UFC 148 – Silva -vs- Sonnen II – Predictions
After what has seemed like an unending build-up, finally the rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen is finally — and I do stress that word, finally — upon us. In addition to the much anticipated middleweight tilt between the mouthy contender and the well established champion is a slew of compelling, highly competitive fights. Following the somewhat lackluster UFC 147 – Silva -vs- Franklin II (predictions | recap), this next pay-per-view looks much, much better.
As per usual, my partner in crime, Rui joins me with his own predictions for this event. What started off as a not-so-impressive head-to-head between us has blossomed into a fairly close battle to determine which of us is slightly more reliable than a coin-flip.
Rui’s current record: 18-15
Derek’s current record: 20-13
Middleweight Title Fight
Anderson Silva (C) -vs- Chael Sonnen
Rui: So many quickly forget what Silva has done, and have been swayed to Sonnen’s corner by his mental prowess more than anything else. To this I simply say, “REALLY?!?” Sonnen doesn’t have knockout power, as he resorts to grinding a person down and out-lasting him. Yeah yeah, he submitted the well respected Brian Stann but let’s face it… If you look at his latest fights, he has one submission while the rest were stopped by the bell!
So, my question is what do you get when you repeatedly insult and berate an opponent into taking a fight? Then, keep doing it even after the papers are signed? You get one really really pissed off opponent. In this case, if he was looking to eat helping of baby food the following day of the fight I would have to say, “JOB WELL DONE!! All your scheming, quick wit and funny tirades have earned you the right to pick up your own teeth tomorrow when you wake up!”
In all my time of watching this legend, which I’m not a fan off, I’ve never seen him blow his lid off like when he did over the phone interview he had with the reporter and Dana White. He was saying, in Portuguese, that he was going to break his arms, legs and his teeth. Now usually I just attribute that to hyping a fight up and such, but then considering how Anderson was bumping into Sonnen’s chest and trying to bully at the press conference. So much so that Dana White had a very hard time to separate the two leaving me no doubt as to Silva’s motivation.
Silva who’s usually mild mannered, reserved and up to a point timid made it no secret what he plans to do in the ring. I for one have like when the fighters hype up a fight but Sonnen crossed the lines on many fronts and would like for Silva to put a stop to this kind of awful sportsmanship. Sure they might hug it out after the fight but I just want Silva to remind his opponent, and everyone else who might want to take a run at the belt, who’s the king of the mountain and that all his talk only got him, Anderson, even more motivated to smash his opponent’s face in.
That being said, a quick break down of how it’ll be scored. “Judges shall evaluate mixed martial arts techniques, such as effective striking, effective grappling, control of the ring / fighting area, effective aggressiveness and defense.”
Striking: I’d have to give it to Silva as he’s a sniper with his fists and feet when he’s healthy. Silva should win here.
Control of the ring: Chael has fantastic wrestling but undoubtedly Silva has prepared for his weakness in this fight. Chael wins here.
Aggressiveness: With all the talking done, I don’t think you could motivate the giant who walks lightly anymore than has already been done…. Silva is going to explode BUT, now I cannot put more pixels in one three letter word other than doing this, BUT, BUT I fear another fight like when he fought Maia to be honest. Hopefully Silva has learned his lesson and now knows that that’s not the way to win praise from your boss or fans alike and will put an exclamation point on this fight to solidify his reign as King of the mountain.
Derek: Well, Rui covered a lot of what I was going to say; this fight has definitely been building for about as long as I can tolerate for any event. Since the moment Sonnen knew he could compete in the UFC, following his suspension after the first fight with Anderson Silva, the challenger has been throwing verbal barbs and taunts, both trying to build up attention for the fight and cement his status as a marketable fighter. Both items, I would argue, Chael has succeeded in; everyone is talking about this fight, and the anticipation surrounding his eventual clash with the most celebrated mixed martial artists currently competing could be cut with a knife and spread on toast.
Well, the moment of truth approaches, and quickly. Silva has been noticeably annoyed with Sonnen’s antics at the two final press conferences leading up to the fight, even going so far as to shoulder-check Chael in the face during their final staredown at the weigh-ins — play-time is most definitely over. But, given all the attention focused on said antics, it says very little about the upcoming fight.
Yes, in the prior bout Sonnen almost shocked the world, dominating a fighter many proclaim to be the greatest MMA fighter of all time for 23 minutes. As we all know — because it’s been repeated over-and-over since then — Chael lost a surefire decision victory when he let himself get caught in a triangle submission in the final minutes of the final round. Since that time Chael has served a suspension for an elevated T:E ratio, pleaded guilty to felony money laundering, and has managed to whip the entire country of Brazil into a murderous frenzy; busy guy!
As far as I am concerned, the mental aspect is an overplayed topic; as much of a skilled antagonist as Chael may be, both of these men are professionals and understand what is at stake here; some frustration I would expect, but that’s about it. Whatever outcome results from this rematch, it will be due to both fighters’ efforts in the cage — not some pro-wrestling-esque heel promos, or shoulder-checks — and it’s going to come down to skill, athleticism and desire.
Sonnen’s gameplan is obvious to anyone who has been paying attention: he’s going to pressure Silva, get in his face, and try to work his high-tempo wrestling. Chael’s takedowns are impressive, and certainly served him well in the last fight. Meanwhile, Anderson has notched two victories against talented grapplers from his back (Travis Lutter and the current challenger), so it’s been demonstrated that Silva is not helpless against wrestlers; though Dan Henderson proved it is possible to hold Silva down and control him, he too was choked out after being staggered with punches.
In my mind, Chael’s previous performance against Silva was probably his peak performance, as I don’t recall him looking that good before or after that fight. Chael is absolutely a worthy challenger, but I think this is going to be Anderson Silva’s night. Provided both guys are healthy, and no other outside factors are at play, I firmly believe that Anderson wins 99/100 fights between these two; though I would argue that they would be competitive.
Maybe Chael did get inside Anderson’s head… The problem is, he’s going to realise that there is nothing but brutal violence in there. I’m expecting a quick, harsh strike based stoppage.
Rui’s Prediction: Anderson Silva.
Derek’s Prediction: Anderson Silva.
Light Heavyweight Fight
Tito Ortiz -vs- Forrest Griffin
Rui: We haven’t seen Griffin fight in a while, so I guess that evens things out with Ortiz has been on a rough losing streak. Considering that this is the last song and dance of Ortiz, I see him wanting to go out on his shield and put on a show for his huge fan base.
I for one am a fan of both and would love for this to be another epic fight between these two champions. Unfortunately, I see the one foe that we must all face at one time or another has finally caught up to Ortiz and taken his top notch skills away a little every day. Yes, that foe is father time. Both guys are as well-rounded as they are worn-down, so this will be a good test to see where both guys are at.
It’ll be another good fight but I see Griffin win by decision.
Derek: I would be lying if I said this fight was something that I was looking forward to; both fighters are in the twilight of their careers — with Tito stating this is his last fight, and Forrest having hinted at retirement recently. I am actually more interested in seeing Tito than Forrest, actually, as despite his high number of losses in recent years, Tito has generally put on fun fights, whether he’s winning or losing. (OK, so it’s more fun when he’s losing, I’ll concede that.)
For his part, Forrest used to be a lock for always delivering an exciting fight but, as of late, it seems as though his focus has shifted away from fighting. In both his fights against Anderson Silva and the rematch with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Forrest did not seem to have his heart in fighting — and the quick, decisive losses he picked up in this bouts seem to confirm this. That said, Forrest seems motivated for this fight and not keen on being the second guy to lose to Tito Ortiz in his last 10 fights.
Tito’s absolutely at the end of his run; he’s broken down, and has recovered from numerous injuries — including back surgery — but the damage has taken its toll. Although Tito has steadily improved his boxing skills since the Chuck Liddell fights, the most puzzling thing is how Tito has almost never opted to use solid jiu-jitsu skills. The last time we really saw Tito really use his grappling he almost choked Machida with a triangle in the closing seconds of their fight, and choked out Ryan Bader after a staggering punch. Tito states he’s going to be aiming to return to his roots for this fight; relying on endurance and opting to go for takedowns and ground-and-pound — the hallmarks of Tito’s career apex.
Forrest brings his normal skillset to the table: a well-rounded MMA game with no truly stand-out aspect. Forrest is not a guy with big KO power, nor is he a grinding wrestler or a submission artist. While it seemed more obvious in years gone-by, Forrest is basically a slightly larger version of Rich Franklin, though I would argue that Forrest is even more battle-worn than “Ace”. In a sane world, this fight should favour Forrest quite a bit, but considering Tito’s recent re-dedication and Forrest’s questionable performances — and overall interest in fighting for a living — makes this fight harder to pick than most.
The nostalgia fan in me would love to see Tito Ortiz retire on a win; the cynic in me says “that rarely happens”; the realist in me advises that both guys have been flaky as-of-late. So, with all that said, I am going with Forrest. I believe the man when he says “if I lose to Tito Ortiz, I will retire from life”; whether or not Forrest is truly in love with the fight game right now is irrelevant, I think his legendary work ethic and personal pride will be enough to get fired up and win this.
I’m expecting a competitive first round before Forrest takes over and either wins a decision or stops Tito with accumulated shots. I kind of hope it goes to a decision, so that Tito can retire with 5 hours of time logged in the octagon — I’m a sucker for statistics like that!
Rui’s Prediction: Forrest Griffin.
Derek’s Prediction: Forrest Griffin.
Cung Le -vs- Patrick Côté
Rui: ”The Predator” has finally made his way back to the UFC after running around the smaller circuits, racking up 4 wins in a row. I see him having learned a few valuable lessons with his time away and having grown as a fighter. I believe Côté will test Le’s chin quickly in the fight. Le has a well known arsenal of flashy kicks and impressive offence. Lucky for Côté, he has a very solid chin, which will prove handy to press the action and close the distance — swinging for a the fences — like he usually does. I’ll take Côté by KO and would be surprised if this lasts a whole round.
Derek: Aside from being a loyal Canadian, I actually consider myself a genuine fan of Patrick Côté. Yes, “The Predator” was ousted from the UFC after losing some tough decisions, but he’s never been dropped with strikes and poses a significant enough threat that the majority of his losses have come from opponents with good wrestling who managed to smother him en route to a decision win. Côté seems to have genuinely worked hard on improving his MMA game, following his second departure from the UFC, and I think all signs point to him taking the win here.
Cung Le’s biggest problem is he’s 10 years too old to make the impact on MMA he could have were he in his prime. Le is a fantastically skilled martial artist, an exciting fighter to watch, and a legit top-tier athlete. The problem is, Cung has not been fully dedicated to MMA; opting to shoot movies and explore other interests while competing “part-time” in Strikeforce and now the UFC. All of Cung’s losses have come as a direct result of him running out of gas, a problem which is exacerbated by his high volume style of striking.
It’s not improbable that Le knows this could be his last shot in a major MMA promotion, and will opt to use his wrestling to win a “safe” victory. To the surprise of many, Le was unable to finish Wanderlei Silva — who has been getting easier and easier to KO as time passes — which makes the prospect of overcoming the granite chin of Patrick Côté a rather suspect possibility. Also, shooting for takedowns is not much easier on the gas tank than throwing spinning kicks and flurries of punches, so if Le has not addressed his conditioning issues then I don’t see a way for him to win this fight.
Côté went head-to-head with Anderson Silva, took some big shots, and never looked to be in danger; the unfortunate knee injury that ended the fight is still one of the biggest disappointments in MMA, as far as I’m concerned. As bad as I felt, watching Côté’s title opportunity end on an injury, and then watching him wrestled out of the UFC following his recovery, I can only imagine Côté’s frustration. If his recent performances have been any indication, I would say he has channeled that frustration into vast improvements in his over-all MMA game. He’s still a striker, with heavy hands and a stout beard, but I think the deficiencies seen in the past will be gone; Le has no outs here; Côté is hungry and I expect to see “The Predator” make a statement in his return to the UFC.
Rui’s Prediction: Patrick Côté.
Derek’s Prediction: Patrick Côté.
Dong Hyun Kim -vs- Demian Maia
Rui: This is the second most anticipated fight on the card for me. Unfortunately, I see this going badly for my favorite submission artist as Kim has great judo skills. As usual, people tend to forget a fighter’s full bag of tricks — and both fighters are still rounding out their skills — but Kim’s judo will keep this on the feet. Kim obviously wants to make another run for the belt, and this is a good place to start. To go with his judo, he’s got some good striking, hence the name “Stun Gun”. It’ll be a hard night in Las Vegas for Maia. Kim by TKO, in the third.
Derek: I always tend to shy away from picking fighters when they drop down in weight, unless they have a solid wrestling background. Maia is a guy I’ve liked watching for a long time, despite some harsh losses his jiu-jitsu game is beautiful to watch. Maia’s problem has always been his inability to force the fight to the ground, leaving him with a rudimentary striking and wrestling game that hasn’t been able to get the job done in a lot of cases. Maia’s also had a couple of bad weight cuts (although illness could have played a factor), so the prospect of moving down another 15 pounds was a bit shocking when I first heard about it.
At the weigh-ins, Maia also looked terrible; this was definitely a hard cut for him. Conversely, Kim looked to have dropped a bit of muscle — which should help his cardio immensely — and in general just looked a lot healthier. Based on that visual, and Kim’s high-level judo game, I think Rui is correct when he says Demian Maia is going to have a bad night. Kim’s judo is going to make clinching a bad idea, nullify a lot of Maia’s wrestling, and also provide Kim with grappling knowledge sufficient to defend Maia’s submission attempts.
On the feet, I definitely give “Stun Gun” the advantage. Maia seems to have worked hard to improve his striking but it’s just not there yet. Maia’s going to have his hands full, as Kim has a distinct advantage in every aspect except submissions; while more-than capable, Maia’s pure jiu-jitsu is on a level of its own. Maia’s problem is that this is an MMA fight, and Kim has more things going for him. I expect Kim to keep the fight on the feet, peppering Maia with punches, slowly exhaust the Brazilian with clinch work and throws and eventually get a TKO stoppage.
Rui’s Prediction: Dong Hyun Kim.
Derek’s Prediction: Dong Hyun Kim.
Chad Mendes -vs- Cody McKenzie
Rui: Damn, I liked McKenzie but he keeps getting these hard matches… Obviously I would rather see that, than “gimme” fights, but Mendes has no neck to speak of…. I SWEAR! The dude’s head is attached to the top of his torso directly! Maybe it’s just me that’s afraid of what’s going to happen to McKenzie, but I don’t think my much-liked submission guy is going to pick up the ‘W’ against this compact wrestler. Prove me wrong!! Mendes by TKO in the third, after fatigue has settled in.
Derek: Talk about a rough way to introduce someone to a new weight division, guillotine choke connoisseur Cody McKenzie draws Chad Mendes for his first fight at 145 pounds. Mendes, coming off his one-sided loss at the hands of Jose Aldo, is heavily favoured — and with good reason. McKenzie, for all his charm, is facing a very tough test; Mendes is a powerful wrestler and coming from the Alpha-Male camp, he’s also very aggressive and has been working on his stand-up a lot too. Mendes may be known as a wrestler, but that one-dimensional descriptor is becoming less-and-less valid, as he’s dangerous everywhere now.
McKenzie is going to have to put in the best performance of his career to win this one, as I don’t expect Mendes to serve up his neck for an easy guillotine like McKenzie’s last opponent. (Seriously, what the Hell was that?!) While Cody has a respectable boxing game, and he’s a tough guy, I think Mendes is going to win this in a decisive manner. I say this with even more confidence after seeing that McKenzie shaved off his awesome moustache!
Rui’s Prediction: Chad Mendes.
Derek’s Prediction: Chad Mendes.
Ivan Menjivar -vs- Mike Easton
Rui: Another good fight here! Now, I’ve been watching Menjivar fight through all kinds of opponents to make his way up to the big leagues for years and I cannot figure out why this guy doesn’t have a title around his waist yet.
Oh yeah, they keep putting him in highly competitive fights like this! I just looked at Menjivar’s record and he lost his first 3 fights, his first fight in the UFC was against leg-humper extraordinaire GSP so that — in my opinion, anyway — doesn’t; he then he won his following three fights, a 50% win record. This is going to be hard test for sure against this up and comer and I hope Menjivar’s experience comes in handy for this one! I wish him luck and I’ll be cheering him on at the pub for sure! Easton is no joke as he’s 12-1 and he’s got cardio and great strand up.
This is going to be a good fight I’ll be cheering on for my fellow Canadian and hope he catches Easton in a slick submission much like he used to in his fights on the Quebec side. Menjivar by sub in the second round.
Derek: Mike Easton is one extremely intense looking dude. While Menjivar is on a good run himself, I just have this overwhelming feeling that Easton is going to put on a defining performance here. Despite not knowing a vast amount about either fighter, I have a strong hunch that Easton is taking this one down.
Rui’s Prediction: Ivan Menjivar.
Derek’s Prediction: Mike Easton.
As always, check back after the fights for my usual post-fight breakdowns. Enjoy the show!