UFC RIO or UFC 134: Silva vs. Okami (Choose Your Own Brazilian Adventure)
Fear not, oh CamelClutch faithful. Unlike those times where I say I will not do something and then immediately do it afterward, I do not know a lick of Brazilian Portuguese nor will I attempt to insult the language by using words or phrases in this write up. However, if the UFC goes to Italy, those six years of Italian from grades seven through twelve is going to come in pretty handy.
Moving on….this Saturday, the UFC heads down to the fertile crescent of mixed martial arts for an obviously Brazilian-heavy card with plenty of questions: can Yushin Okami stop the Far East’s slump by upsetting hometown hero Anderson Silva? Can lightning strike twice for Forrest Griffin? What condition are Shogun’s knees in? Will the UFC simply start plucking presumably gorgeous local women out of the crowd to be ring card girls after EVERY round? While I cannot offer an answer to that last one (I hope they do), I can offer meaningless opinions on the fights. Enjoy.
Undercard (courtesy of Facebook & Spike TV)
Ian Loveland over Yves Jabouin
Yuri Alcantara over Felipe Arantes
Erick Silva over Luis Ramos
Raphael Assuncao over Johnny Eduardo
Paulo Thiago over David Mitchell
Rousimar Palhares over Dan Miller
Thiago Tavares over Spencer Fisher
Luiz Cane vs. Stanislav Nedkov – Light Heavyweight Bout
Injuries have stalled Nedkov’s UFC debut twice already. Unfortunately, third time was a charm and he draws in the headhunting Cane’s in his home country. Cane bounced back from twin losses to Lil Nog & Cyrille Diabate (both by first round TKO) with a TKO win of his own over Eliot Marshall at UFC 128. Did I mention only one fight has gone past the 2nd round? Nedkov is undefeated with a majority of his fights in his home country of Bulgaria and 5 out of his 11 wins by TKO. What’s conclusion should we draw from this? One of these two could walk home with KO of the Night on the first PPV fight of the card. Cane has the home field advantage and I think he’ll look to make a statement in front of his countrymen.
Jay’s Pick: Cane by TKO, R1
Ross Pearson vs. Edson Barboza – Lightweight
Pearson is one of the few Ultimate Fighter winners in recent memory that I have actually enjoyed watching. The Team Rough House product always comes ready to fight and his boxing has become pretty damned good since his stint on the reality show, using it effectively to get a UD win over a strong kickboxer like Denis Siver. He’s a tough Englishman in hostile territory against a fighter many think is a future title contender in Barboza, a muay thai wrecking machine who’s 8-0 and has finished off 7 of those 8. I know I seem to be pro-Brazil for even the few fights that feature a non-native as the other fighter, but Barboza’s pounding leg-kickery and striking will overwhelm and ultimately finish off “The Real Deal.”
Jay’s Pick: Barboza by TKO, R2
Brendan Schaub vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – Heavyweight Bout
I’ll start by saying that I think our chances of seeing Big Nog pull off a thrilling submission win off his back is better than Cro Cop getting a head kick KO with what little time either of them have left in the UFC. He’s 1-2 in his last three fights with the one win coming off a three round war with an aged (but still game) Randy Couture and the others being two TKO losses to Frank Mir and current champ Cain Velasquez that exposed his once iconic iron chin. That doesn’t bode well against a (literally) NFL-sized heavy hitter like Schaub, who’s 8-1, coming off a KO of the Night performance against Cro Cop at UFC 128 and currently under the tutelage of one of the best strategists in the game in Greg Jackson. If he can avoid the big shots early, Nog’s best chance is to drag the fight into deeper water and get the fight to the ground and go for the submission. Unfortunately, I think this is one Brazilian legend that won’t get a win. Schaub is too big, young and powerful.
Jay’s Pick: Schaub by TKO, R2
Shogun Rua vs. Forrest Griffin
In a recent interview, Forrest Griffin revealed he is not happy with his current Brazil experience. Hopefully his sarcastic (but funny) and ornery demeanor will translate to another dominant in-cage performance like his most recent UD win over Rich Franklin at UFC 126. A supposedly 100% Shogun, however, is does not want to lose again to Griffin, who spoiled his much anticipated UFC debut with a near buzzer-beater rear naked choke back at UFC 76. Oddsmakers have Rua heavily favored in this bout, yet a lot of keyboard warriors and analysts seem to be swinging towards Griffin with his size advantage, heart and leg kicks that have become his calling card. I’m staying put with the odds on this one and going with Rua. If he can keep the fight standing (he hasn’t submitted anyone since 2006 and Griffin is also a BJJ black belt with, again, a noticeable size advantage), I think he’ll be able to close the gap and do the damage to earn a win over the very tough, original Ultimate Fighter winner.
Jay’s Pick: Rua by decision
It’s about time. Okami has been circling the middleweight title picture for what seems like forever, having only lost to Rich Franklin (back in ’07) and MW title contender/hilarious soldier of the microphone Chael Sonnen at UFC 104. Sonnen has actually befriended Okami since and, if his own fight with Silva was any indication, has provided the blueprint for how to beat the seemingly unbeatable Spider: wrestle the hell out of him and don’t give him any room to breathe. Okami has also never been submitted so I doubt he’ll leave his head and arm out there for Silva to snatch up if he’s on his back. Is it the most exciting path to victory? No and the obviously pro-Silva crowd in Rio will definitely not stand for the decision-heavy Okami’s antics, but I realistically don’t see him winning any other way. The champ has the longest winning streak in UFC history because he is just that damned good at almost everything. Even if Okami smothers him for a round or two, every MMA fight starts off standing, where Silva’s skills are ninja-like and, dare I say, beautiful to watch. Yup, I’m picking 4 out of 5 Brazilians to win on the main card.
Jay’s Pick: Silva by TKO, R3
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