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5/10/16: Top Fighters to Watch on Saturday’s UFC 198 Stadium Event in Brazil
45,000 fans will pack the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil, on Saturday night for UFC 198, just the UFC’s third legitimate stadium event. With a completely stacked card set for the card, today we look at five fighters who could stand out from the rest.
5. Anderson Silva: That “The Spider” is in a largely minor role on this card against the lowest ranked opponent he’s faced in years doesn’t take away entirely from the intrigue of him on this card. Taking on Uriah Hall, this fight could either be a complete showcase for Silva to bounce back from a disappointing performance against Michael Bisping in a fight he could have (and perhaps arguably should have) won, or he’ll further disappoint and somehow get beat by the TUF 17 runner-up. Either way, what happens with Silva is something to which fans should be paying attention.
4. John Lineker: After missing weight too many times at flyweight, Lineker made a splash in his bantamweight debut against Francisco Rivera last September. Unfortunately, it’s been eight months since then and he hasn’t been able to get back into the cage until now. With an exciting opponent lined up in Rob Font, the fight is almost assuredly going to be a wild and entertaining fight, and if Lineker can follow up on the promise he’s shown in the Octagon thus far, he’ll continue to stand out as a contender.
3. Fabricio Werdum: The UFC Heavyweight Champion makes his first title defense 11 months after winning the belt, and how he handles this spot in front of a massive home crowd is going to be extremely interesting to watch. Werdum has improved in so many aspects of his game over the last four years that he’s got it in him to walk through even a tough opponent in Miocic. His striking especially has made massive strides in that time, while his submission game remains as elite as there has ever been in the heavyweight field. Miocic hits damned hard, and is going to try to test a chin that’s failed in the past, but if Werdum is ready for the spot he’s going to prove himself the best heavyweight in the world once again.
2. Demian Maia: Perhaps one of the more underappreciated contenders on the roster, Demian Maia makes his push for five straight wins and a shot at a top five opponent when he faces Matt Brown. After absolutely dominating Gunnar Nelson in his last outing – a win that should continue to look better if we see Nelson pick up more wins like he did last Sunday – Maia has a strong case for a No. 1 contender opportunity should he beat Brown here. He’s quite possibly the best grappler in a division filled with good ground talent, and when he opts to employ that significant advantage he often emerges victorious. I expect to see him continue this current run on Saturday night.
1. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza: Speaking of incredible grapplers, “Jacare” Souza has the opportunity to take back claim to a title fight despite his decision loss to Yoel Romero earlier this year. He arguably should have gotten that decision anyway, so while Romero needs to return from a reduced suspension this summer, Souza getting a win over Vitor Belfort could finally get him the fight he’s desired. Obviously he’s hittable, and that was a problem against Romero, so he needs to avoid getting blitzed and taken out quick, but if he can get Belfort to the ground he’s more than capable of ending it there. It doesn’t have to be in the first round, but he has to survive whatever onslaught is on its way from Belfort in order to get the win here. Whether or not he can do that is the most intriguing story on Saturday’s card.
[Photo (c) Jason Silva via USA Today Sports]
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