It all comes down to this, the cherry on top of the greatest year in the history of Mixed Martial Arts. After the Main Course that consisted of some of the greatest fights in history and some of the ‘old guard’ moving on, we get the tasty treat of the Michael Jordan of MMA attempting to cement his true legacy. There is no doubt that Anderson Silva’s loss at UFC 162 tarnished his unblemished record for some. The showboating, the cockiness, the acceptance of failure after the fight did not endear the athlete to many that populate the MMA Universe.
On Saturday night, Anderson Silva will look to regain his perceived cage fighting genius against Champion Chris Weidman (Still weird to say that…). Weidman may not possess the physical gifts that allowed Silva to go unbeaten for nearly seven years, but I’ll be damned if that guy doesn’t have a story to tell. From the injuries, to the hurricanes, to the Rocky-esque ascension to Champion, the kid is a feel-good tale on all accounts. Though, most of the MMA blogosphere feels that Weidman’s surprising July win over Silva lacks legitimacy. The common belief is that Silva simply got caught and was showboating too much. The Internet trend is to predict that in the rematch the Spider will regain his gold. That is one thought, but I may believe something vastly different… Did I mention Ronda freakin’ Rousey was fighting on this card too? On to the preview!
Facebook Prelims (7 PM ET) [Las Vegas Favorite in Italic] Pick in Bold
Estevan Payan v. Robbie Peralta
William Macario v. Bobby Voelker
FOX Sports 1 Prelims (8 PM) [Las Vegas Favorite in Italic] Pick in Bold
Siyar Bahadyurzada v. John Howard
Uriah Hall’s reluctance to engage won John Howard a decision in Boston, but ‘Doomsday’ won’t have that luck with the heavy handed Siyar. Bahadurzada by TKO.
Manny Gamburyan v. Dennis Siver
Siver is a 2-1 favorite here, but I see it trending closer to a toss up. Still, Siver’s size is tough to overcome. Siver by decision.
Michael Johnson v. Gleison Tibau
A classic Blackzillians v. American Top Team matchup. Johnson seems to have found a new love for the sport and I think that will translate well on Saturday. Johnson by decision.
Uriah Hall v. Chris Leben
Simple. Hall by decapitation.
Main Card on Pay Per View at 10 PM (Vegas Favorite in Italics)
Dustin Poirer v. Diego Brandao
If you have been following this blog for a while, you know I have been a Poirer fan ever since his Fightville documentary was released. ‘Diamond’ had his title hopes derailed by a decision loss to Cub Swanson in February but bounced back nicely with a dominant outpointing of doppleganger Erik Koch in August. I wholeheartedly believe Poirer’s well rounded attack will lead him to a title fight sooner than later. Opposing Dustin on Saturday will be TUF 14 winner Diego Brandao. Brandao is on a three fight win streak and sports a BJJ Black Belt, but I just don’t know if he is ready for a test like Poirer. Poirer can hang with Brandao on the ground and has a much more versatile striking game. Poirer by decision.
Jim Miller v. Fabricio Camoes
Jim Miller looks like one of the kids from my high school that drove a lifted ’87 Chevy, wore camo everyday, and sported a clip on cell phone because they were a volunteer firefighter. That being said, I would NEVER want to fight one of those dudes in a cage… This may be a ‘bathroom break’ fight for some on this card, but Miller knows how to put on a solid scrap. Miller is a 4-1 favorite here and rightfully so. His opponent, Camoes hasn’t necessarily been fighting the elite of the elite over the last few years. Miller is a big step up for Fabricio, but I would never count out a Team Nogueira fighter. (Quick fact: Camoes fought Anderson Silva in a bare knuckle fight in 1997. Google it!) I like Miller to grind early and eventually gain a notch in the win column with a late submission.
Josh Barnett v. Travis Browne
Now the fun stuff starts. Two of the best heavyweights in the world will clash with vastly different fighting styles and body fat contents. Browne looks like a peak athlete while Barnett looks like he just rolled into town after a cross country trip in his 18 wheeler in search for some serious fisticuffs. Browne will look to keep this thing on the feet and use his length to inflict damage from range while Barnett wants to take it to the mat. Vegas is siding with Barnett here and I have to agree. You simply don’t just knockout Josh Barnett. The only dudes who have done that are named Cro Cop and Pedro Rizzo. I just can’t throw Travis Browne in that same category of striker (yet…). I’m thinking Barnett gets a takedown in the 2nd, works to half-guard and locks in an arm triangle. Barnett by submission. Expect a dramatic post-fight speech from the Warmaster as well.
Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey v. Miesha Tate
The question isn’t who is going to win, but how long will it take Ronda to take home another arm. I don’t think I have seen anyone that isn’t some wackjob on the UG pick Tate to win. Ronda is simply on another level. She has that killer instinct to win that you saw in the eyes of Jordan, or see in the eyes of Kobe Bryant (when he is healthy…). She was one of the best Judo practitioners in the world, and now she is competing against women that don’t have an ounce of the experience she has in the martial art. The first round armbar for Ronda is comparable to Dale Earnhardt Jr. taking his stock car out on the highway and street racing soccer moms in Dodge Caravans. It’s just not fair. We have to remember even with the pre-hype fight that Tate is coming of a loss and Cat Zingano truly deserves this spot on the biggest event of the year, but knees don’t always cooperate in this sport. No shocker here. Rousey by first round armbar.
Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman v. Anderson Silva
Written by your boy Alar prior to UFC 162: “Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing I enjoy more than watching Anderson Silva fight in a cage. I really don’t wan’t to see him lose and I consider it a privilege to watch him fight, but this just seems like the perfect storm for his reign to end. Weidman’s grappling prowess along with youthful exuberance could lead him to an early victory. If Chris capitalizes on his advantages over the Spider early in the scrap, we could see a new Middleweight Champion come Saturday night.”
Am I some sort of visionary or voodoo doctor? Did correctly predict the fall of the pound for pound king? Yes. Yes, I did. This Main Event very well could be the biggest fight in the history of the sport. If Weidman retains, it marks the end of a legendary run that will likely be unrivaled for years to come. If Silva wins, he reasserts himself as the Michael Jordan of MMA. The greatest to ever do it. The GOAT, if you will. I really have no idea how this thing is going to go down. I have watched the first fight at least a half dozen times in the past week and still cannot predict this rematch. At UFC 162, Silva wasn’t inflicting damage, but his game plan was going off without a hitch. He used his antics to get Weidman out of his own plan of attack. After successfully dominating on the mat in the first round, Weidman started winging punches at the dancing Silva in the second. Silva was likely moments away from processing Weidman’s technique and delivering a deathblow, but as we all know, he got caught.
Vegas still has Silva as the favorite, and that is likely a result of his demolition of his opponents over the better part of the last decade. Even still, I think Weidman has more ways of winning this fight. But do I really pick against Anderson Silva twice? Will he dance and mock Weidman again and earn what is coming to him? I HAVE NO EFFING CLUE! My heart sides with a Silva TKO, but my mind thinks Weidman wins by a ground and pound KO himself. Pick a side ALar! Pick a side!
Silva by TKO!