UFC 131 live from Rogers Arena in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia will take place this Saturday, June 11, 2011.
Headlining the evening's event will be a UFC heavyweight clash between two of the most lethal knockout artists in the division, Junior dos Santos versus Shane Carwin.
Originally slated to challenge Brock Lesnar, an illness to the former heavyweight champion has sidelined the avalanche of a man and now Carwin will replace Lesnar to compete against dos Santos.
Other main card action includes the featherweight debut of Kenny Florian as he faces the highly ranked and heavily talented Diego Nunes.
In a middleweight bout, one of mixed martial arts greatest jiu-jitsu practitioners inside the Octagon, Demian Maia, will have a hard-fought war against the heavy-hitting "Filipino wrecking machine," Mark Munoz.
Additionally, a lightweight bout between seasoned WEC veteran Donald Cerrone and newcomer to the UFC Vagner Rocha will surely entertain the fans in Canada.
Please follow along as I provide a full fight card preview, analysis, and predictions.
Enjoy the fights.
I welcome your comments.
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Currently ranked as the No. 5 featherweight in the world by Sherdog.com, Michihiro Omigawa is a seasoned veteran as an ultimate fighter with an overall record of 12-9-1.
This Japanese mixed martial artist possesses a black belt in judoko and is skilled on his feet relying on his boxing foundation.
Losing his first fight inside the UFC to Chad Mendes, Omigawa will be looking for his inaugural victory in the famed Octagon in his second career UFC bout.
Challenging Omigawa is the 11-2 Darren Elkins.
Making his featherweight debut this Saturday, Elkins, primarily a wrestler, will have his hands full with the dynamic Omigawa.
A contrast of styles, Omigawa has had issues with strong wrestlers in the past. I foresee the same future for Omigawa when he faces Elkins.
In the end, Elkins possesses the stand-up ability to stay out of impending danger, and has the wrestling pedigree to take this fight to the ground.
Winner: Darren Elkins via split-decision
Joey "The Mexicutioner" Beltran will bring his iron chin, boxing pedigree, and no-quit attitude to the cage against the 16-3 Aaron "Big Red" Rosa.
Beltran's last fight inside the Octagon is testament to the toughness of "The Mexicutioner." Suffering through three rounds of non-stop leg kicks and explosive punches by the Duke Rufus protege, Pat Barry, Beltran endured a hellacious beating and kept pressing forward.
Lacking a complete fight-game, Beltran will need to rely on his mental toughness against "Big Red."
Competing in Strikeforce, Bellator and Elite XC, Rosa has considerable experience as a mixed martial artist.
Neither fighter is fully skilled in all aspects of ultimate fighting.
However, I like Beltran's toughness and willingness to bang.
I feel that his boxing skills will out-match those of Rosa's and neither competitor is very skilled in the jiu-jitsu department.
Therefore, I foresee Beltran squeezing out a decision victory over Rosa.
Winner: Joey "The Mexicutioner" Beltran via unanimous decision
A second featherweight bout aired on Facebook will be the matchup between Dustin "The Diamond" Poirier and Jason Young.
Poirier is coming off a big victory over Josh Grispi at UFC 125 on New Year's Day.
A very balanced mixed martial artist, "The Diamond" has a solid 9-1 overall MMA record with five knockout victories and three submission wins.
Challenging Dustin Poirier is Jason "The Shotgun" Young.
Fighting out of South East London England, Young is making his debut within the famed Octagon this Saturday.
Known for his striking, "The Shotgun" is additionally well-versed on the ground.
Both competitors have solid overall skills. I foresee Poirier utilizing his cage experience and securing a victory over the newcomer Young.
Winner: Dustin Poirier unanimous decision
The first middleweight contest of the evening pairs Canadian born Nick "The Promise" Ring against his United States counterpart, James Head.
Fighting in front of his home country, Ring was a competitor in the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Possessing a balanced skill-set, Ring is currently undefeated as a mixed martial artist with an 11-0 record.
A brown belt in jiu-jitsu training at Tristar Gym with Georges St-Pierre, "The Promise" is surrounded by top-tier talent during training sessions.
Opposing Ring is the 7-1 James Head.
Another newcomer to the UFC, Head possesses good stand-up, yet lacks the jiu-jitsu game of Ring.
In the end, I see "The Promise" remaining undefeated as he takes this fight to the ground and submits James Head ruining the American's debut within the famed Octagon.
Winner: Nick Ring via second round rear-naked choke
Rounding out the Facebook fights is a light heavyweight duel between Krzysztof "The Polish Experiment" Soszynski and Mike "The Master of Disaster" Massenzio.
With notable victories over Brian Stann and Stephan Bonnar, Soszynski has not been able to capitalize on his momentum and place a streak of victories together within the UFC.
Currently 5-2 under the UFC banner, a victory over Massenzio will elevate "The Polish Experiment" to his highest level within the division to date.
Easier said than done, Mike Massenzio is an accomplished grappler and solid jiu-jitsu practitioner.
1-2 in the UFC, Massenzio will be stepping up a weight class from his previous middleweight division to challenge "The Polish Experiment."
In the end, Soszynski's balance in his fight game will be too much for Massenzio to overcome. A third consecutive loss within the UFC will provide "The Master of Disaster" with his walking papers from Dana White.
Winner: Krzysztof Soszynski third-round TKO
Preliminary fight No. 1 features a middleweight matchup between Jesse "Water" Bongfeldt and Chris "The All-American" Weidman.
A former TKO welterweight champion, Bongfeldt possesses a 15-4-1 overall MMA record.
Making his UFC debut against Rafeal Natal in December of 2010 which ended in a unanimous draw, Bongfeldt will be looking for his first victory within the Octagon.
A member of the Serra-Longo Fight Team out of New York, Chris Weidman is a two-time Division I All-American collegiate wrestler and is a highly respected jiu-jitsu practitioner.
Ranked as high as No. 1 in the world as a prospect within the middleweight division, Weidman will be looking to secure a victory against Bongfeldt this Saturday in Vancouver.
I believe that Weidman's jiu-jitsu game and wrestling background will be too much for Bongfeldt. In the end, "The All-American" will lock in a submission securing a tap-out victory.
Winner: Chris Weidman third-round triangle choke
Potential for Fight of the Night honors, this lightweight battle between Sam "Hands of Stone" Stout and Yves "Thugjitsu Master" Edwards should be extremely dynamic.
Known for his stand-up abilities under the tutelage of Team Thompkins, Stout is more than willing to exchange in the middle of the Octagon and throw bombs until either he is knocked out, or his opponent lay virtually lifeless on the cage floor.
Momentous battles between Sam Stout and Spencer Fisher or Jeremy Stephens secures the reputation of "Hands of Stone" as a gamer inside the Octagon.
This matchup with Yves Edwards will not disappoint.
Edwards, an extremely experienced mixed martial artist, possesses the ability to win on his feet or secure a tapout victory.
With an overall MMA record of 40-16 with a balanced combination of victories by knockout and submission, Edwards will need his full offensive arsenal to battle Stout this Saturday.
Truly one of the highlight fights on the overall card, I envision this back-and-forth battle to erupt into fireworks and a striking clinic by both participants.
The edge on the ground goes to Edwards. Because of this sizable advantage for the "Thugjitsu Master" in the jiu-jitsu game, his fight plan will include a strong submission presence.
When the blood is clotted and the sweat is cleared, Edwards' advantage in the grappling and jiu-jitsu department will secure the veteran a victory over Stout.
Winner: Yves Edwards via split-decision victory
The night's first main card fight on pay-per-view will be a lightweight matchup between "Cowboy" Donald Cerrone and Brazilian born Vagner Rocha.
Cerrone will be looking for his second victory inside the UFC.
Defeating experienced Brit Paul Kelly in a Fight of the Night competition, Cerrone is an extremely talented kick-boxer with tremendous ground capabilities.
Training with the impressive roster of UFC fighters at Greg Jackson's camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico, "Cowboy" will unleash an offensive arsenal on Rocha that the young Brazilian has never experienced.
A black belt in jiu-jitsu, Rocha will be making his UFC debut this Saturday.
6-1 overall with four submission victories, Rocha will be stepping up in competition against the highly touted Cerrone.
Cerrone has a clear-cut advantage in the stand-up department. Looking to capitalize on this advantage and keep the fight standing, Cerrone will look to maximize his kick-boxing talent.
Conversely, Rocha's fight strategy will be to lock up a submission and defeat "Cowboy" via tapout.
I do not see Rocha gaining a victory over the highly talented Cerrone in his debut fight within the UFC. In the end, Cerrone's multi-talented fight game and experience will defeat the young Brazilian.
Winner: Donald Cerrone via third-round TKO
The night's first middleweight bout on the main card features Demian Maia against Mark "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" Munoz.
Styles make fights. And this fight is a transparent showing of two completely different fighters.
Maia is one of the world's greatest jiu-jitsu practitioners. His accolades outside of the Octagon as a sport jiu-jitsu practitioner are second to none.
With an overall MMA record of 14-2, Maia will be looking to escalate his name back into title contention talk with a victory over Munoz.
A Division 1 National champion wrestler, Munoz is known for his grappling ability and his power in his punches.
With dynamite in his hands, "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" has secured knockout victories in half of his overall wins.
Carrying momentum into this fight after a knockout victory over C.B. Dollaway, a win over Maia will catapult Munoz into the top 10 of the UFC middleweight division.
Even though Munoz's strengths as a wrestler play right into Maia's strengths as a jiu-jitsu artist, I believe the difference in the stand-up will favor "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" and he will eventually secure a decision victory and place himself within the top 10 of the middleweight division.
Winner: Mark Munoz split-decision
Main card fight number three features a heavyweight matchup between the Norwegian black belt in jiu jitsu, Jon Olav Einemo and the hard-hitting American, Dave "Pee-Wee" Herman.
With an overall MMA record of 6-1 with five submissions, Einemo is making his UFC debut this Saturday.
The only man to defeat multiple time BJJ champion Roger Gracie in the Abu Dhabi Combat Club tournament, Einemo will be looking to take this fight to the ground and earn a submission victory over Herman.
Conversely, with 14 knockout victories, Herman's fight plan is simple: knockout his opponent.
Also making his debut in the UFC, "Pee-Wee" will be striving for Knockout of the Night honors.
Clearly a contrast of styles. Einemo wanting to secure a submission win and Herman looking for a knockout. I am providing the edge to Herman in his debut.
Winner: Dave Herman via second-round TKO
Making his featherweight debut, Kenny "Ken-Flo" Florian will be welcomed to his new division by the extremely talented and tremendously gifted mixed martial artist, Diego "The Gun" Nunes.
A Muay-Thai specialist and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Florian has an impressive 14-5 overall MMA record with 10 submission victories.
Known for his savage elbow strikes and ability to gain ground control against virtually any challenger (outside of BJ Penn), Florian possesses victories over Clay Guida, Takanori Gomi, and Joe Lauzon.
"Ken-Flo" will need to continue to ride his momentum when he squares off against "The Gun" this Saturday.
Nunes, 16-1 in his mixed martial arts career, is a very balanced fighter with virtually equal knockout, submission, and decision victories.
Training with the famed Team Nogueira in Brazil, Nunes will rely on his tremendous training camp to prepare him for a potential ground masterpiece with Florian.
Making his UFC debut, "The Gun" will want to keep this fight standing and utilize his excellent kick-boxing skills to keep "Ken-Flo" off-balance and unable to mount any offense.
This featherweight matchup is challenging to predict a victor. However, because both fighters possess excellent stand-up and ground games, I am going to provide a slight edge to Florian because of his experience.
In the end, I foresee a submission victory for Kenny Florian in his UFC featherweight debut.
Winner: Kenny Florian via third-round rear-naked choke
I am already excited about the main event between Junior "Cigano" dos Santos and "The Engineer" Shane Carwin.
Winner of this heavyweight competition becomes the No. 1 contender to fight Cain Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight championship.
This fight will be epic. Both fighters possess a 12-1 Octagon record with eight knockouts. Both fighters claim to be the sports greatest knockout artist within all of the divisions. Both fighters are human wrecking machines that can change the momentum of a fight with a single punch.
The heavy hands of both competitors keep fans on the edge of their seats awaiting to erupt.
dos Santos holds the slight edge within the technical boxing realm when compared to Carwin. JDS is more technically proficient as a counter-striker and is more elusive inside the cage.
Conversely, Carwin is a straight forward striker, more like a rhinoceros plowing through his opponent. He unloads full-body punches with every strike expecting to knock his competition into the first row of seats.
Quite possibly the variable in this heavyweight matchup is the ground game. Junior dos Santos trains with the highest caliber of fighters at Black House in Brazil including Anderson Silva and the Nogueira brothers.
A brown belt in jiu-jitsu, his ground abilities have yet to be witnessed within the UFC because he has steam-rolled through his competition in the stand-up department.
Could Junior dos Santos submit Shane Carwin and become the number one contender for the most coveted belt within all of mixed martial arts?
That question remains unanswered. What is definitive, however, is that this fight will be amazing and we are fortunate as fight fans to be privileged to witness.
So who wins this heavyweight battle?
With uncertainty, I believe that Junior dos Santos will secure a victory over Shane Carwin.
Winner: Junior dos Santos via second-round TKO