5 Bold MMA Predictions for the Rest of 2013
The last three-and-a-half months of 2013 will feature 11 cards from both the UFC and Bellator MMA and two World Series of Fighting shows, among many other less prominent events.
Some of the most pertinent MMA bouts of the year, including Michael Chandler-Eddie Alvarez II (Bellator 106), Georges St-Pierre-Johny Hendricks (UFC 167) and Anderson Silva-Chris Weidman II (UFC 168), will take place in the next 109 days.
Other less talked about fights will take place in Japan's Deep and Shooto organizations, Canada's Maximum Fighting Championships and England's BAMMA promotion.
Here are five bold predictions for the rest of 2013.
King Mo Will Avenge His Loss to Emanuel Newton with a First-Round KO
It wasn't the first time Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal had gotten polished off in his career. However, Emanuel Newton's spinning-backfist KO of King Mo at Bellator 90 left a more sour taste in Lawal's mouth than his TKO loss to Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante at Strikeforce: Houston.
While Feijao outworked Lawal and ultimately scored a TKO win via punches and elbows in the third round of a fight that either man could have won, King Mo contends that Newton simply got lucky and scored a flash KO.
During an August interview with MMAWeekly.com, Lawal expressed his lack of respect for Newton and offered his predictions on how the rematch will unfold.
Listen, I’m going to be real honest about this. Emanuel is fake as hell. He runs his mouth about being a black skinhead or something, and likes to act real hard. He’s as hard as baby s**t. I’m going to destroy this guy. He landed a shot on me in our first fight, nothing more than that. I’m better than him in every facet of the game. I didn’t even shoot on him that first fight. I can take this fight anywhere I want it, and I will. It’s over. I’m taking that belt in Long Beach, bringing it back to Las Vegas, and no one is getting it back. Not Vegh, not Rampage, not Tito, not anyone. It’s mine. Payback is b***h, Emanuel.
Though King Mo shows no respect for Newton's obviously dangerous skill set, I can't help but agree with the former two-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler when he says he's better in every facet of the game.
Lawal has the wrestling pedigree and the necessary pop in his hands to ground Newton and become just the second man to hand him a knockout loss.
Although Newton hasn't lost via knockout since getting TKO'd in his pro debut by Brian Ebersole in 2003, expect the Californian to go to sleep in Long Beach.
Antonio Silva Will Submit Mark Hunt in the First Round at UFC Fight Night 33
His plans may not always come to fruition, but Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva has too high of a fighter IQ to engage in a slugfest with heavy-handed New Zealander Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 33.
If Bigfoot and his team conduct business as usual, they'll study plenty of tape on Hunt. On film, Silva can watch Hunt get submitted six times in 17 pro fights, each time in the first round.
Granted, Hunt has improved tremendously since the latter part of his run in Japan, especially in the takedown and submission defense departments.
But if a colossal Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt like Bigfoot, who holds an eight-inch reach advantage over "The Super Samoan," gets in top position with a dry Hunt below him, to fans' dismay, this bout will end prematurely.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler II Will Be 2013 "Fight of the Year"
An over year-long layoff will end when Eddie Alvarez returns at Bellator 106 to challenge the man who took his belt by force in what Yahoo! Sports deemed as the 2011 "Fight of the Year," lightweight champ Michael Chandler.
After nearly getting finished in the third round, Chandler responded and slapped on a fourth-round rear-naked choke to finish the notoriously tough and talented Alvarez in a timeless barnburner at Bellator 58.
Both fighters have undoubtedly refined their games since Bellator 58. Alvarez has scored two straight finishes, TKO'ing Shinya Aoki at Bellator 66 and KO'ing Patricky Freire at Bellator 76. In Chandler's last three bouts, he's TKO'd Akihiro Gono at Bellator 67, submitted Rick Hawn at Bellator 85 and KO'd David Rickels at Bellator 97.
While it's an arduous task to try and pick a clear-cut favorite in this rematch, it's safe to assume that improved versions of both Alvarez and Chandler will show up in Long Beach.
And if both Alvarez and Chandler are fighting at a higher level than they were in 2011, this meeting is guaranteed to generate another epic see-saw battle deserving of "Fight of the Year" accolades.
Cain Velasquez Becomes First Man to Finish Junior Dos Santos in UFC
It nearly happened in their rematch, but on account of Junior dos Santos' samurai-like heart, the Brazilian narrowly escaped his first career knockout loss against Cain Velasquez at UFC 155.
Thirteen-and-a-half months after getting KO'd by "Cigano" in just 64 seconds at UFC on Fox 1, Velasquez avenged his only career setback with a dominating unanimous decision win at UFC 155 in December.
Velasquez dropped Cigano in the first round and nearly TKO'd the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with flurry of punches from the top position.
He had to dig deep, but Dos Santos conjured up the muster to miraculously survive the first round and the ensuing four stanzas.
Velasquez outstruck Cigano 210-66, including 111-57 in the significant strikes category.
Both fighters are coming off convincing wins and both Velasquez and Dos Santos are brimming with confidence.
But truth be told, no matter how much confidence Cigano has built, the former champ will probably only get his belt back if he can notch a KO similar to the one he scored at UFC on Fox 1.
After all, if he has to go five rounds with Velasquez, that means he has to respect the former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler's takedown chops from bell to bell. And everyone saw what happened in the rematch when Cigano tried to strike with Velasquez with the perpetual threat of a takedown hindering him.
This time, Velasquez will finish the job and force a TKO stoppage of his heavyweight nemesis.
Chris Weidman Will Submit Anderson Silva at UFC 168
The UFC's final fight of 2013, a rematch between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva at UFC 168 in December, will mark one of the most significant and potentially lucrative events in company history.
Middleweight champ Weidman will attempt to prove that his upset win over former pound-for-pound linchpin Silva at UFC 162 in July was no fluke.
In the opening round of their first fight, Weidman quickly grounded "The Spider," passed his guard and then attempted a pair of leglocks.
Silva squirmed free and bounced back to his feet, managing to land 14 significant strikes to Weidman's 16 by round's end.
But "The All-American" shocked Silva and the rest of the MMA world in the second round, handing Silva his first career knockout loss just 1:18 into the stanza.
The KO will not only serve as a confidence booster for Weidman heading into the rematch, it will also serve as a deterrent in the New York native's game plan for UFC 168.
If Silva focuses energy on Weidman's KO prowess in the rematch, then the Brazilian could expose himself in the grappling game, where The All-American poses the most problems.
Look for Weidman to get on top, grab ahold of a choke, and become the first fighter to finish Silva via submission in 18 UFC bouts.