It’s gotten to the point where the fight fan in me dreads title fights. For every Machida/Shogun 2, there seems to be a dozen St-Pierre/Hardys, Penn/Edgars, and hell, Machida/Shogun 1s. Still, I’m nothing if not a cockeyed optimist, and I’m convinced this one might be slightly different.
The Main Event: Middleweight Title Bout
Anderson “The Spider” Silva (26-4) vs. Chael Sonnen (24-10-1)
The Breakdown: If the UFC was based on spirited arguments undercut with yo mama snaps, Chael Sonnen would be the pound-for-pound king. As it stands, he’s an excellent wrestler. That’s really it. Fortunately for him, wrestlers are the kinds of fighter that Anderson Silva traditionally struggles with. And by “struggles with” I mean “knocks the fuck out in the second round.” After his bizarre display at UFC 112, Silva was on some thin ice. The fact of the matter is, to be as good at the fight game, you have to be a little crazy. He’s the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, so he’s completely batshit insane. And he gets bored. Sonnen is good enough to force the action, and his mouth has been running to the point that it’s likely Silva wants to change the way Sonnen’s face looks.
My Pick: This will run like Silva/Lutter. Sonnen will take Silva down and frustrate him in round one, followed by Silva locking up a submission in round 2. Don’t forget: the man is a BJJ black belt under the Nogueira brothers and has a wingspan like a condor.
Gore Factor: Light. Silva barely draws blood and Sonnen won’t land anything.
Jon Fitch (22-3) vs. Thiago Alves (16-6)
The Breakdown: This is a rematch between the second and third ranked welterweights in the world. The fight was originally slated to take place at UFC 111, but Alves had to scratch because a preflight MRI revealed a “brain irregularity.” Long story short, Alves is fine and ready to fight for the honor of getting his ass kicked by GSP. Fitch likes manhandling people in the clinch and grinding out a decision win, but it’s an iffy prospect with a grappler as strong and skilled as Alves.
My Pick: In their first match, Fitch put Alves away. Look for this one to unfold the other way around. Fitch will exhaust himself with clinches, slams and takedowns, allowing Alves to rally for a round 3 TKO win.
Gore Factor: Medium. Though both guys are tarpits, their brutal styles mean that there’s a chance of rain.
Clay “The Carpenter” Guida (26-11) vs. Rafael dos Anjos (14-4)
The Breakdown: My Wolverine is the John Byrne Wolverine. Five foot three with that ridiculous Flock of Seagulls haircut and furrier than an Armenian with an overactive pituitary. When I picture the perfect actor to play him, he looks a lot like Clay Guida. So it’s safe to say I’m a fan. So is everyone else: Guida’s frantic pace and bottomless gas tank pretty much guarantees fans. Sadly, he’s just not much of a technician. Dos Anjos is a rising star with slick jiu-jitsu. Guida is adept at stifling BJJ, but he relies on his pace (and a coating of sweat and blood, often his own) to avoid submissions.
My Pick: I’ll be cheering for Guida, but look for dos Anjos to lock up a submission win in round 2.
Gore Factor: High. I can’t remember the last Guida fight that didn’t end with him looking like Carrie White.
Matt Hughes (44-7) vs. Ricardo “Big Dog” Almeida (15-3)
The Breakdown: Seriously, Dana? Seriously? I mean, I love Matt Hughes and all, but he’s an old man now. He’s not the terrifying wrestler who used to stand astride the welterweight division like a titan. The days of the power bomb KO are long gone. I’m not sure why Joe Silva has decided to feed Hughes to Almeida. It’ll put a name on his resume, I guess. In terms of the match up, Hughes was never much of a striker, and Almeida is a respectable boxer. Unfortunately for Hughes, at this point in his career, Almeida is better on the mat as well.
My Pick: Almeida takes this one, probably by TKO in the second.
Gore Factor: If this were the old days, Almeida’s face would end up looking like a Sean Cunningham movie. These days, I’d be surprised to see more than a split lip.
Roy “Big Country” Nelson (16-4) vs. Junior dos Santos (11-1)
The Breakdown: Roy Nelson came off like a total douche in his season of The Ultimate Fighter. Some of that was because Nelson was the IFL heavyweight champ and he thought he was better than everyone else. Some of that was because he had enough experience to game the system and grind out TKOs that had all the menace of a tickle fight with Martin Landau. In his last two fights, he knocked his opponents out cold with a big, looping right hand that looks to be made of cement. If he’s looking to duplicate that against Junior dos Santos, he’s in for an extremely short night. As the best technical striker in the heavyweight division, dos Santos has a wicked jab that he’s going to use to pick Nelson apart, before finishing the fight with a brutal uppercut.
My Pick: Nelson will be sucking canvas before round 1 is in the books. Dos Santos will take home KO of the night and the honor of taking on the winner of the Lesnar/Velasquez tilt, aka Brock Lesnar.
Gore Factor: Light, but Nelson might get a broken nose.
Undercard Highlight: Welterweight Bout
Dustin “McLovin” Hazelett (12-5) vs. Rick “The Horror” Story (10-3)
The Breakdown: I love Dustin Hazelett. Seriously. I want to hang out with the guy. I want to invite him to my D&D game where he can play a dwarf ranger and hang out with my tiefling warlock and we’ll bring down the drow with a combination of eldritch magic and armbars. Ahem. Anyway, I’m a big fan. This is a big fight for Hazelett. After his loss to Paul Daley, McLovin (yes, that’s his nickname) can’t afford another one. He’s got a good fight against Rick Story, another BJJ specialist. This should come down to who has the better submission.
My Pick: That’s Hazelett. He’ll lock up a submission, probably an armbar, in round 1. Don’t be surprised if this takes home fight of the night and possibly submission of the night as well, if Dana doesn’t want to reward Anderson Silva for that triangle choke that’s waiting for Sonnen.
Gore Factor: I’d be surprised at any blood.
I’m going to cautiously recommend this ticket as a good buy. Anderson Silva is either amazing or bizarre, and frankly either one can be entertaining if you’re drunk enough. The rest of the ticket is damn good, with the exception of the Hughes fight, and even the undercard has some respectable violence. Saturday is going to be fun.