UFC 162 “Silva vs. Weidman” preliminary bout preview

July 2, 2013

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UFC 162 “Silva vs. Weidman” preliminary bout preview



Alexander Lee – UFC 162 is just days away from the long-awaited middleweight title battle between current champion Anderson Silva and #1 contender Chris Weidman.  UFC 162: Silva vs Weidman takes place on July 6, 2013 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Below is a preview of the preliminary bouts that will be featured on the under-card.

Mike Pierce (8-3 UFC, 16-5) finds himself in a strange, precarious position in the company.  He’s fought several top names, including Jon Fitch, Johny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck, but he couldn’t capitalize on any of those opportunities.  Worse, the losses to Hendricks and Koscheck were painfully close split decisions.  The UFC seems to have lost faith in him as a contender, with his last three fights coming against opponents with next to no name recognition.  That trend continues on Saturday when he faces dangerous submission specialist David Mitchell (1-2 UFC, 12-2).  A win would give Pierce a superficially attractive 4 fight win streak, while a loss would prove devastating for his UFC career.

*****

Brian Melancon (0-0 UFC, 6-2) only has 8 career fights under his belt, but he’s already fought for Bellator and Strikeforce.  In MMA, all roads lead to the UFC and standing in his way is tough as nails Seth Baczynski (4-2 UFC, 18-9).  Baczynski has a good chin and a massive height advantage so it’s going to be a challenge for Melancon to make use of his heavy hands.  It’s no secret that Strikeforce imports have acquitted themselves well, but this is a big step up in competition for Melancon.

*****

At this point in Edson Barboza’s (5-1 UFC, 11-1) career, Rafaello Oliveira (2-4 UFC, 16-5) is the perfect opponent.  The stain of that upset loss to Jamie Varner last year hasn’t been entirely erased, especially since Barboza’s bounce back win came against little known Lucas Martins.  Oliveira, like Varner, is in his second stint with the organization.  I’d argue it’s even harder to make back to the UFC than it is to make it the first time, so Barboza needs to be weary of Oliveira’s mental toughness.  A decisive win here would go a long way towards showing if he has matured into a serious threat.

*****

As far as heavyweight bouts go, you could do a lot worse than Gabriel Gonzaga (9-6 UFC, 14-7) and Dave Herman (1-3 UFC, 21-5).  Herman’s UFC tenure has been one long reality check.  He saw extraordinary success against fair competition in his first 22 career fights, but the UFC heavyweight division is a whole other beast.  Top ranked opponents Stefan Struve, Roy Nelson and Minotauro Nogueira all made sure that Herman didn’t make it out of the 2nd round.  He’s not being given any slack with this booking against Gonzaga, one of the UFC’s longest tenured heavyweights.  Herman definitely has the power to take Gonzaga out, but if this goes to the ground he might find himself once again rueing his comments about how “jiu-jitsu isn’t that great.”

*****

Continuing the tradition of TUF winners being given favourable opponents, Smashes lightweight champ Norman Parke (1-0 UFC, 17-2) meets middling Japanese prospect (1-0 UFC, 12-3) Kazuki Tokudome.  No disrespect to Tokudome, but he’s being set up for a loss against a fighter who the UFC sees as a potential draw for promoting future cards in the UK.  Wrestling is Tokudome’s biggest strength.  It just so happens that Parke is also a good wrestler and he’ll have a size advantage.  This should be a showcase fight for the native of Northern Ireland.  He needs to take this opportunity to search for a finish and not just grind out an easy win.

 

One To Watch:

On FX:

Middleweight Bout: Chris Leben (12-8 UFC, 22-9) v. Andrew Craig (2-1 UFC, 8-1)

 

This preliminary headliner is as far as you can get from UFC 161’s Jake ShieldsTyron Woodley disaster.  Shields and Woodley might have the more impressive resumes, but Leben and Craig are more likely to stir the crowd into a rapturous frenzy.  It’s a near miracle that Leben (one of my favourite fighters) still has a job with the UFC considering he’s 1-3 in his last 4 appearances and he recently served his second drug suspension.  His fan following and status as a member of Dana White’s beloved Ultimate Fighter 1 cast has gone a long way towards keeping him around.

Craig has a similar style to Leben.  He has a wide, loose stance and a strong jiu-jitsu background that belies the striking heavy attack he employs.  He also throws a mean head kick.  The issues he’s had with wrestlers in the past shouldn’t be a problem against Leben, who will be more than willing to throw hands with him in search of a bonus check.  This is gonna be a good one.

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