Natal is on a three-fight win streak but has rarely been on a main card, much less main-eventing one. The UFC injury bug took a few more victims, but left Natal as the ultimate benefactor.
Michael Bisping had a serious problem with his retina that had he fought, he could have lost his eyesight. Because of this, he had to pull out of his UFC Fight Night 29 main event fight against Mark Munoz.
To make up for this loss, the UFC pulled Lyoto Machida from his scheduled main event on this show against Tim Kennedy. Since not many names were available to fight on short notice, Natal got a huge opportunity as he was asked to fill in for Machida in this fight.
Natal has won 6 of his last 7 in the UFC. His only loss came against fellow middleweight fighter Andrew Craig, whom Natal was beating up for most of the fight, until Craig landed a desperation head kick KO in the third round.
The loss was bad for Natal, since Craig wasn't that big of a name. But he felt that since he beat him up for most of the fight he could still be a force in the middleweight division.
He followed this tough loss with a great 2012 campaign. He started it off with a submission win over Sean Spencer in January. Then he beat Joao Zerefino by TKO in June. He finished the year by beating Tor Troeng by decision in September.
He's been hot all year, and now Natal's been given an opportunity that most fighters don't get. Most fighters in the UFC never see a main event fight. He's been given a golden opportunity to show how good he is.
The Brazilian has a chance to make himself into a star in one night. He has a chance to be a viable name in the UFC. He has a chance to make sure everyone knows who he is.
Let's see if Natal can take the opportunity of a lifetime and use it to get himself a new lifestyle.