UFC 132: "Cruz vs. Faber 2" is all set to go down tomorrow night (July 2, 2011) live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE updates with blow-by-blow, round-by-round commentary of the main card action on fight night, which is slated to air at 9 p.m. ET (with Facebook and Spike TV "Prelim" fights beginning at 6:30 and 8:00 p.m. ET, respectively).
Former WEC Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber, who pulled up his stakes and headed south after convincing losses to Mike Brown and Jose Aldo, will try to replicate his championship run as a bantamweight by taking on longtime nemesis Dominick Cruz.
"The Dominator" only has one loss on his record -- to none other than "The California Kid." Will history repeat itself in "Sin City?"
If it does, then expect this to be the last time we see Tito Ortiz inside the cage. "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" hasn't won a fight in five years and will likely be handed his pink slip with a loss on Saturday night to division upstart Ryan Bader.
And if that doesn't compel you to tune in then I have only two words for you: Wanderlei Silva.
"The Axe Murderer" will look to sharpen his blade on Chris Leben's face, who like the Brazilian, has no problem dropping bombs with reckless abandon.
Fights like this one are the reason the phrase "highlight reel knockout" was invented.
There will certainly be a lot to talk about on Sunday morning and I've also included the current betting lines for each fight so you can get a feel for what the money has to say about the chances of each competitor.
Now, enough with the formalities ... let's get cracking:
135 lbs.: Dominick "The Dominator" Cruz (17-1) vs. Urijah "The California Kid" Faber" (25-4)
Nostradumbass predicts: Dominick Cruz doesn't get enough respect. For a fighter who is 17-1 and bantamweight champion, he really should be considered one of the sport's elite fighters.
The go-to argument is "Well, who's he fought?" And my answer is "everyone that matters in his division." Well, everyone except a recent interloper named Urijah Faber.
We all know the backstory, "The California Kid" subbed "The Dominator" a couple of years ago when they were both tooling around as featherweights. Now the roles are reversed.
In more ways than one.
Faber thinks history is going to repeat itself tomorrow night. While I agree that he's probably fast enough to hang with Dominick on the feet, his cut to 135-pounds has sapped him of his strength. That's going to be the difference maker as I believe he fails to land a knockout punch or stay dominant in top control.
That's assuming he can even get Cruz down.
I would expect to see this fight play out much like Cruz vs. Benavidez (I or II, take your pick) and in the end, the champion will retain his strap.
Faber at bantamweight is an old dog with a new trick, but on Saturday night, it won't be enough.
Betting lines (as of July 1): Dominick Cruz (-155) vs. Urijah Faber (+125)
Prediction: Cruz via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva (33-10-1) vs. Chris "The Crippler" Leben (25-7)
Nostradumbass predicts: For some reason I can't think of this fight without that throaty movie narrator permeating my consciousness: "In a world ... where Ultimate Fighters meet PRIDE legends ...two warriors with heavy hands and deteriorating chins will come together for one final conflict..."
Don't blink, someone's going to sleep, highlight reel knockout, yadda-yadda-yadda, let's just cut right to it: Wanderlei Silva and Chris Leben can both punch hard. But can they both still take a punch? There's only so much abuse you can (and should) endure throughout a career in combat sports and I think we can all agree we've seen the decline of both men.
In the battle of decomposing mandibles, I'm picking Leben.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder and with Wandy on the sidelines we may have forgotten just how putrid he's been over the past five years. We all celebrated his win over Michael Bisping, but it was a close contest and just his second victory in seven fights.
The other was against the equally brittle Keith Jardine.
He's 2-5 over his last seven with three devastating knockouts and coming off a year-long hiatus. If it was anyone other than "The Axe Murderer," who still gets by on his name and personality, they'd be a lopsided underdog. Since it's Silva, we still give him a chance.
Not that Leben has been lighting the world on fire as we saw in his loss to Brian Stann earlier this year (as well as his performance against Yoshihiro Akiyama), but I think he might be able to survive a punch or two while landing one of his own.
Silva can't survive any.
I hate to pick against him and I'll still root for the Brazilian, but I think we'll see on Saturday night that he's the next MMA legend who needs to consider calling it a career.
Betting lines (as of July 1): Wanderlei Silva (-180) vs. Chris Leben (+150)
Prediction: Leben via knockout
205 lbs.: Ryan "Darth" Bader (12-1) vs. Tito "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" Ortiz (15-8-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: I gotta hand it to Tito, he almost had me convinced. He makes a decent argument when people get on him about his current losing streak. Four of his last five fights have all been against former light heavyweight champions. And aside from Chuck Liddell, he hasn't been knocked out or submitted.
That's why I made a case for him against Matt Hamill back at UFC 121 last October.
Then he went and got his ass kicked by his former student. He didn't just lose, he got dominated. He looked old and weary and unless he's discovered the fountain of youth between then and now, I fully expect him to be even older and wearier tomorrow night against Bader.
I don't think "Darth" will finish him.
Sure, he has a big right hand, but Tito is still pretty resilient and I don't know how aggressive Bader will be in the stand-up after the shellacking he took at the hands of Jon Jones, but this fight is a confidence builder, nothing more.
I predict The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 Champion will stick to his bread-and-butter (wrestling) and follow the blueprint Matt Hamill laid out last year in Anaheim. And why not? Ortiz is too old and too broken down to stop him.
The UFC owes Tito a debt of gratitude. Long before the promotion had social media, video blogs or Spike TV, they had Tito and his mouth. He did his job and we should thank him for that. But now it's time to go -- and Bader will be the one to show him the door.
Betting lines (as of July 1): Ryan Bader (-600) vs. Tito Ortiz (+400)
Prediction: Bader via unanimous decision
170 lbs: Carlos "Natural Born Killer" Condit (26-5) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (14-0-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: The boys at Bodog have this one deadlocked at -115 each and I gotta say, I'm kinda on board with those lines. My instinct is to pick Kim, because he's probably going to turn this into wrestlemania and suffocate Condit on the ground en route to an uninspiring unanimous decision win.
He's undefeated, yes, but he's also got one finish in six fights under the UFC banner, barely squeaked by Matt Brown and got worked by Karo Parisyan before having the ruling overturned when it was revealed that the "Heat" was a cheat.
And while he done good in his blanketing of Amir Sadollah, he's never really blown me away and looked like he wanted to get the hell out of Dodge in his three-rounder against Nate Diaz, who is a natural lightweight.
If he wants to be considered a serious title contender, he needs to start dazzling us.
It wouldn't surprise me to see Condit struggle against the wrestling-based offense, but he is crafty enough to surprise the Korean when this thing inevitably goes south. I also believe he has the better hands but won't have time to use them.
Submitting Kim would make a strong argument for his place in the 170-pound title hunt but with all things being equal, I have to go with the wrestler.
But not with any kind of confidence.
Betting lines (as of July 1): Carlos Condit (-115) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (-115)
Prediction: Kim via split decision
155 lbs.: Dennis Siver (18-7) vs. "Handsome" Matt Wiman (13-5)
Nostradumbass predicts: I've seen a lot of people going crazy over Dennis Siver after the German kickboxer spoiled the homecoming of George Sotiropoulos back at UFC 127, but let's not get too carried away just yet.
Does he have good stand-up? Sure, but isn't this the same guy that got outstruck by Melvin Guillard and Ross Pearson? And "Bullied" by Gray Maynard?
He's a solid fighter but one that also owns four submission losses.
It's easy to think because he wasn't tapped by "Sots," a legitimate Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, that he may have patched up those holes in his game, but I'm not entirely sold.
Hello, UFC 132 upset? I have Matt Wiman on line one...
The "Handsome" one is the winner of three straight, including his bookie-buster over Cole Miller at "Fight for the Troops 2" earlier this year. He's well-rounded enough to keep it standing but I don't think he's going to make the mistake of turning this into a K-1 bout.
Wiman wants to take it to the floor and I think he does, either by playing possum or taking advantage of a transition during a close-knit scrum.
Siver won't even see it coming until he's wincing in pain or gasping for air.
Betting lines (as of July 1): Dennis Siver (-140) vs. Matt Wiman (+110)
Prediction: Wiman via submission
That's a wrap, folks.
Remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of UFC 132: "Cruz vs. Faber 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.