This Saturday night (July 6, 2013) at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 185-pound deity, Silva, will defend his title for the first time in almost one year, taking on unbeaten super-prospect, Weidman, in the UFC 162 main event.
In addition, Frankie Edgar will look to rebound from his third consecutive title defeat against Charles Oliveira in a non-title, three-round affair, with another Featherweight fracas, Dennis Siver vs. Cub Swanson, on tap for the Fourth of July weekend pay-per-view (PPV) event in "Sin City."
But before that, we've got half a dozen "Prelims" under card matches to set the stage, the first three of which we examined below.
Let's take a look:
155 lbs.: Edson Barboza vs. Rafaello Oliveira
Many were curious to see how Edson Barboza (11-1) would rebound from his brutal knockout loss to Jamie Varner. Luckily for his Brazilian fans, the answer was "quite well," as he battered Lucas Martins into submission in less than three minutes. The win raised Edson’s UFC record to 5-1, including three stoppage wins.
He will bring a three-inch height advantage into the cage on Saturday evening.
Replacing John Makdessi on little more than one month’s notice, Rafaello Oliveira (16-5) will look to secure his first UFC win streak in six fights, having recently beaten Yoislandy Izquierdo by decision. He has not competed since that fight, which took place almost exactly one year ago this Saturday.
"Tractor" has stopped nine opponents, including four by knockout.
Barring something crazy, this is probably the most clear-cut fight on the card. Oliveira isn’t a good enough wrestler to bring down Barboza, nor competent enough at mixing wrestling with striking to recreate what Varner did. And on the feet, he is hopelessly outmatched.
The only real question here is how and when Oliveira goes to sleep. I’m thinking right cross, middle of the first round.
Prediction: Barboza by first-round technical knockout
170 lbs.: Seth Baczynski vs. Brian Melancon
Seth Baczynski (18-9) saw a six-fight win streak snapped his last time out, having no answer for the grinding style of Mike Pierce at UFC on FX 6. Of the six opponents "The Polish Pistola" beat, three were knocked out and two submitted, including the surging Matt Brown.
The 6’3" Baczynski will enjoy a seven-inch height advantage over Brian Melancon (6-2).
Melancon, a Strikeforce import, joined the organization during the merger earlier this year, but has not competed since Sept. 2011, winning a decision over Felipe Portela. He had previously faced (and lost) to fellow import Isaac Vallie-Flagg by contentious decision.
In addition to Strikeforce, Melancon has competed in Bellator and Legacy Fighting Championship (LFC).
Save a cripplingly-boring 15 minutes of sitting in Baczynski’s guard and clinging to his biceps for dear life, I’m not seeing many avenues of victory for Melancon. Not only is he giving up huge amounts of height and length, he’s bringing a lot of ring rust into the cage in his Octagon debut. He’s a solid wrestler with a lot of aggression, but he’s not the kind of wrestler Pierce is who can shoot from the end of Baczynski’s hands and wind up on top.
It’ll be a good scrap while it lasts, with Baczynski’s long blows clashing with Melancon’s winging overhands, until an ill-advised takedown attempt from too far out leaves the latter tapping out to the former's guillotine.
Prediction: Baczynski by second-round submission
170 lbs.: Mike Pierce vs. David Mitchell
Since a 1-2 stretch populated entirely by split decisions, Mike Pierce (16-5) is unbeaten, including a vicious one-shot knockout of Aaron Simpson. Most recently, he overcame a massive height disparity to decision the aforementioned Baczynski for his sixth UFC victory.
He will have another height disadvantage to overcome this Saturday, standing four inches shorter than "Daudi."
Previously winless (0-2) in the UFC and coming off almost 18 months away, few gave David Mitchell (12-2) much of a chance against Norse submission specialist Simeon Thoresen this past January. Impressively, Mitchell outstruck and outgrappled the more experienced Thoresen en route to a clear decision win.
The win was his first since 2007 not to come by submission.
Mitchell isn’t a terrible fighter by any means, but Pierce is way out of his league. Frankly, if you can’t outwrestle Pierce, you don’t beat Pierce. In other words, Mitchell can’t outwrestle Pierce. Mitchell doesn’t beat Pierce.
In fact, Mitchell finding himself on his back is an eventuality, not a question.
Further, the Carlos Eduardo Rocha and Baczynski fights demonstrated that trying to take out Pierce off your back is a losing effort. Mitchell is an okay striker, but doesn’t have the skills to use his length advantage nor the footwork to keep enough distance to stifle takedowns.
Therefore, expect a classic Pierce effort, with early takedowns in all three rounds leading to long stretches of mild ground-and-pound from guard for the decision.
Prediction: Pierce by unanimous decision
The remaining UFC 162 "Prelims" under card fights will be broken down tomorrow, same bat-time, same bat-website.
See you then!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 162 card on fight night, starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, right on through the FX-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card PPV action, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.