Braaaaaiiiiiinnns ... leeeeg kiiiiiiiiicks ... flying kneeeeeeees.
Fourteen months after submitting Dustin Poirier in one of the finest mixed martial arts (MMA) scraps of 2013, Chan Sung Jung (a.k.a. "The Korean Zombie") is back and looking to take a bite out of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo.
Jung and Aldo battle inside HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the main event of UFC 163, which takes place this upcoming Saturday night (Aug. 3, 2013). In addition, two of the Light Heavyweight division's elite contenders will go to war when Lyoto Machida collides with Phil Davis in an intriguing clash of styles with 205-pound title ramifications.
That's just scratching the surface.
Yesterday, we previewed the first three under bouts that comprise the initial UFC 163 Facebook portion of the "Prelims" under card right here. Today, we share breakdowns of the remaining four that will air live -- and for free -- on FX before the pay-per-view (PPV) begins at 10 p.m. ET.
Let's get cracking:
205 lbs.: Vinny Magalhaes vs. Anthony Perosh
The 2011 ADCC Heavyweight gold medalist talked a big game going into UFC 159, but Vinny Magalhaes (10-6) had zero answer for the aforementioned Davis’ length and wrestling, losing a wide decision after getting picked apart at range. The loss snapped a six-fight win streak for Magalhaes, all finishes that included a win over Bellator tournament finalist Mikhail Zayats.
Now 1-3 inside the Octagon, the fight future of Pezao" in the world’s largest MMA promotion almost certainly hinges on a win this weekend in South America.
After getting punished in his Octagon debut, a short-notice Heavyweight clash against Mirko Filipovic, Anthony Perosh (13-7) seemed to find his groove at 205 pounds, finishing three straight opponents, including Cyrille Diabate, among others. Unfortunately, "The Hippo" went belly-up against Ryan Jimmo, eating a monstrous overhand right just six seconds in for his fifth career knockout loss.
Perosh has only ever gone the distance twice in 20 fights, scoring all but two of his wins inside the first round.
Magalhaes has been incredibly dismissive of Perosh’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a disrespectful wanker overall, so nothing would please me more than a submission from "The Hippo," but this fight basically boils down to a phenomenal jiu-jitsu player versus a very good grappler. Perosh has the wrestling edge, but messing around in Magalhaes' guard is a death sentence for any but the absolute elite grapplers.
If the fight hits the ground in any way, shape or form, Magalhaes is going dominate. Neither is any sort of threat on the feet, Perosh in particular slow and fragile, so hopefully we’ll get a solid grappling match instead of a sloppy kickboxing affair.
I’m going to be optimistic and say somebody hits a takedown early, they scramble for a little while, and then Magalhaes does the voodoo that he do so well.
Prediction: Magalhaes by first-round submission
135 lbs.: Amanda Nunes vs. Sheila Gaff
The one they call the "Lioness of the Ring," Amanda Nunes (7-3) has established herself as one of the most brutal punchers in women’s MMA, knocking out six straight opponents after losing her debut. Her grappling deficiencies have cost her, however, as she is just 1-2 in her last three, including a loss to the UFC’s Alexis Davis.
"The German Tank" had no intention of rolling over for Olympic medalist Sara McMann, but nevertheless found herself on her back early, eventually succumbing to an assault from the mounted crucifix. Sheila Gaff (10-5-1) had previously won three straight in a combined 1:52, all by knockout.
Like Nunes, Gaff has never gone the distance in victory, scoring all her wins in the first round and all but one inside two minutes.
This fight is an absolute treat -- these two are most likely the premiere knockout artists in the UFC women’s division. If all goes according to plan, this has "Fight of the Night" written all over it (or at least something that would have been "Fight of the Night" if it lasted more than two minutes).
The deciding factor, in my opinion, is size: Gaff has done her best work at 125 pounds, while Nunes has blasted out 145 pounds fighters in the past. Nunes is likely to be much bigger and stronger on fight night, and when you’ve got two fighters who want nothing more than to stand toe-to-toe, that’s a big deal.
Gaff’s best chance is to try to exploit Nunes’ weak ground game, but I don’t see her having much success or inclination to try before at least a little brawling. More likely, the two slug it out early and Nunes lands the big one first.
Prediction: Nunes by first-round knockout
170 lbs.: Sergio Moraes vs. Neil Magny
Sergio Moraes (7-2) gave it his all against Cezar Mutante at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" Finale, but could not overcome the strength and size disparity to implement his world-class grappling game. "Serginho" had slightly more success against Renee Forte in his natural weight class, choking him out in the third round of their UFC 153 showdown.
Moraes medaled four consecutive times at the Mundials, winning gold in 2008 and 2011, and has won six of his fights by tapout.
Three straight wins sent Neil Magny (8-1) to the semifinals of TUF 16, but it took just one huge elbow from Mike Ricci to end his run with authority. Undaunted, Magny was successful in his UFC debut, shrugging off 12 of 13 takedowns to defeat Jon Manley by decision.
Magny is six years younger and two inches taller than his Brazilian opponent.
A jiu-jitsu credo I enjoy is, "The ground is my ocean, I’m a shark, and most people don’t even know how to swim." It’s catchy, describes the Average Joe’s helplessness on the ground and makes you feel awesome for knowing the discipline.
But, you drag a shark on land and an eight-year-old with a baseball bat could kill the thing.
Moraes is one of the best jiu-jitsu players in the UFC. On the ground, the only Welterweight competitors I’d take to give him trouble would be Demian Maia and maybe Gunnar Nelson. The thing is, his wrestling is awful and his striking equally so.
In fact, he was losing the Forte fight before finally getting a third-round submission and the fight overall was atrocious.
Magny isn’t a world-beater, but he’s fully capable of stopping Serginho’s takedowns, especially since Moraes can't set them up properly. Expect a fairly lackluster fight that will comprise Moraes failing takedowns, Magny roughing him up with short shots and repeat.
Prediction: Magny by unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Ian McCall vs. Iliarde Santos
Ian McCall (11-4-1) -- for a time the No. 1-ranked Flyweight in the world -- is now winless (0-2-1) inside the Octagon, giving Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez incredibly difficult fights but falling just short. The four-fight win streak that preceded his UFC appearance included wins over top 125 pounders Jussier Formiga, Dustin Ortiz and Darrell Montague.
The owner of the UFC’s finest mustache has finished seven of 11 victims, four by form of knockout.
Iliarde Santos (27-7-1) was brave to face Yuri Alcantara on short notice, but fortune does not always favor the bold -- the larger Alcantara flattened Santos in less than three minutes with a series of vicious punches. The loss snapped a seven-fight unbeaten streak, including a win over top prospect Leandro Higo.
Santos has competed as high as 145 pounds in the past and will be making his 125-pound debut.
I really feel for McCall because he gave Benavidez a hell of a fight and arguably beat "Mighty Mouse" the first time out. He beat the best flyweights the world had to offer outside the UFC, but just seems stuck in a similar situation to Faber: able to beat essentially everyone but the champ.
That "everyone," thankfully, includes Santos.
Iliarde is tough, crafty, well-rounded and an excellent grappler. McCall is all of that, only faster and with better wrestling. Iliarde’s strategy of using aggressive flurries to set up takedowns won’t work against a wrestler of McCall’s caliber and will likely just open him up to counters.
Iliarde is a better fighter than the Alcantara fight would suggest, but just not on McCall’s level. Expect "Uncle Creepy" to stat slow (as usual) before he ramps it up and dominates a resilient Santos everywhere the fight goes.
Prediction: McCall by unanimous decision
When you've got one of the best strikers in MMA against a man pathologically incapable of being in bad fights, you get something special. The rest is gravy.
See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 163 card this weekend, starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 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.