Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is all set to kick off its UFC 148: "Silva vs. Sonnen 2" pay-per-view (PPV) event from the MGM Grand Garden Arena this Saturday night (July 7, 2012) for what is undoubtedly one of the biggest rematches in the history of mixed martial arts (MMA).
While much of the talk surrounding this weekend's rematch centers on the 185-pound headliner, a couple of former champions in the form of Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin will sling leather as "The People's Champion" attempts to ride off into the sunset on a horse named Win.
Elsewhere on the card, Demian Maia goes on a diet, Mike Easton looks to "Hulk" up, Cung Le hopes to avoid predatory lending and Chad Mendes tries to lasso a one-trick pony. Who leaves a hero and who shits the bed?
That answer (and so much more) is just a click away.
Nostradumbass predicts: Chael Sonnen is going to lose to Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 148 tomorrow night in front of millions of MMA fans across the world. And you know what the best part is?
He knows it.
Why do you think he's spent the last two years establishing and cultivating his brand? He wrote a book and opened a pizzeria, but most importantly, he made every combat sports fan on the planet familiar with his name. When you remember MMA from this era, you will remember the name Chael Sonnen.
And when you strip away this dog and pony show he's been peddling, you'll see a calculated business man who's secured himself a future.
Anyone remember talking about Chael Sonnen before he fought Anderson Silva in 2010? If you were, it was probably a conversation about his freak show fight against Paulo Filho in the WEC, or his stunning lack of submission defense.
Is he a good fighter?
Yes, very good, in fact. But he's a choker. He's the Greg Norman of MMA. He had one chance to defeat Silva and that was at UFC 117. "The Spider" was all banged up, looking past Sonnen and fighting to protect against the takedown, allowing himself to get hit at will.
That was the time to get it done, and Sonnen blew it.
This time out, Silva is not only motivated and fired up, he knows he's already survived Sonnen's best and won. As far as confidence goes, these two aren't even on the same plane. Add to that a healthy champion who can move in and out like a gazelle and this one will get ugly fast.
Remember that hot garbage we saw against Michael Bisping?
Let Sonnen try that here -- he'll be staring at the lights in under a minute. I know every Sonnen supporter is in love with the takedown, but let's not pretend the American Wankster was the first guy to ever get the Brazilian to the mat.
Dan Henderson did it. Heck, even Travis Lutter made it happen. How'd that work out for them? And no, Silva hasn't lost a step in his stand up. Ask Vitor Belfort, who's still combing the streets of Las Vegas looking for the rest of his teeth.
But forget about all that.
All you need to know when predicting the outcome of this contest is that Anderson Silva has a history of winning big fights and Chael Sonnen has a history of losing them. Those lines intersected at UFC 117 and the result was no different, nor will it be at UFC 148.
Sorry folks, show's over.
Final prediction: Silva def. Sonnen via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: Oh hey, look, these two are fighting ... uh ... again. This is such a hard fight to get up for because in the grand scheme of things, it has absolutely no impact on the light heavyweight rankings. Let's face it, Tito Ortiz, without question one of the UFC's founding fathers, hasn't been relevant in six years and he's been finished convincingly in his last two fights.
Not that Forrest Griffin has done much better.
The original "Ultimate Fighter" drove a stake though the heart of PRIDE fans everywhere by choking out Mauricio Rua and stripping the 205-pound title from Quinton Jackson. Since then, he's 2-3 with a split decision win over "The People's Champion" and a unanimous decision nod over Rich Franklin, a bloated middleweight.
He followed that up by going to sleep against "Shogun" in Brazil.
So what does this all boil down to? The outcome of this fight will determine whether or not Tito retires from active competition with a win. That's all this is about. The question is, can he use that emotion to pull out the victory one last time?
Both fighters have deteriorated, but Ortiz has fallen the farthest. He's looked progressively worse and while he may say all the right things before each fight, there is nothing in his body of work over the last 12 months that tells me he can ride off into the sunset like he so desperately wants to.
Final prediction: Griffin def. Ortiz via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Patrick Cote (17-7) vs. Cung Le (7-2)
Nostradumbass predicts: I know a lot of fans don't take Cung Le seriously, but I love watching that guy fight. Probably because most of the ahem, "strikers" in our sport are glorified brawlers who either swing for the fences with every punch or do that rock 'em-sock 'em robot thing with their hands.
The problem for the former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion is that he's 40 years old, has arms like a T-Rex and his gas tank is on par with something from Briggs & Stratton. Against a power-puncher like Patrick Cote, that's all but certain doom.
In fact, "The Predator" only needs to make it through the first round of action without getting clipped by one of Le's signature kicks. Easier said than done, but if he can stay out of range and let Professor Pandorum tire himself out, he can recreate the "Axe Murderer" fight from late last year and make his UFC return a triumphant one.
The bottom line for me, is this is Cote's fight to lose.
I don't expect him to get finished, he's way too durable for that. But if he tries to play it safe and turn this into a chess match, he's likely to give up too many points to his opponent, who can dazzle the easily-impressed judges with his fleet feet.
An aggressive Cote is a victorious Cote.
Final prediction: Cote def. Le via knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: It seems kind of foolish to pick Demian Maia to win anything after that putrid performance against Chris Weidman earlier this year, let alone an MMA fight, but I'm doing it anyway because I think we're about to see Maia 1.70.
Assuming he makes weight.
I never like to pick a fighter who is debuting at a lighter weight, especially without seeing them weigh in first, but you don't get to where Maia is in the world of jiu-jitsu without insane discipline and I believe he can drop from 185 pounds and still be effective.
Perhaps even more so.
One of the byproducts of dropping down is your training intensity, which is why B.J. Penn is a killer at lightweight and a doughnut shop employee at welterweight. When you have to hit that lower mark, you stay in shape longer and farther out and maintain that level of cardiovascular fitness.
True, you may lose some power, but Maia wasn't exactly known for having Carwin-esque hands anyway.
Dong Hyun Kim showed he's got the mettle to stick around in this sport because he was clowned-and-pound by Carlos Condit at UFC 132 -- only to come back and look sharper than ever against Sean Pierson just a few months later.
He's a strong and durable 170-pounder with improving hands and top shelf judo, but it just won't be enough. Maia's hands aren't exactly gold gloves, but he's come a long way and can hold his own in the stand up. I do believe this fight eventually makes its way to the floor, even if the Brazilian has to get it there himself, and from there it's academic.
The submission drought ends tomorrow night.
Final prediction: Maia def. Kim via submission
Nostradumbass predicts: Mike Easton is the kind of fighter I find entertaining because he comes out of the gate with bad intentions and just throws serious heat until the fight's over. With that said, there's usually lots of tenacity and plenty of power in lieu of technique.
That's not to suggest he doesn't have skills.
But like most fighters who love the thrill of the battle, "The Hulk" is likely to compromise form in his effort to make Ivan Menjivar taste the canvas. The good news, is "The Pride of El Salvador" will probably oblige.
Easton is 2-0 since graduating to the UFC and the biggest knock on him is he doesn't have any wins over big name opponents (sorry, Doddy). ZUFFA rookie Jared Papazian took him to the limit earlier this year and over half his fights end by way of decision. The reason I'm still picking him is because I believe he can convince the judges he was the busier fighter.
Sometimes, that's all it takes.
Menjivar has more experience and he's been able to win three straight since his UFC return, but he'll be stymied by the more aggressive Easton en route to a close split decision loss. Scoring "Fight of the Night" in the process would not surprise me.
Final prediction: Easton def. Menjivar via split decision
Nostradumbass predicts: UFC matchmaker Joe Silva either really likes Chad Mendes or really dislikes Cody McKenzie. I mean, seriously, I'm supposed to think the "AK Kid,' who was knocked out by Nam Phan and choked unconscious by Yves Edwards, has a shot against probably the second best featherweight in the world?
And don't give me any of that crap about the McKenzie-tine, which is just a rip off of the Swickotine, because Chad Mendes is not some Canadian can of corn mailing it in on the regional scene, nor is he a high school wrestler who pops his head out like a turkey timer when he shoots for a takedown.
They call him "Money" because, well, he is.
The NCAA All-American was bested by Jose Aldo in devastating fashion earlier this year for the first loss in his career, but getting torched by "Junior" at 145-pounds is like getting turned inside out by Anderson Silva at middleweight: It surprises no one.
Outside of the champ, I don't know who in this division can stop him.
If you look at McKenzie's record, over half of his opponents have losing records. Stringing together 11 straight submission wins is impressive, but doing it over guys like Brandon MacArthur, who is 6-21, and Bobby Sanchez, who is 7-20, is not.
This guy couldn't cut the mustard as a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) and when he faced real competition inside the Octagon, he got choked out. Twice. He's a UFC employee because he's funny and quirky and marketable, but he's not in the same league as an athlete like Mendes.
Think I'm being too harsh? Check back with me after Saturday night.
Final prediction: Mendes def. McKenzie via technical knockout
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 148 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Silva vs. Sonnen 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.