Hold on to your hats fight fans, because UFC 162 has one of the most exciting and stacked main cards of the year! It’s middleweight mayhem with 3 middleweight match-ups, all involving top ranked competitors, and of course the epic showdown between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman. Let’s break this main card down!
Dennis Siver vs. Cub Swanson
Starting the PPV action off is one of my most highly anticipated fights this year; Dennis Siver and Cub Swanson. This fought is destined to be a stand-up war as both guys are highly touted strikers in the featherweight division, but what makes this so interesting is their highly contrasted styles. Siver is a textbook Savate-Karate styled striker who likes to throw spinning back kicks. Meanwhile, Cub Swanson a loose boxer who uses his footwork to create angles and open up windows to unleash mean powerful punching combinations. There is a high chance of a knockout in this fight.
While both of these guys are on tears currently in their career, there’s no doubt that Swanson has the edge in momentum. This guy has been shedding through every opponent, and is all but guaranteed a title shot with a win over Dennis Siver. Siver on the other hand still needs a couple more wins to get to title contention, so if I have to give an edge in mentality and readiness, I’d give it to Swanson. Also, an interesting note is that Siver has recently been injured and this will be his first fight back from that injury.
Another area I give an edge to Swanson in is the wrestling. If we see Siver start get off with his striking game and impose his will on the feet, we could see Swanson shoot and get this fight to the mat. In his last fight against Dustin Poirier, Swanson utilized his wrestling game to win rounds and make himself unpredictable. I feel like Swanson’s wrestling will put enough on Siver’s mind to then capitalize more on his feet. It’ll be Swanson’s head and foot movement that will open up windows to let Swanson’s full arsenal be unleashed en-route to a unanimous decision victory.
Cub Swanson via Unanimous Decision
Mark Munoz vs. Tim Boetsch
This fight could be promoted by calling it “The Battle of the Returning Contenders”. Both Munoz and Boetsch were at one time considered to be top 10 if not top 5 fights until they were upset; Munoz to Chris Weidman, Boetsch to Costa Philippou. Now, they return after devastating losses to try and get their career back in a forward moving position.
It’ll be hard to tell whether Munoz will have any cases from ring-rust, as his last fight was almost exactly one year ago. That’s a long time to be off, especially considering he had troubles with depression and weight gain. But now after seeing Munoz get back in shape, and restore his body, I’m confident he’s going to be in the best condition of his career.
When comparing these two fights, I find that Boetsch’s main advantage lies in his power. He may only have a punchers chance in this fight, considering he’s out-matched in nearly every category, but it’s a strong punchers chance. We’ve seen what he can do, even late in fights, against guys like Yushin Okami, so don’t expect Boetsch so wilt over from Munoz’s aggressive wrestling attack. However it’s not the wrestling that I think will pose an issue for Boetsch, it’s going to be the ground and pound. I think most of us have forgotten the severe power Munoz brings when he unloads with those donkey-fists of his, and THAT is going to be the deciding factor in this fight.
Look for Munoz to tire Boetsch out enough so that he can keep him on the mat without worrying about scrambling, then unload with big ground and pound to force a stoppage late in the fight.
Mark Munoz via 3rd Rd TKO
Tim Kennedy vs. Roger Gracie
This next bout will feature two high profile Strikeforce fighters both making their long awaited UFC debuts as two-time title challenger Tim Kennedy battles BJJ specialist Roger Gracie.
Tim Kennedy can easily be described in one word; difficult. He’s difficult to out-strike, difficult to out-grapple, difficult to out-work, and difficult to beat. He is most effective by stifling everything his opponent does and dishing it out right back at them with a relentless pace that doesn’t slow down. He’s not amazing at any category of the fight game, but he’s effective and as durable as they come. Roger Gracie is going to have a very tough time keeping up with Kennedy’s pace, and will most likely begin to fatigue late in the 2nd round.
On the feet, Gracie will have the length advantage in height and reach, but unfortunately he may not be able to use it. Unless we see Kennedy and Gracie engage in a kickboxing match for 15 minutes, we probably won’t see much patient, calculated striking exchanges. I see Kennedy getting inside, roughing Gracie up, and over powering him until he cracks. Of course, there’s the chance that Gracie catches Kennedy in a submission. However, for that to happen it’s going to have to happen early, and happen very unexpectedly. Kennedy knows what he’s doing on the mat, but his speed advantage will allow him to dictate what happens in scrambles and wild grappling exchanges. Don’t expect Kennedy to be caught off guard by anything, and look for Kennedy to stay in control of the fight as he roughs Gracie up for 15 minutes.
Tim Kennedy via Unanimous Decision
Frankie Edgar vs. Charles Oliveira
Set for the co-main event is an exciting featherweight tilt between the ultimate title challenger Frankie Edgar, and crafty submission specialist Charles Oliveira who will look to rebound from his KO loss to Cub Swanson.
Frankie Edgar is of course all about speed and durability. He punches in bunches, moves his feet as fast as lightening, and is like a wood pecker who riddles away at his opponent with blazing fast combinations on the feet. Combined with that stand-up approach is his all-star wrestling game that he uses to dominate scrambles, ensure position, and rack up points if need be. Charles Oliveira on the other hand, is about the complete opposite. On the feet, he brings a crafty Muay Thai approach that he uses to compliment his long reach. Expect kicks and long, straight punches from Charles Oliveira as he tries to keep Edgar at bay. On the ground, he uses his long legs to snatch limbs in creative ways to score the submission finish. He doesn’t stall or try to dominate in points; Charles Oliveira is a finisher when it comes to grappling.
Now that you see the contrasting styles, maybe you’re reconsidering your initial thought that this is a devastating mismatch for Charles Oliveira. Sure, the UFC is possibly punishing him for missing weight in his last bout, and is possibly giving Frankie Edgar a “gimme fight” so he doesn’t fall to a 4-fight losing streak, but Charles Oliveira has a strong chance to win this fight.
Again, look for Oliveira to throw lots of head kicks as he tries to catch Edgar ducking. Perhaps even some knees to try and counter a potential double leg attempt. But the problem is that Edgar is too good at mixing it up on the feet. He gets you thinking he’s going in for a combination, throws a couple punches, and puts you on your back before you can blink. In the top position, Edgar isn’t stupid enough to get caught off guard, so Oliveira is going to have to be aggressive. Look for elbows off the bottom to be Oliveira’s best friend when he’s laying in an open guard with an energizer bunny between his legs.
Ultimately, you have to face facts and realize that Edgar is just going to be too much for Oliveira. As much as I want Charles to win, I don’t think he can stop Edgar’s ferocious pace and speed. I think it’ll be a very competitive fight, and Oliveira will get Edgar in trouble at times, but in the end it’ll be Edgar’s skill in point accumulation that will edge him out on the score cards.
Frankie Edgar via Split Decision
Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman
And here we are, the main event of the evening. The undisputed, MMA king-pin Anderson Silva against the undefeated proto-type from the East Coast, Chris Weidman.
Perhaps the biggest discussion that is brought up about this fight is how similar Chris Weidman is going to be to Chael Sonnen. Obviously Chael Sonnen had lots of luck in the first match-up with Anderson by taking him down and grinding him out using non-stop pressure combined with a hard-nosed, “go-for-broke” mentality. However, that didn’t work so well the second time as Anderson proved that he can learn him his mistakes. I’m going to say this right now, if Chris Weidman has approached this fight with the “I’m going to do the same as Chael, just better” mindset, then he IS going to lose. Weidman is not Chael Sonnen, and is going to have to develop his own game plan for him to dethrone the most challenging opponent in MMA today.
So let’s talk about what Weidman will have to do. The first round we can usually expect Silva to dance around, get comfortable, and find his range and rhythm. If Weidman can’t throw Silva off right away, he’s digging himself deeper and deeper to a hole that is loaded with spike traps, poison, front kicks from hell, and a partridge in a pare tree. Weidman needs to get in Silva’s face, keep his hands up to avoid his counter punches, and get right to work as soon as possible. So let’s say Weidman is able to accomplish this; he pushes the pace, tags Silva on the edge of his punches, runs him down, avoids some counters, and ties him up. In the clinch, Weidman needs to limit space, and not allow Silva any room to throw those sneaky knees of his, or any other sharp pointed strike he can manage to throw in a 5-inch gap. Now, eventually Weidman needs to get in top position and I’m very confident he’ll be able to do so. Weidman is fantastic at mixing up his takedowns; he can shoot from range, execute a trip from the clinch, drop down for singles or doubles, and even perform some lateral throws that I’ve seen him practicing.
In top position, things should be a little better for Weidman as Silva won’t be able to knock him out with one strike anymore (besides an illegal up kick), so he’s managed to stray from that danger. Weidman needs to get wrist right away, tie him up, don’t allow any space, and slowly start methodically improving his position. We’ve seen how fast Weidman can scramble and take advantage of his opponents mistakes, so look for Weidman keep Silva down, and possibly seek out half guard, side control, and perhaps mount. Now here’s where things get exciting; Weidman needs to go for the finish. The sooner he twists Silva’s arm into submission, or chokes him out for the tap, the sooner he can go home and avoid getting knocked out in one blinding flurry.
When it comes to options, I think a choke would be the best fit for Weidman for a couple of reasons. Let’s say he rolls for an armbar, if Silva escapes, he can get top position immediately and/or stand up and enter that one-punch-KO-warning zone. I think Weidman’s best bet would be something like an arm-triangle, a d’arce, or perhaps a guillotine from mount. Silva has a long neck and Weidman has a very muscular upper-body that could get him tapping pretty easily. That way, if he doesn’t get it, let it go, and go back to whatever position he was in, and start the process over.
If Weidman does all of this, I’d fully expect him to get the finish in under 2 rounds and me to be hired as his new strategist. Weidman has a lot of material to work with, especially after two fights with Chael Sonnen, to learn what he can’t do and learn what he has to do. I believe Weidman can pull of the upset, and I think he thinks it as well. I’m going to go ahead and pick Weidman to score a 2nd round arm-triangle victory. I think he’ll go out there, know exactly what to do to avoid danger, and know exactly what to do to finish the fight.
Chris Weidman via 2nd Rd Submission