Good afternoon fight fans! Tonight marks the UFC’s return to Brazil for UFC 142, and the UFC brass has assembled a hell of a fight card sure to excite fans across the globe.
While this blog’s main purpose is to examine the mixed martial arts scene in West Virginia, it is impossible to talk about MMA and not mention the UFC. The UFC is to MMA what the NFL is to football– it is the premier organization and contracts virtually all the world’s best fighters.
As UFC 142 is a huge event featuring a featherweight title fight, I’ve decided to break down the main portion of the fight card and show you just how unpredictable the fight game is (feel free to rip my picks tomorrow 😀 ).
Fight One: Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim
Barboza (9-0, 3-0 UFC) is an undefeated Brazilian fighter with devastating strikes and a hyper-aggressive style which has led to six technical knock-outs in his nine victories. Most recently, he defeated Ultimate Fighter 9 winner Ross Pearson in a closely contested battle via split decision.
Etim (15-3, 6-3 UFC), a Liverpool, England native, will come into this match-up freshly off a November victory which saw him defeat Edward Faaloloto via guillotine choke in a mere 17 seconds. Etim has impressive submission skills and 12 of his 15 career victories have come via tapout.
Analysis: Barboza vs. Etim may very well steal fight of the night honors and is a perfect stylistic match-up of striker vs grappler. I think Etim’s experience will give him the edge in this fight, as he has faced UFC caliber competition nine times to Barboza’s three UFC appearances.
Etim will definitely want to get this fight to the ground to avoid Barboza’s strikes, but I’m picking for the upset via submission in round two.
Terry Etim will submit Edson Barboza Saturday night at UFC 142.
Winner: Etim via Submission (rd 2)
Fight Two: Erick Silva vs. Carlo Prater
Silva (13-1, 1 No Contest, 1-0 UFC) is a ridiculously gifted 27 year old fighter who took the UFC by storm in his debut when he needed only 40 seconds to dispose of Luis Ramos via TKO. Silva trains with Team Nogueira and is one of the UFC’s hottest young prospects.
The story couldn’t be more different for Carlo Prater (29-10-1, 0-0 UFC), a 30 year-old “thugjitsu” specialist with 40 career fights. Prater has fought twice in the now defunct WEC, losing badly each time.
Prater has a definitive advantage in the experience department, but I don’t see that being enough for him to defeat Erick Silva tonight. Silva is dangerous no matter where the fight goes, and Prater has faltered against top competition in the past.
I’m expecting Erick Silva to rush Prater from the beginning and overwhelm him with strikes to earn the first round TKO victory.
Winner: Erick Silva via Technical Knock-Out (rd 1)
Fight Three: Rousimar Palhares vs. Mike Massenzio
Palhares (13-3, 6-2 UFC) is a Brazilian fighter with an absolutely vicious ground game. He is 2-0 in the UFC since his controversial 2010 loss to Nate Marquardt and will look to continue his ascent up the middleweight ladder tonight.
Massenzio (13-5, 3-3 UFC) is a seasoned veteran who has faced the likes of Dan Miller, Brian Stann and Steve Cantwell. Like Palhares, Massenzio prefers the ground game, and this fight looks like it will be a technical chess match on the mat.
Both fighters have experience against game opponents on their resumés, but Palhares has fared better against top competition in the past, and I expect him to come out victorious in his home country tonight.
Winner: Rousimar Palhares via unanimous deicision.
Fight Four: Vitor Belfort vs Anthony “Rumble” Johnson
This middleweight fight was probably the most intriguing match-up on the card since it was announced.
Johnson, who had trouble in the past making weight at welterweight, finally moved up to middleweight, where one would expect him to easily make the 185 pound limit.
Fight fans can throw that notion out the window, though, because Anthony Johnson apparently decided to ignore his training and diet regimen leading to the bout, and he weighed in at a whopping 197 pounds, 11 pounds over the middleweight limit.
Being the gamer he is, Belfort decided to accept the fight anyway, and he will have to overcome the size difference if he hopes to come out victorious against the bloated Johnson.
Both Johnson and Belfort are brutal strikers with impressive knockout victories on their respective records, but Johnson has the better wrestling game, while Belfort, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, has the better submission game.
While this normally would play heavily into my analysis, I’m expecting Belfort to push the pace and wear out the overweight Johnson early. Belfort will win in an impressive first round fashion over the unprofessional Johnson.
Winner: Vitor Belfort via TKO (rd 1)
Main Event: Jose Aldo (c) vs. Chad Mendes
The champion Aldo, who is on an impressive 13 fight winning streak, will look to make his fifth title defense.
Aldo is an impressive physical specimen with all the tools to go down as one of the greatest fighters in UFC history. He is called the featherweight Anderson Silva, and for good reason. He is equally dangerous standing as he is on the ground, and he has a unique blend of strength and speed that is hard to match. Aldo is on an absolute tear, and Mendes really has his work cut out for him.
While Aldo comes in as the favorite, Mendes has the perfect style to take down the champ. Mendes is a highly skilled wrestler who has yet to really be tested in his MMA career despite fighting guys like Eric Koch and Javier Vasquez.
It’s no secret that a great wrestling base usually leads to success in the MMA world, and Mendes has certainly made the transition smoothly, winning all 11 of his professional bouts.
This fight really reminds me of Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva stylistically, and I see it going similarly. I haven’t seen much from Aldo off his back, though, so I’ll be a little surprised if he catches Mendes in a submission like Silva did late against Sonnen. I’m expecting Mendes to grind out a unanimous decision by utilizing his wrestling and take the belt away from the champ tonight in Rio.
Winner: Chad Mendes via unanimous decision
That’s my breakdown of the main card for UFC 142: Mendes vs Aldo tonight in Rio. Let’s be real here though, MMA is an unpredictable sport where anything can happen, and predicting fights is like predicting Dennis Rodman’s hairstyle (woah, a Rodman reference?!). Nevertheless, there are some great match-ups on the card and I’m expecting a few upsets and a changing of the guard in the featherweight division.
Enjoy the fights; I know I will!