By Ryan Frederick, WrestlingObserver.com
The most dominant champion in the UFC today makes her return to the Octagon on Saturday night when the UFC heads back to Rio de Janeiro for UFC 190 live on pay-per-view. The event, a four-hour main card with seven fights, airs at 10 PM eastern time on your local pay-per-view channel. A slate of six preliminary bouts begins at 7 PM eastern time on UFC Fight Pass before heading over to FOX Sports 1 for more coverage at 8 PM eastern time.
UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey headlines the event in her next title defense when she defends against the undefeated challenger, Bethe Correia, in her own home country of Brazil. Correia has the chance to shock the world and unseat Rousey as the champion at 135 pounds, but she will have her work cut out for her. In the night’s co-main event, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua takes on Antonio Rogeiro Nogueira in a rematch ten years in the making. There are several intriguing bouts on the card, so let’s take a closer look at five storylines to keep an eye on heading into Saturday’s UFC 190 event.
1. Does Bethe Correia have a chance against Ronda Rousey?
Bethe Correia has a chance to unseat Ronda Rousey and score the biggest upset in UFC history and become the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 190. But does she even stand a chance against Rousey? As of this writing, Rousey is a -1700 favorite in the betting odds, and if it closes that high, she will be the biggest favorite in UFC history. Correia is currently at +1100 on the betting odds, higher than any title challenger ever. That is all a testament to how dominant Rousey is because Correia is undefeated as well, scoring nine wins in nine professional fights.
Correia has won three fights in the UFC Octagon. She scored a split decision over Julie Kedzie in her debut, then followed that with a unanimous decision win over Jessamyn Duke and a TKO win over Shayna Baszler. The last two wins have come over two of what is dubbed as the “Four Horsewomen”, a group of friends led by Rousey. Needless to say, Rousey is looking for revenge not just for that, but for comments Correia made about her personal life in recent months. Correia has seemingly unleashed another side of Rousey that we have yet to see, and Rousey has vowed to make Correia pay. Whether that is a quick fight or a prolonged beatdown remains to be seen.
The big question still remains of whether Correia stands a chance. It is hard to envision that she does. Rousey has been the most dominant fighter of this era, and perhaps ever. She has finished all but one fight in the first round, and has won her last three fights in a combined 96 seconds. She has finished all of her opponents, and Correia has scored just two of her nine wins by finish. Correia had trouble against Duke, who has likely fizzled out of the UFC after three straight losses, and while she has some decent power, hitting Rousey is another thing. Those betting on Correia hope lightning strikes, but this fight belongs to Rousey. It is only a matter of how long will it take.
2. What is left in the tank for Mauricio Rua and the Nogueira brothers?
Three of the most popular Brazilian fighters in the history of the sport enter the Octagon on Saturday night as former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and twin brothers, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and former UFC and PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, compete at UFC 190. Rua and Rogerio will meet in the co-main event in a rematch of their bout from June 2005 in PRIDE, a fight won by Rua, while Rodrigo will take on Stefan Struve in a heavyweight bout.
All three men have been in their share of wars in the past, and it has caught up to them. Rua is just 3-5 in eight fights since losing the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship to Jon Jones, while the Nogueria brothers are both just 2-3 in their last five fights. Rua hasn’t fought since November, Rogerio hasn’t fought since July 2014, and Rodrigo hasn’t fought since April 2014. Rogerio has fought just twice since December 2011, and Rodrigo has fought just once in each of the last three years. All three men have had a litany of injuries over the years, and their best days are clearly behind them.
Can magic strike for any of the three on Saturday? Rua and Rogerio had a classic battle in PRIDE, but that was over ten years ago now and both have slowed down due to the toll taken over the years. They have the chance to steal the show once again, and both are still capable of fun fights. Rodrigo has provided two classic moments over the years when the Octagon has been in Rio de Janeiro, and he has an opponent in Stefan Struve who has been in some tough battles as well and is capable of being finished. All three are legends in Brazil, and while their best days are behind them, the crowd will be in support of all three, and we will see what is left in their gas tanks these days.
3. Will the next challenger for the UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship be decided?
The UFC women’s strawweight division is less than a year old, but it is quickly building to being one of the most exciting divisions in the UFC. They have an exciting and undefeated champion in Joanna Jedrzejczyk who is coming off an impressive win and looking for her next challenge after defeating Jessica Penne in June. Jedrzejczyk is out of action for a little bit after injuring her thumb in that fight, and the next challenger for her could be decided on Saturday night in the main card opener. That is when Claudia Gadelha looks to rebound from her first career loss when she welcomes former WSOF Women’s Strawweight Champion, and in what many peoples’ eyes is the top strawweight in the world, Jessica Aguilar to the UFC for the first time.
Gadelha is coming off her first career loss in December to the now-champion Jedrzejczyk, and it was a split decision in a close fight that many gave to Gadelha. It was Jedrzejczyk’s only real test to date, and a rematch for the title would definitely be next should Gadelha win. Aguilar stands in the way, and with a 10-fight win streak and being a high-profile signing, a win would also put her next in line. She is a well-rounded fighter but she also tends to be predictable in her attacks. She’ll need variance against Gadelha, who has a strong ground game. The betting odds favor Gadelha big time, and that is very surprising as some money could be made on Aguilar. This is a close fight on paper though I do tend to favor Gadelha as she has an edge on the feet.
4. Can Neil Magny make it eight straight wins in a tough match-up against Demian Maia?
Neil Magny has been one of the pleasant surprises in the UFC’s welterweight division as he has racked off seven straight wins heading into UFC 190 on Saturday. He has been very active, fighting five times in 2014 and twice this year, and win-or-lose, you know he’ll be wanting to fight at least once, maybe twice, again this year. He is slowly climbing the rankings, but he is only ranked 13th, a testament to how tough the 170-pound division is. He hasn’t fought ranked competition yet, but that is changing on Saturday night as he looks to score his eighth straight win in his toughest test to date.
That comes in the former of Demian Maia, a former title challenger at middleweight and winner of two straight fights after tough back-to-back losses to Jake Shields and Rory MacDonald. Maia has performed well in Rio de Janeiro, scoring a nasty submission win over Rick Story in his last fight in Rio. Maia is a big step up in competition for Magny, but it is what Magny needs if he is going to actually be able to get into title contention at 170 pounds. Most would assume that eight straight wins should mean a title shot, but that division is stacked, and a win here could get Magny a fight against a top-five opponent with a title opportunity on the line. Better yet, a win would move Magny up in the rankings and show that his win streak has been no fluke. It is a big test for him as they headline the preliminary card.
5. What else is there to look for on the card?
As typical with fight cards in Brazil, this event is stacked with Brazilian fighters looking to score wins in front of the home country crowd. This event will net the finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4, which was moved from a June event due to visa issues. Glacio Franca and Fernando Bruno meet in the lightweight finals, and Reginaldo Vieira and Dileno Lopes meet in the bantamweight finals. Also on the main card is a heavyweight bout as Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva looks to end his 4-fight winless streak when he takes on Soa Palelei, who is 12-1 in his last 13 fights.
In additional preliminary action, light heavyweights Rafael Cavalcante and Patrick Cummins square off as both look to rebound from a loss in their previous bout. TUF: Brazil season 3 winner Warlley Alves looks to remain undefeated in his career when he takes on Nordine Taleb, who sports a 3-0 record in the UFC. Iuri Alcantara looks to rebound from a disappointing loss when he takes on Leandro Issa, winner of two straight. Middleweights Vitor Miranda and Clint Hester also do battle, as well as bantamweights Hugo Viana and Guido Cannetti, who could both be fighting for their spot on the UFC roster on Saturday.
Full UFC 190 Fight Card, Betting Odds & Predictions
MAIN CARD (PPV- 10 PM ET/7 PM PT)
UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship: (C) Ronda Rousey vs. (#5) Bethe Correia
Betting Odds: Rousey (-1700), Correia (+1100)
Prediction: Rousey by submission in round 1
Light Heavyweights: (#8) Mauricio Rua vs. (#11) Antonio Rogeiro Nogueira
Betting Odds: Rua (-200), Nogueira (+170)
Prediction: Rua by knockout in round 2
TUF Brazil 4 Lightweight Finals: Glacio Franca vs. Fernando Bruno
Betting Odds: Franca (-170), Bruno (+150)
Prediction: Franca by decision
TUF Brazil 4 Bantamweight Finals: Reginaldo Vieira vs. Dileno Lopes
Betting Odds: Vieira (+260), Lopes (-320)
Prediction: Lopes by submission in round 3
Heavyweights: (#15) Stefan Struve vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Betting Odds: Struve (-170), Nogueira (+150)
Prediction: Nogueira by submission in round 2
Heavyweights: (#12) Antonio Silva vs. Soa Palelei
Betting Odds: Silva (+170), Palelei (-200)
Prediction: Palelei by knockout in round 1
Women’s Strawweights: (#1) Claudia Gadelha vs. (#15) Jessica Aguilar
Betting Odds: Gadelha (-450), Aguilar (+360)
Prediction: Gadelha by decision
PRELIMINARY CARD (FOX SPORTS 1- 8 PM ET/5 PM PT)
Welterweights: (#6) Demian Maia vs. (#13) Neil Magny
Betting Odds: Maia (-165), Magny (+145)
Prediction: Maia by decision
Light Heavyweights: (#10) Rafael Cavalcante vs. (#14) Patrick Cummins
Betting Odds: Cavalcante (+140), Cummins (-160)
Prediction: Cummins by decision
Welterweights: Warlley Alves vs. Nordine Taleb
Betting Odds: Alves (-225), Taleb (+185)
Prediction: Alves by decision
Bantamweights: (#13) Iuri Alcantara vs. Leandro Issa
Betting Odds: Alcantara (-250), Issa (+210)
Prediction: Alcantara by submission in round 3
PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC FIGHT PASS- 7 PM ET/4 PM PT)
Middleweights: Vitor Miranda vs. Clint Hester
Betting Odds: Miranda (+135), Hester (-155)
Prediction: Hester by knockout in round 2
Bantamweights: Hugo Viana vs. Guido Cannetti
Betting Odds: Viana (-310), Cannetti (+255)
Prediction: Viana by submission in round 1