Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back, yet again, with another mixed martial arts (MMA) event for what is turning into a total logjam of fights over the course of this very busy weekend in combat sports.
Coming out of the chute is the UFC 147: "Silva vs. Franklin 2" pay-per-view (PPV) event, going down live tomorrow night (June 23, 2012) from the Estadio Jornalista Felipe Drumond in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Headlining the card will be a rematch between Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin, who apparently have a score to settle (at a catchweight of 190 pounds) after a close unanimous decision win for "Ace" at UFC 99 just a few years ago.
If that doesn't whet your appetite, than how about tuning into see the conclusion of a reality show series you didn't bother to watch? At least we have what should be an interesting battle in the heavyweight division pitting Fabricio Werdum vs. Mike Russow.
After the jump, our own Patrick Stumberg will join me in breaking down the main card for UFC 147. Who wins? Who loses? Who cares?
See for yourself.
Nostradumbass predicts: Back in August 2006, Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva were two of the most dominant fighters in their respective divisions. "Ace" ruled the 185-pound roost under the UFC banner while "The Axe Murderer" terrorized the 205-pound ranks of PRIDE.
It's hard not to look a them locking up tomorrow night without sense of nostalgia ... and sadness.
That's because both warriors have crossed the 35-year-old mark and have six additional years of wear and tear on their bodies. Wandy's chin has folded up like a Trapper Keeper and Franklin is wearing a bowl of squid ink fettuccine on his head. I tell ya' ... the man is either brain damaged or without mirrors.
They managed to hook 'em up halfway between where they were then and where they are now. Not much has changed as far as the rematch is concerned. "Ace" is still the more technical striker while Wandy's Brazilian bumrush can still topple hapless middle-of-the-packers.
So who gets it done on fight night?
My brain says Franklin but my heart says Wandy. Mr. Mop Top can't seem to get through a fight without breaking a bone and he's stepping in on short notice. Silva is about as sturdy as peanut brittle at this stage of his career but I don't think he's in danger of being knocked out here.
Screw it, I'm going with the "feel good" pick.
Final prediction: Silva def. Franklin via technical knockout -- and three people are trampled to death in the ensuing celebration
Nostradumbass predicts: You really can't knock Mike Russow, even if his performances leave a lot to be desired. He was getting worked by Todd Duffee before landing one on the button and his willingness to jump in Jon Olav Einemo's guard didn't mean very much since "The Viking" was out of breath in the first minute.
I won't go as far to say he's been lucky, as nobody is "lucky" enough to go 15-1, but he's been smart enough and durable enough to capitalize on the many shortcomings of his opponents.
That's not gonna happen in Brazil.
Fabricio Werdum is a heart attack on the ground -- but we knew that already. What we didn't know is just how far his Muay Thai had come, until he used Roy Nelson as his personal bop bag at UFC 143 earlier this year. Seriously, that was one of the better ass kickings I've seen at heavyweight in the past couple of years that didn't end in a knockout.
With that in mind, I'm not sure I can find a place where Russow has the advantage. Not only does he have to go to Werdum's backyard, he must also try to find a way to avoid the clinch, stay off the ground and not run out of gas. That's a pretty tall order for any fighter -- and let's not forget his one loss came by way of submission.
Russow has a ton of heart and is unassumingly crafty, but he's getting creamed on Saturday night.
Final prediction: Werdum def. Russow via submission
Patrick Stumberg predicts: Ferreira is like a cut-rate masseuse two days from retirement: he just rubs me the wrong way. Whether it's his blatant ass-kissing of Vitor, his obvious preferential treatment at his hands, or his high-and-mighty attitude, I just can't stand the guy.
Keep that in mind as I call an upset.
Ferreira's knockout of Thiago Perpetuo was pretty awesome, I admit, but it doesn't erase my memory of the whooping he was receiving at the hands of Leonardo Macarrao (who he dwarfed by an obscene margin) on the feet, nor the difficulty he was having getting into the house in the first place against Gustavo Sampaio.
Ferreira's strength lies in his grappling game, which is eclipsed badly by "Serginho's." He should have a striking advantage despite the aforementioned issues, but lacking his customary monstrous height advantage, I don't expect him to be able to keep Moraes at bay enough to stay standing.
If Daniel Sarafian was fighting "Mutante," he'd be picking bits of Ferreira out of his teeth for weeks. This won't be that brutal, but Moraes is eventually going to wrangle him down and choke him out, becoming the first ever TUF competitor to get knocked out in the course of the show and win anyway.
Final prediction: Moraes def. Ferreira via submission
Patrick Stumberg predicts: It seems like every time someone comes into the TUF house with more hype behind him than any of his associates (cough cough Justin Lawrence cough), he gets taken out by some scrappy underdog. It was almost surprising that "Jason" made it to the finals with the kind of hype he had behind him.
Won't be surprising when he takes out "Pepey."
There's mediocre standup, there's limited standup, and then there's "Pepey's." He doesn't so much strike as hop around waiting to shoot a takedown. Sure, he's downright nasty once he gets the fight to the ground, but he relies on volume of takedowns rather than setting them up, although he will occasionally try something out of left field (see his flying scissor heel hook attempt on "Vina").
"Jason" needs a bit of work himself in the standup, but he's fast and powerful, not to mention exponentially more technical than "Pepey."
Even if Pepey does drag it to the ground, Bezerra is damn slick himself, meaning "Pepey" isn't really safe anywhere he goes. Not that it matters; he's going to run headlong into one of Bezerra's knees before he even gets a chance.
Final prediction: Bezerra def. Pepey via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: This is the best fight you're not talking about. Of course that has to do with the fact that most of us aren't talking about this card, period, but as far as exciting match-ups are concerned, this is one you don't want to miss.
Alacantra and Dias, since late 2009, are a combined 21-0 with 16 finishes. "Barnabe" hasn't been able to strut his stuff inside the Octagon just yet, but has been content with massacring the competition under the Shooto banner. "Marajo," meanwhile, is 3-0 as a Zuffa employee with one win in the WEC before graduating to the big leagues.
The only case you can make against their accomplishments is that neither fighter has been tasked with facing top shelf competition. That's about to change after this fight because whoever leaves victorious is going to make a major statement in a division starving for contenders.
When push comes to shove, I have to side with Alacantra.
He's got a little more experience, a little better finishing rate and a pair of fights already under his belt in the UFC. It isn't much, but when you're in a fight that's so evenly matched, sometimes all it takes is something little to push you over the top.
Prediction: Alacantra def. Dias via unanimous decision
That's a wrap, folks.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC 147 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Silva vs. Franklin 2."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.