Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will once again venture away from the familiarity of its APEX facility and ship its cast and crew across the world for the upcoming UFC Sao Paulo fight card, locked and loaded for tomorrow night (Sat., Nov. 4, 2023) from inside Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, featuring a 265-pound headliner between fast-rising Brazilian sensation Jailton Almeida and power-punching Texas bruiser Derrick Lewis.
Before we dive into the main and co-main event, which includes the welterweight contest between undefeated Brazilian prospect Gabriel Bonfim and battle-tested Danish “Dynamite” Nicolas Dalby, check out Patrick Stumberg’s UFC Sao Paulo preliminary card breakdowns here and here. In addition, fighter-turned-writer Andrew Richardson did most of the heavy lifting for the rest of the UFC Sao Paulo main card right here.
Let’s get down to business.
265 lbs.: Jailton Almeida vs. Derrick Lewis
Jailton “Malhadinho“ Almeida
Record: 19-2 | Age: 32 | Betting line: -450
Wins: 7 KO/TKO, 12 SUB, 0 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 6’3“ | Reach: 79” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.81 | Striking accuracy: 64%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 0.30 | Striking Defense: 25%
Takedown Average: 6.40 (68% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 50%
Current Ranking: No. 9 | Last fight: Submission win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis
Record: 27-11, 1 NC | Age: 38 | Betting line: +300
Wins: 22 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 4 DEC | Losses: 7 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 6’3“ | Reach: 79” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 2.60 | Striking accuracy: 50%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.59 | Striking Defense: 41%
Takedown Average: 0.59 (28% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 52%
Current Ranking: No. 10 | Last fight: Technical knockout win over Marcos Rogerio de Lima
Jailton Almeida finally earned himself a spot on Dana White’s “Contender Series” after racking up eight straight wins on the regional circuit, all finishes and all but one within the first round. “Malhadinho” made the most of the opportunity by slicing through Nasrudin Nasrudinov and locking up a UFC contract. Almeida would waste little time in validating White’s decision, tearing through the 265-pound ranks (after a brief stint at 205 pounds) with another five finishes, four within the opening frame. The Brazilian has only been with the promotion for less than two years and already has three performance bonuses, adding some much-needed excitement to the stagnant 265-pound weight class. To wit, all 19 of his wins have come by way of knockout or submission. I think it’s safe to say that Almeida won’t be looking to stand and bang with a bricklayer like Lewis, who holds the UFC record for knockouts at 14. And why should he? “Malhadinho” has scored 13 takedowns in roughly 20 minutes of cage time since making his “Contender Series” debut.
Derrick Lewis has become more of a personality over the last few years and less of a serious title contender, which is by design, because fan darlings move tickets and generate viewers. Sometimes that’s more important than wins and losses when it comes to keeping a tidy roster and Lewis knows he’s quickly approaching the age of 40 and (still) dealing with a temperamental back. You can never really count out “The Black Beast” because of his one-punch knockout power. In addition, Lewis is deceptively agile for his size and can hold his own in the wrestling department. Working against him in this fight is the fact that he’s stepping up on short notice. Not that his training camps were the picture of intensity to begin with, but five rounds against a younger, red-hot heavyweight with ground skills like Almeida is a pretty tall order for anyone in the division. Let’s also not gloss over the fact that prior to his showstopper against the hapless Marcos Rogerio de Lima, Lewis had dropped four of five, getting finished in all four losses.
Part of what makes a Derrick Lewis fight so exciting is the fact that you never know when it’s going to end, because “The Black Beast” is always one shot away from the win column. The social media memes like to show Lewis standing up during every bad position, leaving out the submission loss to Sergey Spivak at UFC Vegas 68 earlier this year in “Sin City.” Expect a similar outcome against Almeida, who showed us against Jairzinho Rozenstruik that elite striking does little good when you’re splayed across the canvas.
Prediction: Almeida def. Lewis by submission
170 lbs.: Gabriel Bonfim vs. Nicolas Dalby
Gabriel “Marretinha” Bonfim
Record: 15-0 | Age: 26 | Betting line: -370
Wins: 3 KO/TKO, 12 SUB, 0 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 6’1“ | Reach: 72” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 6.08 | Striking accuracy: 37%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 4.80 | Striking Defense: 66%
Takedown Average: 4.80 (100% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 100%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Submission win over Trevin Giles
Nicolas “Danish Dynamite” Dalby
Record: 22-4-1, 2 NC | Age: 38 | Betting line: +255
Wins: 6 KO/TKO, 4 SUB, 12 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 4 DEC
Height: 5’11“ | Reach: 74” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.93 | Striking accuracy: 43%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.39 | Striking Defense: 52%
Takedown Average: 1.18 (31% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 62%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Muslim Salikhov
Much like fellow Brazilian Jailton Almeida in the UFC Sao Paulo main event, Gabriel Bonfim got his start in UFC after making an impact on Dana White’s “Contender Series” back in late 2022, dispatching the outmatched Trey Waters with relative ease. Bonfim would appear on two more occasions, both in 2023, and it took “Marretinha” roughly two minutes of work to score submission finishes against Mounir Lazzez and Trevin Giles. Solving “The Problem” at UFC 291 pushed Bonfim to 15-0 with all 15 wins ending by way of knockout or submission. Not bad for a 26 year-old welterweight who’s still probably a year or two from his fighting prime. For this camp, the Brazilian put in work at Cerrado MMA in Brasilia alongside regional stablemates Erivan Pereira Silva and Andre Fischer, among others. His official UFC profile bills him as a “striker” but we haven’t seen much of that (yet) because Bonfim is too busy strangling people. Perhaps his next opponent will make him work a little harder for the finish.
Nicolas Dalby is a former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder who’s coming off three straight wins, including last June’s unanimous decision victory over Muslim Salikhov. “Danish Dynamite” is 6-3 in UFC (including his first run from 2015-16) with one draw and one “No Contest.” I think we need to talk about the overturned result because it was a submission loss to Jesse Robson — and Dalby is facing a dangerous jiu-jitsu ace at UFC Sao Paulo. The defeat to Robson was overturned when “The Body Snatcher” popped for Metandienone, which he later blamed on tainted supplements, so we have to decide whether or not that gave him an advantage on fight night. It’s also worth pointing out that all of Dalby’s wins inside the Octagon have come by way of decision and he turns 39 in less than two weeks. I can’t help but think this bout has been designed to showcase Bonfim’s talents in front of the hometown crowd. You can argue that Dalby has never been finished, just as you can argue that he’s not faced an opponent who presents the same dangers as Bonfim.
Dalby has proven to be a tough out. I just think he’s too old to keep up with Bonfim and doesn’t have the kind of power to keep the Brazilian honest. The finish may not come easy, but I do believe it comes at some point midway through the fight.
Prediction: Bonfim def. Dalby by submission
Remember, the rest of the UFC Sao Paulo main card predictions are RIGHT HERE.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Sao Paulo fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 9 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Sao Paulo news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive here. For the updated and finalized “Almeida vs. Lewis” fight card and ESPN+ lineup click here.