Friday, December 27, 2013

UFC 168: Silva-Weidman II preview

Some of you may have noticed I missed the prior UFC event. Sadly, it was due to a stomach virus that threw off my entire schedule. Nonetheless, there was no way I wasn't going to not do this blog.

We have the biggest card of the year, easily, as the UFC World Middleweight and Women's Bantamweight Championships are on the line in highly anticipated rematches.

In the main event, champion Chris Weidman looks to prove that his title win was not a fluke by granting a rematch to former champion Anderson Silva. Meanwhile, the co-main event will showcase Ronda Rousey defending her title against the first person I ever saw mount any amount of real offense against her, Miesha Tate.

I'll handle the middleweights first. There has been talk recently that Anderson Silva may be making this his final fight. I don't necessarily buy that, but it definitely would be a different landscape in 2014 if Silva and Georges St. Pierre were both out of the title picture and PPV lineup entirely.

I'm really not able to get a real read on what Silva's mindset is. I feel like he'll just wind up fighting the same fight he usually does, only with a little less trash-talking. I would expect to see a more aggressive Spider in this fight, but what will that do against Weidman?

In my view, Weidman is going to be largely the same, but if Anderson is acting with more aggression, that leads me to think Weidman is going to get him to the ground. While Silva may be able to get out of it and have the stamina to handle the situation, I trust Weidman's stamina as well and I think he'll be able to put together three winnable rounds.

The big question is whether one finishes the other. I don't think they do. Weidman's strike came at just the right angle and Weidman really seemed to have an unbelievable chin. As such, I'm going with a decision victory, and I'm taking the champ here.

Pick: Chris Weidman by decision

Meanwhile, Ronda Rousey's fight with Miesha Tate boils down to stand-up this go-around, I think. I believe Miesha has scouted Rousey's judo takedowns and will be ready to avoid it. In that setup, Miesha would be the one to land takedowns, and Miesha could have a chance to score some rounds.

The X-factor in this fight is going to come down to how improved Ronda's stand-up game is. If she can manage to work a jab to counter Miesha, she can back her up and get her takedowns that way. While I can see Tate defending some submissions, the fight becomes decreasingly likely to swing the other way the more time she's on the bottom.

I do think Miesha manages to get out of the first few rounds this go-around, but it's only a matter of time before Ronda takes over and wins the fight.

Pick: Ronda Rousey by submission, Round 3
(For the record, I think instead of armbar, she gets a kimura.)

Heavyweight Bout: Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne

This could actually be quite the awesome fight. Both fighters feel like complete heavyweights and could be a real No. 1 contender for Cain Velasquez's title. That said, I'm going with the veteran in Barnett.

I think that, in addition to experience, Barnett's stand-up game is a little more solid. I see Barnett coming in with a lot of motivation and with a bunch of trash-talk prepared for the post-fight interview.

Pick: Josh Barnett by KO, Round 2

Rest of the main card

Lightweights: Jim Miller vs. Fabricio Camoes - Both men are accomplished ground fighters and I think we're in for a stand-up fight because of it. I'm going with the new gun here and taking Camoes by decision.

Featherweights: Dustin Poirier vs. Diego Brandao - These two usually put on a show, so I'm excited. I'm going to lean Poirier by KO1, but I could see either winning. It will really come down to who gets a better shot (much like the previous fight above, I don't see it going to the ground because each is so accomplished).

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