The UFC is back in Brazil tonight with a card designed for the fans in Sao Paulo. It’s a showcase of Brazilian fighters, most of whom seem to be in pretty favourable match-ups.

Tonight’s main event sees Derrick Lewis heading south to meet local fave Jailton Almeida. Other interesting match-ups include Elizeu Zaleski vs. Rinat Fakhretdinov and Rodolfo Vieira vs. Armen Petrosyan. The undefeated Gabriel Bonfim is also on the card, he gets a live body in the form of Nicolas Dalby.

We’ve picked over the whole UFC card and decided who we think is going to win each and every match-up. Rather unsurprisingly we are picking Jailton Almeida to elicit cheers between bouts of Uh Vai Morrer. We are near unanimous in picking him to beat The Black Beast.

Scroll down for the rest of our picks. Don’t forget to tell us yours in the comment section!

Staff picks and predictions for tonight’s UFC Fight Night: Almeida vs. Lewis card

Jailton Almeida vs. Derrick Lewis

Anton: This is heavyweight and Lewis can crack him, but this is another pretty bad style match up for him. Jailton Almeida by Submission.

Dayne: If I believed Lewis’ head was in a good place, I wouldn’t be shocked to see an upset. Given he was arrested just this week for reckless driving – when I would halfway have expected him to already be in Brazil – I don’t think he’s focused on this fight as he should be.

Almeida is a serious talent. Serious enough that I wouldn’t be shocked to see UFC gold around his waist someday. Plus, Almeida is a nightmare matchup for Lewis. He’s not only a talented wrestler, but he’s also one of the better grapplers Lewis has faced. As beloved as a figure as Lewis is, he remains far closer to the end of the line than not, no matter how awesome he looked against Marcos Rogerio de Lima. Almeida via submission of RD2

Derrick Lewis was arrested in the week leading up to his main event slot at UFC Sao Paulo.

Stephie: I always hope for a Derrick Lewis win, however I’m less and less confident in his performances and can no longer count on him uncorking something on the fly and defying the odds. It’s a crapshoot these days and I’m just not taking the risk. Almeida via submission.

Zane: Seems like a fight we’ve already seen Lewis lose a couple times. Jailton Almeida by submission, round 1.

May 13, 2023, Charlotte, NC, North Carolina, USA: CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - May 13: Jailton Almeida (top) grapples Jairzinho Rozenstruik (bottom) at UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs Almeida on May 13th, 2023 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. Charlotte, NC USA - ZUMAp175 20230513_zsa_p175_200
Jailton Almeida when he bested Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC Charlotte. | Matt Davies / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO

Tim: I think the Derrick Lewis who can play spoiler and hang in there in tough match-ups long enough to land the one shot he needs to win has left the building. Age is catching up to him (in both human and fight years) and I don’t know how much he wants to be in there when he’s up against adversity. I don’t think Almeida is a future UFC champion or anything, but I think he’s diverse and athletic enough to avoid what Lewis can do and make the fight go where he wants it. Jailton Almeida via unanimous decision.

Victor: At least Lewis isn’t fighting in Texas again. I should pick Almeida for his high upside and great mixups with this striking. Seeing Lewis’ newfound sense of dedication to snap that losing streak plus his veteran savvy is leading me to pick him against my better instincts, which already suck to begin with. Don’t matter. Derrick Lewis by TKO.

Staff picking Almeida: Dayne, Stephie, Eddie, Zane, Kristen, Jack, Tim, Anton
Staff picking Lewis: Victor

Gabriel Bonfim vs. Nicolas Dalby

Dayne: I’ve been miserable picking Dalby fights. He’s not a terrible athlete, but he is no better than average. Plus, he turns 39 this month. At some point, it’s reasonable to expect a slippage in his performance. Instead, he continues to function at the highest level of his career. However, there’s been a big difference in his most recent fights and this one: the UFC had minimal interest in who won or lost those contests. They have a vested interest in Bonfim winning. Dalby is expected to lose.

January 21, 2023, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil: RIO DE JANEIRO, RJ - JANUARY 21: Mounir Lazzez (blue gloves) battles Gabriel Bonfim (red gloves) in their Welterweight fight during the UFC 283 event at Jeunesse Arena on January 21, 2023 in Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil. Rio de Janeiro, RJ Brazil - ZUMAp175 20230121_zsa_p175_144
Gabriel Bonfim submits Mounir Lazzez during the UFC’s last trip to Brazil. | Leandro Bernardes / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO

That said, the odds in this fight are ridiculously lopsided. Yes, I’m picking Bonfim, but I’d be putting money on Dalby if I were a betting man. Dalby is durable and knows how to use his big frame effectively to wear on his opposition. Bonfim has never been to a decision. If he can’t put away Dalby early – Bonfim has finished his last four opponents in the first round – he could be a sitting duck.

Still, I can’t ignore Bonfim’s skill and physical talents. Plus, given the infrequency in which the UFC visits Brazil anymore, I anticipate a strong home field advantage for Bonfim. Bonfim via TKO of RD2

Zane: Could really easily be a speed bump for Bonfim. Dalby is big, and tough, and has great cardio, and knows how to push the pace late. But, he’s just not very dangerous, and Bonfim very much is. If Dalby can survive, maybe he breaks the Brazilian down the stretch, but I can’t get that Jesse Ronson club-n-sub out of my mind. Gabriel Bonfim via submission, round 1.

Tim: I’m not sure what tools Dalby can use to get the win here. Bonfim is just going to be too athletic and too clinical in the striking department for the Dane to hang with him. Gabriel Bonfim via TKO.

Victor: Not sure I trust Bonfim, at least not yet. Nicolas Dalby by decision.

Staff picking Bonfim: Dayne, Stephie, Eddie, Zane, Kristen, Jack, Tim, Anton
Staff picking Dalby:

Rodrigo Nascimento vs. Don’Tale Mayes

Dayne: If this was a short notice fight, I could understand booking this rematch. Given this was the fight they made in the first place, I perplexed why this was rebooked. I couldn’t remember a thing from their first fight except Nascimento won handily and while Mayes has improved since that time, so has Nascimento. I see no reason not to expect a similar showing this time around. Nascimento via submission of RD2

Zane: We already saw this, and the dynamics seemed pretty clear. Mays is just too limited, both in his striking output and his wrestling and grappling skills. At some point, Nascimento takes him down and it’s likely game over from there. Rodrigo Nascimento via submission, round 2.

May 20, 2023, Las Vegas, Nevada, Las Vegas, NV, United States: LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 20: (L-R) Ilir Latifi battles Rodrigo Nascimento in their Lightweight bout during the UFC Vegas 73 event at UFC Apex on May 20, 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. Las Vegas, Nevada United States - ZUMAp175 20230520_zsa_p175_118
Rodrigo Nascimento during his fight with Ilir Latifi at the UFC APEX. | Louis Grasse / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO

Victor: Goddamnit, we’ve seen this fight before. Literally. Rodrigo submitted Mayes three years ago and nothing has really changed for either guy other than Nascimento being a better striker now than he was then. A waste, and it’s on the UFC main card, to boot. Best org in the world. Mick Maynard must be taking his holiday break early. Rodrigo Nascimento by submission, again. 

Tim: Feels like the UFC really wants to energize the Brazilian market with these fight bookings. There’s a few bouts here that feel like pretty obvious squash matches.Rodrigo Nascimento via submission.

Staff picking Nascimento: Dayne, Stephie, Eddie, Kristen, Zane, Jack, Victor, Tim, Anton
Staff picking Mayes:

Caio Borralho vs. Abus Magomedov

Dayne: Magomedov is still a huge mystery. He looked like a million bucks against the current champion, Sean Strickland, for a round. After that, he looked like a dime store fighter, showing a major inability to temper his stamina. There are some valid frustrations around Borralho too, but that has more to do with his ability to put a stamp on fights as opposed to winning fights. Magomedov certainly can win this fight, but I’m hedging towards Borralho given two things: his willingness to fight a boring fight and the home field advantage. Borralho via decision

April 29, 2023, Las Vegas, NV, LAS VEGAS, NV, United States: LAS VEGAS, NV - April 29: (L-R) Caio Borralho attempts to submit Michal Oleksiejczuk in a Middleweight bout at UFC Apex for UFC Fight Night - Song v Simon on April 29, 2023 in Las Vegas, NV, United States. Las Vegas, NV United States - ZUMAp175 20230429_zsa_p175_140
Caio Borralho holds down Michal Oleksiejczuk inside the UFC APEX. | Louis Grasse / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO

Zane: I can easily see Magomedov winning this, he’s a great fast starter, with a lot of size and range. He throws straight shots, mixes them well, and has power. But, I also can’t help feeling like he’s a one-round fighter who starts to break down when he can’t get the quick finish. It’s not just the Strickland fight giving that impression either. Borralho’s game isn’t pretty, but he doesn’t fold easily at all. Caio Borralho via decision.

Victor: Caio should win this, and much like the Lewis pick in the main event, I’m not ready to give up on the wily vet just yet. Also, you know middleweight is a horrendous mess. Abusupiyan Magomedov by submission.

Tim: This will be a good time on the UFC card to head to the kitchen and make yourself a snack. Borralho is going to make it look like they are rolling around in quicksand and Magomedov won’t know how to stop it. Caio Borralho via unanimous decision.

Staff picking Borralho: Dayne, Stephie, Eddie, Kristen, Zane, Jack, Tim, Anton
Staff picking Magomedov: Victor

Rodolfo Vieira vs. Armen Petrosyan

Dayne: This is a two true outcome fight. Either Vieira drags Petrosyan to the mat and secures a submission or Petrosyan pieces up the BJJ ace on the feet. Most appear to be picking the latter as Vieira was not only rocked by Cody Brundage of all people, but hasn’t shown the ability to fight a full 15 minutes effectively. However, those same people are forgetting Petrosyan’s struggles to stop takedowns. Every one of Vieira’s UFC wins have been by submission. I think he adds another one. Vieira via submission of RD1

March 8, 2020, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA: Middleweight Bout Rodolfo Vieira (Red Corner) vs Saparbeg Safarov (Blue Corner) at UFC 248. Las Vegas USA - ZUMA 20200308_mda_s253_766
Rodolfo Vieira vs. Saparbek Safarov at UFC 248. | Marcus Stevens / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO

Zane: Love this fight. Well booked, razor thin margins. Can Vieira secure enough takedowns to stop Petrosyan from touching him up standing? I’m not so sure. Armen Petrosyan by decision.

To read the rest of our UFC 294 staff picks head on over to Substack. Now that Bloody Elbow is a fully independent site the best way to support us, so that we can continue fearless coverage of combat sports, is to pick up a paid subscription. Paid subscribers help fund other exclusive content like editorials from Karim Zidan and Jonathan Snowden and investigations by John S. Nash.


Wow, we’ve had our biggest shake up in the standings so far with Eddie and Zane hopping over Dayne and Dayne falling to his lowest position of the year. With Anton and Kristen matching Eddie and Zane with 10-1 records with their UFC 294 picks it is all very tight at the top. This really is anyone’s game.

PositionStafferCorrectIncorrectTotal Picks%Picks BackWeek 36 Record
1 (▲)Eddie 🏴‍☠️2741654390.62410-1
2 (▲)Zane 🇺🇸2731664390.622110-1
3 (▼ 2)Dayne 🇺🇸2731664390.62218-3
4 (-)Anton 🇵🇭2721674390.620210-1
5 (-)Kristen 🇺🇸2641754390.6011010-1
6 (-)Stephie 🇫🇯2611634240.616139-2
7 (-)Tim 🇨🇦2481914390.565266-5
8 (-)Lucas 🇧🇷2421854270.567326-5
9 (-)BE Community 🌎2091623710.563659-2
10 (-)Chris 🇺🇸1972204170.472775-6
11 (-)Victor 🇺🇸1841423260.564906-5
12 (-)Jack 🇨🇦1661192850.5821088-3
13 (-)Ben 🇺🇸75411160.6471998-3

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

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