I’m dragging, barely functioning, but I will still answer the call for my loyal readers! If you watched this weekend’s UFC 164 card, there was no doubt that you were entertained by a tantalizing night of fights. If you ask me, the world is now a better place that Anthony Pettis is the UFC Lightweight Champion. Let’s hope for the best case scenario regarding his knee and make that Aldo fight happen!
This Wednesday the UFC shoots down to Brazil for UFC Fight Night 28: Teixeira v. Bader. I’m not going to fake it like I know anything about the Brazilian filled undercard, instead I am going to throw you my picks for the top three fights of the night. With Grad school starting up tomorrow and my ever important fantasy football draft looming, this blog has me feeling like Soa Palelei on Saturday night! Here we go!
Joseph Benavidez v. Jussier Formiga
We have two common themes in MMA colliding here. First, it is impossible to pick against a Team Alpha Male fighter these days. Bang Ludwig has transformed the mini-bro camp into one of the most dominant in the world. On the other hand, Brazilian fighters simply don’t lose in Brazil. These local Brazilian cards breed rabid fans that have an eerie power to will their countrymen on to victory. Though, as I look at it, I have to go with Benavidez here. Formiga is surely a game Flyweight, but has faltered when he has faced top competition in McCall and Dodson. Benavidez has seen Championship rounds before and I think he will outclass Formiga in all facets of the game. Benavidez by decision.
Yushin Okami v. Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza
We know what we are getting when Yushin Okami steps in the cage. He is a phenomenal judo player and grinding grappler. He has no issue controlling fighters and putting them in positions that render their attacks useless. This may not be the most exciting tactic in the world, but it is certainly dominant. His opponent on Wednesday, Jacare Souza, has looked like an absolute world beater as of late due to his newfound power and ridiculous BJJ prowess. After watching Jacare’s last four fights, I consider him to be one of the best fighters in the Middleweight division. He may not have the top notch UFC wins under his belt to vault him up the rankings, but few fighters possess the talent and tenacity of ‘Jacare’.
It will be interesting to see how Okami’s grinding style works against Jacare’s attacks, but if push comes to shove, I see Jacare getting the better of many exchanges. The difference in this fight will come in the striking. Check out Souza’s KO of Derek Brunson and tell me he doesn’t have fight changing striking power to back up his ground game. This may be a little brash, but I have to call Jacare by 2nd Round TKO.
Glover Teixeira v. Ryan Bader
With UFC 165: Jones v. Gustafson looming in the distance, this fight has serious meaning inside the 205 lb. division. Many tout Glover as the next challenger to Jon Jones’ reign, but Ryan Bader may be a tougher test than many MMA fans out there believe. I have been mildly impressed by Glover’s UFC run so far, but I have not been blown away by the caliber of fighters he has beaten. I mean I can’t knock Kyle Kingsbury, Fabio Maldonado, and James Te-Huna for giving it a go against the highly touted Teixeira, but it’s not like they posed any real threat to his meteoric rise. And that Rampage fight? Glover beat up a slow, injured, over the hill, Rampage that just wanted to collect his last UFC check and move on. That win isn’t exactly what I would call marquee.
Bader presents a new problem for Teixeira. He has a Division 1 wrestling base and power to back up his mat work. In Bader’s losses, he has had fleeting moments that cost him the fight (i.e. charging in on a stalking Machida, or leaving an arm in the grasp of an aging Tito Ortiz). I truly believe Bader has a shot to dethrone the Glover hype train as long as he stays focused. Bader is a -400 underdog and there could be serious value in a play on the Arizona State product. If he can shake the raucous Brazilian crowd and remain focused on taking out Teixeira, I favor ‘Darth’ here. Bader by decision! Book it!