is a heavy favorite for this bout. One of the reasons for that, other than Alcantara’s vast experience, is that his opponent took the fight on just three weeks notice. Between that, and the fact that Kelleher is making his UFC debut on Saturday, it’s pretty to pick Alcantara to win.
Matthew Lopez (-210) vs Johnny Eduardo (+170) – Like usual, the UFC has stacked this international card with as many “hometown” fighters as possible. Eduardo (28-10) is a 36-year-old Brazilian veteran of the sport, but we think the younger American Matt Lopez (9-1) will ultimately prevail and put a damper on the celebrations of the home crowd.
Antonio Carlos Junior (-235) vs Eric Spicely (+185) – Surprise, surprise! It’s another Brazil vs. U.S.A. fight. This time, it’s two fighters relatively early in their careers, as they only have 10 and 11 total fights, respectively. Both of them are somewhat of a submission specialist, as Carlos Junior has five wins via submission and Spicely has six. Interestingly, Carlos Junior competed on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil as a heavyweight, but his bout at UFC 212 will be at 185-pounds. Although he’s made that weight before, we’re taking the underdog Spicely in this one.
Marlon Moraes (-175) vs Raphael Assuncao (+145) – Bucking the trend, this fight actually features two different Brazilian fighters. Assuncao is a longtime UFC vet by now, first competing in the WEC in 2009 and exclusively with the UFC since 2011. Moraes might not have the same longevity, since this will be his UFC debut. But he does bring in a 13-fight win streak, most of it from his recent time in the World Series of Fighting. We’re going to stick with the UFC experience for this one, and pick Assuncao to win.