UFC 112 predictions, preview and analysis

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This UFC 112 preview is brought to you by Comcast.

UFC 112: "Invincible" is set to go down this Saturday, April 10, 2010 from the Concert Arena in Ferrari World on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, live via pay-per-view.

Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE updates with blow-by-blow, round-by-round commentary of the main card action on fight night, which is slated to air on PPV at 1 p.m. ET.

To get us pumped for the event, MMAmania.com Editor and Senior Writer, Jesse Holland (that’s me), has once again rallied the troops for a breakdown of the televised main card fights. All your favorite contributors are here, bringing you an in-depth look at each contest.

One of the big stories coming into this event is of course the headlining middleweight title fight between Anderson Silva and Demian Maia. We've pretty much exhausted the whole "Striker vs. Grappler" comparison -- can Maia avoid the same fate he met at the hands of Nate Marquardt?

Also putting his belt up for grabs is unstoppable lightweight champion BJ Penn. Does Frankie Edgar have "The Answer" for "The Prodigy's" seemingly unmatched skill set?

In welterweight action, famed grappler Renzo Gracie makes his UFC debut at the tender age of 43. Will former 170-pound champion Matt Hughes send him back into retirement?

There will certainly be a lot to talk about on Sunday morning.

I’ve also included the current betting lines for each fight so that you can get a feel for what the money has to say about the chances of each combatant.

Now, enough with the formalities … let’s get cracking.

185 lbs.: Anderson "The Spider" Silva (25-4) vs. Demian Maia (12-1)

Spinning Fat Kick predicts: As the headlining bout for the UFC's first Middle Eastern venture, you couldn't ask for a more classic match-up of striker vs. grappler. It's pretty clear what each man needs to do to win this fight and it may well be decided by where the action takes place.

Demian Maia is one of the most highly decorated grapplers to have ever fought within the UFC. Most recently in 2007, the year he joined the organization, he came in first place in the prestigious Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) tournament. There is a very strong argument to suggest that Maia has a sufficient skill set to submit Anderson, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt in his own right under the Nogueira brothers.

However the trouble for Maia is getting the fight to the ground in the first place -- and that's where his plan falls down. He is not known for his wrestling and Anderson is a much bigger and stronger fighter. All in all, Maia really has his work cut out if he is going to execute his plan of submitting "The Spider."

Silva is entering this fight with a level of confidence rarely felt by any fighter in mixed martial arts. He is undefeated in his last 11 outings and is currently ranked by most MMA pundits as the number one pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.

While he had first round issues against Travis Lutter and Dan Henderson, nobody has ever really looked close to finishing him in his UFC career.

I would think that due to Maia's lack of skill on the feet and no clear way to dictate where the fight takes place, Silva shouldn't find it too difficult to add a seventeenth (T)KO victory to his already impressive record.

Betting lines (as of April 9):

Silva: -800 ((Bet Now))

Maia: +500 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Anderson Silva via knockout

155 lbs.: BJ "The Prodigy" Penn (15-5-1) vs. Frankie "The Answer" Edgar (11-1)

MMAmania predicts: The pride of Hilo, Hawaii, BJ Penn, has not lost a fight at 155 pounds since 2002 (Jens Pulver), which is more than eight years.

Former champions Matt Serra and Sean Sherk, as well as top contenders such as Joe Stevenson, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez, have all attempted to dislodge "The Prodigy" from his royal mixed martial arts throne.

And all of them have failed rather remarkably. Serra, in fact, is the only who was able to go the distance; however, it was just a three-round bout.

So will Edgar have "The Answer" on fight night and do what all of the esteemed competition before him could not do by defeating Penn?

No siree Bob.

Edgar has always been on the small side of the lightweight division. He's probably a better fit as a featherweight, but that hasn't stopped him from finding success inside the Octagon against much bigger opponents.

His grit, determination and heart have all helped him prevail just as much as his all-around solid mixed martial arts arsenal.

And he's going to need all of those things to survive for 25 minutes locked inside a cage with Penn. That's because anything Frankie can do, BJ can likely do better.

Boxing? Check. Jiu-jitsu? Check, check.

Wrestling, which is Edgar's strongest attribute, might give him some kind of advantage on paper. But after his losing performance against Gray Maynard, coupled with Penn's legendary takedown defense, it's pretty clear that Penn will likely find a way to cancel it out under the Arabian stars in Abu Dhabi.

I like Edgar to perform well and hang with Penn early on at UFC 112. His stand up improves with each fight and he's demonstrated that he's willing to lose a limb if need be while battling out of a submission (See Griffin, Tyson).

He just doesn't hit hard enough, nor have the size and/or power to bully Penn around the cage. If Sherk was unsuccessful, then I find a hard time believing that Edgar will be able to impose his will on Penn.

There is an "X-factor" in this, which is the outdoor weather conditions. But it's going to take more than Mother Nature, as well as grit, determination and heart, to usurp the king's crown.

Betting lines (as of April 9):

Penn: -750 ((Bet Now))

Edgar: +475 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Penn via championship round submission (rear naked choke) after a highly entertaining three or four rounds.

170 lbs.: Matt Hughes (43-7) vs. Renzo Gracie (13-6-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: I think it might be time for that throaty announcer to stop referring to Matt Hughes as "The most dominant welterweight of all time" now that Georges St. Pierre has hit his stride.

No matter.

Hughes was still a terror for the better part of two years, submitting "Rush" when the Canadian was still wet behind the ears and pounding out a swollen (and oxygen deprived) BJ Penn during their rematch.

And it couldn't have come at a better time.

The UFC transformed itself from the little engine that could to the Empire within that time frame and like the other champions that accompanied him (Franklin, Liddell, Sherk), they were the best that era had to offer.

The man who restored honor and glory to the much under-appreciated country breakfast may not have evolved with the sport -- but neither has the man he meets on April 10.

Simply put, this is a bout that could have taken place five years ago and I don't think it would have played out any differently.

With both fighters, there is very little tucked away in the war chest. What you see is what you get. Renzo Gracie is a gifted grappler. Hughes is a compact wrestler who can bench press a tractor.

Advantage: Hughes.

Dennis Hallman notwithstanding, Hughes has a terrific ground game of his own. It's not on par with Gracie's -- but it doesn't have to be. He only needs to be "good," the power will handle the rest. This is the kind of match-up that made Hughes famous.

And I don't want to pretend that Gracie is some kind of world beater.

Great personality and very likable, but he's 43-years old and hasn't competed since a DQ win over Frank Shamrock in 2007. And before he choked out Pat Miletich in the IFL he was 1-6 over a five year span.

And that was his prime.

Hughes may not be young for the sport, but he's young for the match. I don't agree that he's taking this lightly either. That Miletich loss probably got under his skin and stayed there and stopping Gracie might be the only way to dig it out.

Revenge is a great motivator.

It's also a dangerous ally, as the only way I see Gracie winning this is via Hughes mental mistake. The captain of the H.I.T. squad needs to come in and follow the blueprint. Keep it standing until you no longer have an advantage.

From there it's wrestling 101 with some classic ground and pound. A trademark slam is not unlikely. I'm leaning towards a lopsided decision in favor of Hughes but an early stoppage would not surprise me.

Betting lines (as of April 9):

Hughes: -400 ((Bet Now))

Gracie: +300 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Hughes via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Mark "The Philippine Wrecking Machine" Munoz (7-1) vs. Kendall "Da Spyder" Grove (11-6)

Akimitsu Kuwabara predicts: TUF 3 winner Kendall Grove and WEC transplant Mark  Munoz are back trying to stay relevant in the competitive map of UFC's middleweight division.

Grove earned a submission victory over Jake Rosholt at UFC 106 and looks to maintain his momentum that has ebbed and flowed throughout his UFC career. Munoz, on the other hand, looks for his third consecutive victory since dropping to the middleweight division.

An inevitable occurrence in this fight will be that Grove finds himself dragged to the mat - repeatedly. As evidenced by his recent fights against Jake Rosholt and Ricardo Almeida, Grove has not developed sufficient takedown defense to prevent his opponents from snatching his praying mantis legs and dumping him on the mat.

Munoz, former wrestling standout at Oklahoma State, will undoubtedly try to level him and work his vicious ground and pound that has been the key to many of his victories. If Munoz can swarm Grove, his ferocious flurry will be a nightmare for "Da Spyder," whose chin has failed him against hard hitters such as Patrick Cote and Jorge Rivera.

While clearly the inferior of the two in wrestling department, Grove is the more polished in other aspects of the game. Being more well-rounded than ones opponent does not always guarantee victory in MMA; in this case, however, Munoz's underdeveloped, one-dimensional style leaves numerous holes for Grove to exploit.

Munoz will have no problem scoring takedowns but his limited grappling ability will present difficulties in controlling Grove on the ground. On the feet, Grove can use his reach to frustrate Munoz and inflict damage in the pocket with knees and elbows. He has also proven to be a capable grappler who can work efficiently from his guard.

Munoz's inadequate top control will allow Grove to either scramble back to feet or tie up Munoz with his serpentine legs from the guard whenever he is taken down. Grove will test Munoz's submission defense and it is a matter of time before Munoz succumbs to either triangle choke, arm bar or omoplata.

Betting lines (as of April 9):

Munoz: -200 ((Bet Now))

Grove: +160 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Grove via submission

155 lbs.: Terry Etim (14-2) vs. Rafael dos Anjos (13-4)

James Kimball predicts: A match-up of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt lightweights in Terry Etim and Rafael dos Anjos is on tap for the televised portion of the UFC 112 card.

And in my opinion, it's the toughest fight to call.

24 year-old British submission ace Etim holds a 14-2 professional career mark and is currently riding a four-fight win streak. During his three years with the promotion he has gone 5-2 inside the Octagon with four of those wins coming via tap out.

Not bad.

A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, dos Anjos has gone 13-4 in his career coming into this bout with a meager 2-2 win-loss record in the UFC.

While Etim's record is just a tad more impressive than dos Anjos' in terms of numbers, it's the competition he has faced to date that gives him the edge here. Sure he lost back-to-back bouts to Gleison Tibau and Rich Clementi, but that was two long years ago.

Both guys are obviously well versed in the ground game so a grappling match could theoretically go either way. Terry however, holds a significant advantage when it comes to length and reach. And while I wouldn't exactly call it a strength of Etim's, I do think his Muay Thai could play an integral role in this one.

Neither fighter is easy to finish as Etim has never been stopped while dos Anjos' only defeat that wasn't via decision came by way of a vicious uppercut knockout at the hands of Jeremy Stephens that would put a halt to most every fighter's night in the UFC's lightweight division.

Basically, I see this being a battle which guy can outlast the other. And though Terry does possess more ways to pull out a victory than Rafael, I do not foresee this fight ending before the third round comes to a conclusion.

Sure, it may be not be the "edgy" pick you Maniacs are looking for, but I calls it how I sees it.

Betting lines (as of April 9):

Etim: -150 ((Bet Now))

Dos Anjos: +120 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Etim via unanimous decision

That’s a wrap, folks.

Remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of UFC 112: "Invincible."

What do you think? Now it’s your turn … let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for Saturday’s event.

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