The card that every UFC fan was looking forward to is finally here, albeit in a revamped format. This card is loaded, stacked with young talent and grizzled veterans from top to bottom. The young lions are trying to claim their divisional position, and the vets are attempting to maintain their legacy, and stop the climb of these upstarts.
I love the card as it is now, and I don’t want to dwell on what could have been, but, damn, would have loved to see Faber–Cruz and Franklin–Le on this card, as well as the middleweight title fight. And if you are not excited for that one, let’s see what Anderson Silva thinks:
"Chael Sonnen's going to get his ass kicked like he's never gotten his ass kicked before. What I'm going to do inside the Octagon is something that's going to change the image of the sport. This is going to be violent and I am sorry. I'm going to make sure that every one of his teeth are broken, that his arms are broken and his legs are broken. He's not going to be able to walk out of the Octagon by himself. I can guarantee that. He will need a plastic surgeon afterwards. And I know that he’s listening, so the game’s over. No more shit talking. It’s on now."
This is so out of character for the humble, respectful champion. It is one thing to get into another fighter’s head a little bit, play up the trash talk angle as Chael has done so many times, but to piss off the greatest striker and the current pound for pound best in the world to this level may turn out to be foolish. Either way, it’s going to be fun to watch. Now let’s get into the individual breakdown, and see what we have in store from the card of the summer:
IVAN MENJIVAR vs MIKE EASTON – Two guys with impressive records, but a vastly Different quality of opponents. Mike Easton on paper is a monster, but that has not always translated to dominating in the cage. He has not fought nearly the opponents of Ivan, who's resume reads as a who’s who of the division, and he is still only 30 years of age. A brief sampling of his opponents: GSP, Matt Serra, Joe Lauzon, Urijah Faber, Caol Uno, Jeff Curran, etc. Menjivar is on a 3 fight UFC win streak, and I look for him to take this one by decision. Easton has a legitimate shot at a win as well, but he has fought sparingly lately, ( 3 times since October 2009) and against inferior competition. He does have a sick guillotine, but I think Menjivar beats him.
CHAD MENDES vs CODY McKENZIE – This should have been the easiest camp of Chad’s career – drill guillotine defense. Period. End of story. If you can avoid the choke, you can beat Cody. His last 12 wins are by his modified guillotine choke. Chad is a lay and pray fighter by design, i.e. his wrestling strength forces him to fight that way. He is coming off an ass kicking by Jose Aldo, and should be motivated, but his takedowns will put him in harms way. Watch the shot, Chad… Im going out on a limb here and taking Cody McKenzie by, you guessed it, guillotine choke. Chad’s wrestling strength will be his downfall in this one, unless he makes it a stand up war.
DONG HYUN KIM vs DEMIAN MAIA – For all of his accolades, BJJ Championships, and his acclaim as one of the best grapplers in the UFC, Demian Maia has not submitted an opponent in the ring since throwing a triangle on Chael Sonnen in 2009. It is somehow fitting that he is on this card, having fought both of the main event fighters with dramatically varied endings. I just think that this is two fighters going in different directions in their respective careers, as Kim has lost once in 8 UFC fights, with that loss coming at the hands of Carlos Condit. He beat a very tough Sean Pierson, and a game Nate Diaz. Kim is a 4th dan blackbelt in Judo, and is nearly impossible to take down, or even get a favorable position against. But again, although he has not shown it as of late, Maia is a world class grappler and has 4 submission of the night bonuses on his resume. Kim by decision in a very technical grappling match.
CUNG LE vs PATRICK COTE – with a UFC record of 4-7, Patrick Cote is still only 3 UFC fights removed from that debacle against Anderson Silva for the belt in which he blew his knee out in the 3rd round. Since then, though, he has lost 2 in a row in the UFC, and received his walking papers. He is on a 4 fight win streak in smaller promotions, and was asked to step in against one of the most dynamic strikers in the world as a late minute replacement for Rich Franklin. Cote is a Muay Thai practitioner with a solid chin and some good boxing, but he might have his hands full with Cung Le. Cung Le is a Sanshou fighter, who has 7 wins in MMA, all by KO. He throws kicks and punches from odd angles, with unbelievably smooth transitions between. He rocked Wandi with a spinning backfist before a knee from the axe murderer flattened his nose and the fight was stopped. I’m going to go with Cung Le, age 40, via devastating knockout in this one.
FORREST GRIFFIN vs TITO ORTIZ – Toughness personified, Forrest Griffin returns for a rubber match no one wanted, but has a shot to be great. Forrest is a fighters fighter, a gym rat who looks like he enjoys getting punched in the face. Tito is still the Huntington Beach bad boy, but this is the swan song, as he will retire after this fight. Tito has lost 5 of 6 since a draw with Rashad Evans in 2007, but the list of names he has fought is basically the top fighters in that division: Chuck, Rashad, Forrest Griffin, Lyoto Machida. His lone win was against Ryan Bader, and it will stay that way, as Forrest is still a force when he is on, and I think he will steamroll Tito. Forrest by KO.
ANDERSON SILVA vs CHAEL SONNEN II – MMA Matrix has done a great job with the lead up to this fight, so I am not going to do an in depth analysis, I am simply going to describe what I see happening. I think we will see the Silva that knocked out Yushin Okami with ease, who front kicked Vitor’s teeth through the front of his mouth, who knocked out Forrest Griffin at 205 with a jab, who kneed Rich Franklin out of the title picture. He is the best striker in the world, his movement is fluid, and the punches are thrown with pin point accuracy. He has won nine title defenses in a row, and he has never been more pissed at an opponent. Chael sold the fight with outrageous banter, but when the door shuts, the spider will be the one on the offensive. Chael is the perfect foil for Anderson’s quiet grace, the brash American wrestler who talks big and fights bigger. He did put a whupping on Silva for 4.5 rounds in their first fight, but his old nemesis, the triangle, came back to haunt him. Of his 11 losses, 8 have come by armbar or guillotine. He will get in top position and throw bombs, but get caught. I think this time, Silva is ready for war, and wins by KO early. He may have seemed bored in some earlier fights, but Chael has his attention now.
Who are you picking for this card? let us know below.
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