"All-American" submission grappling will collide with the finest "Spider" Muay Thai in mixed martial arts (MMA) this weekend (Sat., July 6, 2013) at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Anderson Silva won his Ultimate Fighting Championship Middleweight title at UFC 64 (watch him do it here) back in 2006, which is before his upcoming opponent, Chris Weidman, made his professional combat sports debut. In the main event of UFC 162, which will go down in "Sin City" this Saturday night, these two men will duke it out with the Silva's coveted 185-pound belt on the line.
The main event of the evening will be buttressed on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card by a pair of clashes between the Featherweight elite as Frankie Edgar collides with Charles Oliveira and Cub Swanson battles Dennis Siver.
That's not all.
Yesterday, we previewed the first three under bouts that comprise the initial UFC 162 Facebook/FX portion of the "Prelims" under card right here. Today, we share breakdowns of the remaining three that will air live -- and for free -- on FX before the PPV begins at 10 p.m. ET.
Let's get cracking:
185 lbs.: Chris Leben vs. Andrew Craig
It’s been a rough two years for Chris Leben (22-9). After rebounding from a devastating loss to Brian Stann with a rapid knockout of Wanderlei Silva, a loss to Mark Munoz was followed by a failed drug test, keeping "The Crippler" out of the Octagon for more than one year. His comeback fight was less-than-impressive, as an absurdly-slow Leben was defeated by Derek Brunson in a snoozer at UFC 155 in Dec. 2012.
Since 2006, all but one of Leben's wins have come inside the distance.
After an impressive come-from-behind knockout of Rafael Natal, Andrew Craig (8-1) once again found himself in the role of underdog against Ronny Markes and, while he managed to rough up the Nova Uniao standout, suffered the first defeat of his career. In addition to Natal, he had previously posted wins over Bellator veteran Eric Schambari and future "Ultimate Fighter" coach Kyle Noke. He will enjoy two inches of height and five years of youth over Leben.
Craig is a tough, strong fighter with endless heart and great cardio. He’s a pain in the ass for a good chunk of the division.
And if Leben can’t beat him, it may be time to hang it up.
Frankly, if there’s anything left of "The Crippler," Craig is tailor-made for him: not that fast, not that technical, not a good enough wrestler to hold him down. The fight comes down to whether the Leben that waded through molasses against Brunson or the one that outslugged Simpson, Akiyama, and Silva shows up.
Call me a romantic, but I have faith that the latter will meet Craig in center cage, throw down for a little while, and eventually land that diamond-hard left for the win.
Prediction: Leben by first-round knockout
155 lbs.: Norman Parke vs. Kazuki Tokudome
It wasn’t the most fan-friendly run in the show’s history, but Norman Parke (17-2) ran through The Ultimate Fighter TUF): "Smashes" house on the strength of his grappling, eventually defeating Colin Fletcher in the Finale for the fabled "six-figure" contract. The victory was Parke’s seventh in a row since a March 2010 submission loss.
Though he failed to score a finish on the show, he has stopped 15 opponents, 12 via submission.
Kazuki Tokudome (12-3-1) may have had his shot at the Pancrase title shut down by Isao Kobayashi, but his two subsequent victories were enough for the UFC brass to give him a crack at the big leagues. Though he had early trouble with the brawling stand up of Cristiano Marcello, he eventually took over on the strength of his boxing and takedown games.
He has won seven of his last eight, four via stoppage.
Tokudome has solid grappling and solid hands, neither of which are enough to save him from Parke’s wrestling attack. He doesn’t have the submission skills to tap Parke nor the power to put him away standing, and while his takedown defense is solid, I doubt it stands up to repeated shots from Parke.
Parke’s big test is going to come when he runs into the powerful wrestlers in the division’s upper echelon, but for now, expect a comfortable win on the back of constant takedowns.
Prediction: Parke by unanimous decision
265 lbs.: Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Dave Herman
After a 1-3 stretch led to his removal from the organization, Gabriel Gonzaga (14-7) returned to his grappling roots, submitting Parker Porter before securing consecutive tapouts of Ednaldo Oliveira and Ben Rothwell in a return to UFC action. Travis Browne would have none of it, however, knocking "Napao" cold with a series of elbows to the side of the head.
Gonzaga has only ever gone the distance once in his 10-year career.
Dave Herman (21-5) impressed in his Octagon debut, a slugfest against John Olav Einemo at UFC 131, but has been on a free-fall since, getting stopped consecutively by Stefan Struve, Roy Nelson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, apparently sleepwalking through the latter.
Having failed two drug tests during his 1-3 tenure (full details here), Herman undoubtedly needs a victory to stay employed.
"Pee Wee" has all the tools to put away Gonzaga in a hurry: Power, decent wrestling, a height advantage and a shaky chin to target.
Yes, all the tools except a brain.
To put it bluntly, Herman is his own worst enemy in the cage. He threw nothing at "Big Nog" for two rounds and had little answer for Struve and Nelson, two deeply-flawed strikers. Despite his length, I don’t see Gonzaga having trouble closing the distance and eventually getting the takedown, at which point Herman is dogmeat.
It’s not terribly unlikely that Herman finds Gonzaga's suspect chin early and puts him out, but I think it more likely he finds a way to throw away the fight again and winds up tapping out.
Prediction: Gonzaga by second-round submission
Lot's of great match ups with lots of potential for amazing finishes -- everything you could ask for in a Fourth of July weekend MMA PPV.
See you Saturday, Maniacs.
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.