UFC 125: Keys To Victory for Every Fighter on the Main Card

Dale De Souza@@DaleDeSouzaMMAAnalyst IJanuary 1, 2011

UFC 125: Keys To Victory for Every Fighter On the Main Card

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    In every fight, you're dealing with strengths and weaknesses in some respect.

    Every fighter has their do's and their don't's, but of all those do's that every fighter has, there's one that serves as the difference between a man's victory and a man's defeat.

    That one "must-do" trait is the key for a fighter to prevail in any fight.

    Every fighter on the UFC 125 card has one key in their repertoire that can spell trouble for his opponent in the cage come Saturday night.

    For those fighters who are on the PPV broadcasted portion of the fight, these are their individual keys to victory.

Takanori Gomi's Keys To Beating Clay Guida

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    He needs to come into the first round of the fight as the aggressor from the onset

    Guida, as we've seen against guys like Diego Sanchez and others, sometimes tends to get himself into wild scraps where he consumes himself with putting on a good show and forgets that he's getting hit to the point of painting the Octagon canvas red.

    How? Because he sometimes ends up being on the receiving end of the aggression early on in the fight—he's a fireball for sure, but he waits a little bit before he decides to burn his opponents.

    If Gomi can do that in the fight this Saturday, he can likely throw Guida off-guard, and with the heaviness of Gomi's hands, it'll be tough for even the highly-durable Guida to take very long.

    He needs cardio like Boxing needs Manny Pacquiao to face Floyd Mayweather (or Sergio Martinez)

    Amir Khan facing Mayweather works as well, but that's neither here nor there.

    Gomi needs to get himself back into full "Fireball Kid" fighting form—he basically needs to make sure that he can go fifteen minutes with Guida, because while a TKO or a KO is always plausible, any form of KO aside from a TKO by way of a cut is tough to get on Guida.

    Besides, Guida is a well-oiled machine who loves to keep going, and has a gas tank of the type of guy who might have been perfect for the UFC days of old when there really weren't any rounds at all.

    There's a slim chance that anything but a choke puts another L on Guida's record, so Gomi needs to make sure he's got a good

Clay Guida's Keys To Beating Takanori Gomi

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    For Guida, this fight is arguably the biggest of his career thus far.

    He beats Gomi, and he moves closer to the upper echelon of the 155-lb. division, but how can he beat Gomi?

    Gomi's got some solid wrestling of his own, so turning to his takedowns may wind up forcing a stand-up war if Gomi can avoid the takedowns.

    While Guida's never been known as one of the best strikers at 155, he can do damage with his hands if Gomi gives him an opportunity, and even if he doesn't KO Gomi, striking could be the key to Guida forcing a takedown or two and putting up points.

    However, the key to this fight for Guida is to do what only Kenny Florian has done in the UFC: Exposing the small gas tank of Gomi, and showing his detractors that he's not a 2D fighter by branching out into the grappling department.

    People like to say Guida will either make it a wild striking exchange (at the risk of getting rocked, dropped, and in a near-finish situation where he nearly gets finished), or a three round wrestling affair.

    Some don't take into account that for a guy with eleven decision wins in his career, he also has ten wins by way of submission in his career.

    Okay, it's eleven if you count the injured jaw which caused Rafael Dos Anjos to submit at UFC 117, but ten of Guida's wins have come by way of actual submission, which means that he's got deadly submissions for a guy that doesn't even have any (documented) training in BJJ or any type of grappling.

    If Guida can expose the gas tank of The "Fireball Kid," I say he's got a good shot of submitting him at the least, but the key here is to make sure the world see what kind of gas tank Gomi is running on.

Nate Diaz's Keys To Beating Dong Hyun Kim

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    If pop-rap sensation Pitbull (or recently-released former WWE superstar Montel Vontavious Porter, your choice) can call himself "Mr. 305," than Nate Diaz might as well be the guy that runs close enough to his brother in becoming "Mr. 209."

    The Diaz brothers are Stockton's gift to Mixed Martial Arts, and while Nick has his hands full with Evangilista Santos on January 29th, he has been helping his little bro out with Dong Hyun Kim.

    Kim is a handful for anyone, and he'll have to be if his New Year's resolution is to "bitch-slap" Diaz.

    The way I see it, Diaz is likely to have a slight reach advantage on Kim, and as he did against Davis, he needs to use whatever reach he has on Kim.

    The Stockton Kid's arsenal, from his Boxing down to his BJJ, didn't look as good on The Ultimate Fighter 5 as it's looked since Diaz's move to 170—and that says something considering the Triangle that put Kurt Pellegrino out.

    I believe the wild card could be the ground, as Kim's Judo could come into play if he takes Diaz down, but Diaz is one of those guys who actually is good off of his back despite not being a black belt in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

    At the end of the day though, Diaz's key to getting Kim where he wants him will be that reach.

    He'll have to keep Kim from getting inside and mounting any offense before he's able to flex his arms once more, but that's something I believe he can—and likely will do—in this fight against the "Stun Gun."

Dong Hyun Kim's Keys To Beating Nate Diaz

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    LAS VEGAS - JULY 11:  (L-R) Dong Hyun Kim battles T.J. Grant during their welterweight bout during UFC 100 on July 11, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kim defeated Grant by unanimous decision.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
    Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

    The picture should give you a pretty good idea of what DHK's game is in a nutshell.

    He's not the most talked about Wrestler at 170, but he can take guys down and stay on top of them.

    His kickboxing? Pretty f'ing lethal if you're on the receiving end of it.

    His judo? All in all, the consensus rules that to be his bread and butter.

    All around, Kim poses a threat to Baby Nate—standing and on the ground, though I can't say that he'll have an edge grappling.

    Heaven knows if Diaz believes Kim is going to respect his Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and stand with him for three rounds or less, but I say if Kim wants to win and win dominantly, he needs to make "Mr. 209" respect his Judo.

    That's right, I'm saying "Stun Gun" should inflict every throw and every Judo technique upon Nate, and if he's in a position to abuse a few elbows from the top, that's even better for Kim.

    If he wants to neutralize the bottom game of Diaz—and that does exist in Diaz—Kim has to remain as active as he can on the ground, doing damage to Diaz's not-pretty-to-begin-with mug.

    If he can bust him up on the ground, I say he has a good chance of remaining undefeated.

Thiago Silva's Keys To Moving Brandon Vera Close To the UFC Door

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    Easy one for me to put in print, because there's one offense Thiago Silva knows, and that's the offense he commits to with his two fists.

    Really, I should be saying his "key" to beating Vera is something, but some people opine that there's more than one key to winning a fight.

    Silva's keys to winning this fight are not blowing his load in the first two rounds against Vera, because it's likely that Vera makes Silva pay for it later.

    Well, that and staying away from the Muay Thai clinch makes for the two keys for Silva.

    With the height of "The Truth," it'll be tough to do much damage unless Thiago forces Vera to get on his bike and pedal away, which is what Silva does to anyone not named Lyoto Machida or Rashad Evans.

    It'll take a lot to get Vera to look for his bike in this one, but the less time Silva stands in the MTC with Vera, the more likely Vera is to remember where his bike is at.

Brandon Vera's Keys To Proving He's Still "The Truth" Against Thiago Silva

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    There was a time when Brandon Vera was well on his way to being in the same spot Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos were all in.

    Now, we're in a time where Brandon Vera is coming off of an injury and a loss to Jon Jones and needs to put Thiago Silva on a two-fight skid in order to keep his roster spot secured.

    No fight with Silva was ever easy, but any fight where you had to expend energy against Vera doesn't qualify as an easy fight either.

    I've already mentioned that Silva might do well to keep the fight away from the Muay Thai Clinch, so it would make sense that one of Vera's keys to victory is the total opposite.

    Vera must realize that while SIlva's Muay Thai is as dangerous as any Light Heavyweight fighter's. Silva isn't the type of guy that delivers his best shots from the clinch.

    A few knees to the face should do well to bust Silva's face open a little bit and put him in a slight bit of danger.

    What would be the other key?

    As the video shows, having fully rehabbed his knees to where he can throw his leg kicks hard enough that it starts taking Silva's legs out from under him might be a key that Vera could use.

    Vera does have some painful kicks, some of which almost finished Randy Couture, and Vera also has a pretty good reach which he'll also be able to use against Silva.

    Vera has all the tools necessary to beat Silva, now all he has to do is implement them.

Chris Leben's Keys To Crippling Brian Stann

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    We all know how Leben wants to handle Stann—there's only two ways he handles his opponents.

    He's either knocking out Stann or submitting him, and it's going to be tough for Stann to get past Leben's iron jaw.

    Anderson Silva kneed Leben into 2007 with his KO of Leben in June 2006, but that spoke more to Silva's Muay Thai and reputation as a dangerous S.O.B. than it did to Leben's chin.

    That said, Leben's key is the type of key that most of his past opponents have fallen for.

    Some guys that have fought Leben were billed as tough guys that could stand and bang, but then something happened: They exchanged with Leben, and then things altered.

    The way I see it, Stann sees no two options about this fight—he believes that he can and will knock Leben clean out.

    The only way he does that is if he lands some tough shots on Leben in the exchange and makes him look worse for the wear.

    Leben's best bet is to show Stann that striking really is his worst bet—he'll have to engage in an exchange or two to really lay in the damage on the All-American.

Brian Stann's Key's To Beating Chris Leben

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    I'll make this as short and sweet as I can.

    We all know Stann believes he can KO Leben, and Leben believes that Stann isn't good enough in one realm to beat Leben.

    So what's Stann's key here?

    Well, you never know with a former Marine—they say in MMA that you have to be good in everything to make it, and while few know much about Stann, even fewer have been put on to the stuff that Stann's picked up during his service.

    I wouldn't be surprised if much of Stann's MMA skills were 75% attributed to his service in the Marines.

    The key to this fight, if it were any other smaller fighter besides Leben, might be the size of Stann, but Leben's faced taller guys previously.

    I'll say it will be a key in this fight, however, because if he times his takedowns and can neutralize Leben's stand-up, his size could also neutralize Leben's ground game in that Leben would have a difficult time trying to properly work off much of his game from off his back.

    Not to say Leben can't do it, even against a guy that's 6'1 and is a much taller Middleweight than he, but Stann will make things more difficult for Leben than what most fans are believing at this time.

Gray Maynard and His Keys To Leaving Frankie Edgar with No Answer and No Title

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    Maynard's keys to victory and his first Lightweight title are simple enough because they've been his keys to victory in every fight he's fought thus far.

    To beat Edgar, he needs his strength, which has spelled doom for the likes of Kenny Florian, Nate Diaz, Roger Huerta, and Jim Miller, among others. He needs the one part of his game that everyone gives him some flak for: He needs his wrestling.

    That, coupled in with his strength, will make for some of the hardest takedowns Frankie will ever feel, and it'll pay dividends to yet another possibly lopsided decision for Maynard.

    Gil Martinez, Maynard's Boxing coach, has assured everyone that Gray will prove he can knock someone out when Gray faces Frankie this Saturday.

    I'll take the Boxing of the Bully as a wild card at this time—I won't believe it until Gray knocks Frankie out.

Frankie Edgar and His Keys To Avenging His Loss To Gray Maynard

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    To me, the primary keys are Frankie's speed and his takedown defense—both of which will have to be top-notch against Maynard, who no doubt will look to take the fight to the ground.

    Frankie needs the speed—that's hand speed and movement, by the way—to not only keep Maynard off-balance, but to also avoid any shots Gray wants to throw, and Gray won't take throwing shots out of the question.

    He'll need to be quick landing on Gray inside the pocket, and he'll equally need to be quick in throwing effective shots on the outside.

    As for the takedown defense, we all know what happens if the fight hits the second or third round, and Frankie hasn't been taken down—not even by a trip takedown.

    If Maynard can't take Edgar down, he'll have to resort to his Boxing, and I'm not sold on his Boxing being good enough to where Maynard can KO Edgar.

    I won't be surprised if Edgar is the one who takes Maynard down or vice versa, and I don't see it as a key in this fight because everyone expects that this is going to be nothing more than a twenty-five minute Wrestling match.

    One other key, which isn't really primary but can be considered as such, is Edgar's submission game.

    People see he's a Wrestler and automatically assume that he's only going to wrestle.

    That would make sense if he didn't train with Renzo Gracie and Ricardo Almeida, but he does train with Gracie and Almeida is responsible for the fact that Edgar does know submissions.

    I say if Maynard wants to take Edgar down and he does get that takedown, great, but he's still dealing with a guy that knows some pretty painfully disgusting Jiu-Jitsu.

    Take him down at your own risk, Maynard—just try to watch out, or Edgar might choke you out.