UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman will face Brazilian Vitor Belfort in his next bout, and the February 15th UFC Fight Night 36 card scheduled for Santa Caterina, Brazil features two middleweight bouts that will likely bring us the next challenger for the title, as Lyoto Machida faces Gegard Mousasi and Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ takes on Francis Carmont. Should Weidman – Belfort not end definitively, the UFC has the option of matching the winner of the Feb 15th bouts against each other, but either winner with a solid or spectacular performance could be fast tracked to the title shot.
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Even without the home field advantage, both Brazilians in Machida and Jacare are likely to be the favorites at the sportbooks. Machida was a stud at Light Heavyweight and he even held the UFC title in that division, so his drop to Middleweight came with the wide belief that he would be dominant. His debut in the weight class, where he wiped out Mark Munoz in the first round did nothing to change that.
Mousasi is still a bit of an x-factor. He can match Lyoto for calmness of demeanor, so a flat fight could be in the works, but he is unorthodox and has a fantastic blend of striking and ground-fighting in his arsenal when he wants to show it.
If you are not a fan of Yushin Okami, the long time Middleweight contender who was cut by the UFC, then you have Ronaldo Jacare to thank for his dismissal. Okami, who is known for his blanketing style, was blasted by Jacare in the first round in what would be his last UFC fight. Jacare is as hungry as any fighter in the division.
Carmont is on an 11 fight winning streak and he has risen up the UFC rankings by going 6-0 for the company. Carmont however, has never faced an animal like Jacare, and he is really going to have to step up his game if he is going to show he belongs at the next level.