Words by ALar
No, no, no unfortunately the left-coast MMA series from the late nineties isn’t coming back…
As long as you haven’t been under a rock for the last two weeks (or may not be from the good ol’ US of A) you are well aware that Super Bowl weekend is upon us. To occompany all of the grandeur that goes along with America’s biggest sporting event, we get one heck of a UFC card the night before the Ravens hand a butt whupping to the Niners (Yea, I said it!). From top to bottom this is the best Pay Per View card we have seen in quite some time. Every fight on the main card features a former champ or former number one contender. With that, every fight also has serious divisional implication. Following along with the ‘Super’ theme, Dana White has taken to calling the night’s Main Event a mythical ‘SuperFight’. Featherweight Champ Jose Aldo will be returning from a long injury lay off to take on divisional newcomer and former 155 lb. champ Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar. Many have been calling (including me) for Frankie to drop down to 145 lbs, and Saturday he will finally show us what he is made of at his ‘natural’ weight class. Personally, I am most looking forward to the return of the one and only ‘Reem. It has been over a year since we have seen the Demolition Man in the cage, and regardless of PED accusations, the guy is a spectacle to watch when the cage door closes. On to the preview!
Preliminary Card on FX (8 PM) (Picks in Bold)
Evan Dunham v. Gleison Tibau
Jay Hieron v. Tyron Woodley
Bobby Green v. Jacob Volkmann
Yves Edwards v. Isaac Vaille-Flagg
Main Card on Pay Per View (10 PM)
Joseph Benevidez (16-3) v. Ian McCall (11-3-1)
Flyweights finished the last UFC card we saw on FOX, and they are starting off the show tomorrow night on Pay Per View. Interestingly enough, both Joe B and Uncle Creepy are coming off decision losses to 125 lb. Champ Demetrious Johnson. McCall has two fights against DJ, one being that draw in Australia that left many wondering what MMA judges actually watch during fights… Considering each fighter’s skillsets, I have to go with Joe B by decision in this one. The training he gets on a day to day basis at Team Alpha Male against other elite guys in the lighter weight divisions is a serious factor here. The winner of this likely gets another crack at DJ and I see that winner be Mr. Benavidez. Benavidez by Unanimous Decision.
Demian Maia (17-4) v. Jon Fitch (24-1-1, 1 NC)
Who’s ready for some grapplin’??? With likely the best BJJ practitioner in MMA and one of the best pure wreslters in the sport set to scrap on Saturday night, this could be one for the ages. These two dudes will likely be tangled up like a two spiders fighting for a fly for three rounds and fans of the ground game will surely be entertained. The two dominating keys to this fight are Maia’s submission prowess and Fitch’s submission defense ability. Both are as close to the best in the division as you can get in their respective skills. It is another case of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. Fitch is the Vegas favorite here, and I am going to have to agree. Fitch will likely find himself on top more often during the fight, and that will likely earn him a nod from the judges, even if Maia is staying dangerous off his back. (Mr. Moai Martial Arts himself may not be too happy about this one!) Fitch by Decision…
Alistair Overeem (36-11, 1 NC) v. Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva (17-4)
Now I am PSYCHED for the return of The Reem. Just watch the stare down from the press conference on Thursday and tell me that a massive man is not getting knocked out on Saturday night! PEDs or not, Overeem is a whole heck of a lot of fun to watch. I compare him to the home run sluggers of the late nineties in baseball. Was anyone seriously not entertained by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa socking moon shots every night? I know I was, and look back at the time fondly. I look at ‘Reem in the same light. Sure, he may have soaked up a little too much testosterone in his horse meat, but he has proved over the last 14 months that he is essentially clean and has made efforts to smooth things over with his employers, the commission, and the fans. Alistair is definitively the best striker in the Heavyweight Division. His knees are absolutely deadly, and the power of his punches should have anyone over 225 lbs quivering in fear.
Bigfoot is a talented fighter that could provide a challenge for 99% of the Heavyweights out there, but he doesn’t have much to offer Overeem. Anything Bigfoot is good at, Reem is simply better. Silva’s BJJ may be stronger, but Overeem’s ability to use his size and strength to stand right up will be enough to overcome the Brazilian’s grappling attack.
Bigfoot’s massive frame provides Overeem with a huge target to strike at. I am seeing a vicious knee leading to a TKO victory for The ‘Reem in the 1st round. Overeem by TKO. (Check out his documentary series if you haven’t already, production quality is top notch!)
‘Suga’ Rashad Evans (17-2-1) v. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (20-5)
The last time we saw ‘Suga’ in the cage he was getting his behind handed to him by the reigning 205 lb. champ Jonny ‘Bones’ Jones at UFC 144. In MMA years, that seems like forever ago. Now think, 4 months before that was the last time we saw Lil’ Nog throw leather against an aging Tito Ortiz. I am not sure that a 36 year old Brazilian warrior has enough left in the tank to derail the younger, more athletic Evans. Rogerio is a hell of a boxer and we know about his skill on the ground, but I fully expect Evans to overwhelm him in all aspects of the fight and make easy work of the veteran. We know Rashad has a solid wrestling base and power in his hands, but technique has always been an issue with the former beltholder. Rashad has addressed this issue by training with some of the best strikers in the world on a daily basis in his Blackzillian camp. Sparring with the likes of Overeem, Spong, and Henri Hooft can only improve Evans’ technique on the feet. It isn’t easy to finish a Nogueira, but I believe Rashad wins this one by TKO. Evans by TKO.
Featherweight Championship Bout
Champion Jose Aldo (21-1) v. Frankie Edgar (14-3-1)
Now, I have been critical of Frankie Edgar in the past. I am guessing that most of my anger stemmed from Frankie’s endless carousel of opponents (and decisions) at Lightweight. Frankie’s penchant for rematches irked me at a time when the Lightweight division was becoming flooded with possible challengers to the crown. Featherweight will be a fresh start for ‘The Answer’ and he will finally be able to answer (get it…) all the critics that told him he belonged in at 145.
The key to this bout will be leg kicks. Leg kicks, I tell you! We know Jose Aldo can chop wood with the best of them, and if he attacks Edgar’s legs and hinders The Answer’s mobility, this could be a short night for the New Jersey native. When Aldo smells blood, he is an absolute assassin. He is one of the best finishers we have in the sport. All that considered, I would be remissed to admit that I have recently become a New Jersey resident, and picking against Edgar in this one would be a crime against the state. If I picked Aldo, Chris Christie would come stumbling after me with a lead pipe in one hand and a canoli in the other. If Frankie can avoid Aldo’s chopping leg kicks, I think he can grind this one out and earn a victory on the judge’s score cards. With Mazzagatti reffing the title affair and Adelaide Byrd judging this scrap, anything is truly possible. Edgar by decision.
I hope you all enjoy one of the best weekend sports has to offer! Go Ravens! Leave any thoughts in the comments section!