Apologies for the lateness of this wrap up everyone. Some plans from this weekend got in the way of me viewing UFC 163 live, so I was a day and a half behind before I was finally able to catch a replay of the event. Despite me taking the card to task a little bit beforehand for lack of big name recognition, the card mostly delivered. Although the main event failed to live up to the expected fireworks, it still provided a relatively entertaining scrap, there was also a Light Heavyweight robbery, a return to form from a Brazilian Middleweight as well as an exciting Flyweight scrap. Let’s take a look at what happened and what’s next in the fallout from UFC 163 from Rio de Janeiro.
Flyweight Bout: John Lineker defeated Jose Maria Tome via TKO (Punches) at 1:03 of Round Two
This fight was actually contested as a Catchweight bout after Lineker failed to make weight. This marks the second time that he’s failed to make weight at Flyweight and one has to wonder how long the UFC will allow it. Despite being marred by several low blows during the first round, the debuting Tome looked impressive, scoring a number of punches and combinations, especially from his takedown attempts. In the second round, Lineker punished Tome for being overly aggressive with his takedowns. Lineker landed a huge hook to the body that dropped his opponent, follow up punches from there and that was all she wrote.
What’s next for Lineker? He’s looked impressive in his Flyweight career, unfortunately he keeps missing weight. Still he’s an exciting fighter in a thin division talent-wise, so I think the UFC will give him a fair amount of rope on the weight issue. For his next contest he definitely deserves a step up in competition, and the proper opponent for him also fought on this card. “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall earned his first UFC win on the undercard and would prove an interesting challenge for the heavy-handed Lineker.
What’s next for Tome? He looked impressive during the first round and he’s surely not going to get cut after a loss where his opponent missed weight and he fought anyways. He’s also in the UFC’s thinnest division. If Lineker gets Ian McCall, then it would make sense to match Tome with the man who McCall defeated Iliarde Santos. Santos proved to be a handful for McCall and put on an entertaining scrap, so pair these two off and let’s have another exciting Flyweight tilt.
Middleweight Bout: Thales Leites defeated Tom Watson via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds
Leites is best remembered by most fans for the stinker he put on in his title shot against Anderson Silva. Clearly he has made some improvements since leaving the UFC. His striking looked more crisp than it ever has and his takedowns were on point throughout the fight. Leites also showed improved ground and pound, as his shots looked like they actually had a good amount of force behind them as opposed to weak punches that we’ve seen in the past. He looked pretty fatigued by the end of the bout, so cardio might still be an issue, but he definitely dominated Watson from bell to bell and it was an impressive return to the world’s largest MMA promotion.
What’s next for Leites? It was an impressive return yes, but he’s still far from earning himself another shot at the UFC title. He’s going to have to take his career in baby steps this time, I think the next logical opponent for him is Tim Kennedy. Kennedy recently beat up Roger Gracie in a less than impressive showing by both men, but he’s a popular fighter who is a tough match up for anyone. A bout against Kennedy would be a solid measuring stick for where Leites stands in the division.
What’s next for Watson? It’s hard to say, because he didn’t look overly impressive in this fight and he hasn’t looked at all impressive during his stint in the UFC. Still he’s a Brit, and the UFC likes to keep them around for shows in the UK. I think that’s a smart plan for the UFC. One of the struggling Strikeforce imports would make sense Trevor Smith or Lorenz Larkin maybe.
Middleweight Bout: Cezar Ferreira defeated Thiago Santos via Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 0:47 of Round One
Thiago Santos was moving up in weight for the first time and it proved to be a horrible idea. Ferreira stalked forward from the opening bell and his first flurry of punches had bad intentions. A high kick followed that wobbled Santos. Sensing opportunity he quickly latched on to the choke and rolled to the ground, earning a quick and impressive submission victory.
What’s next for Ferreira? It has to be Daniel Sarafian. Ferreira won the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, but Sarafian was forced to withdraw from the tournament and that title of Brazil’s first Ultimate Fighter seems to have a permanent asterisk next to it. A bout between these two could settle the score and crown a true winner from the first season of TUF: Brazil.
What’s next for Santos? He definitely shouldn’t be staying at Middleweight as he definitely doesn’t have the size to hang with even the mid-tier fighters in that division. So what prospects are there at Welterweight for him? Yuri Villefort on a Brazilian card? Maybe Neil Magny or Colton Smith in a battle of TUF champions.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Phil Davis defeated Lyoto Machida via Unanimous Decision
Robbery? Shenanigans? Incompetence? It’s hard to say exactly what the reason is that all three judges inexplicably awarded this fight to Phil Davis. It’s hard to complain too much, as the bout was a mostly action light affair. In the first round Machida controlled the distance for much of the round, and countered effectively. He also landed a nice flurry that sent Davis reeling towards the cage. A meaningless takedown at the end of the round was apparently enough to steal it. In the second Machida again controlled the pacing of the fight with his awkward striking style, and apparently once again Davis’ late takedown after a number of failed attempts stole him the round. The third round was Davis’ worst as he missed on a number of takedowns and was actually reversed by Machida and taken down. Still, one judge gave him the round. In the end Phil Davis took a Unanimous Decision that almost no one thought he deserved.
What’s next for Davis? A win is a win and it’s still going to move him up the Light Heavyweight rankings. He was a highly touted prospect expected to challenge Jon Jones when he first entered the UFC, but he hasn’t lived up to expectations quite yet. Still, he’ll likely be getting a top 5 opponent next, with a chance to springboard into the title conversation. Glover Teixeira is likely getting a title shot if he beats Ryan Bader in the next month, so that fight won’t produce an opponent unless Bader pulls off the upset. Another option could be Vitor Belfort who has openly campaigned that he won’t fight at Middleweight until he gets a title shot, but was willing to entertain bouts at 205 or even 265 pounds.
What’s next for Machida? Back to the drawing boards I guess? Machida does what he usually does and this time he wasn’t rewarded for his efforts. Despite the controversial decision, it’s still going to knock him a few pegs down the rankings. He could face the loser of the upcoming title bout between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson. Another option might be to consider a cut to Middleweight if friend and training partner Anderson Silva comes up short in his second bout with Chris Weidman.
Featherweight Bout: Jose Aldo defeated Chan Sung Jung via TKO (Punches) at 2:00 of Round Four
This fight certainly didn’t end up with the fireworks and wild brawling that everyone suspected it may include, but it was a pretty entertaining scrap anyways. The best way I’ve heard the bout described so far was that Aldo was highly effective, yet wildly unspectacular when compared to his previous bodies of work (see demolitions of Cub Swanson or Urijah Faber’s leg.) During the first round of the bout, Aldo threw a kick to the legs, only for Jung to check it, the result ended up being a broken foot for Aldo and left him largely unable to throw kicks for the rest of the contest.
The result was a fairly measured offensive attack. The final results from Fight Metric were very close. With Aldo out landing The Korean Zombie 43-42 in total strikes, but 32-17 in significant strikes. The outing marks his lowest such output when you exclude fights where he knocked his opponents out in the first two rounds. Impressively, he also scored 5 takedowns in the bout, tying his personal best from his bout against Mark Hominick. It seems that whenever the champion gets in trouble, he does have a solid ground game to rely on. The ending will probably be one of the most notable things from the bout as Jung’s shoulder visibly popped out of place. He was unable to pop it back in, leading to Aldo attacking with a high kick to the shoulder which dropped Jung and follow up punches sealing the deal.
What’s next for Aldo? He’s teased moving up in weight to challenge in the Lightweight division, but after the bout Dana White seemed convinced that Aldo would stay at Featherweight. He’s run through many of the top contenders, but one name that has earned a shot is definitely Ricardo Lamas. Lamas has beaten a slew of top contenders including Cub Swanson, Hatsu Hioki and Erik Koch. Lamas has also been calling for the title shot publicly and with no other suitable challengers waiting in the wings, it’s time for him to get a shot.
What’s next for Jung? This probably depends on how long he’s on the shelf from that nasty shoulder injury. It’s a similar injury that caused him to need surgery and miss over a year of action. At the press conference he said the shoulder popped back in and he feels fine. If he can return to action quickly a bout against Dennis Siver would make the most sense. Siver recently lost a top contender bout to Cub Swanson at the UFC’s last Pay Per View.
Last weekend was a bit of a downer for the UFC as an organization. Despite a highly entertaining main event featuring a championship bout which itself featured the champion defending the title in his home state, the event was widely considered a ratings flop. It did pretty awful numbers on Fox, ranking as dead-last to second-last in terms of ratings depending on the varying reports that are making rounds on the internet. With that said, I’m going to take the UFC to task a little bit more than I usually do. They are following up a free card on Fox that did poorly with underwhelming results in live attendance and live viewership on television with a Pay Per View offering, that in my opinion and the opinion of several others leaves a lot to be desired in terms of name value.
UFC 163 takes place this weekend live from the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The main event features Brazil’s favorite Featherweight fighter as UFC Champion Jose Aldo defends his title against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung. The co-main event features a possible title eliminator at 205-pounds as Lyoto Machida takes on American wrestling standout Phil Davis. Other main card action features a Middleweight bout between Cezar Ferreira taking on Thiago Santos, as well another Middleweight bout between the returning Thales Leites and Tom Watson. The opening bout of the Pay Per View card features Flyweight action as John Lineker takes on Jose Tome.
Ednaldo “Lula Molusco” Oliveira is a 29-year-old fighter from Bahia, Brazil. At 6’7” he is absolutely massive for the Light Heavyweight division and has competed at Heavyweight in the past. He is a member of the Nordeste Jiu Jitsu Team who holds a professional MMA record of 13-1-1 with 1 No Contest, with the lone loss coming in his UFC debut against Gabriel Gonzaga. Francimar “Bodao” Barroso is a 33-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a member of the Nova Uniao camp who is taking this bout on only a few weeks notice as an injury replacement for Robert Drysdale. He holds a professional MMA record of 15-3.
Quick Pick: Francimar Barroso via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Viscardi Andrade vs. Bristol Marunde
Viscardi Andrade is a 29-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was a competitor on the second season of TUF: Brazil. Andrade is a member of the Gracie Fusion Gym in Sao Paulo and holds a career record of 14-5, but is currently riding a 6-bout winning streak. Bristol Marunde is a 31-year-old fighter from Fairbanks, Alaska. He currently resides and trains in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Throwdown Training Center. After an unsuccessful debut in Strikeforce he appeared as a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter, eventually losing in the quarterfinals. He holds a professional MMA record of 12-8.
Quick Pick: Viscardi Andrade via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Rani Yahya vs. Josh Clopton
Rani Yahya is a 28-year-old fighter from Brasilia, Brazil. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who trains with the Constrictor Team in his hometown. He is a veteran of the WEC and the UFC who has international grappling experience. He holds a professional MMA record of 18-7. Josh “The Gentleman” Clopton is a 32-year-old fighter from San Francisco, California. Clopton was a competitor on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He trains with the Skrap Pack in California and holds a pro MMA record of 6-1-1.
Quick Pick: Rani Yahya via Submission in Round One
Preliminary Card (FX): Flyweight Bout: Ian McCall vs. Iliarde Santos
Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall is a 29-year-old fighter from Costa Mesa, California. Once considered the world’s number 1 Flyweight fighter, he has struggled against the top two competitors in the UFC’s Flyweight division going 0-2-1 against Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez. He is a member of Team Oyama in California and holds a professional record of 11-4-1. Iliarde Santos is a 32-year-old fighter from Para, Brazil. He is a member of the Ulisses Pereira Team in his hometown. He recently made his UFC debut at Bantamweight as an injury replacement and is getting a shot in his more natural weight class. He holds a pro record of 27-7-1 with 1 No Contest.
Quick Pick: Ian McCall via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Sergio Moraes vs. Neil Magny
Sergio “The Panther” Moraes is a 31-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Moraes is best known as a finalist from the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, although his position as finalist was as an injury replacement. He is a BJJ black belt who has trained with a number of teams in Brazil including Alliance Jiu Jitsu, Team Nogueira and Universidade da luta. He holds a pro record of 7-2. Neil Magny is a 25-year-old fighter from Brooklyn, New York. Magny was a cast member on the sixteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Magny trains with Miguel Torres’ team in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a career record of 8-1.
Amanda “The Lioness of the Ring” Nunes is a 25-year-old fighter from Bahia, Brazil. She is a solid striker who has won the majority of her fights via stoppage. Nunes trains with the AMA Fight Club in New Jersey, but also trains at the MMA Masters Gym in her hometown. She holds a career record of 7-3. Sheila “The German Tank” Gaff is a 23-year-old fighter from Bad Hersfeld, Germany. She is a striker who has never backed down from a brawl during her bouts. Gaff is a member of the Arena Aschaffenburg in Aschaffenburg, Germany. She holds a career record of 10-5-1.
Quick Pick: Amanda Nunes via TKO in Round One
Preliminary Card (FX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Vinny Magalhaes vs. Anthony Perosh
Vinny “Pezao” Magalhaes is a 29-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil although he now lives in Portland, Oregon. Magalhaes is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who is the BJJ coach at Team Quest in Oregon and Nevada. Magalhaes was a cast member from the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Magalhaes holds a career record of 10-6 with 1 No Contest. Anthony “The Hippo” Perosh is a 41-year-old fighter from New South Wales, Australia. Perosh is a former Heavyweight fighter who is a BJJ black belt who trains with the Sinosic Perosh Martial Arts Gym in Australia. He holds a pro MMA record of 13-7.
Quick Pick: Vinny Magalhaes via Submission in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Flyweight Bout: John Lineker vs. Jose Tome
John “Hands of Stone” Lineker is a 23-year-old fighter from Parana, Brazil. Lineker is a former Jungle Fight Bantamweight Champion but has also competed for a number of other promotions including Shooto Brazil, Gladiators Fighting Championship and Nitrix MMA. Lineker is a former Bantamweight fighter and is fairly large for the Flyweight division, which has affected his cardio in the past. Lineker is a member of the EMPORIUM Gym in Parana. He is an aggressive and powerful striker with knockout power and strong combinations. He holds a career record of 21-6 including 12 stoppage victories.
Jose “No Chance” Tome is a 31-year-old fighter from Ceara, Brazil. Tome has compiled an impressive record, mostly on the Brazilian regional scene. Tome is an aggressive brawler who is fairly well rounded despite his tendency to engage in brawls. Tome is a member of the Renovacao Fight Team in his hometown. He has a strong chin but has somewhat porous striking defense. Despite decent striking skills, Tome’s best bout in this contest might be to try and control the bout on the ground. Tome holds a career record of 33-3 but has not been defeated since July of 2008, a span of 17 fights.
Analysis and Prediction: Tome has an impressive record from the Brazilian regional circuit, but this is certainly going to be one of the toughest tests of his career. Lineker is an extremely aggressive striker who throws nasty combinations and attacks the body relentlessly, the results often taking a serious toll on his opponent’s cardiovascular endurance. Tome is going to need to be aware of this and is going to need to counter punch aggressively when Lineker winds up some of his bigger punches. Tome likely holds a small advantage on the ground, but Lineker is quite big and strong so taking the fight to the ground might be easier said than done. In the end I think Lineker lands a couple of big combinations that stun Tome and lure him into a brawl, from there it’s lights out in round two. John Lineker via KO in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Thales Leites vs. Tom Watson
Thales Leites is a 31-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Leites is a former UFC Middleweight title challenger who has not fought in the UFC since UFC 101 in 2009. Leites is a talented grappler who holds a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. Leites trains with the Nova Uniao camp in Rio de Janeiro. Since being dropped from the UFC Leites has gone 6-1, with the lone loss coming to Matt Horwich, which he has since avenged. Leites holds a professional MMA record of 20-4.
Tom “Kong” Watson is a 31-year-old fighter from Southhampton, England. Watson trains with Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico but also spends time at the Reign Training Center in Orange County, California. Watson has fought for a number of major MMA promotions in Europe including Cage Rage, BAMMA as well as MFC in Canada. Watson is a talented striker who excels at close range, fighting from the clinch with knees and elbows effectively. Watson has shown a weakness against talented wrestlers and grapplers in the past and will hold a significant striking advantage in this bout if he can keep the bout standing. He holds a career record of 16-5.
Analysis and Prediction: Leites was less than impressive during his last go-round with the UFC but he has looked impressive on the regional scene since being released. His stand up is never going to be world beating but it looks like it has improved slightly since his first stint in the UFC. Watson however is a tough and durable striker who can absolutely batter Leites in the close quarters of a clinch. If Leites is going to move in for a takedown, he’ll need to be sure to set it up well, as Watson is physically strong and will be able to stuff long distance shots. This bout comes down to whether or not Leites can get Watson to the ground, I’ve never been overly impressed with Watson, so I think he eventually will. From there, he’ll find an opening and snag a submission late in the first, or sometime in the second. Thales Leites via Submission in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Cezar Ferreira vs. Thiago Santos
Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira is a 28-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Ferreira is best known from his appearances on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil where he was the eventual winner of the show. Ferreira is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who also excels in Capoeira. Despite being Brazilian, Ferreira now resides and trains in the USA with the Blackzillians at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida. Ferreira was originally schedule to face Clint Hester on this card, but an injury forced him to withdraw. Ferreira is an aggressive striker who mixes his combinations well, but has also been known to be somewhat overly aggressive at times. He holds a career record of 5-2.
Thiago “Marreta” Santos is a 29-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Santos is a member of the Tata Fight Team in Rio. Santos was a cast member on the second season of TUF: Brazil but fell short to the tournament’s winner Leonardo Santos. Santos is taking this bout as a late injury replacement for Clint Hester. Santos uses leg kicks well and will need to attack the legs and body repeatedly if he’s going to keep the extremely aggressive Ferreira at bay. Santos holds a professional MMA record of 8-1.
Analysis and Prediction: Ferreira is a tough and aggressive southpaw striker who trains with a team of excellent kickboxers at the Blackzillians, he’s certainly going to want to keep this fight on the feet. Santos is going to need to keep Ferreira away from him, a steady stream of leg kicks and jabs should be on the menu from him. He’ll also need to choose his shots widely, because at times Ferreira does leave himself open to big counter shots. Still, he packs one hell of a punch and is going to hold a decided size advantage. I think ‘Mutante’ gets the job done. Cesar Ferreira via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Lyoto Machida vs. Phil Davis
Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida is a 35-year-old fighter from Salvador, Brazil. Machida is one of the top Light Heavyweight fighters in the world who is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Machida is a 3rd dan black belt in Shotokan Karate and a black belt in BJJ, he is also the most prominent karate practitioner in modern MMA. Machida is a member of the Black House and is one of the most prominent training partners of Anderson Silva along with the Nogueira brothers. Machida is often described as elusive by UFC commentator Joe Rogan, known for his excellent and fluid footwork and striking defense. He also has excellent timing and is one of the Light Heavyweight division’s best counter-strikers. He holds a career record of 19-3.
Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis is a 28-year-old fighter from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Davis is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler from Penn State University. Since switching to MMA, Davis has reached the rank of purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has improved his striking considerably. Davis is a member of the Alliance MMA Gym in Chula Vista, California. Despite Davis’ improvements in his striking skills, he is still quite far behind the striking prowess of Machida. Davis is a smothering wrestler, but in his lone career loss against Rashad Evans, his takedowns were stuffed and his striking game devolved significantly. Despite his striking disadvantages he will own a five-inch reach advantage over Machida in this fight. Davis holds a career record of 11-1 with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: Davis needs to get this fight to the ground and he needs to do it in a hurry. He stands fairly little chance of having nearly a remote chance of success in the striking game. So the question becomes, can Davis take Machida down? He’s going to struggle mightily. Machida has excellent footwork, he uses angles well and is very quick making him difficult to take down. Davis will have a reach advantage in the bout, but he’ll still have a problem getting the better of the striking. I imagine that Machida takes this bout relatively slow to start, feinting and jabbing, prodding with kicks before eventually turning up the volume as time goes on. He could find a stoppage if Davis pushes the envelope too much when he gets desperate, but it’s more likely that Machida takes this one on points. Lyoto Machida via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): UFC Featherweight Championship Bout: Jose Aldo vs. Chan Sung Jung
Jose “Scarface” Aldo is a 26-year-old fighter from Manus, Brazil. Aldo is the reigning and defending UFC Featherweight Champion and was the final WEC Featherweight champion. Aldo holds a black belt in BJJ, but he is better known for his Muay Thai striking abilities. Aldo is a member of the Nova Uniao Gym training in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Aldo was originally scheduled to fight Anthony Pettis in this bout before a knee-injury forced Pettis to withdraw. Aldo is a well-rounded striker who is very aggressive with his leg kicks, knees to the body and flashy head kicks. Aldo also has big time power in his hands and has won the majority of his bouts via TKO. Aldo holds a nearly perfect professional record of 22-1.
“The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung is a 26-year-old fighter from Pohang, South Korea. Jung is a talented grappler who holds a green belt in Judo and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Despite these somewhat less than impressive belt credentials he is a creative and extremely talented grappler. Jung also holds a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and his striking style is very representative of that background. Before joining the WEC and UFC, Jung fought for a number of major Asian MMA promotions including Pancrase, KoreaFC, DEEP and Sengoku. Jung is a member of Korean Zombie MMA in his hometown and has also trained with the Korean Top Team in Seoul. He holds a career MMA record of 13-3.
Analysis and Prediction: This fight is a bit of a mismatch, but there are definitely a few ways for the upset to get pulled off. Aldo is the Featherweight division’s most devastating striker and is probably top five pound-for-pound in that category. Jung has decent striking, but he moves forward at a bit too much of a plodding pace to really challenge Aldo. Still, the Zombie is one of the more talented grapplers in the division and is extremely creative with his submission game, the problem for him will be getting Aldo to the floor. Aldo is massive and extremely strong, so much so that he’s been able to fend off talented wrestlers in his career. Jung will need to utilize trips and throws to take Aldo down.
Jung is also returning from a layoff of over a year. That kind of ring rust is going to be tough to shake off. It’s going to be even harder with an aggressive striker like Aldo throwing bombs and pressuring constantly. Jung has shown excellent cardio in the past, in fact in his bout against Poirier he seemed to get better as the fight wore on, Aldo is the exact opposite. He’s massive for the weight class and sometimes struggles to make weight, or oftentimes the cut just has negative effects on his cardio. The Aldo-Edgar bout is a clear example, as Edgar was able to come alive in the final few rounds to take advantage of a tiring Aldo. A similar game plan might be wise for the Zombie if he’s able to survive that long.
Jung has struggled against strikers that are far inferior to Aldo, including being knocked cold by George Roop. Jung has a strong chin and can take a fair amount of punishment, but Aldo is simply the heaviest hitter that he’s ever faced. I expect a beat down from the champion, culminating in quite possibly a knockout of the night bonus check. Jose Aldo via KO in Round Three
The fight has come and gone, and at the end of the day it appears as though the Light Heavyweight title fight between Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones was indeed the mismatch that so many people thought it would be. The rest of the card was a mixed bag, including some highly entertaining bouts, some thoroughly lackluster bouts and a few controversial stoppages mixed with borderline terrible officiating in some cases. Let’s take a look back at the card that was UFC 159 and see what’s next for the main card fighters involved.
Lightweight Bout: Pat Healy defeated Jim Miller via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:02 of Round Three
The opening round of this bout went almost exactly as most people (including the bookies) expected it to. Miller dominated much of the action both standing and on the ground, in fact he came close to stopping the fight at one point. Then in the second round, the tide began to turn. Healy continued to grind against Miller, not abandoning his wrestling for a second, using takedowns and top control to steal back a round and make it even heading into the third. In the final round, Healy continued to keep up the pressure while Miller began to fade slightly. Healy took advantage on the ground of a Miller mistake and was able to sink in a Rear Naked Choke and coax a tap with less than a minute remaining in the fight.
What’s next for Healy? He knocked off a top-ranked contender and the Strikeforce Lightweights are proving that they are every bit as talented as their UFC counterparts. There are a couple of big Lightweight contest coming up most notably Evan Dunham taking on Rafael dos Anjos, the winner of that fight would be a logical match up. As would recent Strikeforce import Josh Thomson who recently knocked off top Lightweight Nate Diaz.
What’s next for Miller? He’s doing nothing to shake his status as Lightweight gatekeeper. He’s a tough, well-rounded fighter but he struggled against Healy who seemed to dwarf him come fight time. This has some people speculating that a drop to Featherweight could be in Miller’s future. For now, we’ll assume he’s staying at Lightweight. He should take a fair step down in competition now that he’s lost 2 of his last 3. Brazilian Thiago Tavares could be a good match up for Miller when he’s done his suspension, or possibly former TUF winner Tony Ferguson.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Phil Davis defeated Vinny Magalhaes via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds
Phil Davis continued to win in mostly unimpressive fashion this weekend. Despite the trash talk leading up to this fight, Davis never let it bother him and never showed a lot of emotion during the fight. In some ways, that has to be considered a good sign, but in other ways, one really wonders why Davis was so uninspired to go after a finish. Despite dominating the first two rounds and well on his way in the third, Davis never looked to get overly aggressive or search out a finish, instead he was content to cruise the final minutes of the fight and lock up a decision. While it is another win for Davis, many fans are left complaining about Davis and his fights, which isn’t going to earn him a shot against Jon Jones any faster.
What’s next for Davis? Even though he didn’t show us any killer instinct or finishing ability, he still showed that he’s a dominant wrestler who can absolutely smother anyone underneath him. He has one career loss and that was to top contender Rashad Evans, so Davis should be working his way back to the top of the Light Heavyweight pecking order. Ryan Bader is a wrestling standout with big power and has a top ten ranking, he’s the fighter that probably makes the most sense for Davis right now.
What’s next for Magalhaes? Back to the unaired preliminary card is my guess. He did his best to sell and hype this fight on social media by engaging in a war of words with Davis, but he wasn’t able to do much inside the octagon where it counts. If Ilir Latifi is getting another fight in the UFC for doing them a solid in Sweden, match him against Magalhaes and get rid of the loser. Put that fight in Europe or Brazil and it seems like a fine fit to me.
Heavyweight Bout: Roy Nelson defeated Cheick Kongo via KO (Punch) at 2:03 of Round One
Cheick Kongo had a massive reach advantage heading into this fight and that was what some people believed would be the difference. Instead, Nelson did what he does best. Relied on his iron chin to close the distance and crowd Kongo up on the inside. He landed a couple of big right hands on a referee break from against the cage and Kongo was down for the count.
What’s next for Nelson? He’s fought a lot of the top names in the Heavyweight division and seems to be quite good at separating the upper-tier fighters from the lower-level fighters. At the post-fight press conference Dana said he’d like to match Nelson up with Strikeforce import Daniel Cormier should he stay at Heavyweight. That fight makes a whole lot of sense. The other potential fighter for Nelson is Travis Browne.
What’s next for Kongo? Kongo showed low fight IQ and despite his past as a professional kick boxer he often chooses to wrestle instead of striking, which makes for sometimes boring fights. I think the UFC could match him up with Stefan Struve. They’re both European, so a spot on the next International show makes sense and the match up will prove which one of them deserves to stay in the UFC and which the UFC could part with.
Middleweight Bout: Michael Bisping defeated Alan Belcher via Unanimous Technical Decision at 4:29 of Round Three
This bout was marred by a bit of an ugly ending as an accidental eye-poke from Bisping cut open Belcher’s eye lid and caused a stream of blood to come from the eye in the third round. Since it was ruled an accidental foul the bout went to the scorecards and Bisping won a Technical decision. With all of the trash talking these two men did leading up to their fight, many thought that they would come out guns blazing, but instead the opposite was true as neither man wanted to make a mistake in the opening minutes which led to an action light striking battle in the first round. In the second, Bisping became more aggressive and the Brit was landing in combinations. Belcher returned fire on several occasions, but often missed as Bisping did an excellent job of getting his shots off before shuffling away from the counter punches of Belcher. The third round featured more of the same, for the four minutes that it lasted as Bisping continued to land better combinations and get the better of Belcher in the striking.
What’s next for Bisping? Well, he’s still a top contender at Middleweight and seems incredibly popular with the fans, (who either despise him or really love him.) The UFC would love to have him work his way to a title shot, but he always seems to falter on the way. If the UFC wants to get him to a Middleweight title shot, they need to give him a couple of match ups that benefit him while gaining name recognition on his resume. The winner of the upcoming bout between Mark Munoz and Tim Boetsch would be a good candidate. Some fans are calling for a bout against Yushin Okami, but I think that’s a bad match up for Bisping and one the UFC will likely avoid, despite it making a lot of sense.
What’s next for Belcher? With his history of eye injuries (he was nearly blinded by a detached retina from an eye poke in a previous bout) one has to hope that this injury won’t be too damaging to his career. Still he proved that he’s at best a mid-tier fighter that can’t hang with the top fighters of the Middleweight division. Still he has exciting fights when they pair him against strikers so possible match ups include Nick Ring or Brian Stann.
Light Heavyweight Championship Bout: Jon Jones defeated Chael Sonnen via TKO (Elbows and Punches) at 4:33 of Round One
Jon Jones shocked several fans when he went right after Chael Sonnen. Many people predicted that he would use his huge reach and kick boxing ability to fight at a distance and pick Sonnen apart from relative safety. Nonsense said coach Greg Jackson and Jon Jones who likely surprised Sonnen when he rushed him from the opening bell. He clinched with Sonnen and battled in close quarters for most part of the opening round. It was close for the first minute or so, but Jones used his size and strength advantage and began to overpower Sonnen. From there he got a takedown and swarmed with ground and pound. Delivering some big elbows that opened a cut on Sonnen’s face and then following it up with more punches and elbows until the referee stopped the fight. Although some people felt the stoppage was a bit premature it was unlikely that Sonnen would survive another 30 seconds and despite looking initially upset with the referee, when interviewed by Joe Rogan, Chael said that he had no problem with the stoppage. After the fight it was revealed that Jones had suffered a nasty toe injury, a likely dislocation at some point and needed doctor’s assistance as he completed his post-fight interview with Rogan.
What’s next for Jones? Likely some time off after that toe injury. It’s hard to pin point where the injury occurred, but it’s scary to think that if he didn’t finish Sonnen in the first, he likely would have lost the belt in between rounds, since no referee would let him fight with that gruesome toe. So people who hated the match to begin with, must certainly be happy that they’re not getting a rematch with Sonnen as champion right away. After the fight Jones called for Alexander Gustafsson which makes sense since the Swede is at the top of the division. Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva is apparently also a possible contender as is former Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida.
What’s next for Sonnen? He seemed to tease retirement after the bout, but didn’t say much. If he does decide to hang it up, no one can blame him. He’s made a ton of money in his last few fights and surely has a job as a commentator on Fox for the foreseeable future. But if he does decide to fight and stay at Light Heavyweight, he should fight anyone who is Brazilian. Especially Wanderlei Silva or Lyoto Machida.
It’s been an exciting couple of weeks with loads of free fights for fans to sink their teeth into. But all of those free shows come with the knowledge that eventually it’s back to the land of Pay Per View where the UFC saves the really big marquee matches. Things are no different this week as the UFC returns to the PPV airwaves with UFC 159 from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. After spending a season coaching opposite one another on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter, supposed rivals, but sometimes frenemies Chael Sonnen and Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones will battle for the title in the main event.
The co-main event of the evening is a Middleweight slugfest between two fighters who really don’t like each other. There have been a number of proposed car and tattoo bets between Alan Belcher and Michael Bisping, as well as several hilarious videos on YouTube leading up to this fight. In Heavyweight action Roy Nelson battles Cheick Kongo. A Light Heavyweight fight between wrestling standout Phil Davis and grappling specialist Vinny Magalhaes is on the main card. Opening the main card is a Lightweight tilt between top Strikeforce Lightweight contender Pat Healy and one of the top UFC Lightweights over the past two years Jim Miller.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Steven Siler vs. Kurt Holobaugh
“Super” Steven Siler is a 26-year-old fighter from Anaheim, California. He is a former The Ultimate Fighter cast member from the final season on Spike TV. He trains with the Pit Elevated Team in Orem, Utah. Siler holds a career record of 21-10. Kurt Holobaugh is a 26-year-old fighter from Independence, Louisiana. He is an import from Strikeforce who will be making his UFC debut. He trains with the Gracie Barra Northshore Gym in Louisiana and holds a professional MMA record of 9-1.
Quick Pick: Kurt Holobaugh via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Nick Catone vs. James Head
Nick “The Jersey Devil” Catone is a 31-year-old fighter from Brick Township, New Jersey. He is a former Middleweight fighter, who has recently made the drop to 170 pounds. Catone is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler for Rutgers University. He trains at his own gym, the Nick Catone MMA Academy in New Jersey. His professional record stands at 9-4. James Head is a 29-year-old fighter from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Head is a grappler who trains at Lovaito’s School of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Oklahoma City. He holds a professional MMA record of 9-3.
Quick Pick: James Head via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Leonard Garcia vs. Cody McKenzie
Leonard “Bad Boy” Garcia is a 33-year-old fighter from Plainview, Texas. Best known for being a wild brawler with a strong chin, he has become a fan favorite for his style, more so than his Win-Loss record. He trains with Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico and holds a pro MMA record of 15-10. Cody “The AK Kid” McKenzie is a 25-year-old fighter from Cordova, Alaska. He is a former cast member of the twelfth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Best known for his string of wins with his ‘McKenzietine’ Choke, he trains at the Glendale Fighting Club in Spokane, Washington. He holds a professional record of 13-3.
Quick Pick: Leonard Garcia via TKO in Round Three Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Bryan Caraway vs. Johnny Bedford
Bryan “Kid Lightning” Caraway is a 28-year-old fighter from Yakima, Washington. He was a cast member on the final season of The Ultimate Fighter to air on Spike TV but has also fought for a number of MMA promotions including Strikeforce, Elite XC and the WEC. He is a member of the Team Alpha Male Gym in Sacramento, California holding a professional record of 17-6. “Brutal” Johnny Bedford is a 30-year-old fighter from Woodville, Ohio. Bedford was a cast member of the same season of The Ultimate Fighter as his opponent Caraway. He trains with the Fitness Fight Factory Gym in Fort Worth Texas and is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler. He holds a pro record of 19-9-1.
Quick Pick: Bryan Caraway via Submission in Round Three Preliminary Card (FX): Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Sara McMann vs. Sheila Gaff
Sara McMann is a 32-year-old fighter from Takoma Park, Maryland. She is a former Olympic Wrestler and was the first American woman to win a Silver medal in Olympic Wrestling. McMann trains at the Revolution MMA Gym in Gaffney, South Carolina. McMann holds a perfect professional MMA record of 6-0. Sheila “The German Tank” Gaff is a 23-year-old fighter from Eschwege, Germany. She trains with the Energy Gym Fight Team in her hometown. This fight will be Gaff’s UFC debut but will also be her first fight in the USA. She holds a professional record of 10-4-1.
Quick Pick: Sara McMann via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Gian Villante vs. Ovince St. Preux
Gian Villante is a 27-year-old fighter from Wantagh, New York. Villante is a former NCAA football player and was once considered a top defensive prospect before leaving football to pursue MMA. Villante trains at the Bellmore Kickboxing Academy in Bellmore, New York but also spends time at Long Island MMA. He holds a professional record of 10-3. Ovince St. Preux is a 30-year-old fighter from Miami, Florida who is of Haitian descent. St. Preux was also a standout football player at the University of Tennessee but made the switch to MMA after failing to make the NFL. He trains with the Knoxville MMA Gym in Knoxville, Tennessee. He holds a professional record of 12-5.
Quick Pick: Gian Villante via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Rustam Khabilov vs. Yancy Medeiros
Rustam “Tiger” Khabilov is a 26-year-old Russian fighter from Makhachkala, Russia. Khabilov is a former Combat Sambo world champion and is an International Master of Sports in Sambo. Before making his UFC debut in his last fight he made the switch to Greg Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He holds record of 15-1, with the lone loss coming in the form of a controversial split decision. Yancy “Frisson” Medeiros is a 25-year-old fighter from Wai’Anae, Hawaii. He is a former state champion wrestler from Hawaii who will be making his UFC debut. Medeiros is a member of the Team Hakuilua Gym and has a perfect professional record currently standing at 9-0.
Quick Pick: Rustam Khabilov via Submission in Round Three
Main Card (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Jim Miller vs. Pat Healy
Jim Miller is a 29-year-old fighter from Sparta Township, New Jersey. He is the younger brother of UFC Welterweight fighter, Dan Miller. Miller is one of the most talented grinders in the Lightweight division, with decent striking skills and a smothering top control game. Miller trains at the AMA Fight Club under head trainer Mike Constantino. Miller is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Virginia Tech and he also holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Miller is quite possibly the very definition of Lightweight gatekeeper as every fighter that has ever defeated him has gone on to challenge for or hold the UFC Lightweight title. Miller’s professional record is 22-4, and he’s coming off of a Fight of the Year victory over Joe Lauzon at UFC 155 in December.
Pat “Bam Bam” Healy is a 29-year-old fighter from Salem, Oregon. Healy was one of the top Lightweight contenders in Strikeforce and will be making his return to the UFC after a 7 year absence in this bout. Before joining Strikeforce, he was the MFC Welterweight Champion, one of the top MMA titles in Canada. Healy trains with the Sports Lab in St. Louis, Missouri. Healy will be returning to the UFC on the strength of a six-fight winning streak in Strikeforce, leading up to a Lightweight title shot that he was never able to cash in on. Healy fights a very similar style to that of Miller, so it will be interesting to see how his wrestling and close range striking match up against a similarly talented grinder. Healy holds a professional MMA record of 29-16.
Analysis and Prediction: Healy had a successful run in Strikeforce, but that’s not gaining him any favors from the UFC. To put it bluntly this is a pretty bad stylistic match up for Healy. Both of these guys fight similar styles, but Miller is a bit better at everything. He’s a more accomplished amateur wrestler, his striking is more technical and solid than that of Healy and he’s got a BJJ black belt and is more adept at finding submissions and sweeps from bad positions or during scrambles. Healy is tough as hell and Miller isn’t exactly known as a finisher, but I expect this one could be somewhat one-sided. Miller busts up Healy on the feet across three rounds, sprinkled with some late takedowns and top control to seal a decision victory. Jim Miller via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes
Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis is a 28-year-old fighter from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Davis is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Penn State University where he won an NCAA title in 2008. Davis trains as a member of Alliance MMA in San Diego, California. Davis has an excellent top control and is a tall and lanky fighter, although he is still developing his striking from a distance. He has however added a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Lloyd Irvin and has shown a strong awareness of potential submission opportunities during his fights. Davis holds a nearly perfect professional record of 10-1 with 1 No Contest, and the lone loss coming against Rashad Evans in a title eliminator bout.
Vinny “Pezao” Magalhaes is a 28-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Magalhaes was a cast member and the runner up on the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Magalhaes started his career in the UFC poorly and was subsequently released, which allowed him to reset his career and he has experienced a resurgence by winning the M-1 Global Light Heavyweight Championship. Magalhaes is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and one of the top Light Heavyweight grapplers in MMA. He is a member of the Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas and also works as a BKJJ coach with Team Quest. Magalhaes has competed in and medalled in a number of major grappling and Jiu Jitsu competitions including the Abu Dhabi Combat Club and World Jiu Jitsu Championships. His professional MMA record is 10-5 with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: Magalhaes asked for this fight by calling out Davis, so he must see something that he can take advantage of. With that said, if there is one thing we’ve learned in the modern era of mixed martial arts, it’s that the wrestler usually beats the Jiu Jitsu guy. I think that trend continues here. Neither man is an extremely talented striker, in fact they’re probably both subpar for their division, but Davis should be able to control the action on the ground. He’ll usually be the one on top, since his wrestling should be strong enough to fend off any of the Brazilian’s takedowns. If he’s smart, he should be avoiding the ground at all costs, since that’s the one area where Magalhaes can capitalize on his mistake. He should use a strong jab and work from range to bust Magalhaes up on the feet over three rounds. Phil Davis via TKO in Round Three
Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Roy Nelson vs. Cheick Kongo
Roy “Big Country” Nelson is a 36-year-old fighter from Las Vegas, Nevada. Nelson was a contestant on the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter that featured only Heavyweights and was the eventual winner of the show. Nelson is also notable as being the final International Fight League Heavyweight Champion. Nelson holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, training under Renzo Gracie. Nelson trains with the Country Club Gym in Las Vegas. In addition to his strong grappling credentials Nelson is also known for his iron chin, his ability to absorb punishment, big time knockout power and one of the least impressive physiques in MMA. Nelson holds a professional record of 18-7, including 16 wins via stoppage.
Cheick Kongo is a 37-year-old fighter from Paris, France. Kongo is a member of the Wolfslair MMA Academy in England. Kongo is a former professional Savate Kick boxer and has also competed in Muay Thai in the past, all before making the switch to MMA. In addition to his technical stand up skills, Kongo has recently been improving his grappling skills. His takedowns and top control are much improved, so much so that he often resorts to taking his opponents down and using ground and pound to control them on the mat, rather than risk brawls on the feet. Kongo holds a professional record of 18-7 with 2 Draws.
Analysis and Prediction: Despite being a professional kick boxer in the past, Kongo has been blitzed by a number of strikers in the Heavyweight division. This is probably the reason for the improvement in his wrestling skills. Still, Nelson is a very talented grappler and is not easily taken down. Nelson is also relentlessly moving forward, even when he’s taking a beating, because of his iron chin. Kongo doesn’t do well against heavy handed strikers who crowd him up if he can’t take them down. Kongo should be using a lot of kicks and a strong jab to keep Nelson at bay, but I think Nelson will simply walk right through those shots and land a big overhand right of his own. Kongo’s chin can’t handle the fire power than Nelson has in his hands, and I expect a knockout for Big Country. Roy Nelson via KO in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher
Michael “The Count” Bisping is a 34-year-old fighter from Manchester, England although he was originally born on a British military base in Cyprus. Bisping was a cast member and the eventual winner of the Light Heavyweight portion of The Ultimate Fighter 3. Bisping is also a former Cage Rage Light Heavyweight Champion, one of the top titles in the UK. Bisping is a member of the HB Ultimate Training Center in Manchester, England. Bisping is a solid technical boxer with strong takedown defense. Bisping has solid footwork, which he usually uses to his advantage (the lone exception being his knockout loss to Dan Henderson where he continuously circled into the overhand right.) Although not known as a knockout artist, Bisping has respectable power having won 14 bouts via KO or TKO during his career. He holds a professional record of 23-5.
Alan “The Talent” Belcher is a 28-year-old fighter from Jonesboro, Arkansas. Belcher is a tough, well-rounded fighter who holds black belts in a number of martial arts disciplines, including Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Tae Kwan Do and Judo. Belcher is a member of the Roufusport Gym in Biloxi, Mississippi training under famed kick boxer and MMA coach Duke Roufus. Belcher is a talented Muay Thai kick boxer with underrated grappling abilities. Belcher is going to be facing one of the best technical strikers that he’s ever faced so using leg kicks and body kicks to establish range is going to be extremely important for him in this bout. One of Belcher’s biggest weaknesses is his Fight IQ, which often leads to mistakes, especially in his last bout against Yushin Okami where he constantly put himself into bad positions, searching for a Guillotine Choke that was never really there. Belcher holds a professional record of 18-7.
Analysis and Prediction: Belcher has the ability to hang with Bisping, but he’s going to need to fight a perfect fight for him to win, and given his low Fight IQ and propensity to brawl, I just don’t think he has it in him. He’d be best off trying to emulate Vitor Belfort’s win over Bisping, but I doubt he’ll go that route. I expect Belcher to get out-boxed in the pocket, but he might be able to score effectively with kicks from the outside. Bisping’s wrestling is also somewhat underrated and I expect he might shoot for a takedown if things get hairy on the feet, or simply to steal a close round. The ability to steal those close rounds might be important, as this one is headed for the scorecards I think. Michael Bisping via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): UFC Light Heavyweight Championship Bout: Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen
Jon “Bones” Jones is a 25-year-old fighter from Rochester, New York. He is the reigning and defending UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and is one of the most dominant fighters of all time. At 6’4” and with an 84.5 inch reach, he is one of the most physically and athletically gifted fighters in the UFC. Jones is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is definitely Coach Jackson and Coach Winkeljohn’s prized pupil. Jones is the youngest fighter to ever win and to ever defend a UFC title. Jones is a former JUCO national champion wrestler from Iowa Central Community College and uses his wrestling well during his bouts. Jones also holds the distinction of being the first fighter to be marketed globally by major clothing brand Nike. Jones holds a nearly perfect pro record of 16-1, with the lone loss coming via DQ for illegal elbows in a fight that he was well on his way to winning anyways.
Chael “The American Gangster” Sonnen is a 36-year-old fighter from Milwaukie, Oregon. Sonnen is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from the University of Oregon where he earned All-American honors. Sonnen has also served as an Alternate to the US Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestling team. Sonnen is one of the UFC’s most controversial fighters but is also one of the best at promoting fights, which is likely why he earned this bout, despite coming off of two losses at the Middleweight division to champion Anderson Silva. Sonnen knows what he is good at and isn’t ashamed to use his wrestling to smother opponents, it’s definitely his best asset. His willingness to blanket fighters nearly earned him a win over Anderson Silva in their first contest. Sonnen holds a professional record of 27-12-1.
Analysis and Prediction: Despite the number of complaints and criticisms this fight has endured, it could prove to be an entertaining and intriguing bout. Or it could also turn out to be the complete mismatch that everyone expects it to be. Sonnen really has only one chance to win this and it’s to smother Jon Jones for five rounds or at least three of five rounds and survive the other two. This is going to be tough for him for a number of reasons. Jones is a huge fighter, very lanky, very hard to get close to and is very athletic, I’m sure Jones is drilling takedown defense. The other issue is, Jones is a fairly capable grappler and Sonnen’s weakness is definitely submission defense.
For Jones the path to victory seems relatively simple. Pick Sonnen apart from the outside, use that ridiculously long reach to smash him up with jabs and leg kicks. Basically, avoid being taken down by Sonnen at all costs. Jackson is a smart coach and he’ll have Jones well prepared to fend off takedowns. I expect to see a measured pace from the champion, looking to time a big counter shot or knee as Sonnen rushes in for a takedown. The other possibility I could see is forcing a clinch with Sonnen and trying to earn a takedown himself. From there he should easily be able to ground and pound his way either to a stoppage or at least enough to create an opportunity to latch onto a submission.
We’ll probably be able to tell if this fight will be exciting or lopsided within the first minute. If Sonnen comes out and spams takedowns relentlessly he’s got a shot. If he tries to box, or goes for some spinning back fist like he did against Anderson he’s going to get pummeled. In fact, he might even get beat up anyways. I just hope that he makes it exciting either way and calls out Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez next, because hey why not take another title shot? Jon Jones via Submission in Round Two
Monday Morning Retrospective: A Look Back at UFC 153 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The dust has settled and once again UFC fans were treated to a highly entertaining night of fights. A main card that featured six bouts completely delivered in every fight. Five out of six fights on the main card ended without the need for the judge’s scorecards and the only one that required the services of the judge’s won the bonus check for Fight of the Night. Let’s take a look at all of the fights from Saturday’s Pay Per View card and examine what went wrong for each fighter, what went right for each fighter, and most importantly, where they go from here.
Demian Maia defeated Rick Story via Submission (Neck Crank/Rear Naked Choke) in Round 1
Domination. That’s the only word that comes to mind when you take a look at his fight. In the pre-fight hype it came down to whether or not Maia; an accomplished grappler and BJJ black belt could earn a takedown against a wrestler as solid as Rick Story. The answer was a resounding yes, as Maia effortlessly worked a takedown, transitioned to back mount and locked in a Rear Naked Choke so brutal that it caused Story’s nose to bleed. With the victory, his second straight first round stoppage since dropping to Welterweight, he put the 170-pounders in the UFC on notice that he is a force to be reckoned with.
What’s next for Maia? He’s now beat two solid mid-level fighters. It’s time for a step up in competition, and perhaps someone with the wrestling credentials to force him to test his striking skills. John Hathaway recently improved his record at Welterweight and has the wrestling skills to test Maia.
What’s next for Story? Story was once considered a top prospect at 170-pounds, but has suffered a couple of setbacks recently. Despite past wins over top fighters like Johnny Hendricks and Thiago Alves, Story needs to take a slight step back in competition. Jay Hieron recently lost to Jake Ellenberger and would provide a good measuring stick for Story’s current place in the UFC.
Phil Davis defeated Wagner Prado via Submission (Anaconda Choke) in Round 2
For all the talk of how bad Davis’ striking looked in the opening minutes of his first bout with Prado, before the eye-poke fiasco, he didn’t fare too badly in this bout. Davis showed an increased awareness in the striking game, pawing his jab before switching levels and working for takedowns. On the ground he completely controlled the Brazilian and showed why he is a top grappler at 205-pounds. His finishing transition was seamless and impressive as he transitioned from a deep side choke straight into an anaconda choke for the victory.
What’s next for Davis? The former Penn State Wrestler is in a bit of a weird spot here. He just got dominated by Rashad Evans in a Light Heavyweight Title Eliminator fight, and has been tied up with a relative unknown in Prado since. He needs a significant step up in competition, but there are not very many fighters available that fit the bill. The best I can think of is the Winner of the upcoming Thiago Silva/Stanislav Nedkov bout, or Mauricio “Shogun” Rua should he lose to Davis’ teammate and training partner Alexander Gustafsson at UFC on Fox 5.
What’s next for Prado? Prado looked kind of helpless on the mat, but Davis is one of the best grappler’s in the division, so we have to cut him some slack. A bout against Kyle Kingsbury would make sense, but he’d probably have to wait for Kingsbury’s face to heal after his most recent loss. Maybe Joey Beltran, he’s always willing to throw hands, at least it would make an entertaining fight before someone gets a pink slip.
Jon Fitch defeated Erick Silva via Unanimous Decision
Jon Fitch may have solved all of his problems with one highly entertaining bout. Lauded for years as playing it too safe, or being boring, Fitch brought the fight to Silva. It nearly cost him in the second round, as Silva had a tight submission, but Fitch fought through all that. He came back in the third round and completely laid into Silva, blasting him with leather from full mount, trying desperately to earn a finish. He didn’t get it, but he did earn a Fight of the Night bonus, something he’s very unaccustomed to.
What’s next for Fitch? Jake Ellenberger has a similar skillset to Fitch and has big power in his hands. Both are headed towards the upper echelon of 170-pound contender’s, it would only make sense for them to meet each other on the way up.
What’s next for Silva? He looked impressive in defeat and handled adversity well compared to some others who have folded against the ground attack of Fitch. He’s still very young and still has a ton of potential. A fight against a big name opponent like Dan Hardy would do well. But the UFC prefers to match up fighters coming off of a loss, so perhaps Amir Sadollah might make more sense.
Glover Teixeira defeated Fabio Maldonado via TKO (Doctor Stoppage) in Round 2
Fabio Maldonado has one hell of a chin and a ton of heart. That’s what he showed in this bout, despite the massive ass kicking he was taking he was still dishing it out and wanted to keep fighting even as the doctors waved the fight off. Glover Teixeira in defeat looks absolutely like the top prospect at 205-pounds that he was billed to be. Ten rounds of pummeling Maldonado on the ground left his opponent’s face a mess and the rest of the division nervous.
What’s next for Teixeira? In the post-fight press conference he expressed interest in a fight with Rampage Jackson, which was the original plan for his bout at UFC 153. A number of opponents turned down a fight with Glover, and after watching his performance at UFC 153 I’m sure many of them were happy about it. Rampage said he still wants to fight Teixeira, I say make it happen.
What’s next for Maldonado? His showing of heart and chin is sure to earn him a reprieve from the company. Dana and company love a guy who’s willing to step up on late notice and throw leather even when they’re getting pummeled, which is basically all that Maldonado showed in this fight. A fight against other main card loser Wagner Prado might make the most sense.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira defeated Dave Herman via Submission (Armbar) in Round 2
Many people, myself included thought that Nogueira may be losing a step or two as he headed into the Octagon in front of his countrymen. He proved us all wrong by dominating Dave Herman in all aspects of the fight game. He also made Herman eat his words that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a useless art form, as he used a dazzling display of BJJ to earn an armbar submission as well as the Submission of the Night bonus check.
What’s next for Nogueira? After the bout he dispelled rumors of possible retirement and said he’s ready to keep fighting. The question of who to match him up with is an intriguing problem. Some time ago he was scheduled to fight Cheick Kongo before he had to pull out due to injury, that bout still makes sense. But perhaps the most intriguing would be a third meeting between Big Nog and Josh Barnett if the latter moves to the UFC from Strikeforce.
What’s next for Herman? Unemployment possibly? The UFC is likely to keep him since they could always use Heavyweights who are willing to trade leather, because really what fan doesn’t love a Heavyweight slugfest? Perhaps a bout with Lavar Johnson that would surely lead to fireworks and a possible pink slip for the loser.
Anderson Silva defeated Stephan Bonnar via TKO (Punches) in Round 1
It was what it was supposed to be. A relatively one-sided thrashing for the Middleweight Champion. Bonnar found a slight bit of success early on in the fight, charging in for a takedown and pressuring Silva against the cage. Once he realized that he couldn’t take Anderson down, that’s when the wheels fell off. The Brazilian clowned around for a few minutes, walking with his hands down and taking a few shots on the chin just to prove something. From there he went on the offensive and a huge knee to the sternum put Bonnar in the fetal position. A few punches from there and that was all she wrote.
What’s next for Silva? If you’re to believe Dana White a bout with Jon Jones, however, Anderson said in a post-fight interview with Joe Rogan that he was done fighting at Light Heavyweight. Perhaps a catch weight bout with Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre is finally in the cards, provided GSP gets by Carlos Condit in November. If not maybe Chris Weidman finally gets his Middleweight title shot.
What’s next for Bonnar? Retirement… again. Bonnar was in a brief hiatus/semi-retirement before this bout came to pass. According to Bonnar himself he was only looking for big fights, with guys who have more Twitter followers than him… seriously. If he chooses to forego a return to retirement, perhaps the unnecessary third fight with Forrest Griffin (provided he loses to Chael Sonnen at UFC 155.) A fight that would prove a fitting end to both men’s careers.
Anderson Silva came to Brazil, he saw, and he dominated. Silva earned his sixteenth UFC win at UFC 153 with a brutal win over Stephan Bonnar. The strange main-event was every bit a mismatch inside the octagon as it was on paper.
Bonnar charged Silva immediately. They fought up against the cage as Bonnar hit a few knee strikes on Silva’s leg. Bonnar and Silva exchanged knee strikes against the cage. Bonnar was trying to take Silva down unsuccessfully. They fought for position up against the cage for about two minutes. Bonnar got a few short punches in. They exchanged a few strikes briefly. Silva hung out by the cage waiting for Bonnar. Bonnar missed a spinning kick. Silva appeared to be mocking him at this point with his defense. Silva laid flat against the cage with his hands down while Bonnar struck to no avail. Silva tripped Bonnar, followed in with a brutal knee strike, and finished with 21 seconds to go. A devastating knee was what did the damage here.
The fight sounded a lot more interesting than it was. The majority of the round saw Silva just lay and wait on the cage. It was a typical Anderson Silva mismatch that saw Silva screw around for four minutes before actually engaging his opponent. Bonnar talked a great game about bringing the fight to Silva but at the end of the day all Bonnar did was try and go for the takedown. Once Bonnar couldn’t take him down he knew he was screwed, Silva knew Bonnar was screwed, and it was over.
The odd main-event came about after Jose Aldo was injured in a motorcycle accident and had to pull out of his scheduled main-event against Frankie Edgar. The UFC middleweight champion had offered to save UFC 151 a few weeks earlier and the UFC president called his bluff with UFC 153. Silva offered to fight on short notice to save the show and perform in front of his home country. Stephan Bonnar was the sacrifice.
Anderson Silva is being heralded as a hero in many circles for taking the fight against Bonnar on short notice. I tend to disagree and have a bit of a cynical point of view on the fight. I think that Silva took the fight to buy time. Silva wants to fight Georges St-Pierre at the expense of dodging challengers in the middleweight division. After defeating Chael Sonnen several weeks ago Silva said he wasn’t fighting again until 2013. The opportunity for UFC 153 came up and the fight with Bonnar was a brilliant move by the champion that allowed him to stall while waiting for GSP and in turn take a very easy fight that was accepted as heroic. Heroic would have been fighting Chris Wiedman or a top middleweight contender. Heroic is not fighting Stephan Bonnar no matter how you slice it.
Quite frankly this headliner was a joke. It was an intriguing fight…for a free show. To charge fans for the fight was ridiculous. I have heard many defend the main-event by asking, “What was the UFC supposed to do?” Oh I don’t know, not allow their middleweight champion to take an easy fight while holding the division hostage? The whole thing just didn’t sit well with me from the start and after seeing it play out, I was even less thrilled with the decision making here.
Silva is now in a position where he is holding out for a fight against Georges St-Pierre. The greatest fighter in MMA will go from Stephan Bonnar to a fighter he outweighs by at least 30 pounds, while avoiding the best in his division and the best in the light heavyweight division. Silva outright refuses to fight Jon Jones and continues to show little interest in defending his title against the top contenders. Silva has no interest in fighting in the light heavyweight division yet takes a fight with +700 underdog? Call me crazy but I have a hard time with the greatest in any sport avoiding the best competition.
The hot rumor right now is that the UFC are moving towards Rashad Evans vs. Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title. Excuse me if I don’t get too excited. Silva wants super fights and I get that, but Rashad Evans? Fool me once (with the Rampage fight) shame on you, fool me twice (with the Bones fight) shame on me. Rashad talks a great game yet at the end of the day is a boring, uninspired fighter in these kinds of situations. Evans vs. Silva is a fight between two UFC stars but at the end of the day Silva is once again avoiding the best in both divisions he competes in to take an easier fight.
Silva told Joe Rogan in the post fight interview that he was not taking any more fights at 205. If Dana White is as great a promoter as he thinks he is, he has to make Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva. That is the match, not Silva vs. GSP. How Silva can just blow off this fight is something else. Can you imagine any other athlete saying he won’t fight the best? Maybe it’s posturing but the UFC is going to desperately need this fight at some point. If Silva retires without taking that fight, it will absolutely be a black mark on his career.
This is probably coming off like a bash Anderson Silva blog and quite frankly it is. As a fan, I am more disappointed in the path that arguably the greatest fighter of all-time has chosen. I can understand Silva wanting to retire undefeated in the UFC. But if he is just going to pick and choose easy fights, retire now. I just want to see the best fight the best and I feel like we were all duped tonight as part of Silva’s master plan. Even more disappointing is that the UFC is a willing accomplice in this charade.
The other big story of the night was Jon Fitch. Jon Fitch fought like an animal in defeating Erick Silva. I can’t put into words how great this fight was. Fitch was caught badly in a choke at one point and survived. This was a huge fight for Fitch who desperately needed a win here. Fitch has made his financial problems public as of late and has said on several occasions that not only did he need the win, but he needed a bonus for Fight of the Night. He certainly earned it. The second round here is a candidate for Round of the Year. I don”t know where this Jon Fitch has been for the last six years because the Fitch that fought tonight was aggressive, intense, and just outright brutal in his assault on Silva. Silva gassed out badly in the final round while Fitch kept coming. I have no problem seeing Fitch get another title shot if he continues fighting with this kind of intensity.
Full UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar results and winners…
Anderson Silva defeated Stephan Bonnar via TKO in Round 1
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira defeated Dave Herman via submission in Round 2
Glover Teixeira defeated Fabio Maldonado via 2nd round TKO
Jon Fitch defeated Erick Silva via unanimous decision
Phil Davis defeated Wagner Prado via submission
Demian Maia defeated Rick Story via submission
Rony Jason defeated Sam Sicilia via second-round TKO
Gleison Tibau defeated Francisco Trinaldo via unanimous decision
Diego Brandao defeated Joey Gambino via unanimous decision
Sergio Moraes defeated Renee Forte via submission
Chris Camozzi defeated Luiz Cane via unanimous decision
Cristiano Marcello defeated Reza Madadi via split decision
The UFC returns to the airwaves of Pay Per View once again this weekend, as the promotion returns to the home of MMA once again in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Originally scheduled to be headlined by a Featherweight title bout between Jose Aldo and Frankie “The Answer” Edgar; the UFC was once again bitten by the injury bug. However, the UFC called upon one of their biggest stars and Middleweight Champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva stepped up to the plate to fight in front of his fellow countrymen, he’ll battle “The American Psycho” Stephan Bonnar in a Light Heavyweight tilt.
In the co-main event of the evening Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira also steps up to help the UFC by taking a late notice Heavyweight bout against Dave Herman. Four other bouts round out the Pay Per View main card, all of them featuring a Brazilian. In Light Heavyweight action rising star Glover Teixeira takes on former professional boxer Fabiano Maldonado. All-American Wrestler Jon Fitch battles Brazil’s top Welterweight prospect Erick Silva. Another Light Heavyweight bout features American wrestler Phil Davis re-matching Brazilian bomber Wagner Prado after their first bout ended after a controversial eye-poke. Kicking off the PPV portion of the event BJJ expert Demian Maia battles American wrestler Rick Story in a Welterweight bout.
Let’s get right into it.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Cristiano Marcello vs. Reza Madadi
Cristiano Marcello is a Brazilian fighter from Curitiba, Brazil. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who was formerly the head BJJ Coach at the famed Chute Boxe Academy. Marcello is a former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter Live and has also competed for many notable MMA promotions like Pride, Vale Tudo and Fury FC. Marcello holds a career record of 12-4. Reza “Mad Dog” Madadi is a Swedish-Iranian fighter from Stockholm, Sweden. Madadi is a wrestling specialist with strong ground skills. Although his striking looked a little bit subpar in his UFC debut, he’s still a better striker than Marcello. Madadi holds a career record of 12-2 and hasn’t lost since 2008.
Analysis and Prediction:: Marcello is an extremely talented grappler, in fact he’s probably in the top 15 or so % in pure grappling in the Lightweight division. However, there is one glaring problem with his game, he doesn’t have the wrestling ability to take the fight there without pulling guard. Madadi is a very strong wrestler and although he started somewhat slowly in his UFC debut, we can probably blame that on Octagon jitters. Marcello is a pretty awful striker and although Madadi isn’t exactly the second coming of Floyd Mayweather, he’s got a reach advantage and the speed to beat Marcello to the punch most of the time. Unless Madadi gets completely wild on the ground with Marcello, he can probably pound out a stoppage in the second round. Reza Madadi via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Luiz Cane vs. Chris Camozzi
Luiz “Banha” Cane is a 31-year-old Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is a former Light Heavyweight fighter who will be making his Middleweight debut in the UFC. Cane was once one of the top prospects at Light Heavyweight, but a string of knockout losses has forced him to retreat to the Middleweight ranks. Cane is a BJJ black belt, but relies heavily on his striking in bouts. He holds a career record of 12-4-1, with 10 knockout wins. Chris Camozzi is a 25-year-old American from Alameda, California. He is a member of the Factory X Muay Thai Gym in Lakewood, Colorado. Camozzi was a cast-member on the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. Camozzi holds a career record of 17-5 including five wins via TKO and 6 via Submission.
Analysis and Prediction:: Luiz Cane was one of the top prospects in the Light Heavyweight division before he got rocked by a couple of heavy hitters in the upper echelon of 205’ers. Now he’s making the drop to Middleweight, and if there’s one thing I dislike it’s fighters making the drop after several losses. Camozzi is far from a top-tier Middleweight fighter, but he’s also not a fun match up for anyone. He’s tough and durable, having never been knocked out in his career. He’s also a big Middleweight, big enough that I think he may actually have a size and strength advantage against Cane. My guess is that no matter what Camozzi loses the first round, but if he can survive, he can probably start to turn the fight around in the second round. Clinches against the cage and dirty boxing will wear down Cane and once the Brazilian slows, Camozzi can take advantage and steal the last two rounds and the fight. Chris Camozzi via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Sergio Moraes vs. Renee Forte
Sergio “Serginho” Moraes is a 30-year-old Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was a cast-member on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Moraes has trained with a number of notable gyms in Brazil including Team Nogueira, Alliance Jiu Jitsu and Universidade da Luta (University of Fighting.) Moraes is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who relies heavily on his ground skills to win him fights. He has a career record of 6-2 including five wins via Submission. Renee Forte is another cast-member of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Forte is also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu expert, who has finished four career opponents. Forte holds a career record of 7-1, but looked rather unimpressive during his relatively short run on the show.
Analysis and Prediction:: I hate to be overly negative in these reviews, but in my opinion Forte just isn’t UFC caliber. He looked overmatched during his season of The Ultimate Fighter and his striking skills were almost non-existent. He is capable and talented on the ground, but that’s not going to be enough to get by in the UFC. Moraes himself showed some pretty sloppy striking during his time on the show. However, he is a BJJ expert and a former ADCC competitor, he’s significantly better than Forte on the ground. Moraes is a better striker, but the fight won’t be there long. He likely lands a quick takedown and from top control he works himself into a dominant position and ends this one in the first round. Sergio Moraes via Submission in Round One
Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Diego Brandao vs. Joey Gambino
Diego “Ceara” Brandao is a Brazilian fighter from Fortaleza, Brazil. He was the winner of the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Brandao is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who trains out of Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Brandao is a highly aggressive Muay Thai striker who has twelve stoppage victories on his resume. He holds a career record of 14-8. Joey “The Raging” Warrior Gambino is an American fighter from Port Charlotte, Florida. He now trains out of his Team Raging Warriors Gym in Saugerties, New York. Before making his UFC debut Gambino was ranked as one of the top prospects in the world at Featherweight. Gambino is a talented wrestler who uses takedowns and top control to earn points against his opponents. He holds a career record of 9-1.
Analysis and Prediction:: Gambino has only one loss in the UFC and it came at the hands of Steven Siler, who has turned out to be significantly better than his showing on TUF. Gambino is a talented wrestler who entered the UFC with a ton of hype. He’s not the first top prospect who’s fallen flat in their UFC debut and he won’t be the last, the question is how he can rebound. He’s drawn a stiff test for his return to the cage. Brandao is a TUF winner, who is extremely aggressive both striking and on the ground. Brandao has two big problems, cardio and striking defense. He works with a smart camp in New Mexico, they have surely done a lot of work on his striking defense. Cardio might be another issue, he just needs to pace himself a little more and not go for the throat every time he senses blood. A more measured approach to his aggression should save his cardio a bit, but against Gambino in might not matter. Brandao and Coach Jackson have surely watched the Siler-Gambino fight. Expect a similar game plan from Brandao. He gets top control and pounds his way to back mount, before securing a Rear Naked Choke. Diego Brandao via Submission in Round One
Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Gleison Tibau vs. Francisco Trinaldo
Gleison Tibau is a Brazilian fighter who now resides and trains in Coconut Creek, Florida with the American Top Team Gym. Tibau is one of the largest lightweights in the UFC, with rumors saying that he often weighs up to 185-pounds by fight time after weighing in at 155-pounds the day before. Tibau holds a career record of 25-8. Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo is a 34-year-old Brazilian fighter who was a cast-member on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Although he competed as a Middleweight on the show, Trinaldo has actually spent most of his career competing at Lightweight, however, this may be the first time he’s cut this much weight in a significant amount of time, so there may be some effects from a hard cut on his cardio. Trinaldo is a member of the Constrictor Team in Brazil and an occasional member of Brazilian Top Team. He holds a career record of 11-1.
Analysis and Prediction:: Trinaldo is a Lightweight fighter, despite having fought at Middleweight on the show. What concerns me is how he deals with cutting weight after fighting at 185-pounds for so long. Tibau is a massive Lightweight, but he’s never really had issues making weight and it rarely affects his performances come fight night. Trinaldo showed good takedown defense against Delson Heleno in their bout. Tibau is a more capable wrestler than Heleno and despite being a Lightweight he’s probably close to the same size. This fight relies on how well Trinaldo handles the weight cut. He has the talent to sprawl and brawl against Tibau, but if he’s anything but 100% this fight swings more and more in Tibau’s favor. I think he takes a Unanimous Decision. Gleison Tibau via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Rony Mariano Bezerra vs. Sam Sicilia
Rony “Jason” Mariano Bezerra is a 28-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Bezerra was the Featherweight winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Even with all those credentials it still wasn’t quite enough to get him on the main card of this stacked show. Bezerra is a talented striker who showcased impressive ground skills as well as he ran through the TUF house on his way to the finals. Bezerra holds a career record of 11-3. Sam Sicilia is an American fighter from Spokane, Washington. He was a competitor on the live season of The Ultimate Fighter. Sicilia is a decent wrestler who prefers to use his wrestling to keep the fight standing, but who also packs significant power in his hands. Sicilia owns a career record of 11-1.
Analysis and Prediction:: Rony Bezerra is going to hold a six-inch reach advantage for this fight and it’s probably going to get worse for Sicilia from there. For one he doesn’t really set up his strikes well, instead he throws looping wild punches that leave him wide open to counters. Although his striking wasn’t the best on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, Bezerra is able to counter relatively effectively, it should help against someone who telegraphs his shots like Sicilia. Add to that the fact that Bezerra is a more talented grappler with the wrestling skills to control this bout on the mat and he’s got fifteen minutes to earn a submission if he’s smart. I think he plays this one safe and earns the submission on the ground. However, if he gets reckless and trades with Sicilia he might get his chin-checked. Bezerra was rocked in two of his fights on TUF: Brazil and Sicilia was dropping guys at Lightweight, if he catches Bezerra on the chin, he’s probably got the upset in the bag. As it is, I think Bezerra snatches a submission in the first round. Rony Mariano Bezerra via Submission in Round One
Main Card (PPV): Welterweight Bout: Demian Maia vs. Rick Story
Demian Maia is a Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is a 3rd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is one of the top practitioners of the sport. Maia is a member of the Wand Fight Team training out of Sao Paulo. It has been under the tutelage of head coach Wanderlei Silva where Maia has rapidly improved his striking skills. He is still not a world-beater in the striking department, but he throws tight and technical combinations, with solid defense and footwork. Maia is a former ADCC Submission Wrestling World Champion, winning the 87 kg division in 2007. The former Middleweight title hopeful is 1-0 since dropping to the Welterweight division. Maia owns a career record of 16-4.
Rick “The Horror” Story is an American fighter from Tacoma. Washington. Story is a wrestler, often relying on takedowns and top control to win rounds against his opponents. Story was once considered a top prospect in the Welterweight division, but back-to-back defeats to Charlie Brenneman and Martin Kampmann significantly slowed that hype train. Story is a member of the Brave Legion Gym in Vancouver, Washington. Story holds notable career victories over Thiago Alves and Johnny Hendricks. Story holds a professional record of 14-5.
Analysis and Prediction:: Maia has been rapidly improving his all around MMA game, especially his striking skills. Despite that, his best chance at finishing any bout is still likely going to be to snag a submission on the ground. It’s hard to draw any conclusions by a bout like Maia’s versus Dong Hyun Kim that ended with a strange injury. But if there’s one thing that you can take from the fight, it’s how well Maia was doing against a smothering wrestler like Kim, he was actually working towards taking his back before the injury occurred. Kim is a significantly larger and more smothering wrestler than Story is, if he couldn’t get Maia to the ground easily, I don’t think Story can. In a striking battle, I’d probably actually favor Maia. He’s more technically sound and has been rapidly improving his striking. Story prefers to swing wildly and his defense isn’t the greatest. If Story wants to win this one, he’s going to need to grind away for all three rounds. That’s a lot of time on the ground with one of the best BJJ talents in the Welterweight division. Maia eventually snags a submission late. Demian Maia via Submission in Round Three
Main Card (PPV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Phil Davis vs. Wagner Prado
Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis is an American fighter from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Davis is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Penn State University, where he won the NCAA title in 2008. Davis has been improving his striking skills throughout his career, but his striking is still somewhat stiff and robotic. Davis is also a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training under coach Lloyd Irvin. Davis is a current member of the Alliance MMA Gym in Chula Vista, California. Davis holds a career record of 9-1, with 1 No Contest, with his only career loss coming against Rashad Evans.
Wagner “Caldeirao” Prado is a 24-year-old Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Prado made his UFC debut in his last bout against Davis, but the fight ended in a No Contest after an inadvertent eye-poke left him unable to continue against Davis. Prado is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but his biggest strength is his explosive Muay Thai skills, along with the big power that he packs into his strikes. Prado is a very large and muscular fighter, although he will likely be outmuscled in the clinch against a wrestler as strong as Davis. Prado holds an undefeated professional record of 8-0, with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction:: The easy pick in this bout is certainly Davis. His wrestling is smothering and his ground skills have been rapidly improving. His striking still leaves a bit to be desired. In his bout against Rashad Evans he was a step behind the entire fight. Davis also carries his hands a bit too low at times and he often gets caught flat-footed while he’s preparing to make a move; either shooting for a takedown or closing the distance to clinch up. Prado is relatively untested and we didn’t see a whole lot of him in his first bout with Davis before the eye poke. He’s still a massive Light Heavyweight who has big power in his hands and a whole lot of nasty in his uppercuts. If Davis plays this smart he works for a takedown as soon as possible, as his top control is excellent and his ground and pound strong. But if he decides to test himself against Prado, it could be upset time. I predicted a Prado upset last time, and I still think he can pull it off. Davis seems like he wants to prove something to himself and that could turn into a problem for him. Wagner Prado via TKO in Round One
Main Card (PPV): Welterweight Bout: Jon Fitch vs. Erick Silva
Jon Fitch is a UFC veteran of over 16 career bouts inside the UFC’s Octagon. Fitch is a member of the famed American Kickboxing Academy training out of San Jose, California. Fitch is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Purdue University. Fitch also holds a black belt in Guerrilla Jiu Jitsu (a combination of BJJ, Judo and Wrestling.) Fitch is known for his less than fan-friendly style, consisting mainly of takedowns and smothering top control, Fitch is one of the best wrestlers in the Welterweight division. Fitch has not been overly active in the past year and a half, suffering a shoulder injury as well as a torn MCL, which has kept him out of the cage since December 2011. Fitch holds a career record of 23-4-1, with 1 No Contest.
Erick “Indio” Silva is a Brazilian fighter from Vila Velha, Brazil. Silva was the inaugural Jungle Fight Welterweight Champion, a title that he never actually lost. Silva is an extremely quick and aggressive striker with excellent Muay Thai skills. In addition to his excellent stand up skills, Silva is no slouch on the ground holding black belts in both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo. Silva is a member of the Team Nogueira Gym in Brazil. Silva holds a career record of 14-2 with 1 No Contest, although one of those losses is in extremely controversial fashion as he was defeated via Disqualification in a bout he was dominating.
Analysis and Prediction:: Silva is a top prospect at 170-pounds. He is highly aggressive, extremely quick and agile and very creative. He really should be 3-0 inside the UFC, since his lone loss was via DQ in a bout that he had in the bag. Despite that, there’s not a whole lot of tape to glean anything from, since no opponent has gotten out of the first round with him. Likewise for Fitch he has been extremely inactive since a knee injury and shoulder injury have kept him sidelined for most of the year. His last bout was in December of 2011 and it lasted only twelve seconds. Many people believe that the fight against Hendricks was the beginning of a slide for Fitch, but I think it’s hard to make that assumption after only twelve seconds. Likewise, it’s hard to tell exactly how good Silva is from his brief body of work. Fitch has shown that he can fight for three hard rounds, Silva we don’t know that about. Another interesting aspect of this fight may be the crowd reaction to Fitch’s ground based attack, and how the referee reacts to the crowd noise. I’ll bank on what I know best, and that’s Fitch’s ground game can deal with anyone not named GSP. Silva might be good enough to frustrate Fitch on the ground and work for a decision, but I just think Fitch grinds away for another less than entertaining decision victory. Jon Fitch via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (PPV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Glover Teixeira vs. Fabio Maldonado
Glover Teixeira is a Brazilian fighter from Minas Gerais, Brazil. Before recently joining the UFC he was one of the top Light Heavyweight prospects in the world, not fighting in the UFC. Despite his Brazilian heritage, Teixeira now trains and resides in California, training at The Pit in San Luis Obispo. Teixeira is a black belt in BJJ who also has strong striking skills. Teixeira was originally scheduled to face Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in this bout, but an injury to Jackson forced a change in opponent. Teixeira holds a career record of 18-2, with 16 stoppage victories.
Fabio Maldonado is a 32-year-old Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Maldonado is a former professional boxer competing in Brazil. As a professional boxer, he held a record of 22-0 with 21 knockout victories. Maldonado is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, training with the Team Nogueira Gym. As one might expect based on his past as a professional boxer, Maldonado is a competent striker with decent footwork, although at times he struggles with his striking defense. Maldonado asked for this bout when Quinton Jackson was injured, but is entering the bout after back-to-back losses and is likely fighting for his job in this bout. He holds a career record of 18-5, with 15 stoppage victories.
Analysis and Prediction:: Teixeira has long been considered one of the top Light Heavyweight prospects in the world that wasn’t fighting in the UFC. In his UFC debut he proved why as he absolutely obliterated Kyle Kingsbury standing, before taking control on the mat and earning a quick submission victory. Maldonado on the other hand lost a grinding decision to Kingsbury, mainly because he was unable to stop the takedown. While MMA Math doesn’t always work out, this is one case where it is likely very important. Despite his past as a professional boxer, Maldonado’s striking defense is pretty bad. He keeps his hands low and his footwork is less than impressive, overall he’s just far too hittable. On the ground Maldonado has BJJ skills, but he’s never shown them in a fight. Teixeira is a handful on the ground and his mixture of ground and pound and submission awareness will be far too much for Maldonado to handle. I expect to see an early takedown, a bit of positional groundwork and then ground and pound to finish this bout early. Glover Teixeira via TKO in Round One
Main Card (PPV): Heavyweight Bout: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Dave Herman
Antonio “Minotauro” Rodrigo Nogueira is a Brazilian fighter from Bahia, Brazil. He is a legend in the sport of MMA, and is one of the most popular MMA fighters of all time. He is best known for his battles under the PRIDE FC banner in Japan in the early 2000s, where he was the first Heavyweight Champion in the promotion. Nogueira is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a black belt in Judo and is one of the top ground fighters in the Heavyweight division. Nogueira is also a talented striker, with excellent technical boxing skills, although he has slowed somewhat considerably as his career has advanced. He is a member of the Black House MMA Gym and the head trainer of Team Nogueira. He holds a professional record of 33-7-1, with 1 No Contest.
Dave “Pee Wee” Herman is an American fighter from Columbia City, Indiana. Herman won the first fifteen bouts of his professional career, all but one of them via stoppage in the first round and had considerable hype behind him. Herman is a big power puncher who has won 15 of his career bouts via some form of knockout. Herman trains at the Team Quest Gym in Temecula, California. Herman has shown somewhat questionable cardio in the past, slowing significantly in almost all of his bouts that have made it past the first round. Herman is an aggressive striker who is willing to trade blows with anyone, this has caused him problems in his last two bouts, both of which ended with him on the wrong side of a Knockout punch. Herman is still a dangerous fighter with big power, who owns a professional record of 21-4.
Analysis and Prediction:: Big Nog was actually doing extremely well in his bout against Frank Mir. His striking looked good, his combinations were crisp, he was keeping his hands up to defend himself, and then he rocked Frank Mir with a straight punch, that’s where it went downhill for him. Instead of going for a TKO win by ground and pound, he went for a submission, got reversed and got his arm broken. Both men expect that they can hurt each other standing and since they’re both Heavyweights with questionable chins, that’s probably true. Herman looked less than impressive in his loss to Nelson, but he was doing well in the first round of his fight against Stefan Struve, but the wheels fell off in the second round. Nogueira has way more ways to win. He’s way better than Herman on the ground and if he can work the fight there, it’s likely that he can earn a submission. However, Nogueira has looked slow in some of his most recent bouts and a career of getting pummeled has got to catch up to him at some point. Nogueira is the rightful favorite, but Herman is certainly a live underdog as long as this fight stays standing. To make it interesting I’ll pick Herman to steal the upset and shock the crowd. Dave Herman via KO in Round One
Main Card (PPV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Anderson Silva vs. Stephan Bonnar
Anderson “The Spider” Silva is a Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo. He is one of the pound for pound greatest fighters of all time. Although this bout is in the Light Heavyweight division, he is the reigning UFC Middleweight Champion. After an injury scrapped the main event of this card, Silva stepped up to take on an opponent at Light Heavyweight on short notice. Silva holds a number of UFC records including the longest winning streak, most title defenses and longest title reign. Silva is one of, if not the most dynamic striker in all of Mixed Martial Arts. He is an extremely technical and tactical fighter whose counter punching skills and striking defense are among the best in the world. Silva is a member of the Black House Gym in Torrance, California. In addition to his excellent striking skills, Silva is extremely talented in the grappling realm. Silva holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a black belt in Judo and a black belt in Tae Kwan Do. He holds a career record of 32-4 and has not lost since 2006.
Stephan “The American Psycho” Bonnar is a 25-year-old fighter from Munster, Indiana. He is actually returning from a brief retirement to take this bout, but is entering the fight on a three fight-winning streak. Like Silva, Bonnar is a black belt in BJJ and Tae Kwan Do, as well as holding a black belt in Kyrpa Karate. Bonnar is most notable as being a part of one of the most popular fights in MMA history; his first bout against Forrest Griffin at the first Ultimate Fighter Finale. Bonnar has spent time in Thailand training Muay Thai, but his best fighting is done on the ground, when he can take down his opponents and control them from top position. Bonnar is a member of the One Kick Nick’s Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bonnar holds a career record of 14-7.
Analysis and Prediction:: Bonnar has a couple of things going for him in this fight. He’s a large Light Heavyweight fighter, his ground skills and wrestling skills are relatively under rated and he’s tough as nails, having never been knocked out in his career. With that said, Silva also has a few things going for him in this bout he’s an extremely powerful puncher, he’s one of the most dynamic counter-strikers in the sport and he’s on a sixteen fight winning-streak.
Bonnar will enjoy a slight reach advantage in the fight, but that’s likely going to be offset by the counter-striking skills of Silva. Add to that fact that any time Bonnar spends trying to strike with Silva is probably time poorly spent for him. If there’s anything that Silva’s most recent bouts have proven it’s that there is a blue print to beat him. Rush him, take him down and hold him there, smother him. It’s not going to be pretty and it doesn’t have to be but that’s how it has to be done. Can Bonnar do that? Possibly, it’s certainly more likely that he steals two rounds out of three, as opposed to three out of five.
Really, Bonnar’s best game plan is to put his head down, throw a haymaker and move forward. He should have a size advantage against Silva and his best chance is to make Silva fight ugly. The longer the two men stand at range is longer that Silva has to get comfortable and establish range. Silva is an extremely accurate striker who moves well and he has made significantly better strikers than Bonnar look foolish inside the ring. Silva is going to need to keep the fight at range, constantly circling to avoid getting pressed against the cage. Silva is a master at controlling the octagon, and using his movement to keep the bout at a range where he wants it. Sonnen found some success by simply blitzing Silva, but as soon as he slowed down and tried to set up his advances with strikes he was reversed, knocked down and knocked out by the Middleweight Champion.
Silva is the pound for pound best fighter in the world for a reason. The likely outcome of this fight is that he earns a late TKO or a dominant decision. I would expect that fighting in front of his home crowd, he’s willing to go after it a little bit more. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing for Bonnar remains to be seen. I’ve already called a couple of upsets on this one, and I’d love to predict another one, just to act like a genius if it happens to go down, but I really don’t think it’s going to. Bonnar does have a chance in this bout, maybe better than a lot of people are giving him credit for, but he’s still a pretty sizeable underdog to the pound for pound champion. Anderson Silva via Unanimous Decision
The injury-bug has continued to plague the UFC this summer and after a fairly disappointing effort in Calgary, Alberta for UFC 149, the UFC is hoping to right the ship this weekend on network TV. The UFC rolls into the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California this weekend for their fourth offering on Fox.
Dana White and the hype machine have stoked the fires in an effort to try and gain casual fan interest in this card by promising that one of the Light Heavyweights in the Main and Co-Main Event will be one of the next men to challenge for the Light Heavyweight Championship. As Eric has discussed already in a couple of excellent blogs, the effort is almost laughable from a credibility point of view, but it’s a stroke of marketing genius that is surely going to get a few more eyeballs on the product come Saturday night.
The Main Event of the evening sees former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua looks to punch his ticket to another shot at the championship as he brings his high-octane style to the cage against former Heavyweight title hopeful Brandon “The Truth” Vera. The co-main event features two more Light Heavyweights looking to get into the title hunt as Ryan “Darth” Bader takes on Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. Two more bouts fill out the main Fox Televised Card as Joe Lauzon battles Jamie Varner in Lightweight action and Mike Swick returns from an extended layoff to take on DaMarques Johnson in Welterweight action.
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Flyweight Bout: John Moraga vs. Ulysses Gomez
John Moraga is making his UFC debut in this bout. Moraga has only one defeat in his professional career and that was to recent Ultimate Fighter winner John Dodson. Moraga is a member of the MMA Lab and Arizona Combat Sports Gym in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a professional record of 10-1 with 6 stoppage victories. “Useless” Ulysses Gomez is a top Flyweight fighter who has cut his teeth in the Tachi Palace Fights organization and is a former TPF Flyweight and Bantamweight champion. Gomez is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has the majority of his wins via Submission. He is a member of Simpson Go’s Cobra Kai Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada and holds a professional record of 9-2.
Analysis and Prediction: Both of these fighters are submission experts and talented grapplers. The one knock against Moraga is that his competition is super soft. Gomez has fought some of the top names in the Flyweight division under the Tachi Palace promotion and although his results have been mixed, he’s at least been to the show. His big fight experience carries him through as he takes a submission victory late in the bout. Ulysses Gomez via Submission in Round Three
Manvel “The Anvil” Gamburyan is an American-Armenian fighter from North Hollywood, California. He was a finalist as a Lightweight on the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Gamburyan is a black belt in Judo and a black belt in Kyokushin karate. Gamburyan is a grinder, who does his best work on the mat, using takedowns and his Judo based top control to dominate his opponents on the mat. He isn’t the most talented striker, but he’s thrown some big power punches in the past and has shown an ability to knock opponents out. Gamburyan owns a career record of 11-7. Michihiro Omigawa is a Japanese fighter from the Hidehiko Yoshida dojo in Tokyo, Japan. Like his opponent he is a black belt in Judo. Omigawa has had success in a number of Japanese promotions including Shooto, Deep and Sengoku. Omigawa has a career record of 13-11-1.
Analysis and Prediction: Both men are top-level Judokas, so the likely scenario is that their Judo cancels one another out. With the grappling game being about even, the likely event is that the person who earns the takedown and ends up on top will win the battle on the mat. The person more likely to score takedowns is Gamburyan. Omigawa is undoubtedly the more technical striker, but he tends to get into brawls and he hasn’t shown stout takedown defense in the past. Gamburyan uses takedowns and top control to grind a decision out. Manny Gamburyan via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Heavyweight Bout: Phil De Fries vs. Oli Thompson
Philip De Fries is a fighter from Sunderland, England. He is one of the better grapplers in the Heavyweight division who has the majority of his wins by Submission. De Fries has stopped six of his opponents in the first round and most of his wins are by Rear Naked Choke. De Fries has a career record of 8-1, with his only loss in the UFC to Stipe Miocic. Oli Thompson is another British fighter from East Sussex, England. Thompson is a former strongman competitor and fared well as a professional strongman. Thompson doesn’t have the greatest of striking skills and his grappling game is based more so on strength than on actual technique. Still he has translated that brute strength relatively well as he owns a career record of 9-3.
Analysis and Prediction: This fight is likely going to be a slow and sloppy affair, but with that said, someone has to win. Neither man is a talented striker, but Thompson hits harder. Both of these guys are pretty terrible wrestlers, but are talented with submissions. I think Thompson will be able to use his brute strength to overpower De Fries and work away from top control. I doubt he gets a submission, but he gets enough top control time to win the decision. Oli Thompson via Unanimous Decision
Josh “The Fluke” Grispi was formerly one of the top prospects in the Featherweight division, but his hype train has been seriously derailed in his last two fights. Grispi is only 23-years-old and has shown some serious flashes of brilliance in the past, it’s hard to make what’s going on with his last two bouts. Grispi is a member of the South Shore Sportfighting Gym in Rockland, Massachusetts. He holds a career record of 14-3. Rani Yahya is a 27-year-old Brazilian fighter from the Constrictor Fight Team in Brasilia, Brazil. Yahya is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is one of the top grapplers in the Featherweight division. Despite starting his career with fairly limited striking skills, he has shown some significant improvements in his skills and although he still has some shortfalls. Yahya holds a career record of 16-7 with 14 wins via Submission.
Analysis and Prediction: I have a really hard time figuring out what’s going on with Grispi. To be perfectly blunt, he’s sucked up his last two fights and his striking looked absolutely awful. In almost all of his bouts before that he’s looked impressive and technically sound. Yahya is definitely the more talented grappler and if this bout goes to the mat I think Yahya has the chops to submit him. Still I believe in Grispi and I think he rights the ship on Saturday night. He keeps the bout standing long enough to take a decision. Josh Grispi via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Phil Davis vs. Wagner Prado
Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis is an American fighter from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Davis is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Penn State University. He is a member of the Alliance MMA gym in Chula Vista, California. He has translated his wrestling skills well to the Octagon, although at times he struggles with mixing his strikes with takedowns to close the distance. Davis is a competent grappler but he is coming off of his first career loss in a bout where he was completely dominated in the striking game for five rounds by Rashad Evans. Still Davis is a top prospect and holds a career record of 9-1. Wagner “Caldeirao” Prado is a Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is a late-replacement for Chad Griggs who was forced to withdraw from the bout due to injury. Prado is a member of the Team Nogueira Gym in Brazil and is a Muay Thai striker with seven stoppage victories. Prado is a physically massive fighter who throws his looping punches with bad intentions. Prado is undefeated as a professional with an 8-0 record.
Analysis and Prediction: There is a decent chance of an upset in this one, although not a great one. Prado hits incredibly hard and throws his punches with bad intentions. Davis is a pretty awful striker and struggled against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in their bout, if he lets Prado hit him that much there’s a good chance he’s sunk. Davis is significantly better than anyone Prado has faced before and is the top grappler that has ever tried to take Prado down. If he scores one takedown, that will likely be enough to seal the fight, as I like Davis to transition for a submission, but his striking isn’t good and he struggles at closing the distance. Don’t be surprised to see Davis win, but there’s an upset brewing. Wagner Prado via KO in Round One
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Featherweight Bout: Cole Miller vs. Nam Phan
Cole “Magrino” Miller is an American fighter from Macon, Georgia. Miller is a member of the American Top Team fighting out of Boca Raton, Florida. At 6’1” Miller is one of the tallest and lankiest fighters in the Featherweight division. Those lanky limbs along with his grappling ability make Miller a tough submission threat for any fighter to deal with. Miller holds a career record of 18-6. Nam Phan is an American fighter from Westminster, California. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Karate and has recently switched his training camp to join the Team Alpha Male Gym in Sacramento. Phan is a talented striker with a fan-friendly style who isn’t one to shy away from a brawl, but he’ll be significantly overmatched in the grappling department against Miller. Phan holds a career record of 17-10.
Analysis and Prediction: Phan may be a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but he is damned near useless at grappling from bottom position. In his last bout against Jimy Hettes he was absolutely worked on the mat and was just pummeled from top position. Although Hettes is a step above Miller in grappling ability, the American Top Team fighter still has excellent top control and nasty ground and pound. If Phan can’t control Miller on top of him, he’s going to be in for another beating. He wins the striking exchanges, but doesn’t hit hard enough to stop Miller, eventually Miller gets on top and brings the pain. Phan was able to survive under Hettes, so I doubt Miller is able to earn a finish, but it should be a fairly one-sided decision. Cole Miller via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (FOX): Welterweight Bout: Mike Swick vs. DaMarques Johnson
“Quick” Mike Swick is an American fighter from Houston, Texas. He is best known for his stint on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Swick is a well-rounded fighter who has decent striking, solid takedown defense and a nasty guillotine choke. He is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Swick has been dealing with a number of ailments and injuries lately and this will actually be his first bout in over two years, his last bout coming at UFC 109 in February of 2010. Swick holds a career record of 14-4. DaMarques “Darkness” Johnson is an American fighter who is a former cast-member on the UK vs. USA season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a member of the Elite Performance Gym in Sandy, Utah. Johnson is also a well-rounded fighter who has split his most recent bouts, going 3-3 in his last six. Johnson holds a career record of 16-10.
Analysis and Prediction: The biggest concern for Swick is obviously how he is going to adjust to being back in the cage after over two years on the sidelines. However one thing to note is a big part of his layoff was a stomach disease, which has forced him into a much healthier diet, which should actually have a positive effect on his weight cut to 170 pounds. Johnson is almost a mirror image of Swick, although not quite as quick and not as technically sound. If Swick can get into a rhythm and doesn’t look completely ring-rusted he’ll take a lopsided decision. Mike Swick via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (FOX): Lightweight Bout: Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner
Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon is an American fighter from East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Lauzon is a member of the Reality Self Defense Gym in his hometown. Lauzon is a talented grappler with 17 career wins via Submission. Lauzon is a purple belt in BJJ who is best known for his stint on the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter after his stunning upset of coach Jens Pulver before the show. Lauzon is an entertaining fighter who is known as a bit of a bonus hunter in the UFC owning seven Fight Night bonuses in his UFC career. Lauzon is best known for his grappling skills but he actually has decent striking and can throw knockout blows if given the opportunity. He holds a career record of 21-7. Jamie “C-4” Varner is an American fighter from Phoenix, Arizona. He is a member of the MMA Lab and Arizona Combat Sports Gym in Glendale, Arizona. Varner recently returned to the UFC after being cut and made a huge impact by defeating the formerly undefeated top prospect Edson Barboza by Knockout. Varner does his best work by grinding his opponents, using takedowns and top control to outwork his opponents. Varner’s striking is definitely not technically sound and he’s a bit too hittable, but he throws nasty power in his hands and his overhand right can put anyone to sleep, just like he showed against Barboza in his last bout. Varner holds a career record of 20-6-1.
Analysis and Prediction: Lauzon is well rounded but is a bit overhyped in my opinion. He is a very talented grappler, but doesn’t do his best work unless he is able to take his opponent down and work from top control. Against Varner he’ll struggle to get the fight to the mat, as Varner is the more talented wrestler and the physically stronger fighter. Striking wise Lauzon is more technically competent, but Varner has the big lights out power. Although Varner gets hit a bit too much, he was able to walk through some serious shots against Barboza before landing the big power shot. If he can weather Lauzon’s opening salvo Varner should be able to take over late in the fight. He lands a big power shot late in round two and throws his name into the race for Comeback Fighter of the Year. Jamie Varner via KO in Round Two
Main Card (FOX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader
Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida is a Japanese-Brazilian fighter from Bahia, Brazil. Machida is a black belt in Shotokan Karate and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Machida is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion from the Black House Gym in Brazil where he is a training partner of UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva and the Nogueira brothers. Machida is best known for his elusive, counter-striking style, which he uses to great effect. Machida is an expert at creating space and forcing his opponents into making mistakes and leaving themselves open to counters. Machida holds a career record of 17-3.
Ryan “Darth” Bader is an American fighter from the MMA Lab in Glendale, Arizona. Bader is best known as the winner of the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Bader is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Arizona State University. Bader relies mostly on his wrestling skills during his bouts as he looks to use takedowns and top control to outwork his opponents. Bader is also talented at using ground and pound to create openings, allowing himself opportunities to advance his position and pass the guard of his opponents, moving himself to more advantageous positions. Bader is coming off of a career win against Quinton Jackson at UFC 144 in Japan. In addition to his strong wrestling skills, Bader also packs a big punch with his big overhand right, although he is somewhat slow and predictable with the shot and opens himself up well for counters at times. Still he owns a career record of 14-2 and is a big win away from title contention.
Analysis and Prediction: Machida is one of the most difficult fighters to game plan for, simply because his style is very hard to emulate. Bader’s best chance lies on using a tight jab and takedowns to keep Machida fairly grounded. Machida is a black belt in BJJ, but he hasn’t shown any elite submission skills from his back and Bader is unlikely to be submitted in that fashion. Bader loves to throw his overhand right, but that is just asking for trouble as that will leave him wide open for Machida counters, which is basically his bread and butter. Bader will get flustered and eventually get reckless trying to chase down Machida. When this happens he leaves himself wide open for the counter kill shot, which Machida lands and stops the fight late in round three. Lyoto Machida via TKO in Round Three
Main Card (FOX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Mauricio Rua vs. Brandon Vera
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is a Brazilian fighter from Curitiba, Brazil. He is a former member of top Brazilian Gym the Chute Boxe Academy, who now fights out of the Universidade da Luta (University of Fighting) out of his hometown. Rua is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is also a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Rua is best known for his highly aggressive style, which includes power punches and snapping leg kicks. Rua is constantly moving forward, constantly pressuring his opponents and is extremely talented at cutting off angles inside the Octagon, forcing his opponents into corners and taking advantage of the striking exchanges. Rua was the winner of the 2005 Pride Fighting Championships Middleweight Grand Prix. Rua is coming off of a Fight of the Year bout against Dan Henderson in the main event of UFC 139. He holds a career record of 20-6.
Brandon “The Truth” Vera was once thought to be the top title contender at Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight in the UFC. Those days are long gone, but Vera finds himself with the chance to leap right back into title contention with a big upset victory against Rua on Saturday night. Vera is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who is a member of the Alliance MMA Gym in San Diego, California. Vera is a well-rounded fighter with Muay Thai skills and Greco-Roman skills. Vera has looked impressive against lower-tier competition in the past, but the knock against him has been that he fades in the face of pressure. Facing an opponent like Shogun, he’s certain to encounter some pressure and violence. Vera holds a career record of 12-5-1.
Analysis and Prediction: Brandon Vera was once the pride of the UFC, expected to be a top contender at both 205 and 265 pounds. Those days are long gone and Vera has been less than impressive in recent years. Vera does some of his best work from the clinch, allowing him to employ both his Muay Thai and Greco Roman skills at the same time. Unfortunately for him Rua is absolutely nasty from the clinch and he has absolutely devastating knees, which will ruin anyone’s night. Vera has looked impressive in the past, but hasn’t in a long while. He was dropped by Eliot Marshall and was absolutely destroyed by Thiago Silva (Silva failing a drug test is the only reason he wasn’t cut from the UFC.) Shogun comes blitzing right out of the gate and storms Vera. Vera does his usual thing and folds up shop at the onslaught, earning Shogun an impressive stoppage victory in the first round and probably a shot at the Light Heavyweight Championship. Mauricio Rua via TKO in Round One
It was a bitter sweet night for the UFC when it comes to UFC on Fox 2 results. On the bright side, they got the right winners for their future UFC money matches. On the downside, they probably won’t have many new viewers the next time out on Fox after tonight’s grinding broadcast.
The UFC took advantage of new viewers and publicity with their first FOX broadcast and delivered expected fireworks. Unfortunately for a show that needed to follow that momentum, they came up real small tonight in Chicago. Three decision fights with very little fire power may have stalled any momentum from the first broadcast right in its place.
Let me be clear as an MMA fan, I enjoyed most of the night. Yet even I couldn’t find much redemption in the opening fight. As much as I enjoyed the Bisping vs. Sonnen fight, I can’t imagine many casual viewers stuck around to watch the fight or the headliner. It was certainly not a great night in terms of the broadcast.
Quite frankly, the choice of matchups boggled my mind all along. Booking Demian Maia, Michael Bisping, and Rashad Evans on such a high profile show just sounded absurd to me. If there is one thing that most of these guys have in common, it is that they have boring fights. They are all grinders and they delivered exactly what any regular MMA follower would have expected. The UFC has nobody to blame but their own matchmakers for tonight’s debacle. I still have no idea what they were thinking.
The highlight of the night to me was Chael Sonnen defeating Michael Bisping via unanimous decision. I thought this fight was much better than most according to the early feedback I read. Bisping never seemed out of it like Phil Davis did, which had me excited about watching the Count pull off a possible comeback. Unfortunately those casual eyes unfamiliar with the fun back and forth between Bisping and Sonnen probably didn’t find it as interesting.
Sonnen will now go on to fight Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title. The fight is currently scheduled for June in Brazil, although Silva has been very non-committal about the date. I have mixed feelings on the fight. I think when a challenger is popped for PEDs after a title fight, that there needs to be a lengthy period before he could even think about a title shot. The ramifications would not have been good if Sonnen did beat Silva, ended his streak, won the title, and then got popped for the PEDs. Sonnen put the company in a lot of jeopardy which is why I don’t understand why he is being quickly rewarded.
But I get it and business is business. This has the potential to be the biggest fight in UFC history. Between the background, Chael’s wacky interviews, the Brazilian atmosphere, and the long anticipation, I predict that this fight will break UFC records. So I do get it. Lucky for Chael he won’t have to worry about any commissions fighting in Brazil. How convenient.
In the main-event, Rashad Evans dominated Phil Davis, winning a unanimous decision. Davis just looked slow and completely outclassed from the start of the fight. Evans didn’t finish him which is always a criticism of the former champion, but he didn’t look to be in real danger at any point in the fight. He went five rounds and didn’t appear to be gassed. It was a great showcase, but hardly the kind of fight you want to use as a selling point for UFC 145.
Evans vs. Jones will take place at UFC 145, or at least that is the plan. This fight has been canceled several times due to injuries to both fighters. I know Evans may not have looked as dangerous as he did against Tito Ortiz but I am still picking him over Jones. I think Evans is one of the smartest fighters in MMA. He studies his opponents and adjusts his style to break their will and dominate them. I think he will do the same against Jones and do enough to capitalize on Jones’ inexperience. You may find that hard to believe after watching his fight tonight, but the guy is a chameleon. I think he regains the title at UFC 145.
The next UFC on Fox broadcast is scheduled for March. If the ratings come in where I think they’ll come in, they will have enormous pressure on them with the UFC on Fox 3. Cain Velasquez vs. Frank Mir is rumored to headline the show which is a fight that could go either way. Regardless, the UFC really needs to do a better job of putting better matches together for the broadcast. They need to put on smaller, faster guys, big guys with knockout power, and styles that make better fights. If not, they will wind up finding themselves swimming upstream for the remainder of the FOX contract.
While this isn’t pro wrestling and nothing can ever go as expected, sadly for the UFC every fight went as expected tonight.
Full UFC on Fox 2 results…
Chris Camozzi defeated Dustin Jacoby, Submission, Round 3
Lavar Johnson defeated Joey Beltran, KO, Round 1
Michael Johnson defeated Shane Roller via unanimous decision
Charles Oliveira defeated Eric Wisely, Submission, Round 1
Cub Swanson defeated George Roop, KO, Round 2
Mike Russow defeated John-Olav Einemo, unanimous decision
Evan Dunham defeated Nik Lentz, TKO, ref stoppage due to cut, end of Round 2
Chris Weidman defeated Demian Maia via split decision
Chael Sonnen defeated Michael Bisping via unanimous decision
Rashad Evans defeated Phil Davis via unanimous decision
It has been a whirlwind of activity lately for the world’s largest Mixed Martial Arts promotion. The UFC continues to start 2012 with a roar of activity this weekend with their return to network television as the UFC presents UFC on FOX 2 from Chicago, Illinois. The main card features a trio of fights, capped off by Light Heavyweight and Middleweight title eliminator bouts. A late injury to former main event fighter Mark Munoz caused some card-shuffling, but many would argue that this has only made the card more exciting with more marketable bouts.
In the main event of the evening “Sugar” Rashad Evans continues his never-ending quest towards former teammate and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones when he takes on Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis. The co-main event of the evening sees a battle between two trash talking experts as Chael Sonnen battles Michael “The Count” Bisping. The final scheduled bout for the main card features former Middleweight contender Demian Maia taking on fast-rising prospect Chris Weidman. The undercard broadcast on Fuel TV features eight more bouts, several of which have serious potential for fireworks. But enough talking about it, let’s get right into breaking down these fights.
Preliminary Card Bout (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Chris Camozzi vs. Dustin Jacoby
Chris “Kamikaze” Camozzi is a 25-year-old fighter from the Factory X Muay Thai and MMA Gym in Lakewood, Colorado. Camozzi is a former competitor on the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. Camozzi is a well-rounded fighter whose best strength is probably his grit and determination. Camozzi is a very workmanlike fighter, his striking is technically sound, but he doesn’t really possess KO power, relying instead on damage accumulation and point scoring in his strikes. On the ground he’s a capable grappler, but isn’t exactly a submission aficionado. Camozzi holds a professional MMA record of 15-5.
Dustin Jacoby is a young up-and-coming fighter from Fort Morgan, Colorado. The 23-year-old is a member of the HIT Squad Gym in Springfield, Illinois, so he should have some hometown support as he searches for his first Octagon victory in his second try. Undefeated at 6-0, he was given his first shot at the UFC at 137 where he suffered a decision loss to the also debuting Clifford Starks. At 6’4” with five first-round stoppages on his resume, Jacoby looked to be a hot prospect but his wrestling defense and grappling skills were severely exposed in the bout against Starks. He’ll need to have shored up some of those deficiencies if he’s going to have any chance against Camozzi in this one. Jacoby enters the fight with a career record of 6-1.
Analysis and Prediction: Camozzi may not be great at anything, but he is well-rounded enough to win this fight. In his UFC debut Jacoby looked absolutely terrible on the ground and was unable to mount any offense whatsoever from guard. At 6’4” with decent striking, Jacoby definitely has the physical tools to control this bout, if he can effectively control the range. But it’s more likely that Camozzi closes the distance searches out a takedown and completely outworks Jacoby for three rounds. Chris Camozzi via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card Bout (Fuel TV): Heavyweight Bout: Joey Beltran vs. Lavar Johnson
Joey “The Mexecutioner” Beltran is a Mexican-American fighter from San Diego, California. Despite his relatively mediocre record inside the octagon (3-3) he is probably one of the fighters who enjoys the most job-security due to his fan-friendly brawling style. Beltran is a straight up brawler, who relies on his iron chin and his heavy-handed stand up style. He is a member of the Alliance MMA gym and also a member of the Blackline Fight Group. Beltran’s biggest weapons are by far his hands, as he constantly pushes forward, no matter what his opponents throw at him. His 11 victories by way of knockout or TKO prove that fact. Overall Beltran owns a professional record of 13-6.
Lavar “Big” Johnson has one of the most impressive stories of anybody in professional MMA today. During a family reunion in 2009, he was shot twice only to survive and return to the cage a year later. Johnson is an extremely powerful puncher who owns 13 wins by way of KO or TKO. However, he is severely lacking in the ground game department, as in his past two fights he was somewhat exploited on the ground by superior grapplers. Nevertheless, he remains dangerous as he can end the fight at any time that the fight remains upright. Johnson also owns a rare statistic that he has never had a fight go to a decision, win or lose this guy comes to fight. He owns a professional record of 15-5.
Analysis and Prediction: My early prediction is that this fight is a serious contender for Fight of the Night. This has all the makings of a potential brawl and it’s likely that fans are going to be treated to a Heavyweight slugfest. Johnson is absolutely terrible on the ground, but unless he is getting completely smashed on the feet, Beltran is unlikely to search for a takedown to exploit it. In a stand up game, Beltran’s defense is horrible and he’s never met a punch he didn’t mind taking on the chin, luckily for him however, that chin is made of granite. However, that poses a big liability for him as Johnson is likely going to be the most powerful puncher that he has ever faced. If Beltran is smart he’d take this fight to the mat, it’s more likely he goes out there and brawls for the fans. He’s never been KO’ed but he’s never fought a power puncher like Johnson. In a brawl, I like the upset here. Lavar Johnson via KO in Round Two
Preliminary Card Bout (Fuel TV): Lightweight Bout: Michael Johnson vs. Shane Roller
Michael “The Menace” Johnson is a former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter: GSP vs. Koscheck, he finished the season as the runner-up, losing at the live finale to champion Jonathan Brookins. Johnson is primarily a wrestler, who relies on his takedowns and top control to win him fights. Johnson is a 25-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri, he now however trains out of Boca Raton, Florida with the Imperial Athletics Team. Johnson has been working to improve his boxing skills, but he still is a fairly rudimentary striker, who uses his punches simply to set up takedowns and close distances. Johnson owns a career record of 9-6.
Shane Roller is a 32-year-old fighter from Bixby, Oklahoma. He has a very decorated background as a collegiate wrestler for Oklahoma State University where he was a three-time All-American. Roller is a member of the Team Takedown Gym based out of Las Vegas, Nevada, where he is continually working on his stand up skills to compliment his strong wrestling. Roller has transitioned his wrestling skills well to MMA, as he is a very competent grappler, who uses ground and pound to search for submission opportunities and has actually won most of his fights by Submission. Roller has struggled in his past few bouts, going 1-2 during the stretch and is in need of a win, still he does own a solid professional resume with a 10-5 record with most losses coming to some very high-level 155-pounders.
Analysis and Prediction: These two men are very likely fighting for their jobs, because anything other than impressive performances from both will likely earn the loser a pink-slip. Unfortunately, both fighters’ backgrounds are rooted in wrestling so a brawl isn’t likely in the cards. Roller is a big power puncher who can end the fight any time that he connects with that big right hand and he’s too good of a wrestler to be taken down and controlled by Johnson. Without the takedown Johnson doesn’t have a solid path to victory and it’s likely he gets controlled on the mat by a superior wrestler in Roller. Expect Roller to use ground and pound to set up a submission late in the second round. Shane Roller via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card Bout (Fuel TV): Featherweight Bout: Charles Oliveira vs. Eric Wisely
Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira is a Brazilian fighter and was a highly touted prospect when he entered the UFC. He has since struggled slightly, but at only 22-years old and having recently dropped to the Featherweight division he is looking to get his career back on track and has plenty of time to do so. Oliveira like most of his Brazilian counter-parts is a Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter, who owns a brown belt in BJJ. Oliveira is a very aggressive fighter who is constantly pushing the pace against his opponents and is always looking for a finish. In 17 career bouts, he has gone to a decision only once. He has a professional record of 14-2, with 1 No Contest.
Eric “Little Lee” Wisely is a 27-year-old fighter from the Team Conquest camp in Clinton, Iowa. A decent striker with a solid grappling acumen he most recently fought at a Strikeforce event where he gave top Lightweight prospect Pat Healy all he could handle on the mat. Wisely owns career victories over former UFC fighters Matt Veach and Hermes Franca, outworking both fighters on the mat using his submission savvy style. Wisely is also making the drop to Featherweight for this bout as well as it being his UFC debut, he gets a stiff test though in Oliveira. Wisely’s career record stands at 19-6.
Analysis and Prediction: Oliveira may look like he’s getting thrown a softball here, but really he has a lot to lose. He came into the UFC with a lot of hype and while he deserved most of it, he didn’t deliver. He’s being given an opponent with zero name value, but who can provide a stern and scrappy test by turning this fight ugly on Oliveira. What the Brazilian needs to do is use his strong boxing skills to control the distance that this fight gets fought at. Using leg kicks will slow down Wisely and allow him to control the pace. From there in the second and third rounds he can open up a bit, and use takedowns to set up an eventual win via Submission. Charles Oliveira via Submission in Round Three
Preliminary Card Bout (Fuel TV): Featherweight Bout: Cub Swanson vs. George Roop
Cub Swanson is a 28-year-old fighter from Palm Springs, California. A veteran of the WEC, Swanson is a Jackson’s MMA disciple with a strong background in kickboxing and decent grappling skills to compliment. Swanson is best known as the victim of Jose Aldo’s flying knee KO which is the feature of almost every Aldo highlight reel, however, he is a very fan-friendly fighter who prefers to stand and trade with his opponents and is always fighting at a high pace. Swanson is really not great in any particular area, but is solid in all aspects of the fight game, however, he has proven to be a bit to happy to exchange in brawls where it does not suit him. Nonetheless he has enjoyed some success in his career and holds a record of 15-5 as a professional.
George Roop has been one of the most surprising comeback stories in UFC history. He is a former cast member of the Ultimate Fighter who made his debut in the stacked 155-Pound class. After going 1-2 in the UFC he was promptly released which caused him to return to his natural weight of 145-pounds. At 6’1” Roop is the largest Featherweight fighter on the UFC’s payroll and provides a stylistic mismatch for any striker in the division due to his long limbs and range. Roop is a Team Tompkins striker whose expertise lies in the striking department. He uses kicks well to establish range and then picks his opponents apart from the outside utilizing his massive reach. Despite early struggles in the UFC, Roop has shown rapid improvement in his overall MMA game as of late. He holds a pro record of 12-8.
Analysis and Prediction: If you asked me who would win this fight when both men were still in the WEC, I would have picked Swanson in a heartbeat, however Roop has shown a lot of improvement lately. Many people felt that he actually defeated Hatsu Hioki, and while I scored that bout 29-28 in favor of Hioki, the fight was a lot closer than I expected. Roop’s biggest strength is his size and he has finally learned to use his height to his advantage. Instead of fighting crunched up, he now stands tall and throws tons of kicks to keep his opponents at bay. Swanson is well rounded enough to stick with Roop every step of the way, but I think he’ll struggle getting inside on Roop, which could lead to him taking a few knees and elbows from a clinch. It’ll be close but it’ll be Unanimous for Roop. George Roop via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card Bout (Fuel TV): Heavyweight Bout: Mike Russow vs. John-Olav Einemo
Mike Russow is a 35-year-old fighter from Chicago, Illinois who will be fighting in front of some hometown fans for this bout. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler and is a former member of Brock Lesnar’s DeathClutch Gym in Minnesota. Russow has decent wrestling skills, but is best known for his ability to take punishment and brawl his heart out. Most fans would recognize Russow from his fight against Todd Duffee where he absorbed nearly 13 minutes of punishment and was well on his way to losing a decision before blasting Duffee with a huge overhand right that knocked the massive Heavyweight out cold. Russow holds a pro record of 14-1 with 1 no contest and is currently riding a ten fight winning streak.
John-Olav “The Viking” Einemo is a fighter from Oslo, Norway. Despite being 36-years-old he is one of the Heavyweight divisions best grapplers and one of the top BJJ practitioners in the world. He is the 2003 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Champion in the 98 KG weight-class and holds the distinction of being the only man to defeat Roger Gracie in the Abu Dhabi tournament. He is a black belt in BJJ and is a member of the Golden Glory Gym, the former home of Alistair Overeem. Despite taking a five year break he gave Dave Herman all he could handle in his last bout at UFC 131, and will be looking for his first octagon victory in this bout. He holds a pro record of 6-2.
Analysis and Prediction: Despite his somewhat impressive record, I’ve never been overly impressed by Russow. His striking is decent, loaded with power, but it’s often slow and sloppy. He’s also shown a propensity to gas slightly in the later rounds of fights, which could come back to haunt him in a bout against a solid grappler like Einemo. Einemo is a very large Heavyweight, who will enjoy a four inch height advantage and a fifteen or so pound weight advantage. Russow has strong wrestling, but like most wrestlers is very poor fighting from his back. If Einemo can hold his own boxing long enough to snatch a takedown he can easily win this bout by out-grappling the American. I smell an upset. John-Olav Einemo via Submission in Round Three
Evan “3-D” Dunham is a 30-year-old fighter from Eugene, Oregon who now trains at the Throwdown Training Center and Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. Dunham is a solid striker who throws combinations well but can be somewhat poor defensively. However, when the fight hits the mat is when he excels. He has strong wrestling with good takedowns and is a black belt in BJJ. Dunham is an aggressive fighter who constantly pressures opponents, oftentimes forcing them into mistakes where he can take advantage with power punches or by searching for submissions. Dunham was one of the top prospects of the Lightweight class before a Knockout loss to Melvin Guillard, he will be looking to put the hype train back in full gear with a big win in this bout. He enters the bout with a pro record of 12-2.
Nik “The Carnie” Lentz is actually a late-replacement for Paul Sass, taking this fight on just over a month’s notice. The 27-year-old from El Paso, Texas recently lost one of the most impressive winning streaks in MMA after going 15 fights without a loss, he was recently out-grappled and out-worked by Canadian Mark Bocek at UFC 140. Lentz is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler from the University of Minnesota. A member of the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, he relies heavily on his wrestling base to win him fights. He often struggles against fighters that he cannot overwhelm with wrestling as he lacks a strong striking game to back up his grappling prowess. Lentz holds a pro record of 21-4-2 with 1 no contest.
Analysis and Prediction: While some people are impressed by Lentz’s long unbeaten streak, I think it had a lot to do with luck and circumstance. He was being completely demolished by Charles Oliveira before an Illegal Knee turned an eventual TKO loss into a No Contest. The biggest factor in this fight is Lentz’s last bout against Mark Bocek. Bocek was able to overpower him with wrestling and superior grappling positioning. Dunham is a better wrestler with just as much positional awareness as Bocek and more aggression. However, Lentz is still incredibly tough to finish having been stopped only twice in his career. As it is, I expect an almost exact replica of the Bocek fight for Lentz but with more damage taken. However, he’ll likely make it to the final bell. Evan Dunham via Unanimous Decision
Main Card Bout (FOX): Middleweight Bout: Demian Maia vs. Chris Weidman
Demian Maia is a 34-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is among the best pure grapplers in the UFC’s Middleweight division and is adding strong technical boxing to back up his impressive BJJ skills. A 4th degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Maia is a former winner of the acclaimed ADCC Submission Fighting World Championships. To improve his striking skills Maia has recently joined the Wand Fight Team. He is a former title challenger for the UFC’s Middleweight title and also has decent Judo skills which he often uses in lieu of straight wrestling takedowns to get the fight to the mat. Maia is an aggressive grappler who is always searching for submission opportunities, but he fares much better when he is in top position as opposed to fighting from his back. Maia owns a career record of 15-3 with 8 wins via Submission.
Chris “The All-American” Weidman is a highly touted prospect from Baldwin, New York. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Hofstra University where he was a two-time Division 1 All-American. Weidman has continued to add to his wrestling base and is rapidly improving his submission grappling skills under the tutelage of coach Matt Serra. Weidman is part of the Serra-Long Fight Team in Long Island, New York. Weidman like his opponent for this bout does not possess great striking skills, however he has been consistently improving his stand up skills as he matures as a fighter. Weidman is a late-replacement for Michael Bisping who received a promotion to the co-main event, Weidman accepted this fight on less than three weeks notice. Currently undefeated as a professional, Weidman owns a record of 7-0 with 5 wins via stoppage in the first round.
Analysis and Prediction: This is a very interesting bout with a lot of angles that could play out. I actually like this bout more than Maia and original opponent Michael Bisping. Let’s breakdown some of the areas of the fight. Strength and athleticism edge has to go to Weidman, although he has gassed in the later rounds of previous fights, while Maia is usually able to go the full three rounds at top speed. The grappling edge is pretty much a toss-up, Maia has better grappling skills, but will spend most of this fight on his back, which is not somewhere that he excels at submission offense. Weidman holds the clear wrestling edge, which will likely be the key path to victory for him. Standing, both have shown raw but improving stand up and have good coaches in their corners, again I’d say this one is a toss up, with Maia having a slight edge.
So where does that take us? Weidman is likely going to shoot for takedowns early and often, and if they get stuffed, he’s likely going to throw a couple of punches and then shoot again and again until he earns a takedown. He’ll need to have improved his cardio, because if he slows down in the third round it’s very likely that Maia will be able to latch onto a limb for a submission. However, it’s more likely that Weidman uses his strong wrestling base to control Maia on the mat and negate his grappling edge. Maia is too smart positionally to be caught in any intricate submissions by Weidman, so the only likely way Weidman wins by Submission is by a guillotine or Rear naked choke. The most likely outcome is that Weidman uses his wrestling to control the bout on the mat, using a lot of ground and pound to wear out Maia en-route to a Unanimous Decision victory
Main Card Bout (FOX): Middleweight Bout: Michael Bisping vs. Chael Sonnen
Michael “The Count” Bisping is an English fighter from Manchester, England. He is a member of the Wolfslair MMA Academy in the UK. Bisping is best known to fans for his brash and cocky attitude and his trash-talking skills, but has legit fighting skills to go along with all his talking. Bisping was the Light heavyweight winner of the third season of The Ultimate Fighter. Bisping lacks strong wrestling skills, however, he has solid takedown defense and strong defensive BJJ, although his main focus is creating sweeps to get back to his feet as opposed to searching for takedowns. His striking is technically sound and although he doesn’t strike with power, he is an expert at using his quick footwork to dart in and out against opponents, landing in combinations and retreating before taking too much damage. Bisping owns a career record of 22-3 with his lone losses coming from the elite fighters of the sport Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans.
Chael Sonnen is quite possibly the most hated fighter in the UFC. He will continue his quest for a rematch with Middleweight champion Anderson Silva on network television and if he gets a microphone after this fight, look out, because sparks will surely fly. Sonnen is a 34-year-old fighter from West Linn, Oregon. Sonnen is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from the University of Oregon, and was also a USA Olympic team alternate for Greco-Roman Wrestling. Sonnen is a member of the Portland, Oregon chapter of Team Quest. His striking skills are fairly mediocre, however, his wrestling is top notch. He uses strong wrestling and top control to grind away at and pound away at his opponents. He is best known to casual fans for his bout against Anderson Silva, where he controlled the champion on the mat for nearly five full rounds, before being submitted in the last minute of the fight. Submission defense has always been Sonnen’s Achilles heel, as he has eight career losses by way of Submission. Sonnen enters this fight with a career record of 26-11-1.
Analysis and Prediction: A lot of people seem to be hyping a Michael Bisping upset special, but I think many gamblers are being lured by the long-shot odds currently being offered by bookies to Bisping supporters. Bisping has earned the nickname “Pillowfists” on the internet, and while I don’t necessarily agree with the criticism, it’s hard to argue as Bisping relies on cumulative damage as opposed to one-punch KO’s. Nevertheless, he will still hold the stand up edge against Sonnen whose striking game is fairly rudimentary and used only as a means to close distance and shoot for a takedown.
The question for Bisping will be how good is his takedown defense? How long can he sprawl-and-brawl and keep himself upright before Sonnen drags him to the mat. Everyone knows Sonnen’s game plan, it’s not hard to figure out, the hard thing is stopping his constant takedowns from eventually getting you to your back. Bisping must constantly change angles and stay away from Sonnen if he is going to have any chance at stealing this fight. However, I think the more likely outcome is three rounds of Sonnen takedowns followed by grinding ground and pound all the way to a clear cut devision victory. Sonnen’s submission defense is basically non-existent and there is always the chance that Bisping throws up a hail mary triangle choke from guard, but his grappling is more focussed on getting himself to his feet than searching for submissions from his back, so I think the likelihood of that happening is relatively slim. Chael Sonnen via Unanimous Decision
Main Card Bout (FOX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis
“Sugar” Rashad Evans is a 32-year-old fighter from Niagara Falls, New York. Evans was the winner of the Heavyweight division of the Ultimate Fighter 2 and is also a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Evans has a background in wrestling as he was a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Michigan State University. However, Evans has continually improved his overall game and has some extremely slick boxing skills to go along with his excellent wrestling base. Evans is a former Team Jackson fighter who after a public feud with current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion (and current Greg Jackson Fighter) Jon Jones, he left the camp to join the Imperial Athletics Gym in Boca Raton, Florida. Earlier in his career Evans received a reputation as a lay and pray fighter who used wrestling to control his opponents, but could do little else. His knockout victories over Sean Salmon, Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell have definitely changed that assumption. He possesses great hand speed and some of the best footwork in the Light Heavyweight division. Evans owns a professional record of 16-1-1.
Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis is a 27-year-old fighter from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Undefeated as a professional, Davis is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from the Penn State University. Now fighting out of San Diego, California he is a member of the Alliance MMA Team where he trains regularly with fights such as Dominick Cruz, Brandon Vera and Alexander Gustafsson. Davis mostly utilizes his wrestling skills to search for takedowns and top control to earn points on the judge’s scorecards. However, he has continued to improve his striking skills and has rapidly improved his submission offense from top control. Davis holds a career record of 9-0.
Analysis and Prediction: This is yet another intriguing bout and is one of the main reasons why I’m looking so forward to this weekends card, (that and the fact that it’s on free TV.) Wrestlers have a constant criticism that follows them wherever they go, that they can’t fight off of their backs and it is almost universally true. The question here will be, which fighter is more likely to impose his game plan on his opponent and actually what will each fighter’s game plan be? Let’s breakdown each fighter’s most likely path to victory.
For Phil Davis to win this fight, he’s going to need to rely on his ground game. Rashad has constantly improved his stand up game and while working with Dominick Cruz and Alexander Gustafsson is sure to have improved Davis’ skills, he’s likely still far behind Evans in terms of striking abilities. However, Evans has never really been put on his back against a strong wrestler and Davis is the superior grappler of the two men, so should the fight hit the mat with him on top it will be interesting to see what he does with it. His long limbs allow him to throw ground and pound, while still being able to control his opponents on the mat, and those limbs also allow him a strong ability to latch onto chokes while on the ground, if he can get Evans to the mat, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him snatch a submission if Evans gets careless. There is also the issue of Evans’ less-than-stellar chin. Rashad has been rocked in fights before, but that was against big name strikers like Thiago Silva, Rampage Jackson and Lyoto Machida, so while it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that Davis rocks Rashad with strikes, it’s more likely that the key to his victory comes on the ground.
Rashad Evans will likely be looking to strike. Once a feared wrestler known for his controlling lay-and-pray style, Evans has tossed that version of himself aside. Now he instead thinks of himself as the second-coming of Muhammed Ali, preferring to stand and trade with nearly all of his opponents. He will likely have the striking advantage and definitely holds the edge in hand and foot speed, so he should be able to outwork Davis in the stand up department. Davis is also a wrestler, which means he would likely fare poorly from his back. Rashad can still control fighters, look at his first two rounds against Rampage for proof, and if he executes a similar game plan against Davis, it’s unlikely that Davis has the grappling skills to catch a submission from the bottom.
Overall I think Evans just has more ways to win. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either fighter walk out of the main event with their hand raised, but Evans has more ways to accomplish that feat. If he can keep the bout standing it’s likely that he will beat Davis to the punch consistently and accumulate damage against his younger foe. On the mat, I’d give the edge to whoever ends up on top. My best guess is that Davis throws a couple of curveballs to Evans along the way, but Evans earns the Unanimous Decision nod after the dust settles. Rashad Evans via Unanimous Decision