Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami
Anderson Silva will win this fight. Sure, Okami has a strong jab, good straight left and uses his reach well, but he is no match for Silva on the feet. Sure, Okami has been training with Chael Sonnen, the man who possibly mapped out the best way to beat Silva, but that won’t matter. Okami’s only chance is to use his wrestling to control Silva and smother him for 25 minutes. Unfortunately for the Japanese star, Silva won’t let that happen. The middleweight champion has too many tools and is healthy. People tend to forget that Silva was fighting with a broken rib when he was nearly upset by Chael Sonnen at UFC 117. This should be a special fight if you’re an Anderson Silva fan.
Silva via (T)KO.
Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua vs. Forrest Griffin
Shogun is difficult to gauge since he always seems to have injuries or is recovering from a surgery. Rua didn’t look quite right when he lost his title to Jon Jones at UFC 128, but says he’s in peak shape heading into his rematch with Griffin. Although Griffin defeated Rua in their first bout, the TUF 1 winner is a 2-1 underdog heading into this bout. Rua has more ways to finish this fight, especially on the feet, but Griffin has a way of staying in fights and taking control. If the same Griffin that fought Rick Franklin shows up, and he can avoid getting hit with a big punches early, look for him to use his size, wrestling and jiu-jitsu control to take a decision.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Brendan Schaub
‘Big Nog’ returns after an 18-month layoff in which he had multiple major surgeries on his hips and knees. He says he is 100 per cent now and is extremely excited to be fighting in his home country for the first time in his illustrious career. He takes on one of the top young heavyweights in the UFC, Schaub. Despite all of his accomplishments, the fact he is arguably the most dangerous heavyweight submission artist and has solid fundamental boxing, he is a 2-1 underdog for good reason. Schaub is an aggressive fighter with serious power and his athleticism makes up for any flaws in technique he has. Schaub is the new generation of heavyweight and Nogueira is not. Like in his bout with Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic, Schaub is going to show that the new heavyweights are superior to the old ones. If Nogueira wins, however, the roof might collapse.
Edson Barboza vs. Ross Pearson
This has ‘fight of the night’ written all over it. Barboza is a supremely talented striker, arguably the best in the division. Pearson is no slouch either; he has defeated talented strikers like Dennis Siver, Spencer Fisher and Andre Winner by out striking them. In addition to that, he has been working with Frankie Edgar and other top American wrestlers to round out his skill set. Pearson will need to get inside on Barboza or his legs will be kicked until they don’t work anymore. Pearson is a quick, gritty fighter that will do what he needs to in order to win. Although Barboza is a heavy favourite, Pearson has what it takes to pull off the upset.
Luiz Cane vs. Stanislav Nedkov
Not many know about Nedkov, but he is one scary dude. He was scheduled to make his UFC debut against Rodney Wallace at UFC 117, then scheduled to fight Steve Cantwell at UFC 120, but injuries to Nedkov forced the cancellations of those bouts. If Nedkov can get inside position on Cane, avoiding the Brazilian’s boxing, or get this fight to the ground then he has an excellent shot at pulling off the upset. He has wins over veterans Kevin Randleman and Travis Wiuff, but Cane is far and away his toughest competition to date. A 14-month layoff since his last bout won’t do him any favours either. Add it to the fact Cane is coming off an impressive win and will be fighting in front of the home crowd, the odds are stacked against Nedkov. My gut is telling me Nedkov is going to pull off the upset with a TKO, but there might be too many obstacles to overcome. The Bulgarian should pick up some good wins in the UFC, but he likely won’t pick up his first one in Brazil.
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Rousimar Palhares vs. Dan Miller
You can never count out a Miller brother, but he faces Palhares, the most dangerous (literally, he will break your bones and rip apart your knee) submission artist in the sport. Miller is a talented grappler, but his best beet is to keep the fight standing where he has an advantage with his boxing. There’s no secret to what Palhares will attempt; he will dive on a leg whenever he can, use his gorilla strength and phenomenal BJJ to control his opponent. Miller takes this fight on short notice, like he has several times before against top competition. That won’t benefit him against an in shape, motivated Palhares.
Spencer Fisher vs. Thiago Tavares
These two very talented lightweights have become floaters in the division due to inconsistent, albeit exciting, performances. Both men have tons of experience, with a combined 25 UFC fights between them, and are well-rounded. Fisher is the better striker and will likely want to keep the fight standing or in the clinch. Tavares, who was knocked out big time in his last outing, should have a slight edge on the ground and he’ll look to take the fight there. It will come down to whether Fisher can keep it on the feet, or who gets the dominant positions on the mat.
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Erick Silva vs. Luis Ramos
Silva is a stable mate of Anderson Silva and some of the best Brazilians in MMA, who has a solid judo and BJJ background. Ramos and Silva should be even when striking, but look for Silva to take over once the two begin to grapple.
Paulo Thiago vs. David Mitchell
Mitchell is coming off a loss to Anthony Waldburger in his UFC debut in a fight that holds the record for most combined submission attempts in one fight in UFC history. Thiago is coming off two consecutive losses and needs a win in front of his native crowd. Thiago has a wide variety of crushing chokes in his arsenal to go along with ever-improving striking. Mitchell’s problem in his UFC debut was that he settled for bottom position, even though he was very active there. Mitchell can’t afford to settle for the bottom against Thiago and needs to stay away from his powerful strikes. If he can finesse his way to a win, it would be a big upset.
Felipe Arantes vs. Yuri Alcantara
Alcantara was one of my prospects to look for in 2011. He was a dangerous lightweight with knockout power and slick submissions, but now he makes his featherweight debut, which should be beneficial. Arantes (13-3) is a Chute Boxe fighter, so you know he’ll come to scrap. If 145lbs turns out to be a good weight class for Alcantara, look for him to clime the ranks and get into title contention quickly. Arantes will be a tough test though.
Raphael Assuncao vs. Johnny Eduardo
Eduardo, currently on an 11-fight win streak, makes his UFC debut against WEC veteran and former top-ten featherweight, Assuncao. Although Assuncao has an excellent submission game to fall back on, he has been striking in the majority of his recent bouts. Unfortunately for him, which has resulted in losing three of his last four, including getting knocked out by Erik Koch at UFC 128. That’s why he made the decision the drop to bantamweight for this bout. If Assuncao comes in with a smart game plan and takes this fight where he has an advantage he should come out with the win. Eduardo hasn’t fought the calibre of competition that Assuncao has. Lets see if that is the difference.
Yves Jabouin vs. Ian Loveland
The only bout not featuring a Brazilian features one of Canada’s best, Jabouin. The Quebec native makes his bantamweight debut and, if the weight cut is not a problem, he could be a force in the division. Loveland will not want to strike with Jabouin so expect him to be a wrestler in this bout. Loveland is susceptible to submissions, but Jabouin is a supreme striker and won’t want to mess around on the ground at all. Loveland will probably use his wrestling to take the fight to the ground, but with Jabouin training at Tristar gym in Montreal, he should be able to handle anything Loveland throws at him.
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