UFC 126 Fight Card: Previews and Analysis for Silva-Belfort and More

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2011

UFC 126 Fight Card: Previews and Analysis for Silva-Belfort and More

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    This is a big weekend in the sports world. Of course everyone knows that Sunday is the Super Bowl, but Saturday night features one of the most anticipated UFC events in a long time.

    The card is stacked from top to bottom. The main event of the evening will be the long awaited Anderson Silva-Vitor Belfort bout for the UFC Middleweight Championship. This could be Silva's greatest test to date given how powerful Belfort is.

    Beyond that there is the Forrest Griffin-Rich Franklin clash that should be a very good fight. Jon Jones and Ryan Bader meet in a fight that fans have been drooling over since it was announced. Those are two of the fast rising fighters in UFC, and the winner will be in line for some very big things.

    Plus, the much-anticipated UFC debut of Kid Yamamoto will take place on the under card. UFC is even streaming that fight on their facebook page so they can showcase the star from Japan.

    There is all that and so much more, and it all goes down this Saturday night.

    Here is a comprehensive preview of every fight on the card, and predictions at the end of each slide.

Middleweight Championship Bout: Anderson Silva (c) Vs Vitor Belfort

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    This fight has been over a year in the making. It has been delayed three times due to injuries to both guys. But there are no more delays. Nothing is standing in the way of Silva-Belfort any longer.

    For Anderson Silva, this is a chance for him to show that what happened against Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 was a fluke, a product of his injured ribs, and not a sign that he is losing a step. He hasn’t lost a fight since joining UFC in 2006.

    Vitor Belfort has been fighting professionally since he was 19 years old. He competed at UFC 12 in 1997, where he won the heavyweight tournament by knocking out Tra Telligman and Scott Ferrozzo, both via first round knockout.

    Belfort hasn’t fought since UFC 103 in September 2009 when he defeated Rich Franklin via knockout in the first round. He has a professional record of 19-8 with 13 victories via knockout.

    Both men are fantastic strikers and have great power in their hands. In fact, this might be the first fight that Silva has had during this five year run that he has been on who can match him strike for strike.

    This fight is going to be a war, and neither man will likely be able to walk out of the cage afterwards. It’s hard to pick against Silva because he hasn’t lost in five years. He is such a well rounded fighter that he can beat you in so many different ways.

    Belfort is a practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, so he knows how to fight on the ground. But both Silva and Belfort excel in the stand up game, and that’s where this fight will be most of the time.

    It should be a fantastically bloody mess, but in the end The Spider will prevail.

    Prediction: Silva By Decision

Light Heavyweight Bout: Forrest Griffin Vs Rich Franklin

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    Rich Franklin makes his return to the octagon after his knockout victory over Chuck Liddell at UFC 115. That was the fight where Liddell was destroying him for four minutes and fifty seconds, and then Franklin caught him with a right and knocked him out cold.

    Forrest Griffin has been on the shelf for nearly 15 months after suffering a shoulder injury prior to a fight with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

    Franklin is more adept at the stand-up boxing style, though he is an accomplished Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter.

    Griffin is much more methodical in his approach. He will wear his opponents out, and take the fight to the ground. He can spar with anyone, as we all know but look for him to try and make Franklin use all his energy early before pouncing on him late.

    Prediction: Griffin By Submission In The Second Round

Light Heavyweight Bout: Jon Jones Vs Ryan Bader

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    This might be the most anticipated fight on the card given how popular these two excellent young fighter have become in such a short time.

    Jon Jones is only 23, but has an 11-1 record. His lone loss came as the result of a questionable disqualification in 2009 against Matt Hamill, but that’s another story. He is a beast in the octagon, and wants to pound his opponents into oblivion. He could be the future of the light heavyweight division given how exciting he is to watch, and how charismatic is on the microphone.

    Ryan Bader brings an unblemished 12-0 record into this fight. His previous fight at UFC 119 against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was not very impressive. It did start out strong as he was able to take him down early and pound on him, but after that things tailed off.

    Bader will have to show improvement with his stand up game if he wants to stay with Jones in this fight.

    Jones is a bad dude, and one of the fastest rising stars in the company. Expect that star to keep on rising after Saturday.

    Prediction: Jones By Knockout In The Second

Welterweight Bout: Jake Ellenberger Vs Carlos Eduardo Rocha

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    This fight features a great clash of styles.

    Jake Ellenberger is a good striker, especially on the ground.  He is going to pound his opponents face in. He is very effective striking on the ground and in the clinch. He will go for takedowns, and proceed to pound on his opponent.

    Carlos Eduardo Rocha is a newbie to UFC, having only fought one other time at UFC 122 when he defeated Kris McCray via submission. He is undefeated in nine professional fights, with eight of his victories coming via submission. His game plan in this fight will be to make sure that it goes to the ground where he can lock in a submission.

    Ellenberger has the experience, but something tells me that Rocha is going to take this fight.

    Prediction: Rocha By Submission In The First

Bantamweight Bout: Miguel Torres Vs Antonio Banuelos

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    Both these guys make their UFC debut after competing in WEC for years.

    Antonio Banuelos is a boxer and a wrestler. He can be effective with his strikes standing up, but he is more than comfortable taking his wrestling with an opponent and creating an advantage that way.

    Miguel Torres would probably prefer this fight be on the ground. He has 38 career wins, with 23 coming via submission. He does have some power behind his strikes so he can stay in the stand up with Banuelos. However, if the fight stays up for three rounds he could be in trouble.

    Prediction: Banuelos By Decision

Lightweight Bout: Donald Cerrone Vs Paul Kelly

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    Donald Cerrone essentially has no stand up game, he can be effective with strikes but he isn’t going to win with strikes. He is going to try and take Kelly down, and wear him out throughout the course of the fight. He’s a gifted submission fighter who needs to get the fight on the ground if he hopes to make his UFC debut a successful one.

    Paul Kelly’s style plays into what Cerrone wants to do. He is a wrestler, and takes people down and proceeds to pound on them. If he doesn’t get overzealous and allow Cerrone to catch him he will have a good shot at winning this fight.

    Prediction: Cerrone By Decision

Featherweight Bout: Chad Mendes Vs Michihiro Omigawa

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    This could be one of the most interesting fights of the night.

    Chad Mendes is 9-0, and only 25 years old. He is a fast-rising prospect in the featherweight division. He is a great wrestler, and has used his skill to remain undefeated up to this point.

    Michihiro Omigawa has an average career record at 12-8-1, but he has won four consecutive fights and seems to have found his niche. He started out as a lightweight fighter, and went 4-7 in his first 11 fights. He went down to featherweight, and he has looked really strong since.

    Even though Mendes is undefeated, Omigawa looks stronger as a fighter right now.

    Prediction: Omigawa By Decision

Bantamweight Bout: Kid Yamamoto Vs Demetrious Johnson

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    In the most anticipated, non-main card fight Kid Yamamoto makes his UFC debut against Demetrious Johnson.

    Yamamoto was one of the most popular Japanese mixed martial artists, and signing him was a major coup for UFC. He has a very unique fighting style, very aggressive and attacking and very well rounded. He is strong with his punches and his kicks. He can be a star in the United States in no time.

    Johnson is a wrestler and submission fighter. He will want to stay away from Yamamoto’s striking and take him to the ground where he can do work on him. He can score a victory so long as he doesn’t try to match Yamamoto with strikes.

    This is Yamamoto’s stage to shine on.

    Prediction: Yamamoto By Knockout In The First

Lightweight Bout: Paul Taylor Vs Gabe Ruediger

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    Paul Taylor is fighting for his UFC life since he is at two straight losses, and a third straight loss will get him cut. He is a trained kick-boxer, but hasn’t had a fight decided by KO or submission in over three years. He needs to come into this fight focused and motivated.

    Gabe Ruediger could be fighting for his UFC life. This will be his second fight as a member of the promotion; his first was a first round loss to Joe Lauzon at UFC 118. He is skilled in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and will try and get Taylor on the ground to lock in a choke hold.

    Prediction: Ruediger By Submission In The Second

Light Heavyweight Bout: Kyle Kingsbury Vs Ricardo Romero

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    Ricardo Romero made a successful transition from Ring of Combat to UFC by defeating Seth Petruzelli at UFC 116. His star is rising in the light heavyweight division with an impressive 11-1 career record. He did take a good beating against Petruzelli, but showed a lot of grit in that fight.

    Kyle Kingsbury is a Muay Thai-Wrestler specialist. He uses striking to set up everything else in his arsenal. He doesn’t want to get locked in a submission battle with Romero.

    Prediction: Romero By Submission In The Third

Welterweight Bout: Mike Pierce Vs Kenny Robertson

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    Mike Pierce is going to use his stamina and wrestling to try and wear down Robertson. He has a below average submission game. His stand up has gotten lost somewhere. The only thing that he seems to have working anymore is his wrestling.

    Having not seen Kenny Robertson fight, I can only provide information that I found on Sherdog. His resume looks pretty strong. He is 10-0 in his career, with seven victories via submission. He has good power in his striking. He wants Pierce to take this fight to the ground, that will be where he will shine.

    Prediction: Robertson By Submission In The Second