Well folks, it’s been a while, but it’s time for Dana White and company to invade your weekend plans once again. The UFC is back this Saturday night for their annual Fourth of July weekend show. Capping off another fan expo week in Las Vegas, UFC 162 comes to you live on Pay Per View from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event of the evening pound-for-pound kingpin Anderson “The Spider” Silva puts his Middleweight title on the line against undefeated challenger Chris Weidman.
In other main card action, Frankie Edgar looks to right the ship on his career, as he takes on Charles Oliveira in his first three round fight in over three years after a number of memorable title bouts. In Middleweight action Strikeforce imports Tim Kennedy and Roger Gracie will do battle. Also in Middleweight action Mark Munoz will return from a significant layoff due to injury, to battle Tim Boetsch in a battle of two fighters looking to get back into the Middleweight pecking order. To open the main PPV card a pair of Featherweight bangers will lock horns as strikers Cub Swanson and Dennis Siver will go to war in a potential Fight of the Night.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Mike Pierce vs. David Mitchell
Mike Pierce is a 32-year-old fighter from Portland, Oregon. A former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Portland State University, he is a pure grinder and is one of the toughest fighters in the Welterweight division. He is a member of the Sports Lab Fight Team training in Portland, Oregon. He holds a professional MMA record of 16-5 with his UFC losses coming against only the top fighters in the division including Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch and Johnny Hendricks. David “Daudi” Mitchell is a 33-year-old fighter from Windsor, California. He is a member of the Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance training in Santa Rosa, California. Mitchell is a talented grappler, but struggled in the UFC until his most recent bout. He holds a career record of 12-2, with both losses coming in the UFC.
Quick Pick: Mike Pierce via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Seth Baczynski vs. Brian Melancon
Seth “The Polish Pistola” Baczynski is a 31-year-old fighter from Honolulu, Hawaii. Baczynski was a competitor on the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter, but struggled in his first go-round in the UFC, before earning his way back. He is a member of the Power MMA and Fitness Gym in Apache Junction, Arizona. He holds a career record of 17-7. Brian Melancon is a 31-year-old fighter from Port Neches, Texas. Melancon is making his UFC debut after going 1-1 under the Strikeforce banner. He trains with the Paradigm Training Center in Houston, Texas. He holds a professional MMA record of 6-2.
Quick Pick: Seth Baczynski via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Edson Barboza vs. Rafaello Oliveira
Edson “Junior” Barboza is a 27-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Barboza is a talented striker who holds a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and a black belt in Muay Thai kick boxing. He is a member of the Valor MMA Gym in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Barboza holds a professional MMA record of 11-1. Rafaello “ Tractor” Oliveira is a 31-year-old fighter from Recife, Brazil. He now resides and trains in the USA, training in Charleston, South Carolina with the AMA Fight Club. He is a talented grappler who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He holds a career record of 15-5.
Quick Pick: Edson Barboza via TKO in Round One
Preliminary Card (FX): Heavyweight Bout: Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Dave Herman
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga is a 34-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Gonzaga now resides and trains in the USA in Ludlow, Massachusetts. He is a black belt in BJJ who trains with Team Link in Massachusetts. Gonzaga is best known for his head kick knockout of Mirko Cro Cop all the way back at UFC 70. His MMA record now stands at 14-7. Dave “PeeWee” Herman is a 28-year-old fighter from Columbia City, Indiana. Herman trains with Team Quest in Temecula, California, although he has admitted in recent media that he has been training mostly alone for this bout after a string of failed drug tests for marijuana. He holds a professional MMA record of 21-5.
Quick Pick: Dave Herman via KO in Round One
Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Norman Parke vs. Kazuki Tokudome
“Stormin’” Norman Parke is a 26-year-old fighter from Bushmills, Northern Ireland. Parke is a judo fighter who now trains Jiu Jitsu under Robert Drysdale at one of his gyms. He was a competitor on the lightweight portion of The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes and was the show’s eventual winner. He holds a professional MMA record of 17-2. Kazuki Tokudome is a 26-year-old fighter from Tokyo, Japan. He is a member of the Paraestra Hachioji Dojo in Tokyo. Tokudome is a veteran of the Pancrase, DEEP and Sengoku promotions in Asia. He holds a career record of 12-3-1, and holds a 1-0 UFC record.
Quick Pick: Norman Parke via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card (FX): Middleweight Bout: Chris Leben vs. Andrew Craig
Chris “The Crippler” Leben is a 32-year-old fighter from Portland, Oregon. One of the UFC’s most popular fighters, he was one of the cast members on the original season of The Ultimate Fighter. Leben is a brawler who trains with the Alliance MMA Gym in Chula Vista, California. Leben is probably safe from the UFC axe due to his popularity, but he has struggled lately and his professional record has dropped to 22-9. Andrew “Highlight” Craig is a 27-year-old fighter from Houston, Texas. Craig is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who trains with Team Tooke in Houston. Craig holds a professional MMA record of 8-1 with his lone pro loss coming to Ronny Markes in the UFC.
Quick Pick: Chris Leben via TKO in Round Three
Main Card (Pay Per View): Featherweight Bout: Cub Swanson vs. Dennis Siver
Cub Swanson is a 29-year-old fighter from Palm Springs, California. Swanson is a member of Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting Camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, although Swanson rarely uses it during his fights. Instead Swanson prefers to use his excellent Muay Thai skills and prefers to stand and trade with most of his opponents, he shouldn’t have a problem finding a willing dance partner in this bout as Siver himself is mostly a striker. Swanson is riding an impressive four-fight winning streak in the UFC’s Featherweight division and is looking to lay claim to a title shot with an impressive victory in this bout. He holds a professional record of 19-5.
Dennis “The Menace” Siver is a 34-year-old fighter who was born in Omsk, Russia in the former Soviet Union. Siver moved to Germany as a teenager, which is where he now resides and trains as a member of the MMA-Spirit Gym in Mannheim, Germany. Siver holds a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and also holds a purple belt in BJJ. Siver struggled during his first time in the UFC, but has improved since being called back and dropping to the Featherweight division. Siver competed as an amateur kick boxer, winning the WAKO Amateur Championship of Germany. He holds a career record of 21-8.
Analysis and Prediction: Siver and Swanson were originally scheduled to fight at UFC on Fuel TV, but Siver was forced to withdraw from the bout and Swanson instead beat up Dustin Poirier. Swanson is on quite the roll lately and he has been steamrolling a lot of his competition. Siver is a tough outing, but Swanson will likely hold the speed edge in the bout. He’ll be able to get his combinations of before Siver has the chance to return fire. I expect to see Swanson attack Siver aggressively to the body with kicks and punches, that onslaught should cause Siver to slow considerably in the later rounds of the bout. From there Swanson finds the knockout blow late. Cub Swanson via TKO in Round Three
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Mark Munoz vs. Tim Boetsch
Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz is a 35-year-old fighter from Yokosuka, Japan born on a US Military base in the country. Munoz is a former Light Heavyweight and a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Oklahoma State University. Munoz is a member of the Reign Training Center in Lake Forest, California and also trains at the Kings MMA Gym in California. Munoz hasn’t fought in a year after suffering an injury during his last bout against Chris Weidman. In the lead up to this bout, Munoz has posted pictures in the media showing his transformation from nearly 250-pounds and soft to a shredded 185-pounds, showing that he is likely highly motivated for this bout. Munoz holds a career record of 12-3.
Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch is a 32-year-old fighter from Lincolnville, Maine. Boetsch is a black belt in Jeet Kune Do who trains under Matt “The Wizard” Hume. Boetsch is a member of the AMC Pankration Gym in Seattle, Washington. Boetsch was a standout wrestler in high school, but his skills never translated into a successful NCAA career. During his first run in the UFC, he struggled to fight as a Light Heavyweight, but he looked impressive during his time at Middleweight. Since making the cut to 185-pounds he has gone 4-1, with his lone loss coming against Costa Philippou under bizarre circumstances, after a head butt caused a large cut to open on Boetsch’s face and a broken hand. Boetsch’s professional MMA record currently stands at 16-5.
Analysis and Prediction: Boetsch has been far more active recently than Munoz and could easily be 5-0 heading into this fight. Munoz did not look impressive during his bout against Chris Weidman, but may hold a slight edge in wrestling against Boetsch. Still, Boetsch is very large for a Middleweight and is incredibly strong, it’s hard to imagine that Munoz will be able to bully him easily. Boetsch on the other hand will likely hold the edge in striking and could excel if he can fend off the takedowns from Munoz. Tim Boetsch via Split Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Tim Kennedy vs. Roger Gracie
Tim Kennedy is a 33-year-old fighter from San Luis Obispo, California. Kennedy is a former Strikeforce fighter and two-time Strikeforce Middleweight Title challenger. Kennedy is notable for being a full-time member of the United States Army as well as being a professional fighter. He made headlines recently for his criticism of the UFC’s pay structure, although he was quick to offer an apology after stating he could make more money as a garbage collector. Kennedy is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp, but does most of his training in Austin, Texas. He holds a black belt in Japanese Jiu Jitsu and is also a black belt in the Modern Army Combative Program. He holds a professional record of 15-4.
Roger Gracie is a 31-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He now resides and trains in London, England. Gracie is a member of the famed Gracie family of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners and holds a 2nd degree black belt in the art form. Gracie has long been one of the world’s top submission grapplers, winning a number of BJJ tournaments all over the world, including gold medals in the famous Abu Dhabi Combat Club tournament. Gracie trains with the Black House Gym and will be making his UFC debut in this bout. Gracie holds a career record of 6-1.
Analysis and Prediction: This should be an interesting clash of styles, as Kennedy holds the edge in striking, while Gracie will hold the edge in grappling. Gracie has rapidly been improving his striking skills, but he’s still a bit wooden and stiff with his strikes, which won’t be enough to outwork Kennedy on the feet. Kennedy is a talented grappler in his own right, but he’s simply not on the same level as Gracie on the mat, the problem for the Brazilian will be his ability to get the fight to the floor, as Kennedy is a better wrestler than Gracie. I think Kennedy has more ways to win this fight, and if he can keep it standing he should be able to use a well-rounded attack including a lot of leg kicks to keep Gracie off balance and earn himself a judge’s decision. Tim Kennedy via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Featherweight Bout: Frankie Edgar vs. Charles Oliveira
Frankie “The Answer” Edgar is a 31-year-old fighter from Toms River, New Jersey. Edgar is best known as a former UFC Lightweight champion and for his extremely entertaining fighting style. Edgar is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Edgar also holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but is more notable for his striking skills as of late. Edgar is a member of the Renzo Gracie Fight Team, training in New Jersey. He is a fluent boxer, with great footwork, excellent cardio and an incredible ability to take punishment and keep fighting. Edgar has fought mostly in title bouts for thepast several years, and this will be his first non-title fight since December 2009. He holds a professional record of 15-4-1.
Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira is a 23-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Oliveira holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but is a talented kick boxer in addition to his grappling skills. Oliveira trains with his own team, both in his hometown of Sao Paulo and also stateside in Houston, Texas. Oliveira is a former Lightweight fighter, who decided to make the cut to Featherweight after being outmuscled by much larger fighters at 155-pounds. However, he failed to make weight for his last bout, albeit by only a fraction of a pound. Since dropping to Featherweight he has gone 2-1, with the loss coming against surging Featherweight contender Cub Swanson in his last bout. Oliveir holds a professional MMA record of 16-3 with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: Oliveira is a talented grappler and a decent kick boxer, but he’s likely going to be highly outgunned in this fight. Edgar is a cardio machine and is going to be firing on all cylinders for the full fifteen minutes. Oliveira has struggled against fighters who can keep a strong pace in the past and has also struggled against fighters who can outmuscle him. Edgar is deceptively strong and has outmuscled bigger fighters in the past. Combine that with Oliveira’s somewhat sloppy striking defense and Edgar’s ability to put combinations together well, it’s hard to see what a good strategy for Oliveira will be. He won’t be able to outwrestle Edgar, he’s unlikely to win a prolonged stand up battle, he just doesn’t have a lot of options. Edgar takes a dominant decision in this one. Frankie Edgar via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Championship Bout: Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman
Anderson “The Spider” Silva is a 38-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Take a moment and let that sit in, it might become important pretty soon; Anderson Silva is nearly 40 years of age. Still he remains one of the UFC’s most popular fighters and is the most dominant Middleweight champion of all time. Silva is an accomplished martial artist with black belts in a number of different disciplines including Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo and Tae Kwan Do. Silva is a former member of the famed Chute Boxe camp in Brazil, he is now one of the top fighters in the Black House MMA Gym training with the Nogueira brothers as well as Lyoto Machida. Silva is one of the most accurate and devastating strikers to ever compete in MMA. Silva holds a professional MMA record of 33-4, including an outstanding 16-0 mark in the UFC.
Chris “The All-American” Weidman is a 29-year-old fighter from Baldwin, New York. He is a member of the Serra-Longo Fight Team training under former UFC champion Matt Serra and striking coach Ray Longo. Weidman is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Hofstra University and has translated those skills well to the cage, as he is one of the most dynamic submission grapplers in the world despite a lack of formal training. He currently holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but many black belt level grapplers including Roger Gracie have gone on the record to say that he is good enough to defeat black belts of all levels in a straight submission grappling contest. Weidman has made an impressive run through the UFC’s Middleweight division and currently holds a perfect professional record of 9-0, including a 5-0 mark in the UFC.
Analysis and Prediction: At the bargain price of only -225, these may be some of the shortest odds in Silva’s UFC career since he fought Rich Franklin for the title at UFC 64. Anderson has made some strange comments in the media these past few days, including an odd comment about not caring about winning or losing, but only getting out of the fight in one piece. He also continues to talk about boxing aging boxer Roy Jones Jr. over and over. All of this has to be somewhat unsettling for Silva supporters, but I doubt any of it means too much in the greater scheme of things.
The blue print to defeat Silva has long been considered a smothering top game with ground and pound and giving the champion very little space on the ground to work his underrated grappling skills for sweeps or submissions. Dan Henderson had some success with that strategy, Chael Sonnen nearly stole the belt with that strategy, hell even Travis Lutter enjoyed a round of success with that strategy, but eventually Silva got to all of them. It’s hard to argue that Weidman is a better wrestler than Dan Henderson or Chael Sonnen, but his style is very different and he’s a significantly better submission grappler than both men. Weidman also has some heavy ground and pound, significantly more dangerous than the pitter-patter punches Chael Sonnen throws on the ground. These are potential difference makers on the path to an upset.
In the striking department, it’s not even close. Weidman has shown significant improvements in his striking game, in fact in his most recent bout against Mark Munoz he wasn’t even hit with a significant strike, those skills are going to need to be fully polished for this fight. Any time this bout is standing is time that Weidman is in danger of going to sleep. Silva’s strikes hit hard, are deadly accurate and can come out of nowhere, Weidman needs to be aware of that and should never be standing still, using a quick 1-2 jab combination to get close enough to put his hands on the champion and drag him to the ground.
The obvious pick here is Silva to retain in impressive fashion once again. At the current betting odds though, I do like Weidman. At over 2-to-1 I think there is a clear path to victory for Weidman. Takedowns and ground control against Silva has worked in the past, it’s hard to imagine that it won’t work again. My only hope is that Weidman isn’t overly confident in his striking. He has made improvements, but his entire offense should come on the ground in this bout, with the strikes used only to close the distance. If he can do that well, I think he can stop the champion late. If not, it’s going to be a rough night. As it is, I think you’ll know within the first two minutes or so how this bout is going to play out. Chris Weidman via Submission in Round Four
UFC 162 Silva vs. Weidman DVD
Anderson Silva – MMA Instruction Manual
UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com