There aint no rest for the wicked as they say, because this weekend the UFC once again rolls on with another action packed card. After a fairly successful debut on network television, that saw the coronation of new Heavyweight King Junior Dos Santos, the UFC heads back to their Pay Per View home for UFC 139 from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.
In main event action the recently re-acquired “Hollywood” Dan Henderson takes on Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in a battle that will have serious implications in the UFC’s suddenly very interesting Light Heavyweight title picture.
In co-main event action is a bout that will likely have no bearing on title pictures or Top Five rankings of any kind, but promises the kind of exciting action that only two stand-up fighters can provide. Rounding out the top three bouts of the card is a Bantamweight Title Eliminator fight between WEC Star Urijah Faber and former WEC Bantamweight Champion Brian Bowles.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Shamar Bailey vs. Danny Castillo
Shamar Bailey is a former cast member of the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter. Bailey is a 29-year-old fighter from Chicago, Illinois. He is a member of the Integrated Fighting Academy, fighting out of Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a former NCAA Division III wrestler and uses that to his advantage during his fights. His stand up is fairly mediocre, as he uses it sparingly, more often than not as a way to set up a takedown. In his last bout, his lacking stand up skills were exposed as Lightweight standout Evan Dunham out-struck and outworked Bailey en-route to a dominating Unanimous Decision victory. The former Strikeforce fighter will be looking to rebound in this fight. Bailey owns a professional MMA record of 12-4.
Danny “Last Call” Castillo is a 32-year-old veteran from the WEC. From Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male Gym in Sacramento, California, Castillo also holds a college wrestling background, as he is a former NAIA All-American wrestler. Castillo has translated his wrestling well to his MMA game, as he has improved his boxing skills to the point where he is able to switch levels and shoot for takedowns effectively. Castillo has proven to be a solid measuring stick for the mid-tier Lightweight fighters, a title which he may not enjoy too much, but has proven to be basically true. He has struggled against stronger wrestlers in the past, so the wrestling game may be a key in this bout. Castillo’s record as a professional is 11-4.
Analysis and Prediction: Castillo likely holds the wrestling edge in this one which will usually be the deciding factor between two fighters who rely primarily on wrestling. The stand up game will likely be a wash, but I would give a slight edge to Castillo due to better training and training partners. All in all I think this means that Castillo can control this bout wherever it takes place, so I look for him to take a Unanimous Decision. Danny Castillo via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Seth Baczynski vs. Matt Brown
Matt “The Immortal” Brown is another former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter series, where he was a competitor in the seventh season of the reality show. Brown is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is working towards a Judo black belt. He trains with Matt Hume at the AMC MMA Gym in Seattle, Washington. Despite his skills at grappling, Brown often prefers to stand and bang with his opponents, opting for a slugfest instead of a match up that might suit him better. As a pro fighter Brown holds a record of 12-10, with nine bouts inside the UFC octagon.
Analysis and Prediction: I like Baczynski in this one. I think that Brown is a bit too much of a brawler and that’s going to hurt him in this one. The stand up edge likely goes to Brown, but not by much and I don’t believe he has the power to hurt Baczynski. Brown has struggled against solid wrestlers and while Baczynski isn’t the best wrestler, he does train with a number of them and has likely been drilling his takedowns in preparation for this bout. I expect him to come in with a solid game plan and wrestle Brown to the mat, using some ground and pound before eventually snatching a Submission late in the second round. Seth Baczynski via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Gleison Tibau
Rafael dos Anjos is a 27-year-old Brazilian fighter, from the Evolve MMA Gym, which has home bases in both Brazil and Singapore. Dos Anjos is well-versed in both the stand up and grappling aspects of MMA and is a difficult match up for anyone. He has gone 4-3 in the UFC, but has struggled against some of the upper-tier fighters in the UFC’s ultra-stacked Lightweight division. He is coming off of an impressive KO win over George Sotiropoulos at UFC 132 in July. As a professional fighter dos Anjos is 15-5.
Gleison Tibau is a 28-year-old fighter from Mossoro, Brazil. He is a former Welterweight who recently made the drop to Lightweight and is probably one of the largest Lightweights in the UFC. Tibau is a member of the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is actually a fairly solid wrestler, often using his size and strength advantages to make up for what he lacks in technical wrestling ability. He is a grinder, who is willing to make his opponents fight his style of fighting, which often swings close bouts in his advantage. He holds a professional record of 23-7.
Analysis and Prediction: This is a very tough fight to predict. Both are very tough and very experienced fighters. If there is one thing to look at it, it’s that dos Anjos has struggled against some of the better wrestlers in the UFC’s Lightweight division, and due to his size and strength advantages, Tibau will likely have the edge in wrestling for this one. Tibau should look to use his size and wrestling ability to take dos Anjos down and pound away at him from top control. He’ll do so, but it’ll be tough going all the way to the judge’s scorecards, where Tibau wins a close one. Gleison Tibau via Unanimous Decision.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Miguel Torres vs. Nick Pace
Miguel Angel Torres is a 30-year-old fighter from East Chicago, Indiana. He is a former WEC Bantamweight Champion, who excels at grappling as he is a black belt in BJJ under coach Carlson Gracie Jr. With a 76-inch reach and an extensive training background in Muay Thai, Torres is one of the most difficult Bantamweight fighters to strike against. He recently switched gyms and joined the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Torres is a very experienced fighter who is very dangerous no matter where the fight takes place. The former WEC Champion owns a professional fighting record of 38-4.
Nick Pace is a member of the Tiger Schulmann Fight Team out of New York City, New York. Pace made his bones in the Ring of Combat promotion, where he was the inaugural RoC Bantamweight Champion. Pace trains alongside former Bellator champion Lyman Good. Pace is 1-1 in his UFC career and has never been finished in his entire career. He is a very tough and well-rounded mixed martial artist, who in an awesome story, began martial arts at the age of ten after being influenced by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Pace’s career record is 6-2.
Analysis and Prediction: I like the former WEC Champion Torres in this one. I believe that Pace’s only chance to win this one is to outwrestle Torres and that is easier said than done. Many people might point to Demetrious Johnson’s recent win over Torres, but I believe that Torres won that bout and that being on top does not equal winning. Torres is solid from the bottom, with a very aggressive guard, so even if Pace gets him down, it’s still not going to be easy. Standing I think Torres has too much, with too many angles and is too aggressive. Torres can win this fight anywhere it goes, I think he eventually overwhelms Pace en route to a first round TKO. Miguel Angel Torres via TKO Round One
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Tom Lawlor vs. Chris Weidman
Tom “The Filthy Mauler” Lawlor is a 28-year-old fighter from Fall River, Massachusetts. He is a wrestler and a boxer who has achieved the rank of blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Lawlor now fights out of Providence, Rhode Island where he is a member of the Lauzon MMA gym where he trains daily with Joe Lauzon. Lawlor was a cast-member of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir. Lawlor is also known for his imitations of past UFC superstars, including Art Jimmerson, Dan Severn and Harold Howard. Lawlor owns a professional MMA record of 7-3-1.
Chris “The All-American” Weidman is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Baldwin, New York. Weidman is one of the top-ranked prospects from the Middleweight division. Weidman trains as part of the Serra-Longo Fight Team in Mineola, New York. In addition to his wrestling skills Weidman has added solid boxing skills to his repertoire, along with big knockout power in both of his hands. Weidman has also achieved a purple belt in BJJ under his Jiu Jitsu coach Matt Serra. Weidman owns a perfect professional record of 6-0.
Analysis and Prediction: I like Tom Lawlor a lot, I think he’s very entertaining outside and inside the cage, but he’s got a tough test in this one. Weidman deserves every bit of his top prospect status. He is an excellent wrestler with great takedowns and is extremely active from the top, working solid ground and pound and consistently working towards a finish. He also has developed a decent grappling game, both offensively and defensively and is ever-improving in the stand up realm. I think Weidman continues his path of dominance in this one, en-route to a second round victory via TKO. Chris Weidman via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (SPIKE TV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Ryan Bader vs. Jason Brilz
Ryan “Darth” Bader is an American fighter who is part of the Power MMA Team. Bader is a former cast-member of The Ultimate Fighter where he was the eventual winner of the show, defeating Vinny Magalhaes to win the show’s title. Bader was a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler, wrestling out of Arizona State University where he was a teammate of C.B. Dolloway and Cain Velasquez. Bader was riding high on his way up the UFC’s Light Heavyweight ladder, but has been knocked down a couple of pegs after losses to Jon Jones and Tito Ortiz. Bader’s professional record is 12-2.
Jason “The Hitman” Brilz is a former NCAA Division II Wrestler. The 36-year-old from Bismarck, North Dakota. Brilz wrestled for the University of Nebraska-Omaha where he compiled a 63-34 record. Brilz is a fairly straight forward fighter, who uses his wrestling skills to earn takedowns and work ground and pound against his opponents. Although Brilz has dominated a number of his opponents he has struggled against the upper-echelon of UFC Light Heavyweight fighters. Brilz owns a career record of 18-4-1.
Analysis and Prediction: I think Ryan Bader gets back on track in this one. I don’t put a whole lot of stock in his last loss to Tito Ortiz. He was caught with an early punch and never really got into it after that. I don’t think Brilz has the power to hurt Bader standing and after two straight losses, I think Bader will rely more on his bread and butter, which is his wrestling. I believe he holds an edge over Brilz in wrestling and thus can dominate the fight. He’s desperate for a win, so I doubt he’ll put himself into harms way too much, but Bader wins a decision. Ryan Bader via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (SPIKE TV): Bantamweight Bout: Michael McDonald vs. Alex Soto
Michael “Mayday” McDonald is a 20-year-old fighter from Modesto, California. McDonald is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter who also possesses stellar kickboxing skills. McDonald has lost only once in his professional career, but has since avenged that loss with a crushing KO. McDonald is a very active fighter who continually pushes the pace against his opponents. In addition to his crisp, accurate striking game, McDonald also has a very active ground game. He is able to snatch submission attempts out of thin air and often comes out on top of scrambles against his opponents. McDonald’s career record is 13-1.
Alex Soto is a Mexican-American fighter who now fights out of San Diego, California. He is a member of the Team Hurricane Awesome gym in California. Soto is a former infantryman in the US Army where he spent 4 years. Soto is undefeated in his professional career who has fought in both Mexico and California. He has won all of his fights by stoppage except for one, a fight he won by decision. Soto will be making his UFC debut in this fight and will be in tough water for his debut, against McDonald. Soto is a Jiu Jitsu fighter with decent standing skills and will need to be at his best against McDonald. He holds a pro MMA record of 6-0-1.
Analysis and Prediction: Another tough one here to predict, between two very young and very talented up-and-coming fighters. McDonald is likely going to be too much for Soto here, as Soto is taking this fight on slightly short notice. McDonald is too talented of a striker to drop this one. He has big power, especially for a Bantamweight and is very aware on the ground. Soto is likely going to have some Octagon jitters and is fighting on a significantly larger stage than usual, and he’s getting an extremely tough match for his UFC debut. That alone will likely earn him another shot in the Octagon, but I don’t think he can pull off the upset here. Michael McDonald via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Stephan Bonnar vs. Kyle Kingsbury
Stephan “The American Psycho” Bonnar who is most well known for his epic brawl with Forrest Griffin at the Ultimate Fighter finale. He was the runner up on the first ever season of the reality show. Bonnar is an extremely tough and durable fighter who has never been submitted in his MMA career and his only two stoppage losses are via TKO due to cuts. Bonnar is a Muay Thai fighter, who also holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Tae Kwon Do. Despite his solid chin, Bonnar is also more of a brawler, rather than a technical boxer. Bonnar has a professional MMA record of 13-7.
Kyle “Kingsbu” Kingsbury owns one of the worst nicknames in MMA history, but that has not stopped his impressive streak since his time spent on the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a former NCAA Division I football player, who has since transitioned to MMA. At 6’4″ he is one of the larger and more physically gifted fighters in the Light Heavyweight division. Training out of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California he is a Muay Thai fighter with decent wrestling skills. His football skills have translated well to help his takedown offense and he has developed strong kicks and knees. Since losing his UFC debut to Tom Lawlor he has reeled off 4 straight victories and has looked more and more impressive in each bout since. He owns a career record of 11-2-1.
Analysis and Prediction: I’ve been betting against Kingsbury the last few times and it’s been stinging me. He’s taking a step up in competition in this one, as Bonnar is extremely tough and isn’t really weak in any area. However, with the improvements that Kingsbury has shown in between all of his previous fights, I think he’ll be coming into this one better than ever. Bonnar has proven to be extremely durable during his career and I don’t think Kingsbury can change that, but I think he can use takedowns and establish top control enough to earn a Unanimous Decision nod. Kyle Kingsbury via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Welterweight Bout: Martin Kampmann vs. Rick Story
Martin “The Hitman” Kampmann is a Dutch-born fighter. Kampmann currently fights out of Las Vegas, Nevada where he is a member of the Xtreme Couture gym. He has very strong Muay Thai striking skills and is a very quick and accurate striker. He also has brown belt BJJ skills under Robert Drysdale and has an impressive 6 career victories via Submission. Because of how well-rounded he is, he is an extremely tough match up for many fighters. Kampmann is entering this fight coming off of two highly contested decisions one to Jake Shields and one to Diego Sanchez, the latter being a fight, that many people, myself included has scored for Kampmann. The Danish striker owns a professional record of 17-5.
Rick “The Horror” Story is a 27-year-old fighter from Tacoma, Washington. Story is a strong wrestler and a decent boxer, who often uses his stand up striking skills to keep his opponent’s off-balance while he times out a takedown attempt. He is a member of the Brave Legion MMA Gym in Vancouver, Washington. Story was riding a high streak entering his last fight and was primed for a run at the Welterweight title after wins over Dustin Hazelett, Johny Hendricks and Thiago Alves, however a late opponent switch cost Story dearly, as he was outworked over three rounds by 24-hour notice replacement Charlie Brenneman. He will be looking to start his climb back to the top in this fight. Story owns a professional record of 13-4.
Analysis and Prediction: Kampmann is a very tough and very game fighter and this is going to be a tough match for Story. Kampmann holds the stand up edge as his crisp Thai boxing and counter punching style is sure to cause problems for the wrestler. Story is more of an aggressive grinder, who will constantly plug forward. Story has the edge in wrestling offense and Kampmann has struggled in the past against fighters who can outmuscle him and push him around. If Story can establish that wrestling edge, I think he can take a decision, but I don’t think he can finish the Dane. Rick Story via Split Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Bantamweight Bout: Brian Bowles vs. Urijah Faber
Brian Bowles is a former WEC Bantamweight Champion who is looking to defeat Faber and earn himself another chance at the title he used to hold. He is a member of the Hardcore Gym in Athens, Georgia where he trains under former UFC fighter Rory Singer. Bowles is a strong striker who has knockout power in his hands, but has struggled with hand injuries in previous fights. In addition to his strong boxing Bowles has also developed a decent ground game, earning a brown belt in BJJ under Singer, however, it is rare that we have seen Bowles placed in a position on his back where he needs to show off his grappling skills. Bowles prefers to stand and trade with his opponents, using his power to either set up a submission opening or simply to knock his opponents out. Bowles owns a career MMA record of 10-1.
Urijah “The California Kid” Faber is the one-time poster boy for the former WEC. The former WEC Featherweight Champion has since dropped down to Bantamweight since the WEC was folded into the UFC. After a tough decision loss to Bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz, he is looking to earn a rematch with a win in this bout. Faber is a former collegiate wrestler with a brown belt in BJJ who pushes the pace against his opponents and tries to overwhelm them. By using his strikes and his solid wrestling, he often tries to create scrambles on the mat against his opponents, where he often is able to snatch a submission attempt, or at least end up on top of his opponent. Faber is a member of the Team Alpha Male gym in Sacramento, California where he is one of the founding members. Faber owns a career record of 25-5.
Analysis and Prediction: In a bit of an underdog play, I like Bowles in this one. I do however have one concern, Bowles often struggles with hand injuries and if he injures his hand in this one, it might end up costing him. However, he is the exact type of style match up that can force Faber into fits. Faber is best when he can take his opponents down at will and pressure and push the pace on his opponents. Against Bowles he won’t be able to do that as Bowles has a strong counter-wrestling style with big power that can make Faber pay if his takedowns are unsuccessful. Bowles has one shot KO power and Faber has shown a tendency to leave his chin exposed at times when going for some of his flashy striking. Bowles has the ability to make him pay for that and with a title shot on the line, I like Bowles. Brian Bowles via TKO in Round Three
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Cung Le vs. Wanderlei Silva
Cung “The Human Highlight Reel” Le is a Vietnamese fighter and actor from San Jose, California. He is making his UFC debut in this fight, after competing for Strikeforce for the rest of his earlier career. Le is a former professional Sanshou Kickboxer, which is a form of kickboxing which combines takedowns and throws. Le is also a former California JUCO wrestling champion and a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Despite his impressive resume of Martial Arts achievements, Le’s bread and butter is his striking game. He is an extremely flashy striker with great hand speed and an array of impressive moves. Training out of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Le’s professional kickboxing record was a perfect 17-0 and his pro MMA record is 7-1, and has since avenged his only professional loss to Scott Smith in devastating fashion.
Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva is an MMA legend from Curitiba, Brazil. He is an accomplished fighter famous for his Vale Tudo bouts in Brazil as well as his MMA fights from PRIDE in Japan. Silva is a former member of the Chute Boxe team who now trains at his own gym in Las Vegas, Nevada as part of the Wand Fight Team. Wand is an extremely aggressive Muay Thai kickboxer with under-rated grappling skills and a black belt in BJJ. Despite his decent grappling acumen, Silva prefers to brawl. It’s this brawling style that has garnered him legions of fans, but it has also been his downfall in recent years. As his age has continued to increase he has become slower and his chin is no longer able to take the huge shots that he was once able to withstand. Despite this Silva is still a very game fighter, who is always dangerous as long as he is still conscious and will bring the fight every time. He owns a professional MMA record of 33-11-1-1.
Analysis and Prediction: I’m a bit torn on this one. I love Wanderlei I really do, but he’s on the tail end of a career of being punished and beaten, which is clearly showing signs on his body and his chin. Cung Le is actually the elder fighter in this one, but after a career being absolutely abused and demolished after twenty plus years of fighting professionally, you would think he likely has the better conditioning, with more left in the tank. He’s got the style to give Wanderlei fits now as well. He can touch Wanderlei’s chin almost at will, and while Silva will be a style completely new to him, it shouldn’t be a problem. I expect Cung Le outboxes Silva for the majority of the first two rounds before stopping him in the third in a fairly lopsided bout that may be the end of The Axe Murderer’s career.
Main Event (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua
Dan “Hollywood” Henderson is 41-year-old American fighter from Downey, California. The former Olympic Wrestler competed in the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics as a member of Team USA’s Greco-Roman Wrestling Team. He is a veteran MMA fighter with over 35 career bouts on his resume. Henderson is a member of Team Quest out of Temecula, California. Henderson has outstanding wrestling skills, an iron chin and massive knockout power in his right hand. Although he used to be known as more of a lay-and-pray fighter, earning him the nickname “Decision Dan” he has been obliterating opponents with his big right hand as of late, ending each of his last three fights via crushing KO. Henderson has a career record of 28-8.
Analysis and Prediction: Well, I couldn’t bank against Hendo against Fedor and I’m not sure I can now. Henderson likely watched the Jon Jones vs. Shogun fight and was likely taking notes. Although in his last few fights he has preferred the stand up, I can’t imagine he will choose to stand against someone as dangerous and aggressive as Rua. Shogun has great Thai boxing, but struggled against the wrestling of Jones and has shown some weakness against it in the past, in bouts against Mark Coleman and Forrest Griffin (the first time.) If Henderson comes in with a smart game plan I think he makes Shogun constantly weary of the takedown, earning a few key takedowns along the way. Also, he should be looking to unload that huge right hand of his. If that lands it likely spells the end of the fight and if he can have Shogun constantly worried about him changing levels I think he can find an opening for the big right hand. However, if he fails to make Shogun worry about the takedown or simply chooses to stand in front of the dangerous Brazilian, it will likely be a long night for him and it may end with him on the wrong side of a decision. Dan Henderson via TKO in Round Three.
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