The UFC is back on Pay Per View this weekend and once again the Heavyweights are the main attraction. The UFC’s Heavyweight title is on the line in the main event as Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva gets a second crack at reigning UFC champion Cain Velasquez. The co-main event was expected to feature a grudge match between former champion Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem, however an injury forced Overeem to withdraw from the event and he was subsequently replaced by surging New Zealand-based banger Mark Hunt.
UFC 160 takes place live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada this Saturday night. In other main card action Gray Maynard and TJ Grant will scrap it out for a UFC Lightweight title shot against Benson Henderson. Surging Light Heavyweights will collide when Brazil’s Glover Teixeira fights New Zealand’s James Te Huna. The opening bout of the main card is sure to deliver fireworks as noted striker Donald Cerrone battles Strikeforce import KJ Noons.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Jeremy Stephens vs. Estevan Payan
Quick Pick: Jeremy Stephens via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Brian Bowles vs. George Roop
Brian Bowles is a 32-year-old fighter from Charleston, West Virginia. Bowles is a former WEC Bantamweight Champion who holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Bowles is a member of The Hardcore Gym in Athens, Georgia, but also spends time with the American Top Team. He holds a career record of 10-2. George Roop is a 31-year-old fighter from Tucson, Arizona. Standing at 6’1” tall he is one of the largest fighters in the Bantamweight division. He is a member of the Apex MMA Gym in his hometown. He holds a career record of 13-9-1.
Quick Pick: Brian Bowles via TKO in Round One
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Stephen Thompson vs. Nah-Shon Burrell
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson is a 30-year-old fighter from Simpsonville, South Carolina. A former professional kick boxer with a perfect record, he entered the UFC with a ton of hype, but lost some of that shine with a tough loss to Matt Brown. He is a member of the Pitch Black MMA Team in South Carolina. He holds a professional MMA record of 6-1. Nah-Shon “The Rock-n-Rolla” Burrell is a 23-year-old fighter who recently made his way to the UFC from Strikeforce. He is a member of the Fight Firm Gym in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Burrell holds a professional record of 9-2.
Quick Pick: Stephen Thompson via TKO in Round Three
Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Abel Trujillo
Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov is a 24-year-old Russian fighter from Makhachkala, Russia. He now resides and trains in the USA in Fairfield, New Jersey with the AMA Fight Club and the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Nurmagomedov holds a perfect professional record of 19-0, including a 3-0 mark in the UFC. Abel “Killa” Trujillo is a 29-year-old fighter from Greensboro, North Carolina. Trujillo trains with the Blackzillians in Boca Raton, Florida. Trujillo holds a professional record of 10-4.
Quick Pick: Khabib Nurmagomedov via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Colton Smith vs. Robert Whittaker
Colton Smith is a 25-year-old fighter from Des Moines, Iowa. An active member of the US Armed Forces, he is most notable as the winner of the sixteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a member of the Vanguard Fight Team in Fort Hood, Texas. Smith holds a career record of 3-1. Robert Whittaker is a 22-year-old fighter from Menai, New South Wales, Australia. Whittaker was the winner of the Welterweight tournament on The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes. He is a member of the PMA Super Martial Arts Gym in New South Wales. He holds a career record of 10-2.
Quick Pick: Colton Smith via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Dennis Bermudez vs. Max Holloway
Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez is a 26-year-old fighter from Saugerties, New York. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler who trains with the Long Island MMA Gym in Lindenhurst, New York. He was a competitor and the runner up on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Bermudez holds a career record of 10-3. “Blessed” Max Holloway is a 21-year-old fighter from Waianae, Hawaii and is notable as the youngest fighter on the UFC’s current roster. He is a member of the Gracie Technics Gym in Hawaii. He holds a career record of 7-1.
Quick Pick: Dennis Bermudez via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Mike Pyle vs. Rick Story
Mike “Quicksand” Pyle is a 37-year-old veteran fighter from Dresden, Tennessee. Pyle has been fighting professionally since 1999 and has fought for a number of major MMA promotions. He is a member of the Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. He holds a professional record of 24-8-1. Rick “The Horror” Story is a 28-year-old fighter from Tacoma, Washington. Story is a member of the Brave Legion Gym in Vancouver, Washington. Story holds a professional MMA record of 15-6.
Quick Pick: Rick Story via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Donald Cerrone vs. K.J. Noons
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is a 30-year-old fighter from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Cerrone is a tough and well-rounded fighter who is a member of Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting Gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Cerrone is a former professional kick boxer and is a well-rounded striker. Cerrone is also a talented grappler, although most of the time he prefers to trade with his opponents. He is one of the top fighters in the Lightweight division but has constantly come up short in title eliminator bouts. He holds a professional record 20-5.
KJ “The King” Noons is a 30-year-old fighter from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. He is a former professional boxer and kick boxer and holds a black belt in Kenpo Karate. Noons is a member of The Arena Gym in San Diego, California. Noons has fought for a number of major MMA promotions including ICON Sport, Elite XC, Dream and most recently Strikeforce. He is an exciting fighter who loves to brawl, which probably explains why the UFC is bringing him into the promotion despite losing 4 of his last 5 bouts. Noons holds a professional record of 11-6.
Analysis and Prediction: Noons is a talented and technically sound boxer, but he’s struggled against the more versatile and dynamic strikers that he’s faced throughout his career. Cerrone will certainly be aware of this and will look to use his kicks to his advantage. A more complete kick boxer and with a 3-inch reach advantage, Cerrone is also the more talented grappler. I think Cerrone plays this one safe and uses leg kicks and well-timed takedowns to control the pace of this fight, before snagging a late submission. Donald Cerrone via Submission in Round Three
Main Card (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Gray Maynard vs. TJ Grant
Gray “The Bully” Maynard is a 34-year-old fighter from Phoenix, Arizona. Maynard was a competitor on the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Michigan State University. Maynard is a former member of the Xtreme Couture Gym but has recently changed his training camp and is now a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Maynard is one of the top fighters in the Lightweight division, most known for his trilogy of fights with Frankie Edgar. Maynard holds a career record of 12-1-1 with 1 No Contest.
TJ Grant is a 29-year-old fighter from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada. Grant is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a talented grappler. He is a former Welterweight fighter who dropped to the Lightweight division in 2011. Since that drop he has gone 4-0 over increasingly difficult competition. Grant is a member of the Fit Plus Gym in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Grant has shown increased striking proficiency in his last few bouts, becoming more and more content to slug it out with his opponents. Grant holds a career record of 20-5.
Analysis and Prediction: Maynard is a smothering wrestler who has some of the best top control in the Lightweight division. His striking is somewhat slow and unrefined, but it’s been getting better since his switch to AKA and he packs a hell of a punch. Grant may be a better grappler, but he’s not going to be able to scramble underneath Maynard. Grant’s best bet comes in attempting to counter the wild, winging punches of Maynard and outwork him on the feet. If he’s successful at that, I think Maynard will revert to what he knows best, power double leg takedowns. It’s a close fight, but I think Maynard controls the action on the mat just enough to earn the judge’s nod. Gray Maynard via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Glover Teixeira vs. James Te Huna
Glover Teixeira is a 33-year-old fighter from Minas Gerais, Brazil. Despite being Brazilian, he now resides and trains in the United States as a member of The Pit Fight Team in San Luis Obispo, California and as a member of the Black House Gym in California. He holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but also has excellent wrestling skills allowing him to get the action to the ground if he ever gets in trouble standing. He was originally scheduled to face Ryan Bader at this event, but Bader was forced to withdraw due to injury. Teixeira holds a career record of 20-2.
James Te Huna is a 31-year-old fighter from Darfield, New Zealand. Te Huna is a member of the Pirtek Athletic Allstars Gym in Sydney, Australia. He is taking this bout as an injury replacement for Ryan Bader. Te Huna is a highly aggressive striker with big time power in both of his hands. Earlier in his career he fought for the CFC (a top Australian promotion) and won the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. Te Huna is currently riding a four-fight winning streak and his lone UFC loss came to top contender Alexander Gustafsson. Te Huna’s professional record is 16-5.
Analysis and Prediction: Teixeira is a significant favorite heading into this bout and that’s deservedly so. Still, in his bout against Rampage Jackson, he showed some weaknesses. Most notable was his wild, looping punches. Rampage was too tired and outworked to take advantage, but Teixeira will need to watch out against Te Huna, because the Australian has the power to flick off his lights with one big punch. Teixeira is an intelligent fighter, so I think it’s likely he takes Te Huna down early and often. On the ground he has a huge advantage and I think he exploits it. Late in the first he scores a takedown and grounds and pounds his way to a submission opening, either via Arm Triangle choke or Rear Naked Choke. Glover Teixeira via Submission in Round One
Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt
Junior “Cigano” dos Santos is a 29-year-old fighter from Cacador, Brazil. He is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion and is widely considered the number two Heavyweight in the world. Dos Santos is a talented boxer with big power and fast hands. Dos Santos is a member of Team Nogueira, holding a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Yuri Carlton. Dos Santos has excellent hand speed and until his last bout against Cain Velasquez had dominated every fighter that he had ever faced. In some of his more recent bouts he has shown improvements in his wrestling and grappling skills, taking down accomplished grapplers and wrestlers like Shane Carwin and Frank Mir. He holds a career record of 15-2.
Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt is a 39-year-old fighter from South Auckland, New Zealand. Hunt is a former professional kick boxer, who competed in K-1 and was the winner of the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix. Hunt is a former Super Heavyweight fighter who is known for his strong chin and knockout power. Hunt trains at the Oceania Super Fight Gym in New South Wales, Australia and the American Top Team in the US. Despite struggling in the middle of his career, Hunt is currently on a four-fight winning streak. He holds a professional MMA record of 9-7.
Analysis and Prediction: Dos Santos is an accomplished striker and has big time power, but Hunt has been knocked out only by the biggest power punchers in the sport, making a pure knockout seem unlikely. Still dos Santos should be able to avoid the big power shots of Hunt and outwork him on the feet. But any time Hunt is standing, he’s a live underdog, so the best bet for dos Santos would be to take Hunt down to the ground and work his grappling game against Hunt. 6 of Hunt’s 7 MMA losses are via submission, so if dos Santos is at all competent on the mat, it’s hard to think he won’t snatch a submission after ground and pounding away at a fatigued Hunt. Junior dos Santos via Submission in Round Three
Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva
Cain Velasquez is a 30-year-old fighter from Salinas, California though he is the son of Mexican immigrants. Velasquez is a two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion and is also the reigning and defending champion. Velasquez is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Arizona State University. Velasquez trains at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California where he trains with friend and fellow Heavyweight standout Daniel Cormier. Velasquez is a very well rounded fighter with strong kickboxing, excellent grappling skills and extraordinary cardio. Velasquez holds a career record of 11-1, with the lone loss coming against Junior dos Santos.
Analysis and Prediction: After the one-sided beat down that Velasquez put on Silva in their last bout, it was hard to imagine they would be fighting again so quickly, almost a year later to the day. In that first bout Velasquez swarmed Silva immediately, taking him down and throwing elbow that opened a massive cut on Silva’s forehead and simply battering the bloodied Bigfoot en-route to a first round stoppage. Silva is certainly going to be wary of seeing a similar game plan from the champion come Saturday night.
That’s all well and good, but I doubt it’s going to mean a whole lot. Against Overeem, Silva was less than impressive. In the first two rounds, FightMetric stats show Silva landed only 7 Significant Strikes at a less than 30% accuracy clip before Overeem left his hands down and his chin out, opening the door for a big comeback. Against Velasquez who is far less arrogant and far more intelligent defensively than Overeem, there’s not going to be an opening like that.
I expect a very similar fight to the first one. Velasquez might not land the big elbow that turns the fight into an instant bloodbath, but the result is likely going to be the same. Silva hits like a truck, so if he can time Velasquez on the way in, there’s a decent chance he can earn a knockout, but if dos Santos couldn’t time Velasquez on the way in, I don’t think a slow, plodding fighter like Silva can do it. This one gets wrapped within a round. Cain Velasquez via TKO in Round One