The UFC returns to Brazil this Saturday with two of the sport’s greatest knockout artists fighting in front of adoring fans.
Vitor Belfort will headline UFC Fight Night 106 “Belfort vs. Gastelum” against dangerous contender Kelvin Gastelum in a pivotal middleweight encounter. Meahwhile, Mauricio Rua will be locking horns with Gian Villante. At Friday’s official weigh-ins, both Brazilian bombers — and the rest of the card — made weight, giving the green light for the FS1 event.
Gastelum, who is riding a two-fight winning streak with triumphs over Tim Kennedy and former UFC welterweight champ Johny Hendricks, was the first to step aboard the scale. This is arguably the biggest fight for the Arizonian and came in at 185 pounds. Belfort, the former UFC light heavyweight champ and a longtime fan favorite, is in the final stages of his career, but with him being knocked out in his last two Octagon appearances, a win is paramount. “The Phenom” looked solid as he scaled in at 186.
In the C0-Main Event, Mauricio Rua, who rose to prominence while destroying nearly everybody in his path back in thePride Fighting Championships, is also in desperate need of a win. Though he’s won two in a row, a loss at this stage of his career would be detrimental to any hopes at a title shot. Luckily for his fans, “Shogun” came in at 206 and looked as ready as ever. NY’s Villante looked as eager on the scale and is hoping to break the 2-2 split he’s had in his last four; he checked in at 206, as well.
Kelvin Gastelum will have a huge opportunity to move up the rankings on saturday. In a middleweight fight against Tim Kennedy, Gastelum won by third round TKO, and hopes to make it two straight middleweight wins at UFC Fight Night 106.
After his TKO of Kennedy, Gastelum said he expected to return to Welterweight. However, if he beats Belfort, it would be a surprise to see him reject another middleweight fight, especially considering he would likely earn a shot at a top-ranked opponent.
Belfort, with more than 20 years in the game, is fighting for relevance. Losing to Gastelum would put his record for last 5 fights at 1-4.
In the co-main event, former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua attempts to earn his first three-fight winning streak in three years against Gian Villante, who has been pining for the matchup for several years.
Villante has his work cut out for him heading into UFC Fight Night 106. Not only is he taking on “Shogun,” but he’s also doing so in the No. 15 Rua’s home country of Brazil. He’s still excited for the fight.
“They did a smart one, the UFC, making us fight each other. Because I just think both of us love war, love getting punched in the face and punching other people in the face. I know I’m going to go in there and probably come home with a couple of black eyes, but I don’t mind that. I think that’s the great part about it, the beauty of it. It’s going to be a fun, fun fight.”
Both of these fighters can get things done on the feet, but Villante has shown a suspect gas tank in the past. If he has issues with cardio in the fight, Rua could find himself with a third consecutive victory, something he hasn’t accomplished since winning four straight in 2006-07.
UFC Fight Night 106 takes place at the Olympic Training Center in Fortaleza, Brazil, and the action will begin on UFC Fight Pass at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. Here is the full card for UFC Fight Night 106:
MAIN CARD (FS1, 10 p.m. ET)
- Vitor Belfort (186) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (185)
- Mauricio Rua (206) vs. Gian Villante (206)
- Edson Barboza (155) vs. Beneil Dariush (156)
- Ray Borg (126) vs. Jussier Formiga (126)
- Bethe Correia (136) vs. Marion Reneau (135)
- Tim Means (170) vs. Alex Oliveira (171)
PRELIMINARY CARD (FS1, 8 p.m. ET)
- Kevin Lee (156) vs. Francisco Trinaldo (156)
- Sergio Moraes (171) vs. Davi Ramos (170)
- Joe Soto (135) vs. Rani Yahya (136)
- Josh Burkman (156) vs. Michel Prazeres (156)
PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 7 p.m. ET)
- Rony Jason (146) vs. Jeremy Kennedy (146)
- Paulo Borrachinha (185) vs. Garreth McLellan (184)
Check out the images from UFC Fight Night 106 Official Weigh-Ins: