UFC 131 goes down this coming Saturday night in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, and will feature a headline heavyweight contender matchup between behemoths Junior "Cigano" Dos Santos and Shane "The Engineer" Carwin.
The beauty of mixed martial arts is that there are so many strategic ways to defeat an opponent if you have the skill set and the will to see it through. Clay Guida fights in contrast to Shane Carwin fights are an example that there are many ways to fight and win, and in my mind, a true fight fan has a tiny appreciation for them all.
However, for those fans who like to see strategy take a back seat to a good old fashioned punch-up, you won't want to miss it when the bell rings on Dos Santos and Carwin.
Debating fights and predicting finishes is one of the best things to do in the week leading up to the event. The fighters are ready, the stage is set and here are my predictions you can take to the bank for this coming weekend.
Krzysztof Soszynski is 5-2 in the UFC and has fought some surprisingly recognizable fighters in his time in the promotion following his stint on TUF 8. He has beaten Brian Stann, Goran Reljic and Stephan Bonner, and after KSOS gets a solid win over Igor Pokrajac on June 11, expect him to get a big-name fight in his next fight this year,
I expect Soszynski to beat Pokrajac and would love to see him get Vladimir "The Janiitor" Matyushenko or Steve Cantwell next.
Donald Cerrone knows how to bring it at an exciting level. Whenever he steps inside the cage to fight, he has won one UFC "Fight Of The Night" bonus once as well as five in the WEC in his career.
Cerrone was set to face Mac Danzig at UFC 131, but Danzig was forced to pull out late due to a chest injury and has been replaced by Brazilian submission artist Vagner Rocha. While I have no doubt that Cerrone will beat Rocha in this fight, it will not be the most evenly matched fight on the card, and therefore, will leave "The Cowboy" short of another exciting bonus.
Mark Munoz is a tremendously powerful wrestler who can ground and pound you in to next week if he gets a takedown and top position on you. Demian Maia knows this and will be looking for submissions from his back if he happens to find himself on the bottom of Munoz on June 11.
Maia's submission game is top of the food chain in the UFC, best in the world, but I am predicting here that Munoz's power will come in handy in another area, and that is submission defense. He will keep moving and twisting his frame vs. Maia, negating any leverage he will get, and his strength will be too much for Maia to lock it in.
Munoz will then land a powerful shot on Maia, and the fight will be over in a mild upset.
Sam "Hands Of Stone" Stout is not a very popular guy in the UFC locker room and it has very little to do with his personality. Stout is a bonus hog and shares the UFC record for "Fight Of The Night" awards with Tyson Griffin at five.
Stout is a well known and feared striker with a strong chin, but if there is a weakness in Stout's game, it obviously comes when the fight hits the ground.
I believe Stout realizes if he wants to be considered with the best in the division, he needs to become more well rounded. He will show the improvement needed in his takedown defense and ground game, and that will keep the fight standing just enough for him to beat Edwards.
Kenny Florian is making his debut in the 145-pound division on June 11 vs. Diego Nunes, and it will be a statement fight for both of them. Florian will be looking to be agressive and dominate Nunes, and Nunes will be looking to make Kenny pay for overlooking him and already talking of a match with Jose Aldo.
This will make for fireworks and Fight Of The Night, with Florian's hand being the one raised when the smoke clears.
Junior Dos Santos has stated that he will knock out Shane Carwin on June 11 in Vancouver, but I believe that it will be the other way around. Both these men will swing hard and land right from the get-go, but I believe that Carwin's power is being overlooked by JDS, and his chin will be the one to pay the price for that error.
Cigano feels his punches are more technical and crisp and will land more often than his opponent's in the fight. While I agree with him, Carwin is not going to need to land as much, and the big shot he does land will change the fight in an instant.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a Correspondent for Bleacher Report MMA (Also a Correspondent for MMACanada.net).
Catch him on Twitter @wakafightermma