Is there a more beautiful combination of words than "heavyweight finishers?"
Two over-sized men with zero intention to go to the judges will duke it out this Sunday evening (Feb. 22, 2015) when former Heavyweight champion, Frank Mir, takes on Brazilian giant, Antonio Silva, down in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veterans will headline UFC Fight Night 61, a FOX Sports 1-televised card stacked with Brazilian talent.
In the co-main event, streaking lightweight standouts Edson Barboza and Michael Johnson will battle in a pivotal 155-pound clash, while The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" winner, Cezar "Mutante," looks to re-establish himself as a contender against Sam Alvey.
Of the six scheduled "Prelims" under card matches, two will stream online via Fight Pass and the rest on FOX Sports 1. Here's what's in store:
170 lbs.: Wendell de Oliveira vs. T.J. Waldburger
Wendell de Oliveira (24-8) -- formerly known as "War Machine" before that became a very bad nickname to have -- found his run on TUF: "Brazil 3" cut short in the elimination round by eventual winner Warlley Alves. Returning to the Octagon as a late replacement for Sergio Moraes, Oliveira faced TUF: "Brazil 2"’s Santiago Ponzinibbio, succumbing to punches early in the first round.
The loss was just his second in his last 20 fights.
T.J. Waldburger (16-9) rebounded from his brutal loss to Johny Hendricks by winning three of his next four fights, scoring gorgeous submissions all three times. He’s hit a rough patch lately, though, suffering knockout losses to Adlan Amagov and Mike Pyle in his last two appearances.
He has submitted 13 professional opponents.
Waldburger fights are inordinately difficult to pick for the sole reason that he has the absolute worst chin in the entire division. He’s been laid out seven times and I am genuinely concerned for his health.
I do think he’ll win, though.
The Brazilian throws the kind of heat that gives me pause, but he’s also been finished in all but one of his losses and has a history of falling short when stepping up. This fight will boil down to whether he can shatter Waldburger’s jaw before T.J. wrangles him to the canvas.
Once it gets there, it’s elementary.
I think Waldburger steers clear of danger and taps him out midway through the first round.
Prediction: Waldburger via first-round submission
135 lbs.: Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Cody Gibson
Douglas Silva de Andrade (22-1) joined UFC on a seven-fight knockout streak, taking on Zubaira Tukhugov on short notice in his debut. Though he made it the distance, he had few answers for the Chechen striker, resulting in the first defeat of his career.
In total, he has knocked out 18 opponents.
Though he came up short in his UFC debut against top prospect Aljamain Sterling, Cody Gibson (12-5) nonetheless impressed by making it close. After knocking out Johnny Bedford with one punch, Gibson looked well on his way to defeating Manny Gamburyan before tapping to a second-round guillotine.
He stands three inches taller than Silva.
Honestly, I still think Gibson is worth keeping an eye on. Despite the loss to Manny, he’s still a huge, powerful bantamweight with a very solid wrestling pedigree. He can give a lot of the division problems and that includes Silva.
The Brazilian knockout artist has legitimate one-punch power that makes him a dangerous match up for anyone at 135 pounds. I believe, however, that he has never encountered the kind of overpowering wrestling that Gibson brings to the table. So long as Gibson makes sure not to exchange with him for any length of time, I expect him to capitalize on Silva’s wild swings to grind his way to a decision win.
Prediction: Gibson via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Ivan Jorge vs. Josh Shockley
Former Jungle Fight champion, Ivan Jorge (25-4), defeated Keith Wisniewski in his promotional debut, edging him out despite the fight being on short notice and at welterweight. He could not repeat the effort against Rodrigo Damm, losing a unanimous decision and snapping a seven-fight win streak.
He will give up three inches of height to Josh Shockley (11-3).
Five wins in six fights brought Shockley to UFC, where he faced Canada’s Justin Saggo in hostile territory. The Bellator veteran struggled with his foe’s wrestling prowess, succumbing to strikes in the waning seconds of the first round.
Eight of his victories have come inside the distance ... five via submission.
Jorge appears to have the traditional Brazilian jiu-jitsu problem of packing a dangerous top game without the wrestling necessary to implement it. Shockley, meanwhile, seems to have decent wrestling without the jiu-jitsu necessary to implement it.
Interesting match up, then.
In fights like this, I tend to lean toward the wrestler for the simple reason that scoring a submission off your back in this day and age is a hell of a lot harder than it looks. Of course, this could devolve into a striking match, in which case all bets are off.
Eh, let’s just go with the wrestler. It’s a maxim that’s served me well.
Prediction: Shockley via unanimous decision
Three more UFC Fight Night 61 "Prelims" under card matches to preview and predict tomorrow, all featuring consistent finishers.
See you soon, Maniacs!
Remember, too, MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 61 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under- and main-cards, slated to begin at 6 and 8 p.m. ET, respectively.