Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back for its annual Memorial Day Weekend extravaganza, putting its heavyweight hurters front and center for this Saturday night's (May 25, 2013) UFC 160: "Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2" pay-per-view (PPV) event, which takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
I like that boom boom pow.
Antonio Silva got himself a second shot at Cain Velasquez by burying Alistair Overeem earlier this year, his second straight violent finish following a knockout win over Travis Browne last October. That's the blueprint Junior dos Santos hopes to follow as he looks to punish Mark Hunt for getting stripped of the title at UFC 155.
That's not all.
Gray Maynard wants a shot at Ben Henderson and will likely get one if he's able to turn away fellow top lightweight contender T.J. Grant. And how many fights away from the title is Glover Teixeira? That all depends on how well he fares against rising super-slugger James Te Huna.
One fighter who knows a thing or two about wearing gold is K.J. Noons.
The part-time professional pugilist will jerk the curtain opposite Donald Cerrone in what could mark the "King's" final reign. Noons has dropped two straight and has to face the wrath of "Cowboy," who is likely itching to erase the memory of his crushing loss to Anthony Pettis on FOX.
If you like hands, then UFC 160 is for you.
Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 160 fight card on fight night (May 25, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 6:35 p.m. ET, right on through the FX-televised undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card PPV action, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.
Nostradumbass predicts: Under normal circumstances, I would despise Antonio Silva. This man cost me money against Fedor Emelianenko AND Alistair Overeem, two fighters who I believed were superior to "Bigfoot" until he smashed them to pieces.
The truth is, I met the hulking heavyweight back in 2009 and he's such a likable guy. All he wants to do is win fights, support his family and bring honor back to Brazil. Kind of hard to hate on a guy for that. And I don't necessarily agree that this fight is a foregone conclusion, either.
I learned my lesson the hard way twice before.
The difference between a guy like Cain Velasquez and Jon Jones is that I've seen Cain in trouble. Cheick Kongo had him on queer street and Junior dos Santos knocked him out. Whether you think it was a fluke or not, it still happened.
If Silva lands, this one is academic.
The bad news is, I have a hard time believing Velasquez isn't going to sprint out of the gate and go right for the takedown. Can it be stuffed? Probably by a more agile 265-pounder, but "Bigfoot" does not have the physical prowess to bounce around the cage to keep himself upright.
It's not if this fight goes to the floor, it's when. Once that happens, there is very little Silva can do to prevent a repeat from their first encounter last May. I won't pick Silva to win the belt, but I also won't call it a lock for Velasquez, because every fight starts out on the feet.
And "Pezao" has a habit of making people like me look dumb.
Final prediction: Velasquez def. Silva via technical knockout
265 lbs.: Junior "Cigano" dos Santos (15-2) vs. Mark "Super Samoan" Hunt (9-7)
Nostradumbass predicts: It's cute how Mark Hunt has become the Internet darling of the MMA fanboys. I get it. He's a cool dude from the PRIDE days who can knocks fools out and hey, there is a reason he was a world kickboxing champion.
There's also a reason he's 9-7 in mixed martial arts (MMA).
For me, this fight will determine how intelligent a fighter Junior dos Santos is. I've heard a lot of jibber-jabber about how he wants to fight for the title and get back on top and yadda, yadda, yadda. So is he going to risk getting KTFO by turning it into a boxing match?
I hope not.
Don't get me wrong, his offensive boxing is superior to most cage fighters; however, his defensive boxing is downright putrid. Remember how many times he was tagged in the Mirko Filipovic fight? "Cigano" takes way too many hits, probably because he can. No question he's got an iron chin, but Hunt has made a career out of breaking jaws.
Just ask Stefan Struve.
Hunt is a dangerous striker when you allow him to be, but if you strip away the "Super Samoan" mystique and all that #Rally4MarkHunt crap, you're left with a fighter plagued by poor conditioning and a rudimentary ground game, one that boasts a submission loss to Sean McCorkle in just 63 seconds.
Like Marcellus Wallace once said, "fuck
With Alistair Overeem and Travis Browne breathing down his neck, the stakes have never been higher for Dos Santos. A loss would be catastrophic for his career and I just can't imagine a scenario where his corner allows him to bang it out.
He says he's a black belt in jiu-jitsu and I believe this is the fight he proves it.
Final prediction: Dos Santos def. Hunt via submission
Nostradumbass predicts: This fight mirrors the co-main event between Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt in a lot of ways. Not just because we have a Brazilian on the brink of title contention taking on a powerful puncher from across the globe, but rather because ... well actually no, that's exactly why.
And the path to victory is just as simple.
James Te Huna has five losses and four of them have come by way of submission. Glover Teixeira is an accomplished grappler with a fair amount of success in Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC). He doesn't use it very often because he's become adept at putting people to sleep.
But you know the old saying about living and dying by the sword.
Te Huna hits hard and I've seen Teixeira get clipped in his fights against Fabio Maldonado and Quinton Jackson. Like Dos Santos, there's really no way to make a case for turning this thing into a bangfest when the formula for winning is so cut and dry.
It all comes down to ego.
I think Teixeira is the cleaner striker, but Te Huna probably has more power. It doesn't guarantee a knockout, as the Aussie has been to the scorecards in his previous two outings, but why take that chance? I think Glover tastes the power early and wisely brings it to the ground.
Then it's curtains.
Final prediction: Teixeira def. Te Huna via submission
Nostradumbass predicts: Gray Maynard has a pretty impressive resume. Not only does he hold a win over a former lightweight champion (Frankie Edgar), he's also defeated three former division number one contenders in Kenny Florian, Nate Diaz and Jim Miller.
So why do I feel so underwhelmed?
"The Bully" is just that. He makes his fights ugly, throws plenty of power punches and wrestles his foes into oblivion. Because of his aggression, made even more dangerous by his brute strength, it's hard for fighters to stick to their gameplan, mostly because Maynard knows how to neutralize it.
But man, nine decisions, three of them splits, in 11 wins?
That gives me hope for T.J. Grant, a former welterweight who may fare a bit better in this fight because of his size. The Canadian grappler has looked sensational since dropping down to 155 pounds and his bloodbath against Matt Wiman still gives me the chills.
This guy can win.
There is going to be a lot of clinching and sooner or later Grant will find himself on the ground. I think he's talented enough from that position to stay out of danger and I'm really hoping some of the cageside judges continue the recent trend of rewarding fighters who do damage from their backs.
Maynard is good enough to beat anybody at lightweight, but his one year layoff, coupled with his habit of being befuddled when things don't go his way, will allow Grant to steal one by the slimmest of margins.
Final prediction: Grant def. Maynard via split decision
155 lbs.: Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone (19-5) vs. "King" K.J. Noons (11-6)
Nostradumbass predicts: K.J. Noons is a great boxer, but if it wasn't for his feud with Nick Diaz in EliteXC, which included a 2007 win over the Stockton slugger, we probably wouldn't have paid much attention to him.
Sure, he has great hands, but he's failed to evolve as a mixed martial artist. "King" is 1-4 over his last five and even if you gave him the Ryan Couture fight, it's still a losing record -- scoring zero finishes -- against hot-and-cold competition.
I'm not sure that's going to cut it in UFC.
Cerrone, meanwhile, has proven that he's about as diverse as they come. He's got 13 submissions in 19 wins, but as Melvin Guillard found out, he can still put you down for the count if you want to bang it out. He knows how to utilize his kicks extremely well and has Greg Jackson's gameplan behind him.
You just have to convince him to stick with it.
"Cowboy" abandoned the kick in the Nate Diaz fight and it cost him a win. He blamed it on mental issues, the same ones that led to his unraveling against Anthony Pettis. Normally, that would be a concern heading into this next contest, but the stakes are not high, there is no trash talk and the pressure is off.
I expect him to be calm, cool and collected and more importantly, victorious.
Final prediction: Cerrone def. Noons 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 160 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 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.