UFC 148: Early Main Card Breakdown and Predictions
The rematch between Silva and Sonnen may end up being the biggest MMA fight of the year, and the co-headlining title fight between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber will have had an entire seasons worth of build up from The Ultimate Fighter to get fans interested by the time the event rolls around.
As if throwing two of the biggest fights of the year on the same night isn’t enough, the card also features the final fight of future UFC hall of famer Tito Ortiz’s career, as he will take on longtime rival Forrest Griffin in a rubber match.
Also on the card are two middleweight scraps that have some serious star power behind them, as former middleweight champion Rich Franklin will take on a former Strikeforce champion in Cung Le and rising contender Tim Boetsch will look to take out a former Ultimate Fighter winner Michael Bisping.
This card has the most stacked lineup in recent memory, and the quality of the bouts will make sure it delivers on July 7.
Demian Maia vs Dong Hyun Kim
In a very interesting stylistic matchup, judo expert Dong Hyun Kim is set to face off against BJJ wizard Demain Maia.
This fight will be the welterweight debut for Maia, who has had a very successful career in the UFC’s middleweight division over the last few years but needed a change of scenary in order to get into the title picture.
His opponent in Kim is primarily a grappler, with solid control from the top positions, but we haven’t seen anyone attempt to take Maia down to the mat and out grapple him in a very long time.
Assuming this fight goes to the ground where both men feel most comfortable, I think Kim will be able to stay out of trouble for the most part and land some effective ground and pound to shake up Maia.
But laying on the ground for too long against Maia is career suicide, and eventually Kim is going to become Maia’s first submission victim since Chael Sonnen back at UFC 95.
Demian Maia Defeats Dong Hyun Kim by 3rd Round Submission
Rich Franklin vs Cung Le
Two former champions are likely to kick off the night’s main card, and by the end of the night one will have left the UFC title picture for the final time.
Both Rich Franklin and Cung Le have done a lot in their MMA careers, but time is on neither man’s side and the loser of their middleweight clash is probably going to be one giant step closer to retirement.
Franklin hasn’t fought in well over a year, as he lost his last bout to Forrest Griffin at UFC 126 and subsequently suffered an injured shoulder that caused him to miss the rest of 2011.
With a clean slate of health, Franklin is stuck fighting Le, a brutal striker that could knock him out cold in an instant with one of his heavy kicks or knees.
Le lost his UFC debut in a fast paced an exciting bout against Wanderlei Silva last November. He needs this win badly if he wants to keep making a UFC salary.
As flashy and unpredictable as Le is, the pick has to be Franklin here. The faster and awkward Le could easily catch “Ace,” but I think he will be able to stay out of harm's way for the majority of the fight.
Watch for Franklin to land some vicious shots at some point during the second round and he’ll end up locking in the submission victory before the night is over.
Rich Franklin defeats Cung Le by 2nd round Submission
Michael Bisping vs Tim Boetsch
Even though he knocked out longtime middleweight contender Yushin Okami in his last bout, fans are still completely overlooking Tim Boetsch’s chances against Michael Bisping.
Boetsch is a decent wrestler with knockout power, but Bisping is a complete mixed martial artist at this point in his career. He’s added some fantastic takedown defense to his arsenal over his last few bouts.
This effectively leaves Boetsch stuck in no man’s land, as his striking is no match for the technical superiority Bisping possesses. His wrestling is going to be nullified by the Brit as well.
This fight should be pretty one-sided for the most part, with Bisping beating Boetsch to the punch time and time again, making the night a long one for “The Barbarian.”
Boetsch may have one big flurry left if he is down late in the fight, but Bisping saw what happened to Okami and is smart enough to avoid the same mistake.
Not only is Bisping going to beat down Boetsch, but also he’ll find a way to finish him late in the fight as well, officially making his claim for a title fight.
Michael Bisping Defeats Tim Boetsch by 3rd Round TKO
Tito Ortiz vs Forrest Griffin III
Despite having fought to a close decision in both of their previous bouts against each other, fans just don’t seem too excited to watch the rubber match between Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin.
The rivalry started back at UFC 59, where an up-and-coming Griffin gave the former champion Ortiz everything he could handle, with “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” barely doing enough to win the split decision.
When the two rematched at UFC 106, the roles were almost comically reversed, with Griffin having lost his UFC title less than a year earlier and Ortiz in the middle of the roughest stretch of his career.
However this time the judges sided with Griffin, leaving Ortiz with a longing for revenge.
Even though Tito has looked like he's improved quite a bit over his last few fights, this fight is going to end with Griffin’s arm raised.
Tito will win at least one round and almost steal another with his superior wrestling, but Forrest is good enough off of his back to stay out of trouble and eventually take control on the feet to pull off the decision.
Forrest Griffin Defeats Tito Ortiz by Unanimous Decision
Dominick Cruz vs Urijah Faber: UFC Bantamweight Title Fight
The grudge match between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber will have likely hit its boiling point by the time their UFC bantamweight title fight rolls around.
The fighters will have had an unprecedented amount of interaction with each other by July 7, since the usual six-week Ultimate Fighter season has been doubled in length due to the new live format.
Both Cruz and Faber already hold a victory over one another in their careers, with Faber winning by submission back at WEC 26 and Cruz returning the favor with a decision win at UFC 132 last summer.
Now with one final fight to break the tie and end the rivalry, the two best bantamweights in the world are looking for legitimacy on the biggest fight night of the year.
The fight between Cruz and Faber last summer was mostly a standup battle, but both men were able to utilize their wrestling when the time was right.
I honestly don’t see any reason as to why this fight will be different, and after another five rounds expect to see Cruz win a second straight close decision over “The California Kid.”
Dominick Cruz defeats Urijah Faber by Split Decision
Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen: UFC Middleweight Title Fight
It will have been nearly two years since Anderson Silva locked in the most clutch submission in MMA history, his UFC 117 5th-round triangle choke of Sonnen, when the two best middleweights in the world lock horns for a second time.
Sonnen has been a lightning rod of controversy since his first fight with Silva was announced, becoming one of the most polarizing fighters in the sport over the last few years with his comments about a plethora of MMA legends, especially Silva, and the country of Brazil.
Once the talk is finally over, it will be up to Sonnen to see if he can duplicate the performance he showed off in the first fight, which saw him dominate Silva for almost the entire 25-minute duration of the bout.
The entire world knows that this fight hinges on the wrestling ability of Sonnen, and if the fighter from West Linn, Oregon is able to control Silva like he did during the majority of the first bout he will almost certainly walk away with the victory.
That being said, the striking of Silva is something that no other fighter on the planet can compete with, and if Silva lands just one solid punch or kick it will spell the end for Sonnen.
This fight really comes down to a wrestler fighting a mixed martial artist, and as long as Sonnen is able to take “The Spider” to the mat as easily as he did during the first fight, he will walk out of Las Vegas with the UFC middleweight championship belt around his waist.
Chael Sonnen Defeats Anderson Silva by Unanimous Decision.