|Wanderlei Silva (blue gloves) and Rich |
Franklin put on a show like always.
Every weight class from featherweight through heavyweight will get exactly one fight on the main card which I like. Sometimes a card is heavy on a certain weight class (like UFC 158 being 50% welterweight) but this one is a perfect mix of weight classes. The night will start in the welterweight division.
- Both Dong Hyun Kim and Siyar Bahadurzada are coming off of wins over Paulo Thiago in their last fights. Despite a 7 fight win streak and a lot of promise being shown, I do not like Siyar's chances in this fight. He has some solid striking and KO power, but Kim is one of those guys whose grappling is on another level. He does not let you breathe and is relentless in smothering you on his way to a win. So long as he does not have another fluke muscle spasm like he did against Maia, I see Kim winning via decision.
- WEC veteran Rani Yahya has battled some of the UFC's top bantamweight and featherweight fighters over the years. He will be taking on Mizuto Hirota who will be making his octagon debut. After Lawler beat Koscheck I told myself I will never bet agaisnt a Strikeforce guy making his UFC debut again. However Hirota went 0-1 in his brief tenure in Strikeforce and I do not see him winning against a veteran like Yahya. Yahya via submission. (north/south choke or RNC?)
- The next fight will take place between 2 middleweights looking to skyrocket up the rankings with a win. Hype machine Hector Lombard disappointed in his octagon debut but he really made a statement in his second fight with a nasty KO win over Palhares. Yushin Okami is one of those guys that is a relentless grappler who is stronger than the majority of middleweights. He spoiled Alan Belcher's title hopes with his stifling style of fighting and will be looking to do the same against Lombard. In his last appearance in his home country of Japan, Okami looked dominant through 2 rounds only to have Joe Rogan jump out of his seat in excitement as Tim Boetsch knocked him out early in the third round. I have picked against Lombard in his first 2 UFC fights, and I am going to do it for a third time. I think he is too small to avoid the bigger and stronger fighter in Okami. Like Belchar, Lombard will have the skills to beat Okami but will be held helplessly against the cage or on the ground by the experienced grappler. Okami via decision.
- After a 2-2 record in the welterweight division, Diego Sanchez is returning to lightweight where he was only bettered by BJ Penn in a fight for the title. Gomi is coming in off a 2 fight winning streak and looking to make it 3. Gomi had success in Japan back in his Pride days, but has not had too much success in the UFC thus far. I like Gomi and would like to see him climb the lightweight ranks again, but I think Diego will handle him with relative ease. Sanchez via decision.
- The skyscraper Stefan Struve will be taking on the Super Samoan Mark Hunt in a very important heavyweight match. Hunt only has an 8-7 MMA record with a 6 fight losing streak in the middle of his career, but he is not to be underestimated. Especially since 4 of those losses were to Mousasi, Overeem, Barnett, and the great Fedor Emelianenko. The man on a 3 fight winning streak even holds a win over main event fighter Wanderlei Silva. Meanwhile his opponent Struve is coming off a highlight reel KO over formerly undefeated Stipe Miocic. All but 1 of Struve's fights have been finished, win or loss. Look for these two to go to war, and look for the KO. I like Hunt but Struve will have one of the most ridiculous reach advantages you will see in a fight. I am taking Struve via head kick KO.
- Wanderlei Silva is definitely a fan favorite and a winner in Japan. However, his UFC record is a less than stellar 3-6. In his last 2 fights he almost finished Rich Franklin but lost that fight to a decision, and came back from a beating to knock out Cung Le. You have to love this guy but that does not mean he is going to win this fight. Stann's last 3 losses have been to top guys in Davis, Sonnen, and Bisping. He is a beastly middleweight who is fighting at 205 on Saturday. This is a temporary move because he is getting a chance to face a legend in Silva. I only see good wrestlers (like Davis, Sonnen, and Bisping) being good enough to beat him. Stann will stand and bang with Silva like he did with Leben and should clip him at some point. I will take Stann with a 3rd round KO. Wanderlei may have to retire in front of the capacity crowd in Japan. He will always be a legend of the sport and hopefully it is not his last time in the octagon.
Predictions are at 31/63 entering Japan's event. Looking to get at least 5 out of 6. Very confident in this event.