Brock needs this win for his career, the UFC needs it for the fans
UFC 141 is live tonight from MGM Grand Garden Arena with one of the most star-studded cards of 2011. With a strong undercard, a stronger main card and three fights that are main-event-worthy, the UFC is sure to end 2011 with a bang.
Zuffa's decision to move the fight up to Friday is another smart move by the MMA mother ship to ensure that this event will be a can't-miss card for most sports fans, not to mention those in attendance have a full Vegas weekend to ring in the new year. While none of the three headline fights are for a title, they all have title implications and the two co-main-event fights could catapult the respective winners into title shots early in 2012.
So who will have their arm raised in the Octagon and be so privileged as to wish Joe Rogan a Happy New Year in their victory speech? Let's find out.
Many MMA pundits are high on Johny Hendricks as the next welterweight to become an elite contender, and for obvious reason. Johnny is 11-1 at the ripe age of 28 with the sole loss coming at the hands of Rick Story in an Ultimate Fighter finale fight. As a D-I wrestler at Oklahoma State Hendricks saw success in large amounts, winning national titles, Big 12 titles and being selected as an All American. Hendricks also holds a black belt in BJJ; there is no question he is a skilled mat technician and could pull off the victory.
The only problem? Jon Fitch can also dominate on the ground and has been recognized at the collegiate level (Purdue) and in MMA for his hard-nosed mentality on the ground. Not to mention Fitch's track record belittles that of Hendricks, with wins over Paul Thiago, Mike Pierce, Diego Sanchez and Thiago Alves twice. So when these two get on the ground, who gets the win?
While Johny Hendricks may be on the rise, he hasn't risen enough yet to take out Jon Fitch, who has remained stagnant in his position behind GSP and among the top welterweight ranks. Fitch is coming off a 10 month layoff and looking to get back into title contention.
I would be more caught off guard than Vitor Belfort meeting an Anderson Silva foot if this fight ended in knockout. Neither fighter has the killer instinct to finish fights, which is becoming a bit of a trend in this division, so the strategic implications of this fight garner more importance. While both fighters can get the job done on the ground, Jon's experience and patience will be huge contributing factors in his victory at UFC 141.
Can you say Fight of the Night?
After Bruce Buffer announces "the co-main event of the evening," all hell is sure to break loose. Diaz and Cerrone are two of the most aggressive fighters in the UFC. The "Cowboy" Cerrone has shown he belongs with the best lightweights in the world by going undefeated since crossing over from WEC to the UFC. In his last four fights (all UFC victories), he has looked explosive and technically sound. His knock in WEC was that he was reckless and at times let his emotions get the better of him; not the case anymore.
Diaz on the other hand has a very similar skill set, strong boxing, consistent BJJ and the ability to beat his opponents via stand-up or on the ground. The difference? The always-disgruntled Diaz needs this win more than the Cowboy. So which 155-pounder will come out on top?
Nate Diaz looked better in his last fight, a victory over Takanori Gomi, than he has looked since he dominated The Ultimate Fighter 5 cast, including Gray Maynard.
Nate has a lot to prove in this fight if he wants to be in contention for a lightweight title shot in 2012. Cerrone has won his last six fights, four of which were in 2011, the most notable being a submission over Dennis Siver. Diaz simply has better wins over better fighters, namely Melvin Guillard and Marcus Davis.
When the two lengthy and vicious strikers square off, look for Cerrone to get off to a strong start landing strikes and pushing the pace, but Diaz has a superb chin and will outlast the early onslaught. As Nate did with Gray Maynard, he will use his length, endurance and versatility, getting the finish late in the fight via submission.
The last time Overeem lost was September 17, 2007. Since then, all Alistair has done is win 10 fights in deciding fashion and launch himself into the spotlight by taking on one of the most feared men in the world. The downside? Overeem's biggest win is arguably his last one, Fabrico Werdum, which went the distance and he won by decision.
Brock Lesnar looked unbeatable upon arrival in the UFC with wins over Randy Couture, Frank Mir and Shane Carwin, all showing Brock's dominance. That all changed when the former WWE champion and D-I wrestling champion got rocked by Cain Velasquez and was knocked out in the first round. Needless to say, both fighters have a lot to prove on Friday night.
Both Lesnar and Overeem are over 6'5" and weigh over 260 pounds; so when over 500 pounds square off in the Octagon Friday, you can bet the landed punches will sound like trains colliding. The difference in this fight is that Lesnar has now tasted defeat, lost his belt and has more to prove than he ever has before in his career.
When faced with adversity in the past Brock has excelled—why not now? Overeem will prove to be a good heavyweight in the UFC, but Lesnar needs this win to keep his MMA career from sputtering and remain in the hunt for heavyweight gold. More importantly the UFC needs a Lesnar win to keep the division interesting and appealing to the fanbase at large. It won't be pretty, but simply put, Brock Lesnar needs this win more—and he will get it by knockout.