Nostalgia doesn't get more violent than this.
After more than six years away, Wanderlei Silva will grace Japanese shores once again this Saturday (March 2, 2013), taking on Brian Stann in the UFC on Fuel TV 8 main event inside the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama. Fellow Pride FC superstar Mark Hunt, looking to continue one of the most unexpected career turnarounds in the history of mixed martial arts (MMA), will also be in action, taking on rising Dutchman Stefan Struve.
As with all FUEL cards, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Facebook page will host a solid set of "Prelims" under card bouts, the first three of which we examined yesterday right here. Today, we breakdown the remaining two that will air live -- and for free -- on Facebook before the FUEL TV event starts at 10 p.m. ET.
Let's get cracking:
185 lbs.: Riki Fukuda vs. Brad Tavares
Fighting out of the Grabaka gym, Riki Fukuda (19-6) has demonstrated former teammate Kazuo Misaki’s legendary grit during his UFC run, most recently grinding down Ricardo Almeida understudy Tom DeBlass in Macau, China, in Nov. 2012. The victory brought Fukuda’s UFC record even (2-2), although many combat sports fans would argue that he deserved the nod against Nick Ring in his Octagon debut.
Fukuda, who owns three wins over Ryuta Sakurai and one over Murilo Rua, has not been finished in more than seven years.
Though he fell to Court McGee during his time on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 11, Brad Tavares (9-1) has quickly established himself as one to watch in the promotion's Middleweight division, going 4-1 since his time on the show with wins over Seth Baczynski and Tom Watson.
Tavares is one inch taller and seven years younger than Fukuda. Four of his wins have come by knockout, but only one of which has transpired under the UFC banner.
Tavares has the wrestling ability to keep this fight standing and a significant advantage at mid and long range; if he can maintain that range, he should be able to win fairly easily. The problem is that while he’s adept at staying on the feet, he’s not great at keeping people from getting to the clinch, which is where Fukuda shines.
Fukuda has a fast, textbook shot, but he does his most damage standing up close, bashing the head and body with tight hooks against the cage. He whittled down Cantwell and deBlass in this fashion even when they managed to deny his takedowns, and I haven’t seen enough from Tavares to convince me he’ll escape this fate.
Brad could definitely take the first, but he’s going to slow down in a hurry once Fukuda starts chiseling away at him, dropping the latter two rounds in increasingly one-sided fashion and giving the crowd something to cheer about.
Prediction: Fukuda by unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Takeya Mizugaki vs. Bryan Caraway
Continuing his streak of alternating wins and losses, which started in 2009, Takeya Mizugaki (16-7-2) bounced back from a questionable decision loss to Chris Cariaso, throttling Jeff Hougland in Macau. Mizugaki -- legendary for his slugfest with Miguel Torres under the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) banner, has been finished just once since 2006 -- a submission loss to Urijah Faber.
While his boxing has historically been the backbone of his game, Mizugaki has recently showcased improved takedown skills, making this match up with the Alpha Male-trained Bryan Caraway an interesting one (17-5).
The knockout loss that "Kid Lightning" suffered to Diego Brandao on TUF 14 was an ignominious one, but he’s bounced back in a big way in the UFC proper, submitting castmate Dustin Neace before securing a come-from-behind rear-naked choke on Mitch Gagnon at UFC 149, marking his fifteenth tapout win and his tenth via that specific submission.
Caraway will enjoy a two-inch height advantage come fight night.
Mizugaki may suffer from a horrible curse that prevents him from putting together a win streak, but if it’s going to end, now is the time. Caraway is lethal with submissions, but only if he finds himself in top position, which is unlikely against Mizugaki. Plus, despite his durability, he doesn’t respond well to pressure, as showcased by Gagnon controlling him against the cage with constant aggression.
Takeya’s boxing is more than sufficient to keep Caraway uncomfortable on the feet and his wrestling should let him dictate position without too much trouble. Look for him to batter the Alpha Male product from pillar to post, roughing him up with tight punching combinations and peppering in a handful of takedowns to seal a unanimous decision victory.
Prediction: Mizugaki by unanimous decision
It ain't Pride FC, but it looks like one hell of a show.
See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire card on fight night (Sat., March 2, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, as well as the main card, which is slated to air at 10 p.m. ET on FUEL TV.