UFC 126 is Saturday night, and it is shaping up to be one of the best events of the year. It will be headlined by Anderson Silva, the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, defending his UFC Middleweight Championship against Vitor Belfort.
That fight could turn out to be one of the most violent, brutal messes that we have seen in the octagon in a long time. Belfort has the power to keep up with Silva's striking, but can he match his speed and technique?
Other fights on the main card include two big light heavyweight fights. The first one features two of the best young prospects in UFC: Jon "Bones" Jones against Ryan Bader. The winner of this fight will move swiftly up the light heavyweight rankings. The other fight features the returns of Forrest Griffin and Rich Franklin. Griffin hasn't fought since November 2009 due to a nagging shoulder injury. Franklin broke his arm in his last fight, a victory over Chuck Liddell last June.
Perhaps the most anticipated undercard fight features the UFC debut of Kid Yamamoto. He will be taking on Demetrious Johnson. Yamamoto made his name in Japan as one of the most unique and talented fighters in the world. He has slipped a bit due to various injuries, but is still a dynamic fighter who can be a force in UFC's bantamweight division.
So what's going to happen when all this goes down tomorrow night?
Here are 10 bold predictions for UFC 126: Silva vs Belfort.
There has been some concern leading up to the Silva-Belfort fight that these two men would fail to make contact with each other for five rounds. It’s understandable since both guys have a reputation of checking out in the middle of their fights.
These two guys have had a close relationship in the past, but this fight has reportedly taken a toll on their friendship. They know exactly what’s at stake in this fight, and they will come out with all guns blazing.
Expect these two men to bring the heat for all five rounds. There will be no dancing, no jiving, and no theatrics. Just two men who want to prove that they are the best in the world.
A lot of people have been building up Vitor Belfort going into this fight. You hear things like “this could be the fight where Silva’s met his match.”
Belfort is a good fighter, but he’s not in Anderson Silva’s league. He has knockout power, good striking, and a good stand up game in general. The problem is he is not the athlete that Silva is.
Silva is one of the two most well-rounded fighters in UFC; you can guess the other one. He can attack standing up because his striking is so good and he has tremendous power. But he also has a great ground game. He can attack on the ground just as well as he can standing up.
Silva did look vulnerable to Chael Sonnen at UFC 117, but Belfort isn’t the wrestler that Sonnen was, and Silva had a legitimate rib injury going into that fight. He is completely healthy going into this fight.
Silva will not lose to Belfort.
After Silva scores a victory over Vitor Belfort there will be nothing left to prove. There will be nowhere for him to go in the middleweight division.
Georges St-Pierre has to fight Jake Shields at UFC 129, but does anyone really see Shields pulling off the upset in that fight?
The best part of this bold prediction is that we know it’s going to happen, assuming everything falls into place.
Dana White has said that if both Silva and GSP win there will be nothing left for them to prove against anyone else. “This is one of those dream fights.” White said at the UFC 126 press conference. “If they both win, I think it’s time.”
It’s definitely time, and the dream is about to become a reality.
The two light heavyweight fights on the main card basically amount to a four-man tournament to determine a future contender for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.
Why else would all four men be booked on the same card?
It’s really a great booking strategy by UFC because Griffin and Franklin are two of the most popular fighters in the company, and they will put on a great fight. Jones and Bader are two strong young prospects, and one will be elevated big time with a win.
The two winners will meet at an event later on this year to determine a No. 1 contender for the championship, whoever that may be at the time.
Jon “Bones” Jones and Ryan Bader are two of the fastest rising stars in mixed martial arts, so it only makes sense that the two would meet at some point. Fortunately for us, that point is UFC 126.
Jones is one of the most charismatic fighters and talkers in UFC right now. All that he needs to do is keep building his resume and he will be a star for years to come.
Bader isn’t as exciting as Jones, but he can hold his own against anyone. He brings a spotless 12-0 record into this fight, including a victory over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 119.
These two young men are going to put on a hell of a show, and they both will become instant stars as a result.
This one probably isn’t the boldest prediction because a lot of people expect it to happen. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be included on this list.
Jones is very strong and powerful. He is a great wrestler and he uses that to create an advantage over his opponents. When he gets his opponent on the ground he just smashes them with punches and elbows.
Bader is no slouch himself. He has an excellent wrestling background and packs some power behind his strikes.
Jones just seems like one of those unstoppable forces right now and is ready to take the next step to super stardom. It will be a close fight, but Jones will be the victor when all is said and done.
I have said that the winners of the Griffin-Franklin and Jones-Bader fights will meet later this year to determine the No. 1 contender for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.
That matchup will be between Jones and Griffin.
Griffin looked motivated and determined against Tito Ortiz in his last fight. Granted that was 15 months ago, but it was impressive nonetheless.
Franklin didn’t look very good against Liddell at UFC 115, but he landed one shot and got the victory by knockout.
I see Griffin controlling the fight early, and then scoring a submission victory late in the second round.
In a great clash of styles, Carlos Rocha will make Jake Ellenberger submit.
Rocha is a BJJ expert, and has won eight of his nine fights via submission. He will use Ellenberger’s wrestling against him to score another submission victory in this fight.
Ellenberger will put up a good fight, but in the end Rocha will continue his ascent up the welterweight ranks.
All five of the main card fights will end either via knockout or submission. All of these fights are pretty even, which sounds like it could lead to a lot of decisions, but not on this night.
It will be a great night of fights with a number of great and exciting finishes.
Kid Yamamoto was one of the most dangerous fighters in the world for a long time. He was fierce, and had an unrelenting style that no one could keep up with. He hasn’t been as crisp in his last few fights because of knee and arm injuries.
However, he is still a dangerous man.
He is a bit bigger than Demetrious Johnson, and will be able to force his will upon him. He is going to try and make an impression of the fans and everyone in the UFC Bantamweight Division.
Expect a knockout victory for Kid against Johnson.