After the monumental success that was UFC 134, the octagon returns to Brazil for UFC 142: Aldo vs Mendes, with the main event being a FW title fight. It's the 1st PPV of 2012, a year with a completely hectic fighting schedule. It's also marks the end of the Facebook prelims, with everything airing on FX (which is in itself great, great news).
A pretty standard local-vs-international card, with everyone fighting a BR fighter.
Preliminary card (FX)
Felipe Arantes vs. Antonio Carvalho - Carvalho, who holds a win over Hatsu Hioki, makes his UFC debut against Arantes who debuted at UFC 134 with a loss to Yuri Alcântara (who's also fighting on this card). Textbook undercard filler.
Ricardo Funch vs. Mike Pyle - Funch comes in as a late replacement to Paulo Thiago and gets to face-off against veteran Mike Pyle. Seeing how he was already cut from the UFC once before with a 0-2 record, combine that with the short notice and Pyle's skillset and I don't see any (reasonable) way for him to get the W.
Yuri Alcantara vs. Michihiro Omigawa - Omigawa picked up a much needed win at UFC 138 to snap a 2-fight losing streak. Seeing how the UFC Japan card is already full, he will need to keep winning in order to be kept around in the UFC. In from of him is Alcântara, 26-3 with a 12-fight win streak including 2 under the Zuffa banner altough all of it at LW. If he can manage the weightcut to FW, it could eliminate the size disadvantage he had at LW and do something relevant in the division.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Edinaldo Oliveira - Gonzaga comes out of retirement in the UFC to fight Edinaldo Oliveira, an undefeated training partner of Júnior dos Santos. Seeing how he's replacing an injured Rob Broughton, one the UFC's current warm HW bodies, I don't think this fight is going to go his way. Does he still have the heart to succeed in the UFC or will he be a stepping stone for another young and hungry HW?
Thiago Tavares vs. Sam Stout - Stout is riding hight after his hightlight reel knockout of Yves Edwards. Facing him is the freaky looking Thiago Tavares, who always comes to bang. This should be a great fight.
Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim - Etim's rise in the LW division was stopped by Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 112. After that, an injury put him on the sidelines for more than a year. He returned against notorious dud Edward Faaloloto and submitted him with an arm-in stanind guillotine in just 17 seconds. He now gets the chance to prove he's still got it against on the most dangerous LW prospects around. Barboza is strong, agressive and always on the offensive. With the hometown advantage, Etim will need to get all his ducks in a row to get a win and continue his climb back to relevance. Barboza looks to put another notch on his belt and move up in competition, perhaps into a possible contendership fight.
Erick Silva vs. Carlo Prater - Prater came in on short notice to replace an injured Siyar Bahadurzada. This is chance to get an UFC gig. Both he and Silva share a career in Mid-tier brazilian MMA promotions, despite different kind of fighting records. In my opinion Silva gets an easier (but not much) fight than he would have against Siyar, short notice and all that accounted. Let's see if he can make the most of it.
Rousimar Palhares vs. Mike Massenzio - Paul Harris by leglock.
Vitor Belfort vs. Anthony Johnson - Rumble debuts at what should clearly be his weightclass. Unencumbered by the brutal cut he had to do in order to fight at WW, will Rumble be even more dominating? Belfort continues his narrative of "being back" but I think he never left. He's still unreliable if the fight keeps going and knocking out Akyiama, who hasnt'? Rumble has proven he has KO power in every limb and he's a strong wrestler to boot. He doesn't know BJJ but he knows elbows. Seeing the videos that the UFC has of Rumble training, Belfor better be ready. FOTN potencial, provided it even goes out of the 1st round.
José Aldo vs. Chad Mendes - Aldo needs no introduction. Mendes, despite being an almost unknown to the casual fan (resulting in being passed over for a title shot by Florian), is a Team Alpha Male product that is currently undefeated and has the skills one would expect out of TAM and more. He's an extremely strong wrestler with capable striking that can bring the fight to Aldo (he hopes). He trains out of one, if not the best, camp for FW fighters and he has Faber, who had a 5 round war with Aldo, on his corner. If he can force his gameplan onto Aldo, he can take it. If he can't and tries to turn this into a stand-up war, his boxing won't be up to snuff for Aldo's offense. Chad Mendes is a clear underdog here but I think the fight will at least be a competitive affair.