Santos hasn’t tasted victory in the Octagon yet but he’s coming off tough tilts with Iuri Alcantara and Ian McCall respectively. Now that he’s at his ideal weight of 125 pounds he should prove to be a force in the still-developing division and could stake a nice claim by coming out victorious against Chris Cariaso. He’s a finisher by trade and has lots of tools at his disposal to work with. Brother of UFC bantamweight Iuri Alcantara, Ildemar is an equally excellent Mixed Martial Artist possessing a polished skill-set. He’s currently on a nine-fight winning streak including a finish of Wagner Prado despite taking the tilt on short notice and being a much smaller competitor. With a bout on tap against Igor Araujo, a talented but untested competitor, don’t be surprised when Alcantara takes his run into double digits. Dias had won nine consecutive clashes before falling to Nik Lentz on the scorecards in May. He’ll have his hands full with fellow grappler Rodrigo Damm when the cage door closes, but there’s no reason to believe Dias can’t come away with the victory. He’s slick on the ground and has underrated stand-up, possessing multiple avenues to take when it comes to securing a victory. There are few if any other grapplers as feared as Palhares based on the way he attacks opponents’ legs. His Heel Hooks in particular are a thing of legend. Now that the stocky scrapper has moved down to welterweight rather than remained at 185 pounds despite his diminutive size he should be even more effective. Of course, opponent Mike Pierce is no joke either and should prove to be a tough test for “Toquinho”. The 31-year old Assuncao has quietly put together a four-fight run and moved into position to earn a title-shot with another win or two in the books. His shot at securing such an opportunity won’t be easy, as UFC Fight Night 29 foe T.J. Dillashaw is extremely hot at the moment, but Assuncao has been plying his trade for almost a decade and should be fully prepared. After all, this is a man who owns past wins over Yves Jabouin, Mike Easton, Jorge Masvidal, and Joe Lauzon. Silva has encountered his share of controversy over the past few years, failing a drug test for steroid use and another for smoking marijuana. However, when he’s healthy and his mind is right there aren’t many fighters more fun to watch than the brutal Brazilian. His excellent hands and overall aggression have led to a handful of highlight reel knockouts in the Octagon including those over Houston Alexander, Keith Jardine, and Rafael Cavalcante. If he’s able to stuff Matt Hamill’s takedown attempts, expect Silva to add “The Hammer” to that list as well. Silva may only be 2-2 in the Octagon but anyone who saw his DQ loss to Carlo Prater knows “Indio” had the bout in the bag before an errant, illegal strike ended his adversary’s evening. His other stumble came in a Fight of the Night winner against seasoned veteran and former title-contender Jon Fitch, an understandable defeat to be sure. Beyond those blemishes, Silva has looked spectacular with first-frame finishes of Charlie Brenneman and Jason High. He’s starting to come into his own and could definitely boost his stock by beating another up-and-coming stud in Dong Hyun Kim at next week’s show. Maia’s BJJ has always been some of the sport’s best, securing him success against opponents like Nate Quarry, Ed Herman, Rick Story, and Chael Sonnen. Still, he’s worked hard on his stand-up since first showing up on the scene and turned into a far more polished fighter. With a move down to 170 pounds after some solid middleweight success, Maia is 3-0 in the division and could end up with a crack at the championship if he can get by Jake Shields.
UFC is offering the near-equivalent of a PPV for free next week when it comes to the lineup for . While the headlining bout between UFC Fight Night 29 Demian Maia-Jake Shields may not be enough to merit a $50 purchase, there’s no question the card is extremely deep and sure to please with a number of notable competitors slated for showdowns at the event. Fittingly, the show is also populated with some of Brazil’s best fighters based on the action unfolding in the South American hub including eight excellent athletes in particular. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images)