Gather around, fight fans, as UFC 134: Rio is almost upon us.
Featured in this spectacular card is a title rematch between Anderson Silva and Yushin Okami, another rematch between Forrest Griffin and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and a generational battle between MMA legend Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira and rising superstar Brendan Schaub.
So how will this card event play out? Let’s take a look at all the main card bouts and pick out some winners, shall we?
In all seriousness, I honestly believe Luiz Cane is being fed a tomato can. As a native Brazilian with a recognizable name, Cane’s fight is to ensure that at least one Portuguese-speaking individual is winning a fight in Rio.
Nedkov may be undefeated, but his most notable win was a split decision over Kevin Randleman in 2009, who should’ve stopped fighting perhaps two years prior to that.
Expect a quick knockout in the first round for the Brazilian fighter.
Since winning The Ultimate Fighter, Ross Pearson has gone 4-1 in the UFC, with notable wins over Dennis Siver and Spencer Fisher.
Edson Barboza may not be a familiar name to most people, but he is undefeated at 2-0 in the UFC and 8-0 in his entire career.
Both fighters rely more on striking than on their grappling techniques, so expect to see a stand-up war against an Ultimate Fight winner and a rising prospect.
I believe Pearson’s experience - he has twice as many fights as Barboza - will come in handy and allow him to win the decision.
Brendan Schaub is being groomed as the next big thing in the UFC’s heavyweight division. Since his loss to Roy Nelson in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter, he has been fed a steady stream of mid-range opponents.
Minotauro Nogueira, once of the most feared submission specialists in the heavyweight division, has begun to look his age. He has fought only three times in the past three years, and has been knocked out twice in those three years.
Regardless, I believe Nogueira will defeat Schaub.
Before his KO of Mirko Cro Cop, Schaub had his hands full in a fight he was supposed to dominate. For all accounts and purposes, Cro Cop is horrendously past his prime, so for Schaub to struggle so much against an aging fighter shows how truly green he is in the sport.
Nogueira has aged only marginally better than Cro Cop, but the ball is in his home court and he will use his experience to defeat the younger, stronger man.
Nogueira will win by third round submission.
The last time Shogun fought Griffin, it was during his highly-regarded debut in UFC 76. It was not the coming out party we expected, as Rua gassed in the middle of the fight and was submitted late in the third round.
Since then, both Griffin and Rua have held the light heavyweight belt, and both have been devastatingly finished while attempting to defend said belt.
Both have also taken extended time away from the sport to recover from injuries. Rua has had multiple knee surgeries in recent years, while Griffin took over a year to recover from a procedure on his shoulder.
Needless to say, we may not be seeing the best Griffin and Rua that ever was due to these various ailments, but it can still make for an exciting matchup. I suspect Rua will be extra motivated for the win, since he is coming off a loss to Jon Jones and is fighting in front of his countrymen in Brazil.
Rua will win, by decision.
It is a rematch five years in the making.
The last time Anderson Silva and Yushin Okami fought, it was at Rumble on the Rock in 2006. The match ended in spectacular fashion, with Silva knocking out Okami in a move so good it had to be illegal.
A lot has changed since then, as both fighters have risen in weight classes and have racked plenty of wins against quality opposition. If there’s anything that was proven in that first match, however, it’s that Okami can be knocked out.
Let's take a look at recent performances. Okami was decisioned by Chael Sonnen in 2009. Sonnen was close to doing the same thing to Silva in 2010, but the champion eked out a triangle choke at the last minute and maintained his championship.
This proves that, as far as what's been seen. Silva is still the craftier fighter.
Okami is a solid contender, but I don’t see him lasting more than three rounds against “The Spider.”
Silva wins by third round TKO.