Coming on the heels of one of the most hyped MMA shows in the sports history, UFC 139 from San Jose seems almost forgotten. It’s hardly surprising that some events are missed as this will be the 24th live show produced by the UFC in 2011, by the end of the year they will have had an average of 2.25 shows a month. And that’s just from one company, don’t forget about Strikeforce, Bellator, Dream, Titan Fighting, M-1 Global, Maximum Fighting and the numerous others all over the world. To be a hardcore MMA fan in this era is to be a master of the calendar and time management. Between Friday and Sunday there will be 4 decent sized MMA cards and the main will obviously be the card headlined by the former Pride alumni in California.
I’m only going to preview the main card as quite frankly I don’t have the time to do the Facebook or Spike TV prelims and most of you won’t be watching them anyway! First up we have one half of the “greatest fight in UFC history” Stephen Bonnar vs. Kyle Kingsbury. Bonnar is on a 2 fight win streak after having a bad run and Kingsbury in his third fight of 2011 going for his 5th straight win. Neither fighter is what you’d call elite nor can see either ever getting to that level but this does have potential to be an exciting balls out slugfest. Kingsbury has the edge by a slight margin in the wrestling department and I can see him clinching towards the end of the round en route to taking it by decision but as with most of the fights on the main card it’s a pick ‘em.
Martin Kampmann vs. Rick Story intrigues the hell out of me, as both men have real potential to fight for the welterweight strap if they have a few solid victories in succession. The Dane is coming off two controversial decision losses to Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez, even if he does lose this fight, I don’t think he’s in danger of a three strikes and you’re out of the UFC. Story is also coming of a loss as he was upset by Charlie Brenneman at UFC Live 4 back in June in a great 3 round matchup. Kampmann has the upper hand in the striking but Story is by far the better wrestler, so I think this comes down to Kampmann’s ability to stuff the takedowns or his aptitude to stand back up after the event. I can see this going all three sounds with Kampmann taking a close victory.
“The California Kid” Uriah Faber vs. Brian Bowles in a bantamweight clash of former WEC champions. Faber will be as over (to use a pro wrestling parlance) as anyone on the card due to his history of fighting in his home state. He’s coming off a loss to UFC bantamweight title holder Dominic Cruz in a match that won fight of the night honours. Bowles on the other hand is coming off two victories after taking his first loss of his pro career against the aforementioned Cruz. Brittle hands have slowed down Bowles’ progress and that could be a major factor if he decides to switch his usual game plan. Faber comes into the fight physically stronger and much more aggressive fighter and will be the more eager to get it on the ground. If he does get the Georgia native to the ground he will continually make him work and won’t stop working from the top. I see Faber taking it again by decision to again face Cruz in 2012.
Wanderlei Silva vs. the UFC debuting Cung Le is your co-main event of the evening. Everyone knows “the Axe Murderers” game plan, start swinging and hope you hit something. Cung is more of a puzzle, he’s 39 years old and hasn’t fought in 18 months while concentrating on his film career. Does ring rust play a factor in the San Shou masters debut? I think yes is the answer. Silva’s chin is as weak as any in UFC including coming off a 27 second KO loss to Chris Leben. This is the tale of opposites, Le needs to remain at distance and use his fantastic kicks whereas Silva needs to stand in the pocket and use his Muay Thai/punches to try and decapitate the former Strikeforce standout. I’ll give it to Silva by TKO but again it’s a tossup.
Main event time is the returning Dan Henderson against the former light heavyweight champ Mauricio Rua. What a great fight to headline the forgotten UFC. This is a five round fight and that could really make a huge difference to the 41 year old Henderson. Henderson has struggled in five round fights and seems to fade in the championship rounds but he also has a right hand to die for and unbelievable power. Shogun is a frustrating fighter at the best of times, as he sometimes looks a world beater and other times looks distinctly average. I’m leaning ever so slightly to picking the Brazilian as I think he can sit in the pocket and use his vicious knees to Hendo’s body in the latter half of the fight and during the opening salvo stay away from the hands of the former Olympic grappler with kicks from distance.
This should be a great night of fights on PPV in North America and ESPN in the UK, and don’t forget the prelims on Facebook. @Theszbien signing off.