UFC 168 gets underway on Saturday, Dec. 28, at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena, and Anderson Silva will fittingly be taking a huge gamble in the fight that headlines the main card.
"The Spider" will seek to bounce back in a middleweight bout against Chris Weidman, the fighter who knocked Silva to the canvas for good in their last meeting.
Also featured on the men's side of things is a heavyweight duel between Josh Barnett and Travis Browne, but another showdown that will garner a ton of attention will involve Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate. The women have a tense rivalry and are engaging in their first UFC matchup.
Below are predictions for every fight on the main card, along with a closer look and preview of the three that will conclude the exciting evening in Sin City.
|UFC 168 Main Card Predictions|
|Featherweight||Dustin Poirier vs. Diego Brandao||Poirier|
|Lightweight||Jim Miller vs. Fabricio Camoes||Miller|
|Heavyweight||Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne||Browne|
|Women's Bantamweight Championship||Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate||Rousey|
|Middleweight Title Fight||Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva||Silva|
|Source: UFC.com. Predictions are opinion.|
Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne
Unlike the other two fights that will draw the most attention and will be rematches, this will be the first time Barnett and Browne square off in what should be a hard-hitting display.
Two very contrasting styles will be on display. Browne likes to end things with a bang, as evidenced by the 73 percent of his bouts ending in TKO or KO. On the other hand, Barnett has won on submissions 55 percent of the time.
The 36-year-old Barnett (33-6) may have an edge in experience over his opponent, but Browne is confident and feels he is just scratching the surface of what's possible, per the UFC's official Twitter account:
But Barnett just beat former Heavyweight champion Frank Mir on Aug. 31 at UFC 164, making him a formidable foe to contend with.
With so much at stake and so much to gain, though, look for Browne to continue thriving under that pressure as he continues his perpetual ascent and wins this fight by way of TKO in the first round.
Prediction: Browne wins via TKO
Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate
These two are chomping at the bit to get after each other, creating an unprecedented and compelling storyline for UFC president Dana White.
There was a palpable ferociousness from the outset of their Strikeforce bantamweight title fight, which Rousey won by armbar submission:
B/R's own MMA lead writer Jonathan Snowden interviewed both fighters in a fantastic feature ahead of Saturday evening's bout. Tate expressed that Rousey is self-absorbed and is not the darling the media portrays her to be:
Ronda Rousey is not someone I personally like representing women's MMA as a whole. Because you can see how she really is...It's all about Ronda and the Ronda show. She doesn't care how she comes off or how she represents women's MMA. It's going to be her way or the highway.
For Rousey's opponents, so far it's been losing by submission as the only way out of the Octagon, which Tate has experienced firsthand.
No one has been able to stop "Rowdy" yet, but Tate has the tools and the knowledge of having faced her opponent once before to combat it.
But until someone figures out Rousey for sure, it's hard to imagine any other outcome. She has talked the talk and backed it up by devastating her adversaries, and took another dig at Tate with regard to the outcome of their first encounter, per Snowden:
I think the rivalry is necessary. It really is. Because based on how the first match went alone, I don't think a rematch would sell. There has to be a rivalry to bring interest in. It was the showmanship and entertainment that grabbed attention in the first place.
Unless Tate's wrestling expertise can fend off Rousey better on the ground and stop her signature go-to move, look for the result to be similar to the first time.
There should be lots of action and a lengthy battle, but Rousey will wrench an armbar before the Round 1 bell sounds.
Prediction: Rousey wins via submission
Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva
The last fight was more a sign of Silva's hubris than anything else, as he antagonized Weidman by showboating around the Octagon before succumbing to a knockout blow.
It even forced the 38-year-old living legend to consider retirement, but his son talked him out of such thoughts, per FoxSports.com's Damon Martin:
After the last fight, after the dust settled I was sitting thinking alone and thinking maybe I should stop. Maybe this is it. But I got on the phone with my son and my son said, "Hey dad, do what you want to do, do what makes you happy," and that's what I'm doing.
...I still have eight fights left on my contract and as long as I'm still enjoying it and I still want to go out there and have that desire to fight, I'm going to keep on fighting.
There shouldn't be any doubts about Silva's desire to avenge that unfortunate loss, because the ferocious Brazilian has successfully defended the middleweight title in the UFC 10 times before.
Weidman has a perfect 10-0 record on the line, and there might be even more pressure on him to prove to his detractors that his landmark triumph wasn't a fluke of sorts and that he is indeed better than Silva at this point in their respective careers.
The overall numbers say that Silva is a far more precise fighter (67.12 percent on significant strikes, compared to just 41.98 percent from Weidman) and he has a far more proven track record.
Silva will take this more seriously and business-like, getting a bounce-back win by way of knockout and confirming he still belongs well within the UFC's elite.
Prediction: Silva wins via KO