UFC 160: Predicting the Fight Night Bonuses
The lure of the knockout is methodically seducing the MMA community into a full embrace of UFC 160. But there also lurks the possibility of some slick submissions and some highly balanced competitions.
And because it's pretty unlikely that the UFC will award a three-way tie for Knockout of the Night (though stranger things have happened), here are picks for the KO, submission and overall fight that will merit the big bonus checks after UFC 160 wraps up some time early Sunday morning.
Knockout of the Night: Cain Velasquez
I know the heavyweight champion isn't exactly a deep sleeper pick. I realize that there are plenty of plausible candidates for this, from Junior dos Santos to Mark Hunt to Stephen Thompson to Max Holloway.
But I'd be telling myself and you a falsehood if I sat here and said I thought any of those people had a better shot at a big knockout on Saturday night than Cain Velasquez. He completely gooified Antonio Silva in their last bout. This time, I believe the end will be more emphatic. Velasquez has major power in his hands, even if he doesn't always fight in a way that showcases it, and he'll pick up his fourth Knockout of the Night bonus this weekend.
Submission of the Night: Khabib Nurmagomedov
Iowa native Abel Trujillo has a wrestling base and nasty striking power, but here's guessing Khabib and his world-class combat sambo gets the better of this contest.
Though leg locks are the typical sambo calling card when it comes to submissions, Khabib has shown nice variety in his grappling attack, regularly employing chokes and arm holds.
Khabib's SOTN chances here are accentuated by the fact that he probably doesn't want a standing exchange with the powerful Trujillo. If Khabib can use his single-leg shot to dump Trujillo on his back—and I think he can—then I believe it's probably just a matter of time until the 24-year-old nabs his first post-fight bonus.
Fight of the Night: T.J. Grant vs. Gray Maynard
In my estimation, far too many people are sleeping on T.J. Grant. Sure, Grant hasn't faced a guy at the level of Gray Maynard, but nothing in his 4-0 run at lightweight (which has included two finishes and a Fight of the Night bonus) indicates to me that he's not more than ready for the challenge.
Both men can draw blood and score knockouts on the feet, and both have very solid chins. Both men can get it done on the ground, with Maynard bringing wrestling against Grant's slick jiu-jitsu. Both men are big, strong lightweights who know, as we all do, that a win here means a title shot.
Yep, to coin a phrase, this one has all the makings.