Bold MMA Predictions for the Month of July
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Every month, Bleacher Report MMA takes a hard look at what fights lie ahead of us on the calendar. On Saturday night, the UFC gives us its first of two important offerings for the month with UFC 162. In non-Zuffa action, fans will be able to see the stars of Bellator and Invicta competing.
While many of the top-billed fights are fairly predictable, a few matchups coming our way are primed to shock oddsmakers and fans alike.
Here is a look at five bold MMA predictions for the month of July.
UFC champion Anderson Silva meets Chris Weidman at UFC 162
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Those of you who read the first chapters of our Predicting the Year-End Champions series might recall that I originally predicted Chris Weidman to upset Anderson Silva at UFC 162. What you will not find in this slideshow is any reference to the outcome of that matchup.
With last week's announcement that Weidman will enter the Octagon without the guidance of longtime mentor, trainer and friend Matt Serra, some serious doubts are starting to lurk.
Read my thoughts on the importance of this, and you will understand why I now believe The Spider will leave July with the UFC middleweight championship still wrapped firmly around his waist.
Dennis Siver Will Shut Down Cub Swanson's Momentum
Dennis Siver is one of the best kickboxers in the featherweight division.
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Dennis Siver played spoiler in 2011 when he shut down the seven-fight winning streak of George Sotiropoulos. At UFC 162, he will reprise that role at the expense of Cub Swanson.
In a stand-up exchange, there are not many featherweights you should bet on to defeat Siver. The German kickboxer has already bested notable strikers Diego Nunes, Nam Phan and Matt Wiman. And make no mistake about it, Cub Swanson likes to bang.
While Swanson is a cagey veteran with intense striking skills of his own, this is not a stylistic matchup that favors him. With Siver possessing a solid chin and tremendous defense, expect to see Cub get frustrated at his inability to land the power shots he will need to win this fight.
Jake Ellenberger Will Knock Out Rory MacDonald
Jake Ellenberger has five knockout wins in the UFC. At UFC on Fox 8, he will collect number six.
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Rory MacDonald is one of the most promising stars inside the Octagon. However, the young Canadian has yet to defeat a ranked opponent. Don't tell that to the guys submitting rankings to the UFC, because MacDonald is somehow the No. 3 contender to the welterweight championship.
At UFC on Fox 8, opponent Jake Ellenberger brings not only hard-nosed wrestling to the table but also the type of powerhouse striking that can knock out a freight train.
Not only does Ellenberger possess the skills needed to score a knockout during stand-up exchanges, but he also has what it takes to turn any grappling exchange into a nightmare.
Tim Kennedy Will Spoil the UFC Debut of Roger Gracie
Tim Kennedy swinging at Luke Rockhold during a Strikeforce title fight.
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With Royce, Rickson and Renzo Gracie all remaining undefeated through the 1990s, the first family of MMA will forever be known as royalty within the sport. Their namesake grappling style of Gracie jiu-jitsu is known throughout the world for it's vital role in modern fighting.
After seven years in the sport, middleweight Roger Gracie makes his promotional debut at UFC 162. As the most prominent Gracie competing today, Roger single-handedly carries the torch for his family.
Meeting Gracie in the Octagon is fellow Strikeforce import Tim Kennedy, who has been fighting professionally for nearly 12 years. The Army veteran is an excellent grappler in his own right, although he holds a definitive advantage in the stand-up portion of the fight.
Unfortunately, what Gracie possesses in grappling wizardry, he lacks in striking abilities. That deficiency led to a knockout loss against King Mo and also gave him trouble against unheralded opponent Anthony Smith earlier this year.
Late-Replacement Siyar Bahadurzada Will Upset Robbie Lawler
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Robbie Lawler surprised the MMA world when he upset perennial welterweight contender Josh Koscheck earlier this year. The first-round knockout staved off what was predicted to be the fourth loss in five fights for "Ruthless."
At UFC on Fox 8, Lawler meets late-replacement Siyar Bahadurzada, a man who recently suffered his first loss in nearly five years. With 28 knockouts between them, expect fireworks in this matchup of heavy-handed strikers.
Lawler has a dangerous night ahead of him, as his opponent has racked up six career wins in less than one minute each—the most recent of which came in his UFC debut, where he flattened Paulo Thiago in only 42 seconds.
John Moraga Will End the Flyweight Title Reign of Mighty Mouse
Champion Demetrious Johnson has looked great as a flyweight, but his days as champion are numbered.
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In the modern era of the UFC, nearly every division has a dominant champion who will seemingly rule his weight class for the foreseeable future. The flyweight division is a rare exception.
Champion Demetrious Johnson won his belt last September by defeating Joseph Benavidez. In January, "Mighty Mouse" successfully defended the strap against Ultimate Fighter winner John Dodson.
Although he came out victorious in both matchups, Johnson found himself against each opponent. One man who has been studying Johnson's mistakes is UFC on Fox 8 opponent John Moraga.
While Moraga might not have the name value of most UFC title challengers, he is a tremendously dangerous foe who will not go down without a fight. Currently riding a seven-fight winning streak, the NCAA star knocked out Ulysses Gomez in his UFC debut and followed it up by choking out Chris Cariaso in December.
Moraga is being overlooked by many, despite his ability to win this matchup regardless of where the action goes. While some see him as just another contender in a division lacking serious challengers, there is a distinct scent of upset in the air.