UFC 126 Preview: Could This Be The Best MMA Event Since UFC 100?
UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort
In what has been considered a "dream match" by some, Anderson "The Spider" Silva will battle "The Phenom" Vitor Belfort for the UFC Middleweight Championship. Also on the card, original Ultimate Fighter winner Forrest Griffin battles Rich "Ace" Franklin and rising sensations square off as Jon "Bones" Jones meets Ryan "Darth" Bader. Scheduled for the main card as well, Miguel Torres makes his UFC debut facing fellow Bantamweight Antonio Banuelos and Jake Ellenberger looks to continue his winning ways against Carlos Eduardo Rocha in a Welterweight clash. All five of these fights will have a huge impact on the UFC title scenes moving forward.
Bantamweight Bout: Miguel Torres vs. Antonio Banuelos
Former WEC Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres
When World Extreme Cagefighting was absorbed by the UFC, many MMA fans were salivating at seeing featherweights and bantamweights catch some well-deserved exposure. After all, Jose Aldo, Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz are consistently putting on classic fights with highlight reel finishes but small audiences. Now, they see the big stage with the big lights and the big paychecks. Miguel Torres belongs right up there with the legends of WEC. In his UFC debut, Torres (a staggering 38-3) will take on lesser-known Antonio Banuelos (18-6). Torres will undoubtedly have the experience edge and will rely on his world-class Muay Thai skills. which are revered among the world's best. Banuelos defeated Chad George in his last fight by unanimous decision.
How It Ends: Miguel Torres via Unanimous Decision
Welterweight Bout: Jake Ellenberger vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha
UFC Welterweight Jake Ellenberger
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
In a division that is overflowing with excellent wrestling, Jake Ellenberger tends to be a bit overlooked. As of late Ellenberger (23-5) has added a good striking game which has led to him to subsequent victories over John Howard and Mike Pyle. His next test is a big one however. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Blackbelt Carlos Eduardo Rocha looks to raise his win total to 10 and keep his young MMA career unblemished. Rocha is a slick submission artist, having last beat Kris McCray at UFC 122 with a kneebar. However, look for the stronger Ellenberger to employ the ever popular "Lay N' Pray".
How It Ends: Ellenberger via Unanimous Decision
Light Heavyweight Bout: Ryan
Who Will Step Up in the Light Heavyweight Rankings?
When some fights are put together by Joe Silva and Dana White, you just shake your head in amazement. This fight will deliver big. Jon Jones has absolutely decimated every single opponent. His only 'loss" was against Matt Hamill by disqualification. He recovered to wreck Brandon Vera then Vladimir Matyushenko with ease. He is truly a human highlight reel. His biggest test to date has arrived in the form of undefeated TUF Season 8 Winner, Ryan Bader. While Jones is a youtube darling, Bader is a grinder. Methodical yet effective, quiet yet confident, Bader wins. Whomever wins this fight will most certainly see a UFC veteran and possibly a contenders fight on the horizon.
How It Ends: Jones via 2nd Round TKO
Light Heavyweight Bout: Forrest Griffin vs. Rich Franklin
InThis Battle of UFC Veterans, Both Need a Victory
Few mixed martial artists are as dominant as Rich Franklin has been his career. It also seems like he is forgotten when talking about Legends of the Octagon. Coming off a huge victory against Chuck Liddell at UFC 115. Few fighters are as beloved as Forrest Griffin, even after an embarrassing loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 101 and an ugly win against Tito Ortiz at UFC 106. This fight will be a scrap. It is doubtful this fight will hit the ground at all, unless it's an unconscious body. Let the haymakers fly!
How It Ends: Rich Franklin via Split Decision
UFC Middleweight Championship: Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort
The Phenom. The Spider. It Is Time.
Precision. Aggression. Brutality. Technique. Violence. Detail. Unstoppable. Confident. Supreme. These are just a small sample of the adjectives thrown the way of Vitor Belfort and Anderson Silva. And every single one of them are fitting. In the early days of UFC, Belfort was "The Guy". The men he has beat is possibly the most impressive victim list ever: Randy Couture, Rich Franklin, Marvin Eastman, Wanderlei Silva among many more. However, the same ruthless aggression that has led him to many victories can be a hindrance at times. The same cannot be said for one Anderson Silva. Besides 23 minutes against Chael Sonnen, he has been flawless. Sporting an 12-0 record in the UFC, Silva will look to defend his Middleweight Championship for a Octagon-record seventh consecutive time. Silva has never faced someone who may, at least, be his striking equal. On Saturday, February 5th, he will. Any MMA fan, be it casual or hardcore, should be thankful we get to see two of the absolute best ever face each other in fight with such high stakes. Let us watch and enjoy the greatness that will ensue.
How It Ends: Anderson Silva via 2nd Round KO