I’m having a tough time coming up with the proper enthusiasm here. It’s not the card; that’s fantastic. It’s the fact that I’ve been almost sick for the past week. I’m not sick enough to call it, chug Nyquil and go to bed, but I’m too sick to do much other than be vaguely grumpy. Hopefully I should be good to go by Saturday night, because I don’t want to miss this.
The Main Event: Middleweight Title Bout
Anderson “The Spider” Silva (27-4) vs. Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort (19-8)
The Breakdown: Anderson Silva fights go one of three ways. 1) If his opponent is a wrestler, Silva will get dominated in the first round, only to come back in a later round for a submission (usually a triangle choke) victory. 2) If his opponent is a jiu-jitsu expert, Silva will eke out a decision with a baffling performance that will piss Dana White off. 3) If his opponent is willing to stand and trade punches, Silva will knock him the fuck out. Vitor Belfort, other than having a name that looks like a typo, is the third kind of opponent.
My Pick: Silva by KO, either in round 1 or 2, depending on how tough Belfort is.
Gore Factor: Light.
Light Heavyweight Bout
Forrest Griffin (17-6) vs. Rich “Ace” Franklin (28-5, 1 NC)
The Breakdown: The best part about this fight was the joke going around beforehand – the loser would have to get a tattoo chosen by the winner. Franklin had the more inspired suggestion: a butterfly on the small of Forrest’s back. The funny thing is, these guys are basically mirror images of each other: they’re preeminent faces in the UFC, looking to jump start stalled careers, good all-around fighters but lacking in wrestling, and both are featured prominently on Anderson Silva’s highlight reel. This is going to be a war. They should cancel each other out on the ground, so they’ll probably keep it on the feet.
My Pick: Forrest is getting that tramp stamp. Franklin by decision.
Gore Factor: High. Forrest would start bleeding if he read this.
Jake Ellenberger (23-5) vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha (9-0)
The Breakdown: Follow MMA for long enough and you realize that a 9-0 record means one thing: you haven’t fought anyone yet. That will change when Rocha takes on Ellenberger, a journeyman who has a few more names and a lot more fights on his record. Rocha’s jiu-jitsu is superior, but he lacks the wrestling to bring submissions to the table. He’ll be depending on Ellenberger to take him down, then working from the bottom: a dangerous proposition against a guy with proven ground-and-pound. That said, Ellenberger should have the advantage on the feet. He’ll probably want to wear Rocha down with a steady diet of punches to the grill before taking it to the ground and beating his face in.
My Pick: Ellenberger by decision.
Gore Factor: Medium. Ground-and-pound can have unpleasant side effects.
Light Heavyweight Bout
Jon “Bones” Jones (11-1) vs. Ryan “Darth” Bader (12-0)
The Breakdown: The weird thing is that Jon Jones is still something of an enigma. Not just because he is the closest thing we’ve ever seen to a DC Martian (he even has the same goddamn name as the Martian Manhunter), but because he hasn’t been tested. He has destroyed every opponent put in front of him so thoroughly that his only loss came because he was beating a man so severely he lost concentration when he asked the ref to stop the fight. That’s right. He literally looked up at the referee and was like “If I punch this guy one more time, he’s gonna forget how to drive.” The question is, is Jones the future of the UFC or a just talented athlete who just hasn’t been figured out yet? Of all the fighters Jones has destroyed, Bader has the best shot of unraveling the enigma. A 205 pound version of Josh Koscheck, Bader has the right combination of wrestling pedigree and polished striking to make it big in the MMA world. He hasn’t rolled through his competition like a chainsaw through butter, but he has a couple more high-profile scalps on his belt. Can he hold it together and do something no one else has managed to do?
My Pick: Until he has been proven human, I have to go with Jonny Bones. I like him by TKO in the second.
Gore Factor: Jones has been known to shatter eyesockets with a single blow. Do with that information what you will.
Miguel Angel Torres (38-3) vs. Antonio Banuelos (19-6)
The Breakdown: Good lord. That can’t be right. Let me check that. Yep. Miguel Torres is 38-3. How is that even possible? He’s on a bit of a skid, getting knocked out and submitted in two recent bouts, but still. 38-3. Holy crap. Anyway, it should be said that I haven’t seen either one of these guys fight outside of the odd youtube clip. Banuelos looks to be like a miniature Randy Couture, grinding guys down with smothering wrestling and dirty boxing. Torres appears to be a more like a Kenny Florian type, mixing technically sound Muay Thai and BJJ. All I know for certain is that this will be a hell of a scrap.
My Pick: Take that ridiculous record and slap a mullet on it, and you have my pick. Torres by submission.
Gore Factor: No idea.
Undercard Highlight: Lightweight Bout
Donald “The Cowboy” Cerrone (13-3, 1 NC) vs. Paul Kelly (11-3)
The Breakdown: Cerrone was one of the more famous acquisitions from the WEC. I’m mostly picking this fight because I’m interested to see how well Cerrone stacks up against a solid UFC lightweight like Kelly. He might want to keep this standing and test the Cowboy’s Muay Thai. Not the best idea. Cerrone owns a 28-0-1 kickboxing record. Kelly could also check out how the Cowboy works off the mat. Eleven of Cerrone’s thirteen victories are submissions. The question is, can Kelly’s wrestling control Cerrone enough to eke out a decision?
My Pick: Never ever depend on a Brit’s wrestling. Never. I’ll go with Cerrone by submission in round two. Gun to my head? Guillotine.
Gore Factor: Depends on how much standing there ends up being. Light is my guess.
Do you buy this one? Hell yes, if only to see another one of the Spider’s highlight reel knockouts. Unless of course this is the night where Anderson Silva is finally proven to be mortal, that is.