UFC 103 Preview: The co-main events
While we await the NFL week two matchups on Saturday, we can treat ourselves to some exciting UFC action. UFC 103 lacks title fights but its two main events feature big boys who swing for the fences.
Forget Mayweather-Marquez; Franklin/Belfort and Cro Cop/Dos Santos will give you more bang for your buck.
CATCHWEIGHT BOUT (195 lbs)
Rich Franklin (25-4) vs Vitor Belfort (18-8)
UFC 103 fight card odds: Franklin -155, Belfort +125
After four years away from the Octagon, power puncher Vitor Belfort makes his highly anticipated return. He broke into the UFC over a decade ago as a teenager, earning the moniker “The Phenom” because of his vicious knockout ability.
He rose to prominence and battled legends like Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, though he came out the loser in almost all those fights. The former UFC light heavyweight champ spent the last four years destroying lesser-known fighters and has looked particularly strong since dropping to 185 pounds.
He’ll have a tough opponent in the reliable, entertaining Rich Franklin. The former UFC middleweight champ throws opponents off with his southpaw stance and has true knockout power. His submission defense is outstanding and his great fitness helps him outlast opponents.
His only losses are to Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson; Franklin is an elite fighter.
Though Belfort’s power makes him intimidating, he hasn’t fought anyone relevant for years. He’ll be rusty against the smart, energetic Franklin. Go with the more battle-ready fighter in your sports picks.
Pick: Rich Franklin
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (25-6-2) vs Junior Dos Santos (8-1)
UFC 103 fight card odds: Filipovic +110, Dos Santos -140
To longtime fight fans, Mirko Cro Cop is a heavyweight legend, widely considered the best pure striker ever in his weight class. In his heyday, he was known for brutal head-kick knockouts and beat star fighters like Josh Barnett, Mark Coleman and Wanderlei Silva.
New UFC fans, however, aren’t impressed with what they’ve seen since Cro Cop joined the UFC. Now 35, he’s just 2-2 in the Octagon and most famous for getting knocked out by a Gabriel Gonzaga kick. After a two-year absence, he’s anxious to prove he can still contend.
I’m betting management of the UFC wants a Cro Cop victory for the sake of the sport, but Junior Dos Santos has something to say about that. The up-and-comer has major knockout power, never having fought into round two.
Cro Cop has outstanding takedown defense but Dos Santos has the ground advantage if he gets Cro Cop down thanks to his purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
As is the case with Belfort, we should make Cro Cop earn back our trust. Bet on powerful Dos Santos, who is capable of ending the fight quickly.
Pick: Junior Dos Santos