Weili Zhang to lose belt? – Top UFC prospect backing contender to snag title

One of strawweight's top prospects see's a potential title upset in Weili Zhang's future.

By: Lucas Rezende | 3 months ago

Hello boys and girls. It is Thursday once again, which means it is time for the last June edition of the Brazil Beat. You know, the weekly roundup of all news that made an impact in the Brazilian fighting community, all conveniently put together in one place by yours truly.

To cap off the first month of summer, we’ve got a not so heart-warming story about two friends who had to face each other last week. Plus, a Bellator champion already looking for another fight, some wild finishes at Jungle Fight 117 and still much more.

Let’s dive right in then, shall we?

PFL champ resents fight fixing accusations

Shouldn’t we know that booking friends to face each may not be a great idea by now?

The 2021 Professional Fighters League lightweight champion resents what some fans have been saying about his latest outing. Although Raush Manfio acknowledges that his match against two-time PFL champ and dear friend Natan Schulte was an uneventful affair last week’s PFL 6, the Brazilian thinks the angry feedback from some fans was rather unnecessary.

In an interview with Combate (translated by Bloody Elbow), Manfio took the opportunity to shut down any claims of fight fixing that emerged after the match he ultimately lost via unanimous decision. The 2021 PFL champ makes it quite clear why the fight was not too exciting, it was a match between two friends who had a hard time trying to hurt each other.

“There was no fixing or anything like that. That would’ve made no sense. It’d be like ‘Hey, let’s take this fight to a decision’. Why? We would be risking neither of us not making it to the playoffs. Our decision was to go out there and do our best. That’s what we agreed on. The psychological aspect is different, though. It’s one thing to say you’ll do it and then it’s another when it’s time to do it. Sometimes you can’t even do it against an opponent you want to hurt. You just freeze, right? Now imagine that against a friend.”

Although Manfio and Schulte are in fact friends, the striker would also like to guarantee that that were no arrangements to make the match uneventful. The way the Brazilian puts it, it was simply an emotional matter that got in the way of a good performance.

“What hurts is seeing people who think we were trying to mislead the fans. The truth is that our hearts were bleeding.” Manfio said. “Our performance was visibly impacted, but nobody got corrupted. We didn’t have an arrangement. Fans are calling me a liar. That makes me angry. We know that doing what they are accusing us of would be the easy way out. Had there been any arrangements, he would’ve submitted me. Or I would’ve submitted him. A more unusual result, because I’m a striker. We would’ve made bank by betting on that. We’re not like that, man. We’re for real.”

The loss for Manfio was not even the only consequence of the match. Even though Schulte was the winner and had enough points to advance to the 2023 playoffs, the promotion decided to remove their former champ to set an example.

For the company, monotonous performances cannot be rewarded. Furthermore, both ex-PFL champs also received a suspension from the promotion due to their performances.

Could a more stern referee have avoid the situation?

In the opinion of Brazilian MMA referee Guilherme Bravo, the whole situation between Manfio and Schulte could have been avoided if ref Gary Copeland had been more strict with his warning while overseeing the action.

In an interview with Combate (translated by Bloody Elbow), Bravo explained how Copeland could have threatened to take points or even disqualify the former PFL champs in order to make them be more active. Once the fight was finished and a winner was announced, Bravo believes there is little either man can do to contest the promotion’s decision to remove Schulte from the playoffs.

“Normally, when you have one fighter running away from the fight, you ask for time, have a talk with them and explain that if they don’t fight, you’ll have to take away points or even disqualify them. When both don’t want to fight, then both can be disqualified.”

“If the referee allowed the action to continue, he’s saying that there was a fight. There was an official result announcement, a victory. The Commission has nothing to do with it. It’s up to the promotion now. They can do whatever they want.”

Patricio Freire on the hunt for another title fight

Moving on from the PFL champ to Bellator’s, Patricio Freire continues to chase belts, no matter where.

Having just fought and lost to Sergio Pettis for the Bellator bantamweight title, the ‘Pitbull’ is already campaigning for the vacant Rizin featherweight belt. Though the post originally belonged to Kleber Koike Erbst, the Brazilian was stripped of it in his last outing due to a weight miss at last weekend’s Rizin 43.

Since Freire defeated Erbst via unanimous decision in December 2022, the Bellator champion saw an opening to make a claim for the vacant title. On his official Twitter account, Pitbull called out his fellow countryman for a rematch, but this time around with the belt on the line. Impressively enough, he did it in Japanese, too.

“The Rizin belt is vacant. What do you think of a title fight between me and Krebel by the end of the year? Let’s establish who’s the real featherweight champion.”

UFC prospect thinks Amanda Lemos has a good chance vs. Weili Zhang

UFC strawweight prospect Tabatha Ricci is in no hurry to fight for the title in her division. Though the 28-year-old is undefeated in the promotion with four straight wins, ‘Baby Shark’ has just made it to the top 15 with her last win, when she defeated Gillian Robertson just last weekend via unanimous decision.

However, that does not mean Ricci is not paying attention to what is happening at the top of her division. With her fellow countrywoman Amanda Lemos expected to take on champion Zhang Weili for the belt in August at UFC 292, the 28-year-old will be watching closely to see how her division develops.

In an interview with Ag Fight (translated by Bloody Elbow) Ricci even made a prediction for the fight. In her opinion, Lemos has a good chance of scoring the upset and bring the belt that once belonged to Jessica Andrade back to Brazil.

“I think Amanda is a very well-rounded fighter. I think she has a good chance against Zhang in their fight. In about a year or a year and a half, I see myself fighting for the title. I’m not in a hurry. That’s only for when I have more Octagon time. More experience.”

Chute Boxe Contender Series prospect wants to impress

Speaking of prospects, up-and-coming middleweight Marco Tulio Costa has not even made it to the UFC yet, but the Brazilian already has big aspirations. A member of the traditional Chute Boxe team, the 28-year-old is expected to fight Valentine Woodburn for a contract with the promotion at Contender Series in August.

With a 9-1 record of seven finishes and only two decision wins, Costa tells Globo Esporte (translated by Bloody Elbow) his preparation for the fight has been the best one of his life yet. In fact, the middleweight feels ready to impress at Contender Series in order to score a contract. Once that chapter is finished, the Brazilian intends to start pursuing the biggest dream of his career: becoming a UFC champion.

“The preparation has been great. We train hard. I’ve been doing about two to four sessions every day. You better believe it I’ll be ready, in the best moment of my career. My head is good, my body is healthy. It is time to make it happen and bring home the contract.”

“Happiness is the feeling.” Costa said. “Seeing that my hard work is paying off. I’m getting closer to my goal, which has always been to get a UFC contract. This is the home stretch, I can’t make any mistakes. After that (the goal is) to go after the belt, of course.”

Jungle Fight 117 crowned two new champions in night of finishes

We are not done talking about championships just yet. Since we started off with a former PFL champ, moved on to Bellator’s and briefly touched on the UFC strawweight title picture, I thought we could finish this edition of the Brazil Beat with a couple more and with some stoppage wins, too, to make matters even more interesting.

As usual, Jungle Fight once again delivered some exciting fights in its 117th edition, which took place last weekend in Rio de Janeiro. With two vacant belts on being disputed, the promotion crowned a new bantamweight and flyweight champion after it was all said and one. Fortunately for you, I’ve got all the finishes for you just below.

Starting with the new champions, Tiago Pereira became the new bantamweight king by beating Carlos Soares via TKO in the fourth round of the card’s main event. In the co-main, Manoel Silva finished Luiz Paulo Barbosa via armbar in the second round to snatch the flyweight strap, too.

However, it was not just the new champions who scored impressive wins at Jungle Fight 117. In fact, the 10-fight card saw eight wins via stoppage once it was all said and done. Once again, we’ve got all the finishes down below for you.

In the lightweight division, Gabriel Pasqualoti perfectly a flying knee from Yuri Neles to score a TKO victory in the first round. At bantamweight, Derick Borges finished Anderson da Silva with some ground and pound to pick up his own TKO victory.

However, the most impressive finish of the night came by the hands of flyweight Vitor Zmish, who scored a KO win over Frank Bispo by first staggering his opponent with a head kick and then following it up with a spinning back kick to secure the finish in the third round.

We did have some submissions, too. Featherweight Diogo Silva finished Neuaque Miniamin with a tight kimura in the second round of their fight, while welterweight Cesar Mendes tapped out Gabriel Nardes with a guillotine and strawweight Barbara Oliveira submitted Niele Silva with a rear-naked choke in the first fight of the night.

A Brazilian Beat

Here’s a piece of trivia for this week’s Brazilian Beat. Did you know that Rod Stewart’s 1978 hit “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” is a legit case of plagiarism in the music industry? Yep, the popular chorus was taken straight out of one of one Brazil’s most acclaimed artists Jorge Ben Jor, who’s one of the biggest names in the samba-rock genre.

In fact, Ben Jor’s song Taj Mahal is one of his biggest and well-known songs. Coming out in 1976, two years before Stewarts’ single, it must have raised lots of eyebrows when people started noticing the similarity between both songs choruses.

After a lawsuit won by the Brazilian, the British artist even admitted to ‘unconscious plagiarism’ in his 2012 official autobiography. According to Stewart, he heard the song when he was in Brazil for carnival, claiming it must have entered his mind unconsciously.

At 84 years of age, Jorge Ben Jor still remains one of Brazil’s most beloved singers, with a career that spans over 50 years now. I’ll leave you guys with the song in question below, which is a gem by the way, but don’t forget to also check out Rod Stewart’s, so you can spot the similarity.

That’s it for this week, folks. See you all next time. Stay safe.

Lucas out.

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About the author
Lucas Rezende
Lucas Rezende

Lucas Rezende is a Brazilian journalist and writer from Belem, Para. He has been covering MMA since 2012 and contributing with Bloody Elbow since March 2015. When not writing, Lucas also teaches English. In his free time, he enjoys reading, slapping the bass guitar and traveling.

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