Tonight’s the big night: the UFC returns to Brazil with a stacked to da tits card full of South American talent. For this event’s guide, we break down the headlines rolling into the event, the narratives that have been pushed, and which prelims you should keep an eye on. We also break down some of the newbies on the card so it’s not just random guy from Marajó vs random guy from Vila Velha. There’s also some interesting things going on with the sportsbook odds on this event that you might want to know about. if you, I dunno, like money and stuff. This and more, all after the jump!
(pic by Peter O’Toole, who’s work you can check out at http://www.peter-otoole.co.uk. All hail Peter O’Toole!)
The Big Stories Heading Into UFC RIO
How will Anderson Silva deal with a wrestler like Okami?
We all saw Chael Sonnen come 15 seconds away from lay’n’praying the belt right off Anderson Silva’s waist. What we’ll learn tonight is how much of that had to do with the rib injury Anderson’s camp revealed after that fight. While everyone talks about how Okami is basically a bigger, stronger, and straight up better version of Chael, don’t forget Chael beat him pretty easily when they met up at UFC 104. While Okami isn’t liable to fall for a submission as easily as Chael, he also might be feeling ‘evolved’ enough to spend some time striking rather than diving for takedowns.
(pic via MMAJunkie’s weigh in gallery)
Who’s old and busted? Shogun or Forrest?
When Shogun showed up in the UFC, he sucked giant balls on account of some busted up knees and the kind of cardio that goes along with not being able to run. Forrest Griffin took that Shogun and whupped his ass. Now it’s four years later and Shogun is back in championship form while Forrest is the one people think is on the verge of falling apart. But a year and a half away from the sport to heal up seems to have done Griffin some serious good – he handled Rich Franklin en route to a decision win earlier this year and put a lot of the questions about a shoddy chin to rest by taking a ton of big shots from Ace.
Is Big Nog past his expiration date?
Too many fighters claim they’re 100% after injuries and surgeries that would have ended the careers of most other professional athletes. Nog is coming back from a year of staph snacking on him and surgery on both his knees AND both his hips. In theory, we could see a whole new Nog … because half his shit has been replaced or rebuilt. In practice, who knows how Nogueira will perform? He admitted he rushed his rehab to compete in Brazil (which is extra silly now that Zuffa sees South America as a lucrative new Canada of opportunity). He also looks like a half melted action figure. All in all, things don’t sound so great for Minotauro … but if by some magic he does show up rejuvenated and revitalized, it’s going to be a pretty epic fight.
Prelims to watch
(Dan Miller’s infamous guillotine choke from hell)
Rousimar Palhares vs Dan Miller: Aside from that brainfart during the Marquardt fight, Paul Harris has been looking pretty damn awesome. And Dan Miller is a much better fighter than his UFC record would indicate. He was 11-1-1 until 2009 when his first child died and his second child went through a bunch of heart wrenching health problems. He’s been fighting much better recently and this scrap should be a nice back and forth fight featuring scrambles and submissions a plenty.
Erick Silva vs Luis Ramos: This is Jungle Fights vs Shooto Brazil with two of the top guys from each organization facing off. Luis is a tough fighter but Erick Silva is being touted as a big deal and one of the next greats to come out of Brazil. Unless Ramos gets on top of him and drags out a decision win, expect this to be a showcase for the latest Brazilian Silva.
Who the hell is…
As always, our buddies at BetUS are taking money on who you think will win, provided you live in a country where the government hasn’t decided to protect you from the Satanic evils of sportsbook betting. There’s some juicy odds on this event if you’re willing to roll the dice. Like in the main event featuring Anderson Silva vs Yushin Okami.
Of course Anderson is the heavy favorite at -600, so there’s not much point on putting money on him knocking Yushin out. However, if you’re thinking we’ve never really seen how Silva performs against a strong wrestler with good jiu jitsu defense, you’re not going to find many middleweights that will test him better than Yushin Okami (+400)
Forrest Griffin at (+180) isn’t bad either, even though Shogun Rua (-230) is almost a completely different fighter from the one Forrest beat the last time around. It will be interesting to see how Shogun deals with three rounds of Forrest trying to grind him down and empty his gas tank.
Brendan Schaub (-240) hasn’t been able to bring his can crushing abilities up to the next level where his opposition stands. Remember Big Nog (+190) has boxing skillz and isn’t liable to leave his chin hanging out like a hooker’s vagina for Schaub to fwap.
If you really like them underdogs: Stanislav Nedkov (+175) isn’t that great, but he has the skills to put Luiz Cane (-220) on his back and lie on him for a decision win. Spencer Fisher (+160) is always capable of out-hearting an opponent for a win, and Thiago Tavares (-200) has lost fights he should have won like this before. And then there’s Dan Miller (+250) over Rousimar Palhares (-350) … because sometimes dreams do come true!
Something cool BetUS is doing this time: you can bet on who you think is going to take the Fight of the Night, Sub of the Night, and KO of the Night awards. Most likely for FOTN: Silva vs Okami (+350) and Pearson vs Barbosa (+350). For KOTN: Anderson Silva (+500) and Brendan Schaub (+600). Submission: Rousimar Palhares (+500) and Big Nog (+500).