The Walk Out – “UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort”

It’s the biggest event of the year. It’s an event filled with superstars and personalities. It’s an event that will be watched by millions in homes and bars across the country. But it’s not the event that you think. UFC 126 is this weekend and it features a dominating champion and a handful of former champions. You won’t find guys motioning like they’re the champ when they’ve never won a title this Saturday in Las Vegas. One thing you will find though is Brittney Palmer, in her usual ring girl outfit while if you watch that other thing this weekend, you won’t see scantily clad women parading around because when Ben Roethlisberger is in town, you better hide yo cheerleaders.

Middleweight Title Fight: Vitor Belfort vs. Anderson Silva ©

Originally scheduled for UFC 109 and then against at UFC 112, Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort finally meet for the UFC Middleweight Title this Saturday in a showdown between two of the most respected strikers in MMA history.

Belfort is on a five-fight win streak but that streak started in April 2007 and he hasn’t fought since September 2009. If you’re a pro wrestling fan you’ve probably heard the theory that there have been multiple people who have played the Ultimate Warrior character in WWF history. While that theory is false, I have a theory that there are multiple Belfort’s in MMA history. You never know which Belfort will show up, not only with his performance but with his appearance as well. When Belfort is on his game, like he has been in his past couple of fights, he’s moving well, throwing a lot of feints, and just waiting for his opponent to make one mistake so he can explode with his fast hands. He stands southpaw, throws a good lead right hook and has one of the quickest left straights in the sport. Even though he’s now in his early 30’s and he’s been in a number of tough, grinding fights in his career, he looks as fast as ever at middleweight. Not only are his hands still quick but his movement and defense has looked very good in his last few fights. While Belfort isn’t known as a wrestler, he’s been training at Xtreme Couture for a couple of years and I’m sure he watched Silva’s fight against Chael Sonnen. Of course Belfort isn’t half the wrestler that Sonnen is but Silva’s takedown defense has never been great, even against non-wrestlers. It shouldn’t be shocking if Belfort goes for a takedown or two in this fight but he won’t set them up as well as Sonnen did and he won’t be as active on top as Sonnen was. If Belfort decides to go for takedowns in this fight, it’ll likely be to score points and just give Silva something else to think about. Even prior to the Silva fight, I’m sure Belfort was planning on using his wrestling because Belfort is a smart fight. Against Chuck Liddell, Belfort went for multiple takedowns in that fight because he respected Liddell’s striking and power, much like I’m sure he respects Silva’s striking and power. He even managed to get Liddell down early in the fight and Liddell’s takedown defense is legendary, especially compared to Silva’s. The knock on Belfort has always been his mental toughness inside the cage. The majority of his victories have come in the first round via his explosiveness while the majority of his losses have been decisions where he couldn’t put guys away early and his opponents came back to take the fight from him. How is he going to react if he rocks Silva early but can’t finish him and Silva comes out on fire in the second round? How is he going to react if Silva doesn’t engage with him often and instead dances around and pecks at him with the jab? Or how is he going to react if Silva pressures him from the start and doesn’t allow Belfort to really get off with his strikes? A lot of people will blame Belfort’s mental problems on various issues throughout his personal life but he had those problems long before his personal life became an issue. Mental toughness is a very tricky thing in sports. Some guys just have ice in their veins and it’s never a problem, some guys just always seem to choke, some guys have problems but find a way to correct their problems or at least blend in enough to mask their mental deficiency (common in team sports), and some guys just never have the chance to prove their whether or not they’re mentally strong. If Belfort is ever going to shed his mental problems though, this will be the time. He’s at a good gym, he seems to be at peace with everything, he’s been preparing for Silva for over a year now, and all the pressure is on Silva in this fight. Another problem with Belfort heading into this fight is the fact that he hasn’t fought for over a year and is coming off major shoulder surgery. It’s been proven that guys who come off a long layoff couple with an injury don’t perform up to their best, especially as the fight wears on. Above all else, Belfort needs to stay composed in this fight and not get caught up in Silva’s games that you know he’s going to play once the cage door closes. Be patient, wait for the opening on the feet, and mix in takedowns. He’s not a better technical or more diverse striker than Silva but he has the hand speed and power to knockout anyone in the division. I feel like Belfort’s only way to victory is by finishing Silva with strikes. While he has a submission game, Silva’s submission defense is very good and the longer the fight goes, the more it favors Silva.

No one has been more dominant inside the octagon than Silva. 12 straight victories, 10 finishes, and seven straight title defenses. He’s widely considered the best fighter in the world and even if you put others ahead of him, there is no disputing that he’s the best middleweight in the world. He’s one of the best strikers to ever put on the MMA gloves not only with his accuracy, speed, and power but also his diversity. He usually stands southpaw, throws a pecking but stiff jab, and has a laser beam left straight. About the only sloppy thing he does standing is throw a wild right hook. Not only is his striking offense outstanding but his defense is great as well. He covers well, moves his head, moves his body, and counters almost everything. On top of all that though, Silva isn’t afraid to take risks on his feet, which sometimes gets him in trouble and yet hasn’t lead to a loss. He’ll drop his hands and try slip punches with body movement and he’ll leave his feet against wrestlers. Thus far he’s been able to get away with these things but sooner or later, it may catch up to him. He got rocked early against Sonnen but I think a lot of that had to do with him not respecting the striking of Sonnen and his rib injury going into the fight. He also wasn’t as technical as he usually is against Sonnen but you can chalk that up to him taking risks, knowing he was losing the fight. Silva has a very good chin and even though he was stumbled by Sonnen, he took a lot of big clean punches, especially on the ground, in that fight and never lost his sense of awareness. I don’t expect Silva to try and foolishly dance around against Belfort, especially early, because Belfort is by far the quickest and most powerful striker that Silva has faced in his UFC run. Silva has a very good chin and even though he was stumbled by Sonnen, he took a lot of big clean punches, especially on the ground, in that fight and never lost his sense of awareness. One place where I think Silva has a big advantage is in the clinch. He’s very strong in tight, especially when he locks on the plum clinch, and Belfort has always struggled in close quarters. Silva usually likes to keep his distance but against someone who isn’t a huge wrestling or jiu-jitsu threat, I do expect him to try and bully Belfort in the clinch. Even though he doesn’t have great takedown defense, his speed and length allows him to fend off weak takedowns but if he does end up on his back, he should look to attack Belfort. Lock on the body triangle from the bottom to control Belfort’s posture, and then batter him with elbows. Silva proved in his last fight that, while he may coast at times, he won’t just give up in a fight. While everyone looks at the triangle that Silva beat Sonnen with, what really stood out to me was Silva’s sense of urgency in the later rounds. He knew he was losing so instead of just continuing to wait for his opportunity, he took the fight to Sonnen and started every round with a flurry, even if it put him in a bad position. He may fool around when he knows he’s winning but when he’s behind, his true desire to be a champion comes out. I expect Silva to really pressure Belfort and make him prove that won’t wilt under that pressure. He’ll use his distance early with the jab and kicks and then once he has Belfort frustrated, he’ll use his strength in the clinch to bully Belfort, and land some knees. Silva has the power to end Belfort’s night but if he doesn’t put him away early and he starts feeling comfortable, he’ll go on cruise control.

Belfort seems to be pretty much written off in this fight and while his chances aren’t great, he’s still a quick striker with power in his hands and if Silva thinks he can get away with dropping his hands or if he takes Belfort lightly, there’s a chance that Belfort could end the night as champion. I like Silva in this fight though simply because I know he’s going to show up at his best and I know that he won’t back down from the fight. He may dance around and try and clown Belfort if he’s comfortably ahead but he won’t mentally shut down if Belfort brings the fight to him like Belfort has a history of doing. After a slow first round, I think Silva reminds fans of his deadly knees in the clinch and he does it in rather quick and devastating fashion.

Prediction: Anderson Silva to defeat Vitor Belfort by TKO in Round Two

Light Heavyweight Fight: Rich Franklin vs. Forrest Griffin

Two of the most popular fighters in UFC history finally square off this weekend as Forrest Griffin and Rich Franklin look to move one step closer towards challenging for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title by taking each other out.

Franklin has moved up and down in weight over the years but he finally seems settled at 205 and he showed just how comfortable he is at light heavyweight in his last fight, when he KO’d Chuck Liddell despite a broken arm. He’s primarily a striker, he stands southpaw, has a good left straight, and throws a lot of kicks. He tends to overextend himself with his left straight and he drops his hands when he throws the body kick with no set up. One combo he likes to throw is the left straight followed by the left body kick. In fact, he ends a lot of his combos with body kicks, which is a big weapon of his because it takes away from his opponents conditioning and Franklin is always ready to go 15 hard minutes. He’s not a great wrestler, especially with his takedown defense but Griffin doesn’t have the greatest takedown defense in the world either so maybe Franklin tries to surprise Griffin with a takedown attempt. If he does put Griffin on his back and is on top, he needs to stay postured and rain down punches. Griffin has a very inconsistent ground game but one thing that is consistent is his ability to eat a lot of punches when his opponent is postured up in his guard. Besides trying to damage Griffin on top, Franklin needs to worry about his right arm. Griffin likes to isolate the right arm either to set up a sweep or a submission. If Franklin is on his back, I expect him to use an underhook or the cage to get up. He has a decent game off his back and if he goes for any submission, it’ll be an armbar, but Griffin has good submission defense and Franklin isn’t the slickest guy in the world when someone is on top of him. Franklin needs to use a likely speed advantage in this fight. He needs to check the leg kicks that Griffin will throw or return fire with a counter punch. Griffin has admitted many times that he doesn’t like fighting southpaws so Franklin needs to use his stance to his advantage. Throw those body kicks, disguise the right hook, and fire the left straight. Franklin can win this fight by overwhelming Griffin with strikes or winning a decision by out-striking him on the feet and avoiding the ground.

Griffin hasn’t fought since November 2009 but in his last bout, he defeated Tito Ortiz by split decision. Like Franklin, Griffin is known mainly as a striker. He throws a good one-two, loves throwing leg kicks, and has a good counter right hand. He likes to throw a right hook-left hand and a left hook-right straight-left head kick combos. What he lacks in power, he makes up for in activity. Against Franklin, Griffin needs to make Franklin pay for all the kicks he’s going to throw. If Franklin is getting hit with counters or takedowns when he kicks, he’ll drastically decrease his kicking output and become just a boxer. Being the bigger and stronger fighter, I suspect that Griffin will want to clinch with Franklin in order to rough him up a bit inside. Griffin has a very underrated clinch game and the clinch is probably the weakest part of Franklin’s game. The clinch is also where Griffin can use his strength to wrestle Franklin to the ground with trip takedowns. Griffin has a really good and active top game that he doesn’t show often because he likes to stand and trade with people. Franklin has a good defensive guard but if Griffin can get him down and get on top, he’s going to be able to do damage and not have to worry too much about Franklin locking on a submission. Griffin is coming off the dreaded year layoff coupled with an injury so while he’s usually in good condition, his cardio may take a hit in this fight. That could end up being the difference in this fight because Franklin pushes a strong pace and really wears down fighters. If Griffin isn’t able to keep up with that pace, he could end up losing a close decision. I think Griffin will get off to an unusually fast start in this fight and look to really establish his pace and rhythm. He’ll work his jab, throw a lot of kicks, and put Franklin on his back when Franklin throws a body kick. While a lot of people believe that this will be a stand up war, I get the feeling that Griffin will want the majority of this fight contested on the ground. Griffin doesn’t have one punch power but he could overwhelm Franklin with strikes on the ground, finish him with a submission, or win a decision by either winning the battle on the feet or keeping things even on the feet and securing some takedowns.

This fight as the potential to be the fight of the night. Both guys bring it, they’re both relatively well-rounded, and the crowd will be very into it given their popularity level. While also predicting a winner, I’m going to predict that between them, this fight will break the record for most kicks thrown in a 15 minute UFC fight. As for the winner, I’m leaning towards Griffin because of his wrestling advantage. I usually caution against taking a fighter coming off a yearlong layoff that feature surgery but Griffin has always gone against the grain with how he performs. I think the fight is relatively even on the feet but Griffin wins this fight in the clinch and on the ground with his size and strength. It’s likely going to be a very close fight but Griffin will do enough for the victory.

Prediction: Forrest Griffin to defeat Rich Franklin by Decision

Welterweight Fight: Carlos Eduardo Rocha vs. Jake Ellenberger

Looking to remain unbeaten in MMA, Carlos Eduardo Rocha takes on his toughest challenge to date in powerhouse wrestler Jake Ellenberger, who is gunning for his third straight UFC victory.

Rocha is undefeated in MMA and he’s finished all of his nine fights but until he fought Kris McCray, and you could even question just how good McCray is, he never really fought anyone at a high level. Not many of his fights stay standing for very long but from what I’ve seen, he drops his hands when he throws kicks and he’s quick to drop for a takedown when he’s pressed with strikes. His takedowns aren’t very good though and he was handled pretty easily by McCray in the clinch. He’s known for his jiu-jitsu but in the limited footage I’ve seen, he gives up positions far too easily and he’s not very good in scrambles. One thing he does well is constantly attack the leg, which is something wrestlers have always had trouble dealing with. Rocha’s best chance to win this fight is on the ground and on top. I’m not sure he can takedown Ellenberger, who is a very strong wrestler, but he could sweep Ellenberger. The best way to do thing would be with a kimura threat from the bottom and using his hips and legs to flip Ellenberger over and on his back. If he’s not looking for the kimura off his back, he’ll be looking for a leg lock but if he doesn’t secure that, he’ll be leaving himself open for Ellenberger to tee off on him. I think Rocha’s only way to victory here is by submission. Ellenberger has a hell of a chin and great cardio and Rocha has never shown KO power and has never been past round two so I don’t know how good his cardio is.

Ellenberger might by 2-1 in the UFC but he’s been extremely impressive in all three bouts. He’s coming off a victory over John Howard where he busted Howard’s left eye so bad that it swelled up all the way to his ear. He’s not a very technical striker but he throws a stiff jab and has a nasty right hand that he uses a lot when his opponents throw kicks. He’s best known for his wrestling. He’s a power wrestler with a good top game but sometimes he seems a little too content to stay in guard or half guard on the ground rather than passing to a better position. He’s active on top though with body punches and elbows but it would still be nice to see him pass to at least side control in this fight. The one time Ellenberger has been finished in a fight, it was by submission but that was over three years ago and he was able to hang with Carlos Condit and Mike Pyle on the ground so I’m sure his defense has improved over the years. I expect Ellenberger to want to keep things standing against Rocha given his power and chin against Rocha and how uncomfortable he looks when he’s standing. While Ellenberger has had ample time to prepare for Rocha, I do wonder if he’s suffered a mental letdown coming into this fight. He was originally scheduled to fight Jon Fitch but that was changed when BJ Penn knocked out Matt Hughes and Penn was given the fight against Fitch and Ellenberger went from facing a top contender and one of the five best welterweights in the world to facing a guy whose best victory is over an Ultimate Fighter runner-up. While he’s shown that he’s a better fighter throughout his career, anyone can lose in this sport, especially if they aren’t 100% prepared for and invested in their opponent. Ellenberger has the power to end Rocha’s night with one punch or maybe he cruises to a decision by grinding Rocha out on the ground.

This is Ellenberger’s fight to lose. Even though he’s undefeated, Rocha hasn’t looked all that spectacular in a few of his victories and that was against questionable competition. Ellenberger is a very tough fighter who hits hard and will be able to control where this fight takes place thanks to his wrestling. I think Rocha tries to throw a kick, eats a right hand, and that will be all she wrote.

Prediction: Jake Ellenberger to defeat Carlos Eduardo Rocha by TKO in Round One

Light Heavyweight Fight: Ryan Bader vs. Jon Jones

Two of the most promising talents in the light heavyweight division try to move up the ladder as Ryan Bader tries to prove that he’s the one who deserves your praise while Jon Jones attempts to prove that the hype is justified.

While everyone is talking about Jones leading up to this fight and how he’s looked in his UFC performances, it’s Bader who has the best wins inside the octagon. Bader’s victories over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and even Keith Jardine are better than any win Jones has in the company. Bader is a power puncher with a nasty overhand right but he’s a very basic boxer and doesn’t diversify his attack very often. If he has leg kicks in his game, this would be the fight to use them because he’s going to have a lot of trouble getting past the reach of Jones with his hands. Bader’s strength is his wrestling. He has a strong takedown, especially early in the fight but he does fade as the fight goes along. He took a lot of criticism for failing to takedown Nogueira every time he tried but I actually like what Bader did in that fight. Instead of wasting energy trying to get Nogueira down, he gave up on the takedown and always threw a strike on the way out. So while he should have been able to get Nogueira down at will, you have to give him credit for making Nogueira pay for stuffing his takedowns. On top, Bader is at his best when he postures to his feet and rains down punches. That could be a difficult against Jones though because if he postures to his feet, Jones could use his long legs to easily push him away. So if Bader is going to damage Jones on the ground, he needs to posture up on his knees in the guard of Jones or posture to his feet and stack Jones. As Bader starts to gas, he’s content on just laying in his opponents guard and staying just active enough not to get stood up. We’ve never seen Bader off his back but I suspect that, being a strong wrestler with limited jiu-jitsu training, he’s not very comfortable with someone on top of him and he’ll simply use his size and strength to try and get up. At the very least I hope he has a good defensive guard and is able to keep Jones in guard, control his posture, and try to force a stand up. To win this fight, Bader needs to put Jones on his back. There is a chance that Bader catches Jones with his big right hand but given Jones’ reach and quickness, Bader had better learn how to set up that right hand better. Most importantly for Bader in this fight, he needs to get off to a good start. The pressure is on Jones, not Bader. If Bader can get off to a good start and put some doubt in Jones’ mind, maybe he wins this fight. But if he starts slow, allows Jones to find his rhythm, and the crowd gets behind Jones, then Bader is going to be in trouble because once Jones starts getting his momentum behind him, he’s very tough to stop. Bader can’t recklessly go for a takedown to start the fight so he needs to set it up with his jab, throw some feints, get Jones reacting, and when the opportunity comes, go for the takedown. Bader could catch Jones with his big right hand and finish him but if he’s going to win this fight, chances are that Bader will grind out Jones en route to a decision victory.

With all the praise given to Jones over the years, it would seem like the only way to stop him is with a handgun but I believe the commission would frown upon that. The praise is well deserved though as he’s run through tough guys like Stephan Bonnar, Matt Hamill (even though he officially lost this fight, he still dominated), Brandon Vera, and Vladimir Matyushenko. Jones starts every fight with a huge advantage because of his reach. If he wanted to replicate the style of Semmy Schilt where he just used his jab, put a cross behind it, and used teep kicks to keep his distance and batter his opponents, he could probably be very successful in this sport. But if he did that, he wouldn’t be compared to a video game character like he so often is. Instead Jones throws kicks, knees, and anything that involves him spinning. He likes to use a spinning back elbow that he sets up by reaching down with his left hand and tapping his opponent knee and then popping up with a right elbow. This was predictable in his earlier fights but now that he’s really established himself as a power wrestler, that move could really pay dividends for him in this fight. Jones’ biggest strength is in the clinch. His length allows him to throw some brutal knees but what he does best is just overpower people to the ground. The way he handled Hamill and Matyushenko, two very good wrestlers in their own right, was simply amazing. He has a good ground game and he uses his strength to easily pass to better positions. We haven’t really seen him on his back though and that’s obviously where Bader wants this fight. I don’t think Jones will be a huge threat off his back with submissions but I also don’t think he’ll be very easy to hold down given his strength and athleticism. One thing that worries me about Jones is that he’s taking Bader lightly. He’s getting a lot of praise and he’s not coming off as humble as so many people make him out to be. He recently got into a tweet war with Bader training partner Aaron Simpson where he said that the Simpson’s tweets made him train harder and gave him the extra motivation. This is the biggest fight of his career, he shouldn’t need extra motivation and to suggest that he does is a put off. Given his recent fights, I think Jones will want to put Bader on his back where Bader will likely be very uncomfortable, move to a better position, and look to rain down a flurry of elbows. Jones can win this fight by forcing a ref stoppage due to strikes, possibly getting a rear naked choke if Bader gives up his back and Jones feel comfortable enough to go for it, or win a decision by keeping things standing and avoiding being on his back.

Bader doesn’t seem to be given much of a chance in this fight but he’s the type of guy who could give Jones problems. He’s a mentally strong wrestler, in his prime, who presses forward, has knockout power, and won’t get caught up in the Jones hype. That said, I favor Jones in this fight because he looks almost unstoppable at this point. I think his quickness and length is too much for Bader to handle and Bader’s lack of cardio scares me, especially as the fight moves along. I think Jones feels things out in round one, sees what Bader has to offer, and then really turns up the heat in round two en route to a stoppage.

Prediction: Jon Jones to defeat Ryan Bader by TKO in Round Two

Bantamweight Fight: Antonio Banuelos vs. Miguel Torres

In the first bantamweight fight in UFC PPV history, former champion Miguel Torres continues to work for another shot at the belt but standing in his way is the very exciting Antonio Banuelos.

Banuelos is a WEC veteran who almost always delivers an exciting fight thanks to his aggressive style. He’s mainly wrestler but he’s really improved his striking over the years. He like’s to load up on his right hand and throw it over the top but he has a very good short left hook that he sets up by ducking under and then springing up. Banuelos’ biggest problem on the feet, and one he can’t really correct, is that he’s short. This isn’t a big deal when he’s fighting other short fighters but against Torres, it’s going to be a huge problem. Now Banuelos can combat his lack of height by working to get inside on Torres and throwing flurries, a lot like Joseph Benavidez did, but but for some reason Banuelos has problems with taller guys and doesn’t fight hard to get inside with his punches. Banuelos would be well advised to use a lot of leg kicks in this fights. It’s the quickest way to close the distance and it will take some pep out of Torres’ step. Banuelos is a really good wrestler and he sets up his takedowns well with his hands. Banuelos will likely look to put Torres on his back but Torres is just as dangerous off his back as he is standing. If Banuelos can get Torres down, he can’t be content with just laying in the guard of Torres because he’ll get heel striked to death. Instead he needs to posture to his feet and punch to pass. He has solid submission defense but Torres is very crafty off his back so Banuelos can never feel like he’s safe on top. Banuelos really needs to keep up the pressure in this fight. He needs to find a way past the reach of Torres, get inside with strikes, get takedowns, and never let Torres rest. It’s still questionable whether or not Torres is a bit gun shy following his losses to Brian Bowles and Benavidez. Banuelos can’t let Torres get his distance in this fight. Banuelos has power in his hands but he usually beats guys by establishing a heavy pace and just simply wearing his opponents out. That needs to be his gameplan in this fight. Use kicks, get inside with punches, mix in takedowns, and just constantly pressure Torres. If Banuelos is going to win this fight, it’ll likely be by decision but it’s possible that he finishes Torres with strikes.

Torres was one of the faces of the WEC and a very good fighter. If you don’t believe me, make sure to follow him on twitter, he’ll be sure to tell you on an hourly basis. In his last fight against Charlie Valencia, he debuted a new style that seemed to work for him. He kept his right hand glued to his chin, his left arm almost fully extended, and pecked away with his jab. Given his opponent and his success in his last fight, I’m sure he’ll use the same style and stance. Torres has a very good and accurate jab, he puts a good right straight behind his jab, and when he throws he usually throws three punches at a time before getting out. He has a tendency to stay in the pocket a little too long and even though he’s been working on getting in and getting out and moving his head more, old habits die hard a lot of times. He’s a decent wrestler but Banuelos will have the wrestling advantage in this fight. Torres is very comfortable off his back though and he’s extremely active. He constantly attacks with heel strikes to the thighs and lower back of his opponents and he likes to throw up his legs and go for armbars. If he ends up on his back in this fight, he needs to make Banuelos uncomfortable and constantly attack with submissions. Again, Banuelos has solid submission defense but Torres is very slick off his back and is good enough to catch anyone in the division. I expect a very patient Torres in this fight. Use his jab effectively and just peck away at Banuelos with his reach. In his second bout against Scott Jorgensen, Banuelos had a tough time dealing with the jab of Jorgensen and in his last bout against Chad George, Banuelos had a tough time dealing with the reach of George. I think Torres will stay away from using kicks in order to remain upright. When Banuelos shoots, Torres will look to defend, clinch, and then use his height to throw some knees before breaking away and establishing his reach again. Banuelos has a questionable chin and Torres has power in his punches so Torres could win by TKO, he could submit Banuelos off his back, or he could win a decision by simply out-classing Banuelos in all aspects of the sport.

This fight is tailor made for Torres as long as he fights a smart fight. If he allows Banuelos to get inside or if he turns into the old, wild, aggressive striking Torres then Banuelos could beat him but as long as Torres fights patiently, he should be able to jab away and land his right straight. I think Torres frustrates Banuelos on the feet, forces him to go for a takedown when he isn’t completely prepared, and then catch Banuelos in an armbar for the victory.

Prediction: Miguel Torres to defeat Antonio Banuelos by Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Fight Predictions

*Donald Cerrone to defeat Paul Kelly by Submission in Round Two
*Chad Mendes to defeat Michihiro Omigawa by Decision
*’Kid’ Yamamoto to defeat Demetrious Johnson by TKO in Round One
*Paul Taylor to defeat Gabe Ruediger by TKO in Round One
*Kyle Kingsbury to defeat Ricardo Romero by Decision
*Mike Pierce to defeat Kenny Robertson by Decision

17 COMMENTS
  • Rece Rock says:

    Something Tells me to go with Franklin on a TIGHT decision… although I’d predict both guys leave the cage “winners” for leaving it all in the cage going the distance and going tit for tat for 15 mins. This could be fight of the night if they both bring there “A “game.

    Jones/Bader… I think we are going to see a tougher match up then everyone is predicting. Bader wants this as bad as Jones and to think he’s going to lay down in his young career for a guy whose stolen his thunder your wrong… I think Jones is the favorite and is more than likely to get the “W” but I feel it won’t be as devestating a loss for Bader as fans think it will be.

    All I’m going to say about the main event is that if it doesn’t go to a finish with in the first 2 rounds we will be deeply dissapointed in the performance I believe… So I’m just hoping for a quick start and a quick end as to keep both guys intensity levels high and see an aggressive finish.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  • Niv says:

    Well I have to go with Silva in round 3 or 4, I was thinking Belfort when the fight was 1st announced but the layoff will be too much against someone of Silva’s calibre.

    I think Franklin wins round 3 by tko, could be fight of the night, and I’m going with Bader to upset the young lion. Don’t worry Jones is for real, I just think Bader will beat him.

    Good card, hope it lives up to expectations.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  • I have a feeling Forrest will actually get cracked by Rich…hit the deck and then catch rich with either an armbar or a RNC after using that sweet oma plata sweep he used to get out from under Shogun. I look forward to this fight more than I look forward to any other on the card. I dont see why everyone is so quick to write off these two as has beens. Aside from forrest’s loss to jardine neither one of these guys has ever lost to anyone that isnt/wasnt/didnt become a champion in some organization or another, and Forrest has only been truly dominated by Anderson Silva…same could be said for Rich if Belfort hadnt put him away with the first flurry.

    I think Jones will beat Bader with something spectacular…not saying Bader wont put up a fight first, but if he gets suplexed onto his head OR spinning elbowed to his skull, i think he’ll crack.

    Torres over Banuelos or i’ll eat a raw onion(and boy do i hate raw onions)

    I see Silva vs Vitor being a staring contest for about two minutes until Anderson feints Vitor buys it and then BLAM a jab, a hook, one headkick two elbows a transition to clinch and three knees…that’s right three knees.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  • JabCrossHook says:

    Considering Vitor was never finished or KOed standing I don’t see much merit in that. Considering Vitor is stronger than silva and can manhandle him I see him doing a lot more with TDs. I see him landing good GnP that will make Sonnen pitter patter look like pussy slaps.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  • fanoftna33 says:

    Belfort by KO
    Franklin by TKO
    Ellenberger by decision
    Jones by decision
    Torres by submission

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  • boomnutz says:

    i’ve only read the first 2 assessments but i got so distracted twice that i couldn’t read anymore…I’m blown away by the analysis here in the Silva/Belfort fight and Griffin/Franklin fight, maybe i’m just being nitpicky, because i agree with everything else, even the predictions…but Silva has good takedown defense, i can’t believe you say otherwise…and Franklin has a really good clinch game, just because Sonnen took Anderson down and Silva annihilated Franklin twice from the clinch doesn’t mean that each fighter is bad in the respected areas. Rich uses a single collar clinch very well, it just so happens Anderson’s Muy Thai plum clinch is devastating, and Sonnen’s takedowns are some of the best in the sport, have you ever seen Anderson taking down otherwise, I can’t recall any other times…

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  • boomnutz says:

    also, first few sentences of the Bader/Jones analysis…How were Bader’s wins more impressive??? I personally feel like he should have lost to lil Nog, and at this point is Jardine more impressive than Hamill, Matshuyenko, Bonnar or VEra, I wouldn’t say so…Jardine went on and lost to Trevor Prangley after he was cut, and lil Nog hasn’t lived up to his hype yet either, he was gifted a decision to that dude (sorry name escapes me now) and hasn’t fought any substantial competition in a few years

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  • MCM says:

    Hendo took AS down in their fight, but I agree with everything else boomnutz. Silva has great takedown defense, look at his fight with Marquardt. And before the Silva fights, wasn’t Rich known for his clinches?
    I think most of the predictions are spot on, but I’m gonna go with Franklin TKO in the second. And Jones via UD.
    Damn, even the undercard on this PPV is stacked.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  • boomnutz says:

    i think Jones, coming from Jackson’s camp, will train takedown defense and off his back a ton, as they probably think that’s the only way Bader can win. Also, given that Jones progresses in a similar fashion to GSP, I expect him to come out equipped with a new weapon, my guess is that he comes out with some much improved Jui Jitsu, and submits Bader, or uses a funky position to get a TKO stoppage

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  • boomnutz says:

    i thought Hendo might have but i wasn’t sure…but now i remember, that was like the only round he’s ever lost until Sonnen…but then the next round he choked him out…

    right this card, on paper, is unbelievable, if any of the main card doesn’t provide fireworks the UC def. will…i’m praying Cerrone makes it on to the main card

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  • JBAR says:

    If I remember correctly I think Travis Lutter took him down as well but I could be wrong, I have slept since then.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  • JBAR says:

    My head says Silva and my heart says Belfort, I will go Belfort KO in the 2nd.

    Forrest by split dec.

    Bader by piss poor judges decision (Cecil Peoples has to screw up at least 1 fight per card)

    Torres by sub.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  • elsicilian says:

    Geez that’s a great looking card! I’m not terribly surprised that Griffin/Franklin is the co-headline since those two have been so popular for so long, but how on earth is Jones/Bader the fourth fight? That is probably the best matchup on the card …

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  • fanoftna33 says:

    Anderson got taken down by Travis Lutter pretty easily, acually Lutter was having his way with Silva on the ground for most of there fight.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  • Angry Mike says:

    One of the better looking cards in recent memory, at least to me.

    Forrest has been caught and ko’d or tko’d, and Franklin has more than enough power to finish. Franklin has been ko’d, also, but Forrest doesn’t have stopping power and has admitted it. Forrest’s best chance to win is by decision, but Franklin has won a few close ones. I don’t think it’ll go to decision unless Franklin plays it safe. That would be a bad strategy because Franklin needs to make a statement to contend at 205, and a decision or split decision win over Forrest wouldn’t be much of a statement. Franklin by ko, second round, possibly third.

    Bader is a beast, but wrestling is his strength. He has power punches, but they tend to be wild, looping and sloppy, and he tends to drop his hands. That’s really dangerous, especially with Jones’ reach. Jones will ko him, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it happens in the first.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Belfort won, and it will be by ko if it happens. If I were betting, though, I’d put the money on Silva. He’s quick enough to avoid Belfort’s strikes, and he has the ability to end the fight with a one punch counter.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  • Dufresne says:

    I’m really looking forward to this card partly because of the names, but mostly because of the matchups.

    Silva/Belfort is a hard one for me to pick. Belfort has ridiculously fast and powerful hands, is a physically powerful guy, and has trained with Silva in the past. Silva is Silva. It depends on which one shows up in my mind. Last time Silva fought I went on a long rant on how he was going to whoop the hell out of Sonnen, and while he did get the win, I was proven completely wrong. If this ends in the 1st round I see it ending in Belfort’s favor, but if it goes past 5 minutes I start to give Silva the edge. I’m going with Silva in this fight simply because he hasn’t lost at MW since Ryo Chonan caught him with that flying heel hook back in 2004. I’m giving it to Silva via 3rd Round TKO.

    Forrest/Franklin. This is a pretty close matchup too. I give Franklin the advantage in striking technique and accuracy and Forrest the advantage in striking power. On the ground I give Forrest the edge pretty much everywhere. He’s shown a better sub game from his back and it seems like he’s got the better GnP as well. Neither will have cardio issues, neither are prone to being broken mentally, and I see this fight going the distance with the winner being determined by whether or not Forrest can close the distance and get this on the ground. I’m choosing Franklin via Decision.

    Jones/Bader is a really odd matchup in my opinion, not because one doesn’t deserve to face the other or anything of that sort, but because you’ve got a technical wrestler with basic, technical standup going against a very unconventional wrestler with unconventional striking. I don’t know who is the more powerful of the two, Bader is more compact while Jones has record setting reach. For standup I have to give it to Jones based on his reach, speed, and diversity. In the takedown department I’m also going to give it to Jones due to the way he flung Hamill around in their match. I don’t know anything about either of their sub games, but with Jone’s have 9 foot arms that he likes to straighten when in guard I’m gonna give Bader the nod here. All that said I think I’m going to pick Bader by decision. Jones has gone to decision a few times in the past and when he did it seemed like he was struggling late with cardio a bit. If Bader can avoid getting his skull broken in the 1st round I think he’s got the cardio and tenacity to steal a close decision.

    I’m picking Torres via submission in the late 1st to mid 2nd. He’s just got the reach, striking, and is aggressive anywhere the fight goes.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  • @jabcrosshook
    Silva has never been KO’d or TKO’d period and while i think most of Sonnen’s pussy slaps(good term Im stealin it) were just that, he landed some BOMBS that never seemed to shake Anderson.
    As far as Vitor being stronger, we’ll see, you might be right, but I doubt it. Anderson is a brutally strong MW who cuts from the 220 neighborhood Belfort probably the same if not less. Silva’s TDD isnt bad as people seem to think, Only Hendo, Lutter and Sonnen have gotten him down in recent memory and only sonnen was able to do anything with it.
    its an interesting fight and one that Im stoked to have the opportunity to speculate on….only 12 hours till prelims, I cant wait.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

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