Friday, January 13, 2012

UFC 142 Preview and Predictions


This past year was a great one for the UFC.  There were many highlights, the Maynard-Edgar wars, the official beginning of the Bones Jones era, the much publicized deals with Strikeforce and Fox and most importantly, Steven Segal revolutionizing the sport.

All that momentum leads to UFC 142, first event of the new year taking place tomorrow in Brazil. The card, as you would expect, features many Brazilians and is highlighted by Jose Aldo defending his featherweight title.  The bout line up isn’t the most exciting on paper, which usually means these fights are going to shock everyone and deliver.  Plus, with this many dynamic strikers and grapplers on the card there is sure to be at least one highlight that we will be talking about for the rest of the year.

On to the predictions…

Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim

This is a great fight to kick off the main card.  These two fighters always look for the finish and deliver exciting fights. It’s the prototypical match up of striker, Barboza, a muay thai black belt, and a grappler in Etim, four submission of the night bonuses.

The key in this fight is whether or not Etim with his weak wrestling will be able to ground the heavy handed striker.  This is my early pick for fight of the night. Etim has never been knocked out and won’t be this fight but will lose by unanimous decision.

Carlo Prater vs. Erick Silva

Prater who is his making his UFC debut is a late fill in for Siyar Bahadurzada.  He clearly owns the experience edge, 40 fights compared to 14, and even has a win early in his career against Carlos Condit.

Silva is a prospect that many people are excited to see what he becomes, especially coming off his 40 second knockout of Luis Ramos.

I think the veteran Prater is able to use his experience to hang around for a little bit, until Silva strikes with a second round knockout and people start the comparisons to one of his trainers, that other Silva.

Mike Massenzio vs. Rousimar Palhares

Palhares’ fights are always interesting because you never know what he’s going to do in them.  Whether he’s ending fights too soon or too late, they will leave people talking.

Massenzio is a junior college wrestling national champion and is also a black belt in jiu jitsu. Massenzio is capable of winning this fight but he has also had some pretty bad losses in his career (submitted by Brian Stann and TKOd by CB Dollaway.

The only question in this fight is which limb of Massenzio does Palhares want to walk away with it.  I think instead of his customary heel hook Palhares switches things off and ends in the first round with a guillotine.

Vitor Belfort vs. Anthony Johnson

My first thought when I saw the booking of this fight was that the winner of this fight is going to get the knockout of the night bonus.

Johnson, making his middleweight debut, has won it twice, most recently with a head kick knock out on Charlie Brenneman.

Vitor Belfort’s hands don’t need an introduction.  His last four wins have all been via knockout with three of them in the first round. 

This is a huge fight for both of them. Johnson it seemed had gotten his weight under control** and was moving up the 170 pound division with two straight wins but could not turn down this fight.  Belfort looked to be his old self in his last bout against Akiyama but needs to win this fight if ever hopes to fight Anderson again.

I think cardio plays a factor in this fight and I’ll take the younger, better wrestler Johnson with a third round knockout.

Champ Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes (for featherweight title)

The first title fight of 2012 could turn into 2010’stitle fight of the year.  Of course, Mendes assumes the role of Chael Sonnen, minus the trash talking and minus laundering.  Aldo has defeated wrestlers in the past but none as explosive as Mendes.

Jose Aldo was one of the fighters that made me fall in love with this sport. I loved the WEC days and Aldo personified them.  He had some vicious knockouts and threw flying knees like they were going out of style.  But something changed in him when he TKOd Mike brown for the belt. He fights a lot safer now and has looked vulnerable at times.

Mendes’ striking is what will decide how this fight goes. Obviously he does not want to stand and trade with Aldo but he needs if his always- improving striking can set up his take downs, he’ll be tough to beat. Unlike in 2010 I don’ the Brazilian will be able to pull off a submission and Mendes wins a unanimous decision 49-46.

Bonus prediction: Mendes’ win will be the first of three titles coming to the Team Alpha Male camp this year. I like Faber in the trilogy fight against Cruz and Benavidez to win the flyweight tournament.

We bring pies and take titles
**Edit: Written before Johnson's blown weight... Some things never change.

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