This Saturday night the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV hosts UFC 116. Two titans, Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin, finally square off to unify the UFC's heavyweight title. The main card also features a light heavyweight rematch and a lightweight bout that could place the winner in position for a title shot. The pay-per-view event gets underway at 10 p.m. EST. Below is a main card prediction, how to watch, and full card details.
Main Event Prediction
Though the backstory of Lesnar's recent illness and Carwin's past critiques of Lesnar's post-fight histrionics could serve as fodder to hype this important match-up, it's truly not necessary. Right now, Lesnar vs. Carwin genuinely represents the best of the heavyweight division, so for once UFC fans will witness a true mega-bout that determines a unified champion—and it is not a product of the promotion's effective but hyperbolic marketing department. While it might not necessarily be "The Biggest Fight in UFC History," it's definitely a fight that fans have wanted to see, and the match-up has only gained traction the longer it's taken to get here. With all due respect to talented young heavyweights Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos, Lesnar vs. Carwin is the collision of goliaths that the UFC has desperately waited for after wisely building up a division that is supposed to be premiere, but hasn't been until now.
Carwin, to his credit, has demolished every opponent he has faced en route to an undefeated record. The UFC rightly promotes the fact that these demolitions have all come in the first round. The interim titleholder's game plan looks to be simple, and will likely mimic what he did in his last bout against Frank Mir at UFC 111. In that fight he leaned on his opponent against the cage, grinding him down, and waited for the slightest opening. It's a strategy that served him well then, and has in past bouts as well. When the slightest window of opportunity opens, Carwin likes to deliver a first shot to stun his prey, and from there does not let up until the referee has intervened on his behalf.
Still young in his career, Lesnar has shown he can land shots on the feet due to his obvious power and less obvious speed, but when the fight hits the canvas the current champ has truly dominated there. He pins opponents down and unleashes savage beatings. It's important to note that he's done this against heavyweights who have twice his experience. With talented ground fighters, half-guard can sometimes be a neutral position. But when Lesnar's on top, half-guard is a prime spot for him to administer one of his signature maulings. Mir, a talented submission specialist, learned this the hard way in their second bout.
There are only two legitimate questions about Lesnar right now. First, can he handle someone's full guard? We probably won't get the answer to that question in this fight, but in the future if he faces another top BJJ talent it would make for an intriguing storyline. But the second question is one we'll probably learn the answer to this Saturday night: what's his chin made of? Aside from a few shots from Randy Couture at UFC 91, his prominent jawline has not been tested. And though Couture is a legend, he's not packing the type of power that Carwin is.
For that reason, Carwin might be the best fighter to derail Lesnar's impressive UFC championship run. There is no size disparity, nor will there by any tricky submission attempts in this bout. The winner will triumph with unbridled power, but which one prevails will be determined by where the fight takes place. If the fight hits the ground, Lesnar will remain the undisputed champion. But Lesnar won't get the chance to take the fight there. They will stay standing long enough for Carwin to land the one shot he needs, ultimately securing the true championship belt once and for all. And he'll do it before the bell rings for the end of the first round, keeping that impressive streak alive as well.
How to Watch
Two preliminary bouts, Brendan Schaub vs. Chris Tuchscherer and Seth Petruzelli vs. Ricardo Romero, will air free on Spike TV at 9 p.m. EST. Charlotte MMA fans can obviously purchase the entire pay-per-view through their local cable or satellite provider. UFC.com and yahoosports.com also provide online viewing. Normally area bars and restaurants such as Fox and Hound, Hickory Tavern, and Buffalo Wild Wings air the bouts as well. Just make a quick phone call to your local watering hole first to confirm.
Full Card Details
The remainder of the main card offers plenty of intrigue for UFC fans. Chris Leben, after only two weeks' rest, faces impressive Japanese fighter Yoshihiro Akiyama. Krzysztof Soszynski tangles with Stephan Bonnar again, a rematch of a bout that ended with a controversial doctor stoppage after a head butt at UFC 110. Chris Lytle vs. Matt Brown will wage a welterweight war while George Sotiropoulos vs. Kurt Pellegrino could determine the next lightweight contender.
Here is the full card listing:
Brock Lesnar (4-1-0) vs. Shane Carwin (12-0-0)
Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-1-0, 2 NC) vs. Chris Leben (20-6-0)
Chris Lytle (38-17-4) vs. Matt Brown (13-8-0)
Krzysztof Soszynski (20-10-1) vs. Stephan Bonnar (14-7-0)
George Sotiropoulos (12-2-0) vs. Kurt Pellegrino (21-4-0)
Brendan Schaub (6-1-0) vs. Chris Tuchscherer (18-2-0, 1 NC)
Seth Petruzelli (14-5-0) vs. Ricardo Romero (10-1-0)
Kendall Grove (13-7-0, 1 NC) vs. Goran Reljic (8-1-0)
Gerald Harris (15-2-0) vs. Dave Branch (6-0-0)
Daniel Roberts (9-1-0) vs. Forrest Petz (24-7-0)
Jon Madsen (5-0-0) vs. Karlos Vemola (7-0-0)