The big question going into last Saturday evening’s bout was the legitimacy of Chris Weidman. Is he hope or is he hype? Despite knocking out Anderson Silva, the now-former middleweight champion of the world, we still don’t have the answer to that question. It’s an odd situation to assess considering the dramatic results of UFC 162.
The Arena Jaragua in Santa Catarina, Brazil, will be treated to a middleweight clash with huge divisional ramifications. Luke Rockhold is the former Strikeforce kingpin looking to establish himself as a serious contender in the UFC. Vitor Belfort is the old lion that can still maul anyone who enters the cage.
Vince McMahon couldn’t have booked a better finish as Ronda Rousey did what many debuting fighters, with a lot of press, fail to do. She lived up to the hype. Rousey’s 7-0 record brings her tally to seven armbar finishes in the first round. Liz Carmouche deserves a ton of credit after having the champion in trouble early and has undoubtedly increased her stock in defeat. Dana White said it best “She will get her kitchen table now.”
Ronda Rousey’s armbar is officially the first finishing move of Mixed Martial Arts. Like Ric Flair’s Figure Four Leg Lock and Bret Hart’s Sharpshooter, you know it’s coming, and you can’t do anything about it. Unlike the worked nature of professional wrestling, Rousey can’t put all of her eggs in the armbar basket and will have to add new weapons to her arsenal. If not, it will be a bad day when someone eventually breaks her grip.
Super Bowl weekend traditionally plays host to one of the biggest UFC events of the year, and this card is no exception. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for UFC 156. Every fight on the main card could be a main event and is reminiscent of the early Zuffa cards before the sport’s ascension. All of the bouts have important divisional ramifications and it is all topped off by what could end up being the greatest fight in the history of mixed martial arts.
-Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall
It’s takes a clever fighter with the ludicrous speed to dethrone the likes of Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall. That fighter’s name is Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. Joseph Benavidez was the odds on favorite to win the Flyweight tournament and was kept guessing and off balance for the entire five round affair. Ian McCall had more hype than anyone, going into the tournament and fought Johnson fought twice due to a judging error in the first bout that was scored a draw and some felt McCall won.
Benavidez brings to the table his explosive wrestling ability along with his power and athleticism. McCall is the more technical fighter who is very crafty and could catch Benavidez going in wild for a takedown or a submission. Both have tremendous cardio and are hungry to get back in the mix as they are the number 2 & 3 contenders in the world. McCall is preoccupied with personal issues outside of the cage in the form of childcare issues and separation from his wife which he feels will lead to a divorce.
McCall is a charismatic individual who could go a long way in the UFC, but he needs to find a way to put his personal issues aside to handle the razor sharp Benavidez. While McCall is dangerous on the ground, Demetrious Johnson was able to take him down pretty easily in their second fight. There will be some close calls in this bout, but Benavidez will have an easier controlling where the bout takes place.
The Pick: Joseph Benavidez by decision
The first UFC event of 2013 kicks off in Brazil as Michael Bisping vs. Vitor Belfort headlines the biggest main event on FX to date. The immediate future of the middleweight division hangs in the balance as one result determines Anderson Silva’s next opponent while another result puts the division in limbo.