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UFC 142 a la carte: 3 fights to focus on

Vitor Belfort, of Brazil, right, trains during UFC

Vitor Belfort, of Brazil, right, trains during UFC Rio open workouts on Barra de Tijuca Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, ahead of his fight against Anthony Johnson. (Jan. 11, 2012) Credit: AP

Ten fights on the card for UFC 142 in Rio on Saturday. These thee excite us the most heading into the night.

3) Vitor Belfort vs. Anthony Johnson

This was originally going to be the No. 2 fight to watch, but given Johnson's ability to weight 197 pounds when he needed to weigh 185, well, it loses some appeal now. More so because of the lack of professional it displays. How can an outsider take the sport seriously when a fighter doesn't? But some intrigue remains: How much will Johnson weigh when the fight begins?

2) Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim

Barboza entered the UFC with a terrific resume. He's done little to spoil that, although we haven't seen him post a truly dominant performance. At least not the kind that helped earn him his reputation. Barboza (9-0, 3-0 UFC) has gone the distance in his last two bouts and went to a third round to knock out Mike Lullo in his debut. We need a finish to talk about for three days before we move Barboza up the lightweight ladder. Etim (15-3) has finished his last four wins.

1) Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes

Will we finally see Aldo deliver one of those explosive type of fights he did in the WEC? Or will Mendes position himself as a legitimate contender at featherweight, win or lose? That's the intrigue here, to see if Aldo is a younger, lighter Anderson Silva in terms of dominance, and to ese if Mendes is not the latest fighter they build up to promote a title fight in a not-too-deep division.


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