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MMA World Cup: Middleweight Elimination Round

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OAKLAND CA - AUGUST 07:  Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen
OAKLAND CA - AUGUST 07: Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen

Into a middling morass descended one of the greatest fighters in MMA history. The 185 pound division didn't have a story before Anderson Silva joined the UFC, destroying Chris Leben and everyone else Joe Silva could find to put in his path. The weight class had seen a succession of forgettable and replaceable champions prior to Silva - what will we see when he finally departs? And a more pertinent question - now in his late 30's,, is there a chance he is beatable in this world cup? The list:

  1. Brazil: Anderson Silva
  2. USA: Chael Sonnen
  3. Asia/AUS: Yushin Okami
  4. Europe: Michael Bisping
  5. Soviet: Mamed Khalidov
  6. Canada: Denis Kang

Removing Silva and Sonnen, as the top two seeds get a bye, leaves us with the following matchups:

3. Yushin Okami vs. 6. Denis Kang

My Take: Kang went just one for three in a disappointing UFC tenure. Before that, he was thought to be among the world's best. Okami, who will finally get a second chance at Anderson Silva in Rio later this year, has added a solid jab to an already superlative ground game. I like Okami here and don't think it gets out of the first round.

4. Michael Bisping vs. 5. Mamed Khalidov

My Take: Khalidov came onto many people's radar when he upset Jorge Santiago in Sengoku. Santiago got his win back in a controversial decision, but there is no doubt that Khalidov is one of the very best in the world not under the Zuffa umbrella. This is closer than people might expect, but I think Bisping is too good and has been in with a higher level of competition. He'll weather an early storm to win; but this might be one of the most competitive first round matches in the whole cup.

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