This Saturday's fight card not only features two championship fights, but it also introduces MMA legend Renzo Gracie to the UFC. Also, Oregon native John Gunderson will be fighting in the UFC for the second time in his career. Many Oregonians will be watching and rooting for him.
Enough said...time to make some educated guesses!
The co-main event is a Middleweight championship bout featuring champion Anderson Silva (25-4, No.1 MW) and Demian Maia (12-1, No.5 MW)
Anderson Silva is an obvious master at what he does. He is not only the number one middleweight, but he is also regarded as the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the entire world. He has incredible speed and accuracy in his striking. He uses elbows, knees, punches and kicks. He has every advantage, no matter who he is fighting as long as they stay standing up. He used to spar heavyweight Antonio Nogueira and make him look bad. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and uses his long limbs to his advantage. On the other side, Demian Maia is one of the top Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters in the world. His one loss came by KO to Nate Marquardt. If he can surprise Silva, just like Ryo Chonan or Daiju Takase did, he might submit him. However, Maia is a methodical submission artist and moves from on transition to the next. I don't see Maia submitting Silva even if he were to take him down. With the hot sun and the sweat, he had better attempt to submit him before round two.
Winner: Silva, Round 2, TKO
Penn is one of the most talented fighters in the world. His only loss at lightweight came against Jen Pulver eight years ago. Since then, he has moved up and down in weight and is back to the division where he currently belongs. He is an incredible boxer and has very powerful jabs and hooks that he throws from his hips. He also has great knees that can knock out anyone. He has a BJJ blackbelt and is incredible flexible, intelligent and lethal when it comes to ground fighting. He has had problems against larger wrestler such as St. Pierre and Hughes, but when he fights someone his own size, such as Diego Sanchez, he has great defense. His conditioning problems seem to be behind him. On the other hand, Edgar is a very fast boxer with tons of heart. He has great foot movement and has gone through some wars with some of the best lightweights. Even if Edgar can outbox Penn, he could be taken down or beat up from the clinch by Penn's knees and dirty boxing. Edgar's only shot is in round four or five if Penn spends too much energy in the early rounds.
Winner: Penn, Rd.5, Unanimous Decision
Welterweight bout, Matt Hughes (43-7) vs. Renzo Gracie (13-6-1)
Hughes has fallen far from his UFC pedestal. As a former champion, he has faced the best there are. He is not the fastest fighter, but has solid boxing skills. His reach is not the best, but his strength lies in wrestling. He has taken down almost everyone he has fought. In this fight however, Hughes may try to stay on his feet considering he has the power punching advantage over Gracie. In the other corner, Gracie is a true veteran and even though he does not have as many fights as Hughes, he has just as much talent and class. Gracie is an obvious BJJ blackbelt but is also a surprisingly good wrestler. This match might be much closer than many UFC fans expect. The only question with Gracie is his stand-up fighting ability. He likes to use other fighters movements to score takedowns. This might be tough for him if Hughes plays the counter-striker.
Winner: Hughes, Rd. 3, Split Decision
Middleweight bout, Kendall Grove (11-6) vs. Mark Munoz (7-1)
Grove has come a long way since being on The Ultimate Fighter reality show. He has fought some top talent. He has good stand-up skills, but his chin has been suspect in the past. He has been put to sleep by some powerful punches, but when he has a weakness, he is the kind of fighter who fixes the problem. His biggest weapon comes in his 6'6" frame. He has an incredible reach on his jab but also his knees can come up very high to the head or the torso. He has great trips for take-downs and can smother smaller fighters with his frame. He also loves to land elbows from the mount which sets him up to get the choke-out. On the other side is Munoz, an incredibly powerful puncher who reminds me of a smaller version of Shane Carwin. He likes to bully fighters into the cage with take-down attempts then land bombs as they are pinned. If he can bypass Grove's reach advantage he has a chance to knock him out or take him down and land some shots.
Winner: Grove, Rd. 2, KO (knees)
Lightweight bout, John Gunderson (22-7) vs. Paul Taylor (10-5-1)
Gunderson, an Oregon native, has had quite the career for someone who is just into their second UFC fight. He is a workhorse when he trains and it shows in the cage. He has never been knocked out in 29 fights, which is an impressive feat in its own. He started his career here in Bend, Oregon and his first fight was Desert Brawl 5, a local venue through founder, JT "The Outlaw" Taylor. He has improved on his wrestling base and has a great knowledge of jiu-jitsu and has used some rare moves to submit opponents. Fighting against him is British journeyman, Paul Taylor. Taylor is 3-4 in the UFC and has great boxing skills and has excellent timing when he throws head kicks. He has the size advantage of being 6'0" versus Gunderson's 5'9". Taylor loves to brawl and trade punch for punch, which the crowd loves to see, which is why he is probably still fighting in the UFC. The problem with his brawling attitude is that he leaves himself open to take-downs and submissions. This should be a great back and forth fight.
Winner: Gunderson, Rd.3, Anaconda Choke
Enjoy the fights!
MMA Prediction Record (8-1)