PRIDE never die.
This Saturday (Nov. 19, 2011), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will blitz the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., bringing one hell of a main event match up along for the ride.
Former light heavyweight champion and Pride FC Middleweight Grand Prix winner, Mauricio Rua, fresh off of a brutal first round stoppage of Forrest Griffin, will take on former two-division Pride FC champion Dan Henderson in what promises to be a spectacular battle between mixed martial arts (MMA) legends.
In addition, local favorite Cung Le will make his Octagon debut after a year away from the sport, facing the great "Axe Murderer," Wanderlei Silva. And that’s not even the half of it.
The promotion is also bringing fight fans a stacked preliminary card, featuring fan favorites like Matt Brown, Miguel Torres and Ryan Bader, among others. Yesterday, we examined the portion of the "Prelims" under card that will air on Facebook (read the complete preview right here).
Join us after the jump for a look at the two fights that will air on Spike TV, which will lead into the pay-per-view (PPV) main card.
205 lbs.: Ryan Bader vs. Jason Brilz
Sometimes, life just sucks.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner Ryan Bader (12-2), fresh off of wins over respected veterans Keith Jardine and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, was paired up against fellow mega-prospect Jon Jones at UFC 126. Unfortunately for the former Arizona State University (ASU) wrestling standout, Jones had no intention of letting anyone stop his rise to the top, and "Darth" found himself absolutely dominated in every area before tapping to a guillotine in the second round. As a rebound fight, he was paired against the fading Tito Ortiz, but found himself in a strikingly similar situation, getting rocked and guillotined early in the first round. With many questioning whether he was ever great to begin with, Bader needs a win Saturday night if he wants to stay relevant.
Pretty much nobody gave Jason Brilz (18-4-1) a snowball’s chance in hell when he was selected as a late-notice replacement for Forrest Griffin against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 114, and for good reason -- the Brazilian legend had just finished absolutely obliterating Luiz Cane, then considered one of the bigger prospects at 205. Surprising everyone involved, "The Hitman" gave Nogueira everything he could handle. And despite the judges’ unfavorable scorecards, won the fight in the eyes of many. He was unable to parlay that momentum into further success, however, as Belarusian veteran Vladimir Matyushenko pasted him in a mere 20 seconds. Now, with only one win in his last three and ZUFFA more cut-happy than ever, Brilz will likely be fighting for his career against the hard-hitting TUF veteran.
Brilz got a lot of exposure for giving Nogueira all he could handle, but make no mistake, this is absolutely another rebound fight for Bader. Barring another freak early finish, Brilz really has very few avenues of victory here. Bader’s the stronger man, the better wrestler (even if he’s completely incapable of properly setting up his shots), and the harder puncher. Again, pretty much the same things were said before his fight with Ortiz, but I still consider that fight a major anomaly, and Brilz doesn’t have anywhere near the grappling pedigree of the "Huntington Beach Bad Boy."
The transitive property of chins doesn’t work in MMA, I’ll grant you, but getting shellacked by Matyushenko -- who is a very good fighter, but will never be mistaken for a knockout artist -- raises some pretty serious red flags. I’ve never been high on Bader, but by all rights, he should take this in fairly one-sided fashion. I’m of the opinion that a fighter will reinvent himself after two losses rather than one, since it’s pretty hard to claim you "just got caught" twice in a row, and the new and potentially-improved Bader will simply be too much for Brilz.
Prediction: Bader via second round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Michael McDonald vs. Alex Soto
From the fists of babes come painful knockouts.
The youngest man in the UFC, bantamweight mega-prospect Michael McDonald (13-1), 20, hit the ground running when he was brought into the UFC’s new bantamweight division, defeating unbeaten Edwin Figueroa with a cavalcade of submission attempts and brutal strikes. While his short-notice decision win over Chris Cariaso was anything but definitive, "Mayday," who had yet to leave the second round before his UFC debut, still demonstrated prodigious talent, and great things are still expected of the hard-hitting Californian.
Former infantryman and current dolphin trainer (seriously), Soto (6-01), is replacing Brazilian prospect Johnny Eduardo on just 10 days’ notice. Soto, who debuted in 2009, is coming off a draw against DEEP veteran Seiji Akao, a man with a massive experience advantage. Despite his late start, Soto has been keeping busy, having fought twice in 2011 already. The Tijuana native has a massive opportunity in front of him against the fast-rising McDonald and has no intention of letting it go to waste.
I’ll be the first to admit that McDonald’s "win" over Chris Cariaso was pretty debatable; Michael seemed to have considerable trouble generating offense, and his inability to stop a bafflingly sloppy Edwin Figueora was less-than-inspiring.
I still say he wins this.
Unlike a lot of undefeated guys, Soto hasn’t been taking it easy; Akao had three times the number of fights Soto had, and Alex was actually scheduled to face former Sengoku champion Masanori Kanehara on the nineteenth. Legit though his record may be, the short notice and the obvious talent that McDonald possesses have me leaning towards the American kickboxing specialist. This has the potential to be an excellent fight, but now that the alliterative prospect has more experience going all three rounds, he’ll come out on top.
Prediction: McDonald via second round technical knockout
We've got a card stacked top-to-bottom to cap off a four-week stretch of UFC mayhem.
Life is good, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC 139, beginning with the preliminary card bouts on Facebook scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET. In addition, we will also provide LIVE, real-time results of the main card action as it happens throughout the evening this upcoming weekend.