UFC 134 Fight Card: Early Main Card Preview, Predictions
Finally, the UFC is set to entertain in Brazil with UFC 134 going down at the end of next month—Saturday, Aug. 27, to be exact—from Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil is the third country in what I like to call the golden triangle of mixed martial arts, along with the United States and Japan. It is about time that the promotion that began as a showcase of the Brazilian art of jiu jitsu done by the famous Gracie family should hold an event in the homeland.
The card headlines Brazilian champion and son Anderson Silva defending his middleweight title against Japanese contender Yushin Okami. Okami already has a win against the champion and will be looking to make it more legit this time around.
The other fights on the main card portion of the event will see Mauricio "Shogun" Rua get a rematch with Forrest Griffin, Brendan "The Hybrid" Schaub vs. legend Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira. Brit Ross Pearson will take on undefeated Edson Barboza, and Luiz Cane vs. Stanislav Nedkov round out the card.
Let's take an early look at who will come out on top in each fight and how it will happen on August 27.
Luiz Cane vs. Stanislav Nedkov
Luiz Cane has had an up-and-down time in the UFC with some very solid wins over such names as Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Steve Cantwell and most recently Eliot Marshall. He has also has surprising defeats at the hands of James Irvin, Rogerio Nogeuira and Cyrille Diabate.
One edge that Cane has in this one is that he has been plying his trade in the UFC against those top guys, unlike his opponent, Bulgarian Stanislav Nedkov. Nedkov is undefeated in his professional career and has wins over UFC veterans Kevin Randleman and Travis Wiuff on his resume.
Cane and the UFC show is a big step up for Nedkov, and I see Cane finally getting a chance to really go in and showcase what he wants to show to the world. He is 30 years old and should be in peak form in all ways, and I see him trying to get a submission on Nedkov.
Who is Nedkov, really? And if Cane wants to make any type of move to boost his career he needs to stomp him.
Cane via second-round submission
Ross Pearson vs. Edson Barboza
Edson Barboza is a fire-cracker fighter who is dangerous from anywhere in the cage, and he will be fighting on home country adrenaline come August 27. Can a guy like Ross Pearson handle that? Can a solid punching and decent-but-undersized grappler Brit like Pearson handle a guy like Barboza?
I don't think he can and he is going to get hit often and hard in this one.
Pearson has beaten Dennis Siver and Spencer Fisher, but something tells me that Barboza will get the jump on Pearson on most exchanges especially with that reach and will also muscle him around a bit.
Barboza via third-round TKO
Brendan Schaub vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
In another possible passing of the torch a la Leben vs. Silva, the powerful up-and-comer Brendan Schaub will take a nice step up in competition if Antonio Rodrigo Nogeuira shows up close to form. Many people doubt what Big Nog has left, but I keep on thinking he has another epic one in him.
It would be nice for Nogueira to continue a resurgence for the old guard like Tito Ortiz did against Ryan Bader, and part of me thinks his skills will carry him to that. I'm just not sure how tested Schaub is but he has always proven me wrong in the past, every single time.
I see Big Nog taking another beating, but coming close to getting Schaub caught in a submission before both men carry on to a close decision.
Nogeuira via split decision
Mauricio Rua vs. Forrest Griffin
Mauricio Rua vs. Forrest Griffin I is one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, and I'm sure Rua wants nothing more than to avenge that loss on home soil. Griffin is always up for a fight but is not as big an underdog coming into this one as he was in the last, and he also needs another win to keep some momentum in his career.
Rua needs to unleash his Muay Thai hell on Griffin, dictating the fight by staying as busy as Griffin and not getting caught by his kicks in turn. Neither one of these fighters has been overly active in the last year of their careers, so this one is at risk of being a bit sloppy.
In the end, I see Rua being a bit more hungry to win and the fans may end up being a good boost for him.
Rua via unanimous decision
Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami
Anderson Silva is the best striker in the UFC today and I see nothing special in Yushin Okami that tells me he will be able to last against the champ at UFC 134. Okami has a wrestler's chance, of course, and that counts for some, but he is not as good a Chael Sonnen and Silva put him away late.
Silva will use his footwork to keep it standing, measure distance and then strike with venom at Okami. We have seen it time and time again. Let's just hope Silva does not have a dance concert in mind for his Brazilian fans as it will be a long night if he decides to shuck and jive.
Silva via second-round KO
Dwight Wakabayashi is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report MMA and a correspondent for MMACanada.net.