Las Vegas, Nevada will be invaded by the World's largest Mixed Martial Arts organization as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) brings it's big dogs, and Lightweight strap to the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 1st, 2011. To help you get into the mood I have once again decided to do the predictions column in a slightly different then normal fashion as I will break down 2 fights a day from the PPV card leading to Friday in which I will break down how I feel the Main Event between Lightweight Champion Frankie 'The Answer Edgar, and the only man to beat him thus far, Gray 'The Bully' Maynard will play out.
Today is the second installment, therefore we will be focusing on Chris Leben as he looks to get his name back in to the Middleweight contention category with a win over Greg Jackson camp member Brian Stann. Also we'll dive in to a match that could have severe consequences for the loser, as Brandon Vera tries to avoid getting clobbered by Thiago Silva, and keep his job as a poor perfomance resulting in a loss could get one of these two their walking papers.
THIAGO SILVA vs BRANDON VERA
Brandon Vera has lost 5 of his last 8, and 6 of his last 9 should he fall short come Saturday. Not exactly a record to boast about come contract renewal time. Especially when you take into consideration that his only 3 wins in this stint are over Krzysztof Soszynski, Mike Patt, and Reese Andy. In fact, I'd go so far as to say keeping his job after a loss Saturday, would be nothing short of miraculous.
Thiago Silva on the other hand should have a much better chance staying employed with the UFC following a loss because he's lost 2 of his last 3, but they were to Light Heavyweights that are still ranked in the top 5. Thiago Silva is also known to have a much more crowd pleasing style then that of Brandon Vera, whom of which started off string, but has seemingly lost his spontaneity more and more each fight.
As the saying goes though 'you don't get fired for a win'. So I still see this coming down to Thiago Silva swinging wildly looking to end it, while Brandon Vera looks for sweeps and tie ups to slow and wear both the patience and gas tank of Thiago Silva. I usually do give the upper hand to the pace controller in these types of match ups, as counting on the 'one punch ends it all' plan is often counter productive. Pun intended. But in this particular fight I do see Thiago Silva still being able to get the better of Vera. Thiago is still showing that he can grow as he learns from defeat, while Vera has shown he may have plateaued as of late.
Look for Thiago's flurries to land their mark early, but a game Vera will slow this considerably early on. A lot of scrambling will be done by Brandon as he tries to adjust to different levels to avoid 'the big kabosh' from a thunderous overhand right on the chin. Vera's leg kicks will have run their course early on as Silva braves them, and pushes forward landing stiff jabs that will stun Vera enough that his last ditch efforts will be to take it to the mat. Vera will be too overwhelmed from the terminator like presence of a fresh first round Thiago Silva, and won't be able to survive the onslaught as he takes this to the floor. From his back Vera will be looking for the wildly flying arms of a bent over Thiago as Silva rains down shots. Vera will not find the submission from the bottom, and if a referee isn't on the ball to intervene, Vera will sleep.
***Thiago Silva by way of Knockout in Rd. 1***
CHRIS LEBEN vs BRIAN STANN
Chris Leben has shown the want to grow and become more then a walking zombie who can absorb shots. He still has a lot of the old traits that make him a fan favorite to watch. The thing is, now he's added a little more control. And if anyone on here says they had Leben taking Akiyama by triangle choke, I'd love to hear it. That was really one of the more entertaining fights I've witnessed, and showed a real presence of mind that up until that point, I wasn't so sure Leben possessed. Accompany that with the concrete head Chris has, and you got a man who can continue to keep getting better. The problem is Brian Stann is in his way.
Now I'm not saying that Stann is some sort of lock here in any way. Just that he is a member of Greg Jackson's camp, and he is a strong wrestler with a fantastic physique. And even though Leben found that triangle from the bottom, I don't feel he'd do the same against Stann, should Stann use his physical advantage and wrestling pedigree to put Leben where he's weakest... The bottom.
I simply do not see any possible way that Stann isn't able to take top control at least momentarily, and early on. If this is the case, how will Leben react to scrambling back to his feet? Will he be able to? Can he whether the storm long enough? The answer is yes. Leben's problem isn't being pounded out from the top, but its usually being submitted, or ridden out for 15 minutes. Stann has one submission to his record, and he lacks the professional experience to keep a growing fighter in Leben down for too long.
Look for Stann to control the majority of the first round from the top while looking for openings to finish Leben with punches and have the referee step in after seeing enough. But when this option diminishes as the round ticks away, the perspiration from the two will enhance, and play in to Leben's favor. In the 2nd the stand up will favor Leben more heavily now, and allow some stuffs, and may even allow Leben to pull his leg out of the odd single leg from Stann. Should Stann be able to tackle Leben, I feel it will be against the cage, and Leben will slip away by keeping his back on the fence and struggling to his feet. As this happens and the fight ages, look for that jaw rattling combo that will see less then 50% of 'The Cripplers' shots land, but still have plenty enough damage in the ones that do, to end this one later on.
***Chris Leben by way of Technical Knockout in Rd.2***
Be sure to head back again Friday (tomorrow) to see the fight breakdown as I see it, when Gray Maynard looks to repeat his win over current Lightweight Champion Frank Edgar this Saturday night (January 1st).
But first, let me know how you see these bouts playing out? Am I out of my mind, or am I on par? Let's hear it blackbelts. Cause these two fights should be great. You're darn tootin.
For more stories like these visit mondaymorningblackbelt.com
or to comment on this article click here
Thanks for your time guys.