Perhaps my adoration for combat sports developed from my love for Professional Wrestling. I remember watching the UFC in it’s earliest form, when it was a tournament of fighters, the winner having to compete in several matches in the same night to be victorious. It made household names out of Royce Gracie (Who won 3 of the first 4 tournaments), Dan Severn, Ken Shamrock, and “Tank” Abbot.
UFC would eventually drop it’s tournament format, develop weight classes akin to boxing, and have individual champions in each one. Unlike Boxing, UFC, and it’s president Dana White listens to fans, and puts together fight cards people want to see. He’s a savvy business mind, who is a bit outspoken and uncensored, a perfect figurehead for such an orginization. If Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao were MMA fighters, they’d have meet in the octagon YEARS ago.
Saturday’s UFC 148 promises to be an evening of Top Tier Mixed Martial Arts action, and many analysts expect their first event to garner over 1 Million PPV buys (typically, their events generate 500k-800k). A night filled with heated rivalries, long anticipated rematches, rising stars, and broken bones (and whatever other cliche I can jam in there). If you’ve never watched MMA, this is the one to start with. Here is a rundown of key fights for the evening.
Middleweight Championship – Chael Sonnen Vs Anderson Silva (c):
Anderson “The Spider” Silva is touted as pound for pound, the best fighter in the world. He’s riding the waves of a 15 fight win streak (his last loss was due to an illegal kick). His mobility is unmatched, and frustrates his opponents. The only man to truly challenge him in the last 8 years has been Chael Sonnen. At UFC 117 (August 2010), Chael delivered a ground and pound beating for 22 minutes, only to get caught by a triangle choke, having no choice but to tap out. A post-fight drug test showed Sonnen had elevated levels of testosterone in his body, and was subsequently fined and suspended for one year.
There is a lot of bad blood here. Both men have been trash talking, generating as much buzz as a Hogan vs Andre Super fight, with Sonnen playing (and embrcing) the part of the heel to a tee. As far as a winner here, I go with history. If Silva was able to win before where his opponent had more testosterone than Dolemite, why wouldn’t he be able to do it again. Sonnen does have a chance. The beating he dished out before may have created a psychological edge, and Silva could potentially buckle under the pressure.
Tito Ortiz Vs Forrest Griffen III
As the “III” may indicate, these fighters have met twice before, both times coming to split decision, with each fighter taking a win. Both men are former Light-Heavyweight champions. Ortiz has stated this will be his last fight, and will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame prior to the fight. Ortiz, however, won’t ride into the sunset with a win. He’s won only 1 match since a 2006 Knock out of Ken Shamrock. Griffen, though shaky in recent fights over stiff competition, should handily walk away with the decision.
Cung Le v Patrick Cote : Expect Le to win with powerful strikes against a slumping Cote
Dong Hyun Kim v Demien Maia : Maia walks away with a win, probably by decision (has last 7 fights went to the judges).
Chad Mendez v Cody McKenzie – Mendez, with a win, hopes to jockey himself for a rematch against Jose Aldo for the featherweight title.
Ivan Menjivar v Mike Easton – Easton (from DC) could provide one of the quickest KO’s of the night. Could shoot through the Bantamweight division quickly.
So, as they say, call your local cable or satellite provider to order, or do as I do, find yourself a sports bar playing it, and enjoy with a couple hundred strangers. The under-card is provided for free on FX, and the opening bout on Facebook. The fireworks could, in fact, begin this afternoon at the weigh ins.