The atmosphere of tonight’s big fight is unlike any other in professional sports. Casual spectators and avid followers know with absolute certainty that two veteran warriors will do battle in an encounter that’s not to be missed. This is the type of occasion that only combat sports can produce.
The MGM Grand Garden Arena will host the biggest fight in MMA history as the UFC tries to replicate the success of its Pay-Per-View predecessor, the WWE. The promotion kicked off its inaugural International Fight Week extravaganza on Thursday, leading up tonight’s championship bout. Make no mistake about it, this event is the UFC’s equivalent to the first WrestleMania.
Patrick Cote (18-7) vs. Cung Le (7-2): While every fighter is always one punch away from losing, Cote has this all day. The former middleweight title challenger was doing pretty good against Anderson Silva until his right knee exploded. Cung Le is 40 years old and is a part time mixed martial artist who is simply looking for one UFC win before going to Hollywood full time. Cote is a full time fighter who was cut by the UFC in 2010 and has won five fights in a row to earn his way back to the big show. Cote will catch him with an overhand right while capitalizing on one of Le’s exotic kicks.
Prediction: Patrick Cote via 2nd Round KO
Logic says Forrest Griffin wins because he is the more well rounded fighter and he beat Rich Franklin last year which is something Ortiz could not do in this stage of his career. Ortiz is most dangerous in the first round and starts to fade as the fight progresses. Griffin couldn’t capitalize on this in 2006, but a more experienced version of the Xtreme Couture product was able to do so in 2009.
Empathy says Tito Ortiz wins because this will be his retirement fight and he wants to go off into the sunset with a victory. Despite the diminished skill of an aging fighter, he comes to win which can’t be said for Griffin. Where Forest was knocked out by Shogun in his last fight, it was clear he was only in the cage to collect a paycheck.
Logic + Empathy equals a win for Tito Ortiz because he knows that a win in his last outing will mean increased financial gain outside the octagon. Also, he knows how to fight Forrest Griffin. I believe that Tito has made the adjustments necessary to push the pace for three rounds this time, for the last time.
Prediction: Tito Ortiz via three round decision
Anderson Silva (24-4-0) vs. Chael Sonnen (28-11-1): “The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom…for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough.” – John Blake
The excess of hype surrounding the fight suggests Chael Sonnen is the middleweight champion when in fact; it was Anderson Silva who secured a triangle choke after getting beat up for 22 minutes in order to win the fight. Sonnen has spewed a plethora of insults that has sparked interest from a world-wide audience. In fact, all of the major news outlets, including ESPN, are only showing Sonnen highlights when covering the bout.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the bout that needs to be analyzed. Did Anderson Silva really injure his rib before the last fight? He claims this is the only reason why Sonnen took him down so easily. If this is true, the Chael Sonnen who showed up to fight Michael Bisping is in serious trouble while the version who showed up to fight Silva the first time will have more difficulty but still a great chance at becoming champion.
It is a fact that Anderson Silva did not want this rematch for reasons that we will never truly understand. He refused to accept the fight at first when a U.N. conference caused the bout to be moved from Brazil to Las Vegas. He would not participate in the usual three episode filming of UFC Primetime. This put up a serious red flag because Silva gets 5% of the pay-per-view buys on top of his reported eight million dollar pay day and helping to promote the bout puts more money in his pocket win, lose, or draw. This could be read several ways. The king might be scared of his reign coming to an end or he doesn’t want to take any chances and purely focus on training.
Anderson Silva’s only difficulty in the cage prior to the first Sonnen fight was against Travis Lutter and Dan Henderson. Both fighters took him down and held him down until Silva found a way to choke them both out. He did the same thing to Chael Sonnen but took a beating on top of being taken down ad nauseum. Silva has proven he can come back from the jaws of defeat while Sonnen has not.
Sonnen needs to avoid submissions like the plague while Silva needs to avoid the ground and pound at all cost. Sonnen also needs to punch a lot harder this time around because for all the punches he landed on Silva, the champion left the arena without a scratch on his face. Silva unquestionably has the stand up advantage but Sonnen is not afraid to strike with him and proved it when he dropped Silva with an over hand right.
Anderson Silva has that Mike Tyson aura as his opponents are beaten before the fight begins. This time he is fighting the one person who has no fear and zero respect for him. If you are the type of fan that operates under the belief that you are only as good as your last fight, Sonnen will taste defeat again at the hands of the greatest fighter of all time. He looked beyond awful in the Michael Bisping fight and that’s how I see it. Bruce Buffer announcing Chael Sonnen as the winner is better for business and the ‘American Gangster’ has the tools to dethrone the king. He has done the best job of any MMA fighter in selling the show, now he has a chance to steal the show.
Prediction: Anderson Silva via 3rd Round TKO
****The Rest of the Main Card****
– Mike “Hulk” Easton (12-1) vs. Ivan Menjivar (24-8): Experience is on Menjivar’s side but Easton is a fighter on the rise with a lot of power in his takedowns and strikes. Menjivar gets hit a lot and one of Easton’s powerful punches will find it’s mark late in the fight.
Prediction: Mike Easton by3rd round TKO
– Dong Hyun Kim (15-1-1) vs. Demian Maia (15-4): Maia is the favorite and rightfully so but his likeness towards the stand up game these days will cost him dearly. Plus, this is his debut at welterweight. Kim will use his judo to counter Maia’s BJJ and will catch the Brazilian with straight punches for my upset pick of the night.
Prediction: Dong Hyun Kim via decision
– Chad Mendes (11-1) vs. Cody McKenzie (13-2) Mendes is coming off the first loss of his career which was a knockout at the hands of featherweight champion, Jose Aldo. He not only needs a win but an impressive win in order to get back in the discussion for a future title shot. McKenzie can catch him with a hail marry guillotine choke but Mendes will use his wrestling and athleticism to earn a boring but dominant decision win.
Prediction: Chad Mendes via unanimous decision