Main Event Breakdown: Cain Velasquez vs Antonio Silva
They say when two fighters are fighting each other for the 2nd time, don’t expect the fight to look anything like the first fight. For the most part that’s incredibly true. Take a look at the vast majority of rematches and trilogies in this sport and you will see differences in each fight. This fight, however, I just can’t seem to get the images of the first fight out of my head. It was a beatdown. Velasquez caught the kick, took him down, and just mauled him. I don’t think “Bigfoot” will make the mistake of throwing another kick, but I don’t think that will make a difference. Velasquez is a highly decorated wrestler and has repeatedly taken down all of his opponents down with ease.
We have seen Antonio Silva struggle on the feet against smaller/faster heavyweights. Mike Kyle dropped him, Daniel Cormier finished him. If Cain doesn’t take him to the ground right away, he knows how to use his footwork to create angles and hurt him on the feet as well. Velasquez is one of the fastest heavyweights in the sport, and Bigfoot is one of the slowest. He shouldn’t have trouble finding a home for his punches. After what happened in his first fight against JDS and what Silva has done in his last two fights, I highly doubt Cain will want to spend any time exchanging with Silva in the first place.
Silva’s best chance in this fight is to use his jiu-jitsu. He needs to get into top position. Assuming he doesn’t score an early KO, he will end up on his back at some point. He can’t let Cain pass his guard. He needs to get wrist control and work towards a sweep. If he can pull that off he can administer some vicious ground and pound that could finish the fight.
If this fight does go into deeper waters, there’s a big edge in cardio for Velasquez. He sets a pace for 25 minutes that no other heavyweight on the planet can keep up with. We saw that in his 2nd fight against JDS, landing a high volume of punches and takedowns. Even if Bigfoot can survive early, things won’t get easier for him as the fight goes on.
The Pick- Cain Velasquez once again wins by round 1 TKO. This is a safe pick if you want to bet on the fight. For a prop bet go with the fight not going to a decision. This prediction gets 4/5 starts on the confidence level. With heavyweights you never know.
Co-Main Event Breakdown: Junior Dos Santos vs Mark Hunt
“Cigano” sounds like a motivated man after losing his belt. He has arguably the best boxing in the division, good technique and speed that generates serious power. We haven’t seen it in the octagon yet, but he’s a BJJ black belt that constantly trains with the Nogueira brothers. He has hinted at taking the fight to the ground in some prefight interviews, and that could serve him well during the fight.
Hunt is on a four-fight winning streak with three KO wins. He’s known for his legendary chin and his decorated kickboxing history, but this old dog may actually be learning a few tricks. He’s easily dismissed as being a one-dimensional MMA fighter, but since coming into the UFC he has shown improvement. Landing some takedowns, stopping takedowns, fishing for submissions, escaping submissions, etc. Hunt will never be great in these areas, but going from poor to passable is vital to keeping him competitive amongst the very best.
Despite the strides Hunt has made, it’s tough to see it being enough to beat an elite HW like Dos Santos. Junior is faster, holds a significant cardio advantage, and has a good beard as well. Hunt may have gotten better in other areas, but like I said they remain weaknesses. Hunt has no submission victories to his name, and six of his seven losses come via submission. He’s in no man’s land on the floor. He also dealt with issues getting a VISA last week, it’s now been cleared, but it must have been mentally exhausting. He now has less time to get accustomed in the country due to the delay. JDS has a six inch height and three inch read advantage as well, but Hunt did just fine against the “Skyscraper”.
The Pick- Junior Dos Santos wins by decision. Because of the volatility of the heavyweight division where one punch can change any fight, I’d suggest staying away from wagering on this. I’ll still give the pick three stars though.
Main Card Picks & Quick Thoughts
Glover Teixeira vs James Te-Huna- Probably evenly matched standing up, but on the ground it’s a different story. Teixeira is a black belt in BJJ and has finished 1st and 2nd in the Brazilian ADCC trials. Five wins by submission, no losses via sub. Te-Huna has three legitimate submission losses.
The Pick- Glover Teixeira by submission in round 2. 4/5 stars.
Gray Maynard vs TJ Grant- Dunham was able to takedown Grant three times in their fight, and he doesn’t have the same strength and wrestling credentials that Maynard has. He is very well rounded though and looks good at 155. Maynard consistently fought better competition though, giving Frankie Edgar all he can handle. Big step up for Grant.
The Pick- Maynard by decision. 3/5 stars.
Donald Cerrone vs KJ Noons- Both fighters come from strong kickboxing backgrounds, so expect fireworks. Noons is probably a little bit better at letting his hands go due to pro boxing background as well, but Cerrone has the better submission game. Both guys are tough to finish. Cerrone’s resume is a bit more impressive, and Noons has lost four of five.
The Pick- Cerrone by decision. 4/5 stars.
Rick Story vs Mike Pyle- Pyle by decision. 1/5 stars.
Dennis Bermudez vs Max Holloway- Bermudez by decision- 3/5 stars.
Robert Whittaker vs Colton Smith- Smith by decision. 4/5 stars.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Abel Trujillo- Nurmagomedov by KO in round 2. 4/5 stars.
Stephen Thompson vs Nah-Shon Burrell- Thompson by KO in round 1. 5/5 stars.
Brian Bowles vs George Roop- Bowles by decision. 3/5 stars.
Jeremy Stephens vs Estevan Payan- Stephens by KO in round 3. 5/5 stars.