The octagon will make its way to Austria and the future of both divisions and fighters will be determined in front of a sold out crowd. The storylines for almost every fight on the card are extremely intriguing and it will be very interesting to see what happens tonight during the show. As usual, I will be discussing the main card and letting you know who I think the winners will be so I can you enjoy this column.
Ben Rothwell was forced out of his scheduled fight due to an stomach illness and his replacement on a mere two days notice is Anthony Perosh, who has an impressive 0-2 record in the UFC, but itís been reported that he took the fight because he received a four fight contract from it so at least he will make some money from this potential slaughter. In theory, Perosh was absolutely nothing to lose here because if Mirko connects with a head kick in the first round, no one is surprised and another loss isnít really going to effect Peroshís legendary career. However, I think the bigger story here is Mirko and if he doesnít have an impressive performance, he could continue to tarnish his legacy. Perosh is essentially another Al Turk fight for Cro Cop, one he should easily win, but even Cro Copís last win in the UFC was surrounded by controversy with the infamous eye poke. In my view, Cro Cop hasnít actually wanted to fight since Gonzaga knocked him out at UFC 70 and while Crop Cop is undoubtedly a legend in MMA, if he doesnít want to fight then he should retire. Speaking of Cro Cop retiring, if he someone does lose to Perosh then thereís no question about it, itís time for Mirko to step away from the sport. All that being said, itís puzzling exactly why Mirkoís dominance didnít translate to the UFC and while some have continued to maintain that itís the cage, I see it as Mirkoís lack of ground skills or ability to adapt into a more well rounded fighter. Iím sure some will argue this point, but in my view, a fighter could be successful in Pride being semi one dimensional, which I think is more of a statement about the particular time frame of MMA as a whole, rather than just specifically the Pride organization. Basically, within just a matter of a few years, MMA has become a sport where itís almost necessary to be at least somewhat well rounded to have success in the long term picture of the sport. As for a winner, I have to pick Mirko, simply because I think even with his lack luster performances lately that he will be able to defeat Perosh.
Ryan Bader vs. Keith Jardine is a fight that seems to be primarily based on ďis Keith Jardine still a UFC level fighter?Ē but before asking that question, you have to consider, was he actually a UFC level fighter to start with or did he have a few fluke wins over some well known opponents that brought him some notoriety? Donít get me wrong here. Jardine deserves credit for his accomplishments because he is most well known for catching Forrest Griffin with a punch, winning a decision of a declining Chuck Liddel, and losses against almost every other top tier fighter that heís fought so again, is Jardine a UFC level fighter or just an average fighter? Well, the question could be answered tonight when Jardine steps in the cage to fight Ryan Bader, who is a rising start at 205 and someone who I think could be a future UFC Light Heavyweight champion. Stylistically, I see this fight going one of two ways, Jardine uses his unorthodox style to throw Bader off of his game and win a decision or Bader using his wrestling skills to earn a decision over Jardine. For a winner, I have to go with Bader because heís shown a lot of potential so far in his UFC career. As far as Jardineís status in the UFC, even if he loses, I think he has at least another fight before the UFC would consider cutting him from the roster.
Joe Stevenson vs. George Sotiropoulos is a fight that should be evenly matched and I expect this one to be a grappling fight. Iím actually surprised that itís taken this long for George to get a fight on the main card of a PPV considering that heís shown some skills and heís undefeated in the UFC. Stevenson will be a tough test for him though and if it is a grappling fight, I would give Stevenson the advantage simply because he appears to be the stronger of the two fighters. However, Iíll pick George Sotiropoulos to win the fight.
Wanderlei ďThe Axe MurdererĒ Silva vs. Michael Bisping is a fight that Iím really looking forward to because Wanderlei is one of my favorite fighters and one of my heroes so obviously I want to see Wandereli win, but Bisping is a tough test for anyone. Speaking of Bisping, heís one of the few fighters that I absolutely canít stand and while he is without question a skilled fighter, his arrogance is something that I canít stand because in my view, MMA should be about respecting the sport. Also, when you consider that Bisping is one of the fighters that the UFC wants to try to make a star so that they can continue to become established in England, itís obvious that the corporate agenda of the UFC takes away from the sport, but then again itís about making money and I guess you canít blame the UFC for trying to make more money. That being said, on the UFC 110 countdown show, one of Bispingís trainers, who looked like a British uncle fester was mocking Wandereli for saying that he fights for the fans and in responds to that I want to say this, Wandereli Silva is a LEGEND of the sport and the British Uncle Fester looking trainer is a leech of the sport so itís another reason why I want to see Wandereli get the win. However, I wouldnít be surprised at all if Bisping is able to out strike Wandereli to win a decision because Bisping is a very good fighter and even though I canít stand his attitude, I have to give him credit for being a very skilled fighter. I think the main key to this fight is Wanderleiís ability to cut to 185 and if it will effect him in the fight. It must also be considered that with his nose being fixed, Wandereli might actually have improved cardio and if Wandereli is able to maintain cardio in the fight then I think that he will KO Bisping. The main thing here though is Bisping is attempting to use Silva as a stepping stone, which is the same thing the UFC tried to have take place when Bisping fought Henderson and we all know what happened there, but Bisping has a chance to improve from that and really make a statement if he can defeated the legendary Silva. Iíll pick Wandereli to win and thatís not just because I want to see Wandereli get the victory, but I think Wanderli with his face repaired could really start a new chapter in his career. Although being is a tough opponent so it should be a good fight. I also want to say that win or lose, you have to appreciate the heart and determination of Wanderleri Silva.
The young lion steps into the cage with the old lion when Cain Velasquez will be in the octagon with the toughest challenge so far in his career when he battle MMA legend, Minotauro Nogueira. I have to be honest here, I have no idea whatís going to happen in this fight and Iím a little sad that one of these two great fighters is probably going to lose unless there is a draw, which would be ok in this situation. I really enjoy seeing these two fight and I think it will be a great fight. Minotauro is someone that I donít think can be legitimately finished so if Velasquez gets a win, it will probably be a decision. For Minotauro, I think itís entirely possible that he is able to win with a submission but thatís just a guess. I will say however, that I think Velasquez is a future Heavyweight champion. For a winner, I will pick Minotauro but as I said before, that is completely a guess because this a tough fight to pick a winner.
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