UFC 160 “Velasquez vs. Silva 2” preliminary breakdown

May 23, 2013

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UFC 160 “Velasquez vs. Silva 2” preliminary breakdown



Alexander Lee – You’ve got to feel for Jeremy Stephens (7-8 UFC, 20-9).  A mainstay in the lightweight division, Stephens has fallen on hard times dropping his last 3.  An arrest forced a rescheduling of his match with Yves Edwards and when the fight took place, Stephens was stopped via strikes for the first time in his career.  He’s looking for a fresh start at featherweight, but the UFC is doing him no favours matching him up with white hot Strikeforce export Estevan Payan (0-0 UFC, 14-3 [1 NC]).  Payan hasn’t lost a fight in nearly 4 years.  Remarkably, Stephens is only 26 years old (5 years Payan’s junior), so a comeback is not out of the question.

*****

Abel Trujillo (1-0 UFC, 10-4) looked like a starved animal in his UFC debut, shrugging off the takedown attempts of Marcus Levesseur and pummeling him en route to a second round stoppage.  There is a huge rankings gap between Trujillo and opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov (3-0 UFC, 19-0).  The Eagle is considered by some to already be a top 10 lightweight.  It’s an odd booking and one that seems far more beneficial to Trujillo.   A win vaults him into the top 20, while this is a resume builder for Nurmagomedov at best.

*****

If Trujillo and Nurmagomedov represent the future of the lightweight division, then the same could be said of Dennis Bermudez (3-1 UFC, 10-3) and Max Holloway (3-1 UFC, 7-1) in the featherweight division.  26 and 21 respectively, both fighters have grown by leaps and bounds since faltering in their debuts.  Most recently, Bermudez came out on top in a “Fight of the Year” candidate against Matt Grice while Holloway snagged the biggest win of his career against veteran slugger Leonard Garcia.  This should be a dynamic match-up.

*****

 

3 Matches To Keep An Eye On

 

On Facebook:

Bantamweight Bout: Brian Bowles (2-1 UFC, 5-1 WEC, 10-2) v. George Roop (3-5 UFC, 1-1-1 WEC, 13-9-1)

Bowles hasn’t fought since November 2011, when he was soundly defeated by Urijah Faber.  That’s more than enough time for everyone to forget that Bowles was once the best bantamweight in the world and that his only other loss is to Dominick Cruz.  Bowles is a powerful 135er with a high finishing rate.  He goes into this fight as a heavy favourite and he’s looking to re-establish himself after a long period of inactivity.

Roop would like to get this win to prove once and for all that he’s more than a 6’1” oddity in the bantamweight division.  The long limbed Roop presents all kinds of problems, especially when you consider that he’s often half a foot taller than most of the athletes in this weight class.  He has an active guard, though he has shown a vulnerability to being controlled by wrestlers in the past.  If he’s able to keep Bowles on the outside, an upset is possible, but that’s easier said than done against a fighter with Bowles’ patience and power.

On FX:

Welterweight Bout: Colton Smith (1-0 UFC, 3-1) v. Robert Whittaker (1-0 UFC, 10-2)

I wonder how many people know that these two guys are Ultimate Fighter winners?  Smith is the winner of the forgettable (and regrettable) TUF 16, while Whittaker stormed his way to the TUF: The Smashes (the Australian edition of the series) championship.  FX is the perfect stage for these two to make a name for themselves in what should be a classic striker vs. grappler encounter.

Smith was a surprise winner, making a poor first impression when he started his fight to get into the house by faking a touching of the gloves.  That’s a big no-no.  It must have been an act of desperation, because he was a model citizen (read: boring) in the house and didn’t need any dastardly tricks to make it to the finale (though that’s not saying much considering the cast that year).  He then used his wrestling to hound much-hyped Tristar product Mike Ricci, sweeping the scorecards and earning a six-figure contract.

Whittaker’s knocked out both of his opponent’s on the show and then out-brawled the gritty Brad Scott to claim his title.  Despite being younger, Whittaker has the experience advantage and a history of finishing his opponents.  The win over Scott was his first decision victory.

Both men can claim famous training partners, with Smith being mentored by fellow military man Tim Kennedy and Whittaker having recently travelled to Montreal to train with the likes of Canadian Rory Macdonald.

Welterweight Bout: Mike Pyle (7-3 UFC, 24-8-1) v. Rick Story (8-4 UFC, 15-6)

 

It seems unfathomable that a fighter could record 3 straight 1st round knockouts in the UFC and not garner much attention, but that’s exactly the situation Pyle finds himself in.  A fight against Gunnar Nelson looked like a step backwards and it’s only due to a Nelson injury that Pyle was instead paired with story, a fighter with similar credentials.

Story was a perennial contender before a horrendous loss to Charlie Brenneman sent him into a 2-3 funk, with the two wins coming against replacements (Brock Jardine and Quinn Mulhern).  He can still hang his hat on back-to-back wins against current no. 1 contender Johny Hendricks and former no.1 contender Thiago Alves, but in this “what have you done for me lately” sports world we live in, those triumphs have grown increasingly distant.

This is an important and winnable fight for both men.  Whoever comes out on top is guaranteed a marquee match-up the next time out.  If Story can make this fight ugly, then he should have no problem handling Pyle.  Any hesitation and Pyle will sense it, seek and destroy.

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