Saturday, 14 January 2012

UFC 142 - I predict a happy Brazilian Crowd!

Tonight the UFC is heading to Rio for a title fight and an intriguing middleweight (or not if Rumble Johnson has anything to do with it) match up.  I spent most of today writing my blog about gender inequality in MMA, but i'd like to get a quick preview out, if only so I can gloat tomorrow about how great my predictions were.

We have already had the UFC's triumphant return to Brazil at UFC 134, but this event till has much of the same buzz.  It's packed with Brazillians in relevant fights and even at the weigh-ins, the crowd seemed phenomenal.

Let's get down to picks.

Aldo vs Mendes

Picture via

Mendes' rise has been pretty quick.  He is a well decorated collegiate wrestler with improving stand-up and he trains at a great camp in Team Alpha Male.  As part of that camp he has a training partner who knows all about Jose Aldo, but I am not sure if that can help him.

Improving stand up is a world away from the stand up of a wrecking machine like Aldo.  Mendes' plan has to be to put the champ on his back and keep him there for 25 minutes.  Mendes has gone to decision in his last 4 fights and, if he is to win I am sure that is the way he will do it.  There is no way he will submit Aldo and Aldo has the wiliness and experience to avoid power shots from the bottom.

Taking down a guy like Aldo is no mean feat either.  Sure, Hominick managed it in their fight, but Aldo will have vastly improved his take down defense and if there's one thing he has proved, it is that he is good at any aspect of fighting that he cares to look into.  Aldo's tactic has to be to keep it standing and punish take down attempts with knees.  Further, he will look to use leg kicks, a la his fight with Faber, to keep Mendes at a distance where his shots (quick as they are) will be less effective.  Should it go to the ground, Aldo will be no fish out of water and if I were Mendes, I would not feel safe.

Aldo by TKO 2nd or 3rd round.

Johnson vs Belfort

Picture via cagejunkies

The big story here is that Johnson failed to make weight in a big weigh for this fight, coming in at 197lb, instead of 185lb.  Before this news I had the fight at around 50/50, but I now put Vitor favourite, I'll explain why below.

Belfort is coming off the back of a destructive vitory over Yoshihiro Akiyama and he has won 6 of his last 7 with his only loss coming at the hands of Anderson Silva.  His blend of powerful and overwhelming striking plus a BJJ base he rarely uses, make him a fearsome opponent.  Johnson was a beast at 170lbs and he is a beast at 185lb too.  He has great power, great wrestling and has some range with those head kicks.  Standing, the power goes to Johnson and the aggression and technique to Belfort.  Just as Belfort rarely uses his BJJ acumen, so Anthony Johnson prefers to stand and trade than to take it to the ground.  I would put the top control of Johnson vs the ground game of Belfort at rough even too.

The topping point then, is the weight cut.  Vitor Belfort seems to have had a pretty healthy weight cut and he will walk into the cage around 200lb tomorrow, rehydrated and with a good meal inside of him.  However, having missed weight (apparently due to illness) Johnson has to agree to being below 205lb by the fight tomorrow.  This was a shrewd request from the Belfort camp.  That means that by tomorrow Johnson can only put on around 8lbs, which means he runs the risk of going into the fight still dehydrated from the weight cut.  Expect to see Johnson gas out pretty quickly in the fight and to be lacking some power.

Belfort by TKO 2nd round.

Other thoughts

I am very much looking forward to seeing what Terry Etim can do against tougher opposition but I am somewhat worried about the mean looking Edson Barboza, he is 9-0 and looks dangerous.  It should be a pretty good fight with Etim probably looking to avoid clear exchanges and clinches, instead working the outside and possibly taking the fight to the ground where his gnarly submission game should come into play.

I would like to know more about the finances of the UFC and what percentage of their profits go towards fighters in the light of ESPNs recent report.

I am pretty annoyed whenever I see professional sports people out of shape.  Whether it be Ben Rothwell or Big Country Nelson coming into fights looking more like Mr. Blobby than Mr. Overeem or fighters missing weight like Anthony Johnson.  MMA is a professional sport and if you don't care enough to take care of yourself then you deserve to lose.

UPDATE:  It seems like this is how the story of Rumble Johnson missing weight went down.  He had a big, big weight cut and managed to get down to within one and a half pounds of his 186lb target but at that point he could not go any further.  In fact, he needed emergency treatment to re-hydrate him, hence his 197lb weigh in.

Now, this leads to a few issues which will no doubt be rehashed over the next few days.  Is it right for him to fight having received emergency re-hydration the day before the bout?  Is it fair that he is allowed to come in at 205, when Belfort has made 185lb?  It is a strange old situation.

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