Date: Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 9 p.m. ET on PPV
Location: HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami
Brent Brookhouse - I’m not the only one who thinks that Okami has looked steadily less impressive since jabbing Linhares’ face off, am I? He has looked less and less effective and done less and less in getting his wins. Also, the memory of Rich Franklin walking back to his corner and saying that Okami really wasn’t that strong is sticking with me. Silva is a better fighter than Okami and I don’t really see any reason he can’t finish him anywhere the fight ends up. Anderson Silva by TKO, round two.
Mike Fagan - This is the sort of fight where every reasonable person has Anderson Silva as a huge favorite and you have a bunch of people asking “Why don’t you give Okami a chance?” and then when Okami wins those latter people are all “SEE! MMA IS SO UNPREDICTABLE!” Anderson is a 5-1 favorite. That gives Okami about a 16% chance of winning. And that’s about right. So there is a chance, it’s small, and the reasons for that can be found by watching their first fight. Anderson Silva by TKO, round three.
Leland Roling - There isn’t anything in Okami’s most recent performances to suggest that he can “Sonnen” his way to victory on Saturday night. His stand-up has improved, but who really believes it will act as a means to winning this fight? Nobody. Okami isn’t a thoroughbred takedown machine either. He’ll have problems pressing Anderson to the ground, and Silva should feast on the openings that Okami gives him at close range. Anderson Silva via KO.
KJ Gould - Okami is being overlooked, as always. Silva is the safe bet but I think Okami has the tools to get the job done. The problem is I don’t see him finishing the fight and in that regard Silva has more tools in his belt. His submission defense is good enough to survive Silva on the ground, and he’s shown an ability to keep a fight grounded using fundamental wrestling technique to do so against other skilled BJJ players. Combine that with training solidly with Chael Sonnen and I think we could see the first UFC belt to go back to Japan. Okami by Decision.
Staff picking Silva: Tim, Fraser, Anton, Leland, Brookhouse, Fagan, Roth
Staff picking Okami: KJ
Mauricio Rua vs. Forrest Griffin
Brent Brookhouse - Round one probably decides the entire fight. If Rua catches Forrest early he can get the stoppage and the win. But if it gets to the second round I don’t see any way that Rua’s cardio is suddenly drastically improved over the previous times we’ve seen him in the Octagon. Add my distrust of Rua’s knee to my concerns about his cardio and you can see why I favor Forrest here. Griffin also is massive for 205 and if he can make Rua carry that weight for any length of time it’s only going to serve to exhaust Shogun. Forrest Griffin by decision.
Mike Fagan - As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m most interested in the storylines here. Is Rua’s knee holding up? Is he in shape? How much does Forrest still want to fight? How close are both these guys to the end of their career? I’m a little surprised that not only did the betting line open at 2-1 for Rua, but that the action has come in steady on him. Disregarding the injury concerns, Forrest is a huge light heavyweight, and we’ve already seen him outwork and outgrapple “Shogun” in the past. Eduardo Alonso and Mauricio are denying the injury reports, but these things always seem to be a case of smoke/fire. Forrest Griffin by decision.
Fraser Coffeen - This one comes almost entirely down to the intangibles, just like it did the last time they fought. For Shogun - is he healthy and in the proper condition? For Forrest - is he motivated and focused? Last time Shogun came in not 100% prepared, but based on interviews, I think this time it’s Forrest who is not fully in the game. Mauricio Rua by TKO
KJ Gould - You’ve got two of the most high profile hit’n’miss fighters in recent years in a rematch. Gah. Shogun had the rust well and truly beaten out of him against Jones and he usually comes back strong after a bad loss. Forrest has been out for a lot longer even if he is a workhorse in the gym. I’ll go Shogun this time around. Rua by TKO.
Staff picking Rua: Tim, Fraser, Leland, KJ.
Staff picking Griffin: Anton, Fagan, Brookhouse, Roth
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Brendan Schaub
Brent Brookhouse - I don’t buy that Nogueira is healthy and there is no doubting that Schaub has the more promising future. But I never pick against Nogueira, he is one of the biggest reasons for my being the MMA fan that I am today and as such I will always be an unabashed fanboy when discussing his fights. I’ve seen him pull off wins in more improbable situations than this and I don’t care that his legendary chin has faded, I refuse to accept that Schaub can knock him out. Nogueira, in Brazil, submits the youngster and we all celebrate. Nogueira by submission, round 2.
Mike Fagan - Nogueira subbing Schaub, in his first fight in Brazil and after an 18-month layoff, would be one of the greatest moments in MMA history. If we’re being honest, though, Nogueira hasn’t looked good since his UFC debut against Herring. (And for the final time, diving into a headkick doesn’t outweigh the other 14 minutes Nogueira dominated that fight.) Maybe Nogueira’s healthy, maybe the talk about “rushing back” is a ruse. Seemly unlikely to me. Brendan Schaub by TKO, round one.
Leland Roling - Nogueira has been resurrected from the dead. I don’t know the details, but I’m assuming an entire cemetery was exhumed to fix his broken body. What a total waste of time. It still won’t fix the fact that he hasn’t fought in over a year-and-a-half, and Schaub has polished his skills by beating on mediocre talent. I’ll still take the latter over an aging legend who doesn’t have much left in the tank. Brendan Schaub via TKO.
Anton Tabuena - The doctors said it couldn’t be done, but Big Nog still rushed his recovery just so he can fight in Rio. Even if his injuries that required multiple surgeries have healed 100%, which is pretty doubtful already, will he be the same fighter? Will he still have the same conditioning, timing, and movement? I really doubt it. Big Nog is the oldest 35-year-old in the world, and I think Schaub will make him look bad. Brendan Schaub by TKO.
Staff picking Nogueira: Tim, Brent
Staff picking Schaub: Fraser, Anton, Leland, Fagan, Roth
Ross Pearson vs. Edson Barboza
Brent Brookhouse - Pearson is a live dog here, but he lacks the explosive ability of Barboza. I don’t see Ross being able to win enough of the fight to take a decision and I don’t think he has the stopping power to win in a shootout. Edson Barboza by TKO, round three.
Mike Fagan - Pearson’s one of the few Brits that I think have staying power in the UFC. Barboza’s better enough in all areas though. Edson Barboza by decision.
Leland Roling - Pearson isn’t quite dynamic enough to keep up with Barboza on the feet. His tedious style will open up as Barboza’s diverse repertoire of attacks does damage, and that will cause Pearson to get wild as he attempts to catch up on the scorecards. Edson Barboza via TKO.
Fraser Coffeen - Pearson will make this a competitive fight, but Barboza’s striking is just on a different level. Expect to see his full arsenal here, hopefully in a showing that turns some heads. Edson Barboza via TKO
Staff picking Pearson: KJ
Staff picking Barboza: Tim, Fraser, Anton, Leland, Fagan, Brookhouse, Roth
Luiz Cane vs. Stanislav Nedkov
Brent Brookhouse - I can absolutely see Nedkov working takedowns and grinding out a win here, but I just think Cane blasts him on the feet very early and ends it before he has the chance to get inside. I hope I’m right because a slow grinding top game win from Nedkov is going to upset the crowd. Luiz Cane by TKO, round one.
Mike Fagan - Stanislav Nedkov is right handed. Luiz Cane by TKO, round two.
Leland Roling - Nedkov has the striking game of a drunken bar patron on a Friday night, but his relentless wrestling ability is enough to stifle Cane. If Cane’s go-for-broke aggression on the feet doesn’t end Nedkov’s night instantly, Nedkov will pummel right through his takedown defense and grind his way to victory. Stanislav Nedkov via decision.
Fraser Coffeen - I’m torn here, because I like Nedkov’s ground game, but I have trouble getting past that year-plus lay off for him. But still, he should be able to drag Cane down and grind it out. Stanislav Nedkov by Decision
Staff picking Cane: Tim, Anton, KJ, Fagan, Brookhouse, Roth
Staff picking Nedkov: Leland, Fraser
Thiago Tavares vs. Spencer Fisher
Brent Brookhouse - Tavares is too strong for Fisher to beat as long as Thiago decides to do the smart thing and work for takedowns. Tavares should be able to spend at least two rounds on top landing enough punches to get the win. Thiago Tavares by decision.
Mike Fagan - Pink slip on a pole match. Fisher’s going to do that thing where he avoids takedowns and throws punches. There’s some rhyme for it... Spencer Fisher by decision.
Leland Roling - I’m not high on either fighter. If Tavares were smart though, he’d dive for takedowns at will and hope he can keep Fisher down for the count. Fisher will put up a tremendous fight, but I think he’ll inevitably tire from the constant pressure Tavares will put him under on the floor. Thiago Tavares via decision.
KJ Gould - Tavares strikes me as becoming the David Terrell of his division, if he’s not already; early career promise that’s fizzled out and probably won’t return. Fisher is too experienced and too tough to let Tavares get away with any mistakes especially on the feet. Fisher by Decision.
Staff picking Tavares: Tim, Fraser, Leland, Brookhouse, Roth
Staff picking Fisher: KJ, Fagan, Anton
Rousimar Palhares vs. Dan Miller
Brent Brookhouse - Miller is tough, but toughness usually isn’t enough to win fights against guys who are better than you. Rousimar Palhares by submission, round one.
Mike Fagan - I love watching the Miller brothers, but this is not a great fight for Dan. He’s too willing to spend time on his back, and that’s a bad habit with a guy like Palhares. Rousimar Palhares by decision.
Leland Roling - Dan Miller isn’t his brother Jim. He finds himself in precarious positions on the ground, and Rousimar Palhares is not the man you want to be with on the ground. He’s well known for his leglocks, but Palhares is a complete grappler. He’ll school Dan Miller in this contest. Rousimar Palhares via submission.
Tim Burke - This one is so hard to pick. Both of these guys are amongst my favorite fighters and have been through so much. Miller is tough as nails and good in all areas, but he’s not going to be able to manhandle a tree stump. He will survive to the final bell though, with both legs firmly in place. Rousimar Palhares by decision.
Staff picking Palhares: Tim, Fraser, Anton, Leland, Fagan, Brookhouse
Staff picking Miller: Roth
Paulo Thiago vs. David Mitchell
Brent Brookhouse - If David Mitchell wins, I’ll be shocked. Paulo Thiago by TKO.
Mike Fagan - Gimme fight to get Thiago in Brazil and back on track. Paulo Thiago by decision.
Anton Tabuena - David Mitchell isn’t Jon Fitch, Diego Sanchez, or Martin Kampmann. Paulo Thiago via Brasil.
KJ Gould - Thiago has heavy hands and bad intentions. He also has a really good ground game, and you can tell just by looking at his Sam The Eagle face nothing could ever faze him. He’s just more talented and experienced than Mitchell, it’s as simple as that. Thiago by full on armed tactical response TKO.
Staff picking Thiago: Tim, Fraser, Anton, Leland, KJ, Fagan, Brookhouse, Roth
Staff picking Mitchell:
Raphael Assuncao vs. Johnny Eduardo
Brent Brookhouse - Eduardo shouldn’t be a problem for Assuncao here. Raphael Assuncao by submission, round one.
Mike Fagan - Hm. There sure are a lot of Brazilians on this card. Raphael Assuncao by submission, round two.
Tim Burke - I will continue to be a card-carrying member of the Raphael Assuncao fan club as long as he’s still in the UFC. Yes, he got knocked out by Erik Koch, but that surprised nearly everyone. Eduardo’s been around forever, but this fight is taylor-made for Assuncao to debut at bantamweight in fine fashion. Raphael Assuncao by submission.
Staff picking Assuncao: Tim, Anton, Leland, Fraser, Gould, Fagan, Brookhouse, Roth
Staff picking Eduardo:
Erick Silva vs. Luis Ramos
Mike Fagan - Ramos is on short notice. Silva has a more impressive record. Erick Silva by decision.
Leland Roling - Late notice for Ramos, and Erick Silva is stylistically better. Look for Silva to methodically break down Ramos’ defenses on the feet before finishing late. Erick Silva via submission.
Anton Tabuena - Brasil! Brasil! ...Oh wait, they’re both Brazilians? Hmm... Seriously though, Erick Silva is just better. Period. Erick Silva by a dominant Decision.
KJ Gould - Not all Silvas are created equally. But this one is still pretty good. Full training camp plus more active versus late notice replacement? You know the drill. Silva by Decision.
Staff picking Silva: Tim, Anton, Leland, Fraser, KJ, Fagan, Brookhouse, Roth
Staff picking Ramos:
Yuri Alcantara vs. Felipe Arantes
Brent Brookhouse - The guys below me really nailed it. In this kind of situation, you pick the better fighter. Yuri Alcantara by TKO, round two.
Mike Fagan - Arantes Fight Finder profiles has pictures of him in a cowboy hat and grappling pants, two pieces of MMA fashion that I cannot and will not stand for. Yuri Alcantara by decision.
Leland Roling - Alcantara has fought much tougher competition over the course of his career, and he’s finished most of that opposition impressively. Yuri Alcantara via submission.
Anton Tabuena - Again, it all boils down to who has looked impressive against much better competition. Yuri Alcantara by TKO.
Staff picking Alcantara: Tim, Anton, Leland, Fraser, KJ, Fagan, Brookhouse, Roth
Staff picking Arantes:
Yves Jabouin vs. Ian Loveland
Brent Brookhouse - Something smells funny when I see pretty much everyone picking against the -200 favorite. But I’ll follow the pack. Yves Jabouin by decision.
Mike Fagan - This seems like some sort of punchline. Every fight on the card involves a Brazilian, except this one. Why do you take this away from us, Dana White? Yves Jabouin by decision.
Tim Burke - Loveland is the favorite here, but I’m not quite sure why. Jabouin has a fierce striking game and it should be even better at bantamweight. Loveland is more than the sum of his parts, but his wrestling isn’t good enough to take over this fight. Loveland is super tough to knock out though. Yves Jabouin by decision.
KJ Gould - This is a clear sign of matchmaking and card booking to warm the crowd up from the first fight onwards, and for that we should thank Loveland for sacrificing himself against Jabouin for our visceral delight. Jabouin by TKO.
Staff picking Jabouin: Tim, Leland, Fraser, Gould, Fagan, Brookhouse, Roth
Staff picking Loveland: Anton