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Our questions about UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Anders

The UFC kicks off a four-event February with their debut in Belem, Brazil, which most of you (including myself) had never heard of before this show. As with last week's Charlotte's show, there's not a ton of depth here, especially now that the co-main event of John Dodson vs. Pedro Munhoz is off due to Munhoz missing weight badly. Another main card fight also may be off the show due to weight issues.

Joining me this week per usual is fellow Observer MMA scribes Ryan Frederick and Paul Fontaine.

First, The (Updated) Card

UFC Fight Night Belem

  • Lyoto Machida vs. Eryk Anders
  • Valentina Schevchenko vs. Priscila Cachoeira
  • Michel Prazeres vs. Desmond Green (maybe)
  • Timothy Johnson vs. Marcelo Golm
  • Thiago Santos vs. Anthony Smith
  • Tim Means vs. Sergio Moraes
  • Alan Patrick vs. Damir Hadžović
  • Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Marlon Vera
  • Yuri Alcantara vs. Joe Soto
  • Maia Stevenson vs. Polyana Viana
  • Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Joseph Morales

What fight(s) are you most looking forward to?

Ryan: It’s the main event between Lyoto Machida and Eryk Anders, despite Machida's losing streak at the tail end of his career. His chin looks to be gone, but I still believe that there are flashes of the old Machida there. He’s been in the main event of more UFC events than all but four fighters, and he was at the top of his game for a long time. This is also a chance for Anders to get noticed. He specifically asked for this fight, on this date, and in Brazil. That might be enough to motivate Machida to show he still has some gas left in the tank. If not, we have a newcomer to the top fifteen in the UFC rankings.

Nason: No doubt it's Machida-Anders. The latter is a fascinating prospect, but I hope this isn't too soon to be elevated to a main event for him, something Brett Okamoto and I talked about in my podcast. Machida looked terrible in his return to action against Derek Brunson, so he gets a chance at redemption in a young lion vs. old lion main event.

Paul: It’s the co-main. I think Shevchenko is one of the best female strikers in any weight class and fighting at a more natural 125 lbs should bring out the best in her. Her opponent is the 9th ranked flyweight in the world according to FightMatrix.com so she’s no pushover.

Any dark horse fights?

Ryan: The main card opener between Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith has the chance to be fireworks. Santos has been on a tear and knocking a lot of middleweights out, but Smith is a game opponent. Smith also went into Brazil in his last fight and beat a Brazilian, so he’s looking to go 2-for-2 there. Sergio Moraes and Tim Means is another fight I’m looking forward to as Means is an exciting and gritty welterweight, and Moraes is a good opponent to get him back on track.

Nason: I agree with Santos vs. Smith. Both are underrated and can throw heat, so this should be a lot of fun to watch.

Paul: I’ll go with the FS1 opener and a bantamweight tilt between Iuri Alcantara and Joe Soto. Soto is a former title challenger who almost always has really good fights. Alcantara has had a mixed career in UF,  but does hold a WEC win over Ricardo Lamas back and comes in on a two-fight losing streak. He’ll be looking to make a statement in his home country and I expect a great fight to kick off the televised portion of the card.

What isn’t doing it for you this weekend?

Ryan: It’s a pretty good card for an event in Brazil, and it further shows there’s just a lot of changes going on in the UFC. There are newer fighters being placed higher on the card (even if they aren’t being promoted well), but it gives them the chance to get noticed by those who watch. I think this event will be alright.

Paul: I agree with Ryan that this card is pretty good. It's much better than last weekend’s Fox show and arguably is better than next week’s PPV card. If I had to choose one, it's the lightweight fight between Alan Patrick and Damir Hadzovic. That one could be a boring standoff that goes to a close decision. But, I expect this show to be pretty great.

Nason: This is...a show. With so many fights and shows in such a short amount of time, there's no real time to reflect and get a handle on who could truly be something going forward. I mean, it's free UFC but still, there's a price to be paid for so much, so soon.

Does this show matter?

Ryan: There’s only one fight that has upcoming title implications on it: Valentina Shevchenko making her move to the women’s flyweight division. She completely outmatches her opponent and it should be the start of her run towards a title shot. It also could mark the true arrival of a potential contender at 185 pounds in Eryk Anders.

Nason: Not really. Anders-Machida should be a main card fight on next week's PPV and Schevchenko's UFC flyweight debut should be the FS1 prelim "main event". Honestly, if Machida loses, they aren't going to cut him, so this is really a potential showcase for Anders. There's a few fun scraps here, but there's not a lot here that will have implications in the short term.

Paul:  I think so. Shevchenko is looking to establish herself in the UFC’s newest division and she’s got an unbeaten opponent in her home country standing across from her. Former champion Machida is on a three-fight losing streak, his opponent is unbeaten, and he's looking to climb into title contention. There is a key bantamweight fight where the winner could become top ten contenders with Iuri Alcantara vs Joe Soto. I also love the fact that the whole card is Brazil vs The World. When Jacare Souza beat Derek Brunson in the main event of last weekend’s show, it was the first UFC win for a Brazilian in 10 tries in 2018. With 11 bouts on this card and a Brazilian in every one of them, they should be looking to make a statement.

Who wins?

Machida vs. Anders

  • Anders: Nason, Ryan, Paul

Schevchenko vs. Cachoeira

  • Schevchenko: Nason, Paul, Ryan

Smith vs. Santos

  • Santos: Ryan, Nason, Paul (but he's never picked an Anthony Smith fight correctly)

Keep up with our coverage on Saturday night, starting with the Fight Pass prelims through FS1 through big Fox.