UFC 212 is slated to take place on Saturday in Brazil, which means the main card will be loaded with fighters from that MMA-mad part of the world. In total, five of the 10 fighters on the main card are from Brazil, so the crowd in Rio de Janeiro will have plenty to cheer for. And keep in mind that former middleweight champion Anderson Silva was due to fight Kelvin Gastelum, who failed a drug test. While a number of scenarios were brought up for Silva, he was eventually pulled off the event. Here is a look at the main card.
The featherweight title will be unified in Rio de Janeiro as two-time champion Jose Aldo (26-2) takes on interim champion Max Holloway (17-3). After losing the belt to Conor McGregor, Aldo was promoted to champion after beating Frankie Edgar. Remember that McGregor was stripped after taking the lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez. Meanwhile, Holloway knocked out Anthony Pettis for the then-interim belt. This should be a fun matchup of strikers, although it’ll be interesting to see how Holloway’s leg reach counters Aldo’s deadly leg kicks – if it does at all. Aldo also hasn’t fought since beating Edgar in July 2016, so ring rust might have a say in this fight, especially early on. He’s a -150 favorite for this bout.
Claudia Gadelha (14-2) and Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-1) have both lost to champion Joanna Jedzejczyk (Gadelha and Kowalkiewicz lost to the champ twice, Kowalkiewicz once as an amateur) but a win in this women’s strawweight bout could put them back in line for a rematch. Gadelha fights out of Rio de Janeiro and is a jiu-jitsu ace while Kowalkiewicz is a Muay Thai fighter, but not as good as the champion. She would do well to watch how Jedzejczyk fought against Gadelha. Gadelha is a -350 favorite in this spot while Kowalkiewicz comes in at +220.
Middleweights Vitor Belfort (25-13, 1 NC) and Nate Marquardt (35-17-2) square off in a meeting of struggling fighters with a lot of mileage on their bodies. Belfort, a former light-heavyweight champion and heavyweight tournament winner, has the most knockout wins in UFC history with 13. However, he has three losses and a no-contest (which was a loss to Gastelum before his failed drug test) in his last three outings. He hasn’t been past the second round since September 2012. Marquardt might be able to out-condition Belfort. This fight probably won’t see the third round. Still, Belfort is a threat with his fists at any point, which is why he’s a -160 favorite in this spot.
Paulo Costa (9-0), nicknamed “Borrachinha”, brings his undefeated record in the octagon against Oluwale Bamgbose (6-2). Costa has never been out of the first round and has eight TKO/KO wins, while Bamgbose has six TKO/KO wins but is 1-2 in the UFC. This fight has “knockout” written all over it. Borrachinha is a sizable -300 favorite while Bamgbose comes in at +230.
And welterweights Yancy Medeiros and Erick Silva will open up the main card in a battle of talented fighters who are inconsistent. Medeiros has split his last four fights while Silva has split his last six. Both are well-rounded fighters who can handle themselves standing up and on the mat, but both are also prone to making mistakes that can cost them a win. This should be an entertaining fight to kick off the main card in Brazil. Medeiros is a small -140 favorite while Silva comes in at +110.