Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen meet for the second time at UFC 148.
Last time, Chael fell short at 22 minutes and four seconds, despite dominating until that point. In the final round, however, Silva locked on a triangle choke, forcing Chael to tap. Silva is hoping to consolidate the win and Chael hoping to reverse the result.
The card is stacked from top to bottom with great talent, and potential contenders in each of their own respective weigh classes in almost each bout.
Here’s how I see the event going down:
Silva (c) vs Sonnen
Anderson Silva has wiped the middleweight division clean with dominating wins over every challenger he’s faced, with the exception of Mr. Chael P. Sonnen who only fell short of defeating the Brazilian by three minutes. To Sonnen fans it was a moment of luck for Silva in the dying minutes of the fight, but for The Spider’s fans he merely kept us in suspense until he decided it was time to end the challenge.
No MMA fan is on the fence for this fight, with one corner saying there’s no way Chael will allow himself to be submitted for a second time, not after all his talk. But on the other side of the fence are the Anderson fans that argue Silva managed to beat Chael even with supposed broken ribs (busted before the bout) and will do so once more on July 7th.
I have to say I fall firmly on the side of the Brazilian, and here’s why. After stopping Chael, Silva went on to embarrass Belfort and Okami with incredible KO’s of each. Sonnen, on the other hand, strolled past Brian Stann and narrowly beat Michael Bisping, in a fight I personally believe he lost.
All Anderson has to do in preparation for this fight is work on takedown defence, and he has had 23 months to do so since he last met Sonnen. This, I believe, is long enough to partially neutralise the wrestling pressure and pedigree of Sonnen. The American however, cannot replicate Silva’s striking prowess in training and I think second time round Silva will KO Chael in the second, using whatever new kick, knee, punch or elbow Steven Seagal has taught him.
Prediction: Silva bt. Sonnen (via TKO)
Griffin vs Ortiz
Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz are a second rematch on this card, this time completing the trilogy, and it’s a match-up of two legends and almost certain Hall of Famers. They’re currently at one a piece, both coming by split decision, but I will be amazed if this goes the distance.
Ortiz reversed the odds with a shock victory over Ryan Bader, but since then has lost two on the bounce against Rashad Evans and Little Nog via TKO. Forrest is also on the back of a KO loss to Shogun Rua, but everything was against him in that bout; being away from home, his wife in labour, and against a hungry Brazilian looking for revenge in front of his home crowd.
A common theme through the last two Ortiz losses was an inability to cope with body shots, and this is something I am certain Forrest will have noted and look to exploit. Due to this I see a first or second round stoppage and Forrest being on the winning end of it. Even if the fight does go the distance, I imagine Forrest will get the judge’s decision.
Prediction: Forrest bt. Ortiz (via TKO)
Le vs Cote
Due to an epidemic of injuries over the past month, Patrick Cote is making a reappearance in the UFC as a replacement for Rich Franklin and faces the UFC’s best spinning back kick (with the exception of long-standing colour commentary extraordinaire, Joe Rogan) practitioner, Cung Le.
Cote was cut from the UFC in 2012 after three consecutive defeats, starting with a title shot against the main event’s Anderson Silva, and then went on to suffer two more losses to competition much further down the middleweight rankings.
Cung Le’s introduction to the UFC was against always entertaining Wanderlei Silva, and for the first time we saw a smart game plan from the Brazilian rather than his usual fast-paced reckless style. Le had a great first round, but when The Axe Murderer struck with his patented Thai-clinch knees, there was no escape for Cung, and he was KO’d in the second.
The first round of that fight showed Le has not only vicious kicks, but excellent striking all around, and his credentials show a good wrestling background too. I believe this fight is an unfortunate, although not the most difficult, return for Cote, who I expect to be outclassed on his feet and unable to take the fight to the mat if he wishes. I predict a late stoppage or decision victory for Le in this one.
Prediction: Le bt. Cote (via decision)
Kim vs Maia
Demian Maia has suffered one of the steepest declines in the middleweight division. In 2010 he fought for the title against Anderson Silva in one of the UFC’s most underwhelming fights of all time. Since then he hasn’t had a poor record, but fell short against Mark Munoz and more recently Chris Weidman. This was the result that makes predicting Maia fights near impossible as Weidman came in on late notice and yet still managed to out-cardio and outperform Maia, who displayed a complete lack of striking or wrestling threat meaning he could never exploit his genuinely exceptional BJJ.
Dong-hyun Kim has only lost once, that was against Carlos Condit almost exactly a year ago, and at New Year he returned to winning ways to beat Sean Pierson. He’s made a career of winning decisions, which is the usual way Maia loses. His strategy here has to be to keep on the feet as his striking will almost certainly be better than Demian’s, and if the fight goes to the ground, there’s no one in the UFC with better technical jiu-jitsu than Maia.
A huge factor here is Maia is cutting down to welterweight for the first time, so he will be dramatically larger than Kim. However, after the performance against Weidman I am forced to predict another Kim decision and a further decline in Maia’s career.
Prediction: Kim bt. Maia (via decision)
Mendes vs McKenzie
Chad Mendes, the most recent failed challenger to Jose Aldo’s bantamweight reign, returns to a fight that poses on one threat, the guillotine choke. Cody McKenzie has a unique ability to seemingly shut down an opponent’s defences with his trademark submission, even though each must know that it’s the only way he wins.
All Mendes has to do to win here is avoid that guillotine with smart takedowns and not landing in McKenzie’s guard, something that shouldn’t be too tough. He’ll have the power and speed advantage over the lanky Cody, and there is no reason to even risk taking the fight to the ground, but if he does he has to ensure that his neck is well clear of McKenzie’s forearms.
Marcus LeVasseur had the exact same issue in McKenzie’s last fight, and was dominating the round until he decided to sit down into the choke and was submitted. I can only hope Chad Mendes’ team in California have drilled daily avoiding the choke and defending it when it’s being sunk in. The advantage here is Alpha Male (and Urijah Faber specifically) have exceptional guillotines of their own, so he should be well-versed in avoiding them.
I can only predict a Mendes victory, probably by TKO, but unfortunately, if stupidity overcomes, McKenzie could end up with another guillotine win.
Prediction: Mendes bt. McKenzie (via TKO)
Menjivar vs Easton
Ivan Menjivar came back from the brink of defeat in his last bout against John Albert, and was carded to face Renan Barao here. Fortunately for him, events transpired that mean Barao now faces Urijah Faber for the interim title. Unfortunately for Ivan, Barao’s replacement is Mike ‘The Hulk’ Easton.
Easton is undeniably one of the most intimidating looking and entertaining fighters in the featherweight division, and along with knockout power, pushes a pace that few can match. After being rocked by a less experienced Albert, I see a similar fate for Menjivar here.
I can see Easton coming out as aggressive as we are accustomed to, and getting either a first or second round stoppage. Be assured, I’m hoping for this fight to go all three rounds though as Easton never tires and watching him fight for 15 minutes will be a privilege.
Prediction: Easton bt. Menjivar (via TKO)
Tibau vs Nurmagomedov
Gleison Tibau and Khabib Nurmagomedov present one of the most exciting prospects on the card. The Brazilian, Tibau, is on a three-fight winning streak over impressive competition and Nurmagomedov is unbeaten in 17 including his debut in the Octagon.
Nurmagomedov, as well as having an impossible-to-pronounce name, has outstanding wrestling and was hugely dominant in his debut against Kamal Shalorus, although struggled to finish the fight, eventually doing so in the third round.
Tibau has good wrestling and superb jiu-jitsu so the fight is likely to go to the ground one way or another. I see Nurmagomedov starting strong as he did in his debut, but as he also did against Shalaros, tiring as the fight goes on.
This is bound to be an exciting match up, both fighters with finishing ability, but also tough to stop within 15 minutes. I think Tibau’s experience will prevail in this fight and he’ll win a decision, but it’s a very close one to call.
Prediction: Tibau bt. Nurmagomedov (via decision)
Guillard vs Camoes
Melvin Guillard is one of the most powerful strikers in the lightweight division, yet has a huge weakness for being submitted, and particularly chokes. He fell to an early rear-naked choke against Joe Lauzon in October last year in one of the biggest betting upsets ever in the UFC. He met the same fate against Jim Miller, although a few minutes later in the first round.
Fabricio Camoes will surely have noticed this, and has himself a black belt in BJJ, so will be hoping to exploit that strength. It’s always dangerous to bet against Guillard as he can knock out almost anyone in his weight with the unorthodox and elaborate striking he utilizes, but has a habit of being submitted by anyone that looks for a choke.
Playing the odds, it’s pretty safe to anticipate either a Guillard KO or a Camoes submission, and going on form and the specific weakness of Guillard, I have a feeling there may be a third submission loss for The Young Assassin.
Prediction: Camoes bt. Guillard (via submission)
Philippou vs Fukuda
The Cypriot, Constantinos Philippou has been very impressive since his introduction to the UFC. His most recent performance against Court McGee showed vast improvement in takedown defence and a smart strategy as he employed a ‘stick and move’ game plan, using his excellent boxing to mark up and avoid McGee’s wrestling.
Riki Fukuda beat Steve Cantwell in his last time out in Japan, in an ugly but exciting three round slug fest. Both men tired hugely in the second and third leaving no power behind his punches, and Fukuda was therefore unable to knock out Cantwell.
Here, I imagine Philippou should be superior on his feet and will use his golden gloves boxing to great effect. Fukuda has only been KO’d once in his professional MMA career, so I’d hesitate to predict a knockout, but I certainly foresee a Philippou dominant decision, if not TKO finish in the later rounds.
Prediction: Philippou bt. Fukuda (via decision)
Alessio vs Roller
John Alessio and Shane Roller is one of the tougher fights to call. Roller’s record seems full of anomalies, with wins over competition like Thiago Tavares, Anthony Njokuani and Danny Castillo, all top lightweights, but is 0-3 in his last three bouts with Michael Johnston and TJ Grant included in those, two fighters no way near ‘the mix’ in the division.
Alessio lost to Mark Bocek in his last appearance, and has fought past and present UFC fighters throughout his career, although usually not in the UFC Octagon.
Either man could win this, and both are unpredictable from their records, but I give the edge to Alessio as Roller looked very sluggish in his last fight, and is on a bad losing streak.
Prediction: Alessio bt. Roller (via decision)
Oliveira vs Izquierdo
The first fight of the night is another that, although not involving big names, promises fireworks. Yoislandy Izquierdo lost in his UFC debut in Sweden via submission, his first professional loss. Rafaello Oliveira has lost two on the trot, but against tough competition Yves Edwards and Gleison Tibau, and will be desperate to get back to winning ways, something I think he can and should be able to do.
Prediction: Oliveira bt. Izquierdo (via submission)