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UFC Sao Paulo ‘Machida vs. Brunson’ Preview: Return of ‘The Dragon’

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The 30th UFC event to take place in Brazil and the 6th to take place in Sao Paulo will take place on Saturday, October 25th, when Lyoto Machida returns to the Octagon, fresh off a 18-month suspension from USADA, to take on Derek Brunson in a pivotal middleweight main event. 

Machida began his UFC career by winning his first eight contests; his knockout finish of Rashad Evans to claim the Light Heavyweight title still holds up as one of the most memorable finishes in the history of the sport. His controversial victory over Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua in his first and only title defense showed us his first signs of weakness in the Octagon, weaknesses that Rua would ultimately capitalize on in their immediate rematch at UFC 113. In a very busy 1st round, Rua would ultimately catch Machida with a devastating right hook on the temple to end the short-lived “Machida Era,” an era that would last just under a year.

Since that night, Machida has been nothing more than a .500 fighter, losing title fights at Light Heavyweight and Middleweight. His highlight reel KO’s over the likes of Randy Couture, Ryan Bader, C.B. Dolloway and Mark Munoz during that time period and his name value as a former champion, have kept him at the top of the card as a go to headliner for UFC Fight Night shows.

Now, at 39, with over 2 years away from active competition, Machida will look to make his way back into the mix at 185 lbs against a man who has established himself as one of the top contenders in the division while he’s been away. 

Brunson has posted a 4-2 record since Machida’s last appearance, his only two losses coming to Anderson Silva and current Interim Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker. While the Silva fight could’ve went either way on the scorecards, the Whittaker bout saw Brunson go out on his shield after just over four minutes of furious fisticuffs. 

Brunson is very much a home run hitter, with all of his last five victories coming by way of the knockout. He’ll have his hands full going against one of the most dangerous counter strikers in the game in Machida in what will be an intriguing Southpaw vs. Southpaw match up. 

In the co-main event of the evening, Sao Paulo’s own Demian Maia will fight in his own backyard for the first time since 2014, where he would begin a 7-fight win streak that would ultimately end in his last contest, a title fight against Tyron Woodley. Maia would show no shame in his takedown game, going o-for-24  en route to a lopsided unanimous decision defeat. Against Colby Covington, a NCAA D-I standout out of Oregon, Maia will be taking on someone who may actually be brave enough to grapple with him.

Covington, who is currently looking to make waves with his ‘Supervillain’ gimmick, has gone on record saying that his wrestling is on a different level than anyone that Maia has ever faced. While that could be the words of a man who is willing to say anything to get a press clipping in an era where such a thing is rewarded more than ever (if done right — see Conor McGregor, Kevin Lee) we will see if he actually will look to fight fire with fire on the ground with one of the greatest grapplers in UFC history.

Before the penultimate fight of the night goes down, a couple of bantamweights on the cusp of a top ten rankings will throw down when former RFA Bantamweight Champ Pedro Munhoz takes on former CES MMA Featherweight Champ Rob Font. 

Also on the main card, Francisco Trinaldo will look to get back on track after having his 7-fight win streak ended by Kevin Lee earlier this year. All he’ll have to do is get past one of the most hardened veterans in the game in Jim Miller, who will be making his 28th walk to the Octagon, a UFC record that will be tied by Michael Bisping the following week. Brazilian middleweight slugger Thiago Santos and former Cage Warriors Champion Jack Hermansson will battle at middleweight before bantamweight’s John Lineker and Marlon Vera open up the main card festivities on FOX Sports 1 in a fight that is sure to set a brisk pace. 

Main Card (FS1 – 10 p.m. ET)

Middleweight Main Event
Lyoto Machida (22-7) vs. Derek Brunson (17-5)

Welterweight Co-Main Event
Demian Maia (25-7) vs. Colby Covington (12-1)

Bantamweight Bout
Pedro Munhoz (14-2) vs. Rob Font (14-2)

Lightweight Bout
Francisco Trinaldo (21-5) vs. Jim Miller (28-10)

Middleweight Bout
Thiago Santos (15-5) vs. Jack Hermansson (16-3)

Bantamweight Bout
John Lineker (29-8) vs. Marlon Vera (12-3-1)

Preliminary Card (FS2 – 8 p.m. ET)

Welterweight Bout
Vicente Luque (11-6-1) vs. Niko Price (10-0)

Middleweight Bout
Antonio Carlos Junior (8-2) vs. Jack Marshman (22-6)

Lightweight Bout
Hacran Dias (23-5-1) vs. Jared Gordon (13-1)

Welterweight Bout
Elizeu Zaleski (17-5) vs. Max Griffin (13-3)

Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass – 7 p.m. ET)

Flyweight Bout
Deiveson Alcantara (12-0) vs. Jarred Brooks (13-0)

Heavyweight Bout
Christian Colombo (8-2-1) vs. Marcelo Golm (5-0)

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