Before I preview UFC 160, I’d like to quickly talk about Vitor Belfort’s knockout of the year. It’s safe to say nobody is going to top his knockout of Luke Rockhold this year. Even though I feel that TRT is wrong and shouldn’t be used, Belfort deserves kudos for a knockout that will never be forgotten. The middleweight division is in disorder right now, so will have to wait and see the winner of Anderson Silva versus Chris Weidman.
This is the UFC 160 preview, as the Memorial Day weekend pay-per-view is held in Las Vegas. I’ve been telling people that this card is becoming somewhat underappreciated. Everyone looks at the main event heavyweight title bout, as predictable and not appealing. That can be a fair assessment, but what about the rest of the card?
Mark Hunt versus Junior Dos Santos is going to have people on the edge of their seats. That is a fantastic fight; especially since Dos Santos has never fought someone that can strike quite like Hunt. Also, a number one contender’s matchup for the lightweight title will take place between Gray Maynard and T.J Grant. That is going to be an explosive fight with major implications.
The rest of the card has James Te Huna versus Glover Teixeira in a light heavyweight bout, which will see a lot of stand-up striking. This card is shaping up to be a really good card overall that seems to be hampered by the main event. To me, the heavyweight title fight isn’t bad at all and people are overreacting over it. John Villarreal couldn’t make it this time. I’ll get his picks sometime before the fights begin.
Lightweight: Donald Cerrone vs. K.J Noons
This is an entertaining opening fight. It seems to me Joe Silva is starting to realize that the lightweight division is starting to become the most exciting division in the UFC. It’s so deep in talent and on most occasions, two lightweights will put on a great fight. An example of that was Jim Miller versus Pat Healy at UFC 159, which was fight of the night. It’s a shame Healy lost his bonus because they found pot in his system. That was a terrible decision by the UFC to strip him of every winning he had.
As for this fight, this is probably going to stay standing up. Cerrone has shown that he likes to stay on his feet, while Noons’s career has been based on boxing. Noons must stay aggressive through out the entire fight. We’ve seen how if you give Cerrone space, he can finish anyone in an instant. Noons should imply the same strategy similar to Anthony Pettis and Nate Diaz. He’ll need to continue to attack, while being aware of Cerrone’s dangerous counter strikes.
Cerrone has never lost two fights in a row in his career. He’s always managed to stay consistent and keep control after a loss. Sometimes, he can be mentally rattled and that plays into his opponent’s hands. Unlike Noons, he’s well rounded and throws a lot more kicks. If he can land some leg kicks early, he can start gaining more momentum before going for the finish.
I’m excited to see this opener because I still consider Cerrone to be one of the best lightweights in the world. Noons is coming over from Strikeforce on a bad streak of losing four out of his past five fights, although some of it was due to poor judging. This is a tough matchup for him and it has all the makings of him being caught early, due to his head movements with his boxing style. Similar to his fight with Melvin Gulliard, Cerrone will catch him with a high left leg kick and will get back on track.
Winner via KO in the First Round: Donald Cerrone
Lightweight: T.J Grant vs. Gray Maynard
This is easily the toughest fight to pick on the card. Even though some people aren’t sure what to think of T.J Grant, he’s a legit threat and is riding a major winning streak. Gray Maynard may be a top fighter in this division, but Grant is no slouch and has shown that he can finish fights.
Grant needs to keep this fight close and avoid giving Maynard space to allow him to throw hooks or shoot for takedowns. If he can make this fight ugly early, he can win this fight using his quickness and landing more significant strikes. He’s shown a lot of improvement in his striking and fighting in the clinch.
Maynard is the favorite in this fight, but he must stick to his game plan. Everyone knows about Maynard’s takedowns and his powerful hooks. There isn’t anyone in the division that is stronger than him. As long as he doesn’t get too aggressive, he should be able to ground Grant. Although Grant has a solid ground game and can submit people, Maynard is a mauler and has dominated top fighters like Kenny Florian and Jim Miller.
It may seem like I’m completely favoring Maynard, but this isn’t going to be easy. Grant is very unpredictable and is very relentless when it comes to throwing knees and elbows in the clinch. I’m expecting this fight to be bloody within the first five minutes. It’ll be my choice for fight of the night with Maynard winning the third round and just defeating Grant by decision.
Winner via Unanimous Decision: Gray Maynard
Light Heavyweight: Glover Teixeira vs. James Te Huna
The consensus from most MMA fans was this looked to be a much better fight after Te Huna replaced Ryan Bader. I’m not sure how anyone can disagree; especially with his four fight win streak and constantly putting on great performances. Also, Te Huna has replaced Jason Miller as the man with the greatest entrance in MMA right now. If you haven’t seen it, you can check it out right here.
Te Huna may seem like a goofy guy, but once you see him throw punches the fun is over. He throws heavy hooks then mixes it up with a straight right or an uppercut. He is a rising star in the division that is hampered by one thing, which is a poor ground game. Similar to his fellow Australian Mark Hunt, most of his losses have been on the ground. Out of his five losses, four of them have been due to submissions.
Teixeira isn’t on the caliber of a Jon Jones or Vinny Magalhaes on the ground, but he’s shown how vicious he can be in ground-and-pound. His head kicks are also lethal, which rocked Rampage Jackson on a few occasions in his last fight. Similar to fellow Brazilian Junior Dos Santos, does he want to continue to stick with his game plan and try to fight Te Huna standing up? The fight somewhat correlates with the co-main event being based on the fighters being from the same native country.
Eventually Teixeira will look to shoot for a takedown on Te Huna. Some may only see him as a striker, but he’s proven he can submit people. His first fight in the UFC was finished by a triangle choke on a helpless Kyle Kingsbury, who was rocked by an uppercut. It should be a slugfest early on, before Teixeira realizes he needs to take it to the ground. He’s too good on the ground for Te Huna there and it’ll be over when he is in side control.
Winner via Third Round Kimura: Glover Teixeira
Heavyweight: Mark Hunt vs. Junior Dos Santos
I’m confident this fight won’t let me down like Daniel Cormier versus Frank Mir did. Just like 99 percent of MMA fans, this fight is going to have me on the edge of my seat. We have a true comeback story in Mark Hunt. Then, we have the best boxer in the heavyweight division in Junior Dos Santos. These two easily hit the hardest out of all the heavyweights.
There is no doubt that Dos Santos has faced some major challenges in his career, but this might be the toughest one yet. He is facing someone that hits harder than him and is someone that fighters don’t like to fight standup against. Dos Santos has said it repeatedly that he doesn’t plan on changing his game plan. That doesn’t surprise me, although will see how he reacts after taking a few punches from Hunt.
It still boggles my mind that Hunt is in this position. It seemed like he would never get to this position due to his cardio and poor ground game. His cardio is still not very good, but there have been massive improvements in his ground game. Still the big question for Hunt is if he’s ready to move and chase Dos Santos. He was gassed out by the third round against Stefan Struve, but was fortunate enough that Struve didn’t have a clue what he was doing by just standing there eating punches.
I’m not expecting Dos Santos to make the same mistake here. He’s going to be moving around and testing Hunt in all areas. We may even see the ground game of Dos Santos that hasn’t been seen much in his career. He took a beating for five rounds against Velasquez, so there is no doubt that he can take punishment. It’ll come down to cardio and Dos Santos always comes in fantastic shape. He’ll wear Hunt out with body punches, control on the ground from a takedown or two, and win by decision. Similar to Roy Nelson, Hunt’s chin is indestructible.
Winner via Unanimous Decision: Junior Dos Santos
Heavyweight Title: Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva
The title fight that people are already writing off as a win for Velasquez. I’m not going to blame people for not being excited because it was only last year on Memorial Day weekend when Velasquez demolished Silva. That is understandable, but once again many people are selling Antonio Silva short.
Silva is a dangerous striker that is very lanky, yet athletic for his size. When you have on knocked out Alistair Overeem and Fedor Emelianenko, you should never be looked over. His uppercut is one of the best in the game and is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Nobody picked him against Overeem and he managed to pull off the upset of the year. Now he’s in the same situation, where nobody is backing him in this fight except his camp.
Other than wrestling, I've always wondered what Cain Velasquez is best at doing in the heavyweight division? Then if you watch his fights, it’s clear that his other best attribute is cardio. He is always moving and never seems to be tired. If he at least attempted to use a submission, I’d call him the complete package as a fighter. Still he’s an elite fighter and still always mentions his last title reign ended in an instant. You better believe he’s going to be fired up for this fight.
The first two minutes will play a huge role in the fight. Silva will probably avoid throwing leg kicks at first before eventually attempting a few after the feeling out process. He’ll have to be careful because Velasquez is always going for a takedown, whether it’s a single or double leg. I’d like to see how Velasquez lasts if he gets caught by a strike. Other than the first fight against Dos Santos, he’s never really been in trouble from getting knocked out in his career.
It’ll be much more competitive, but Velasquez will reign supreme. We’ll see him implement his usual striking with a jab, then a straight right, then a hook before mixing it up. Sometimes people forget how good of a striker he is, especially if you watch his victories over Antonio Nogueira and Brock Lesnar. It’ll end in a stoppage, although expect Silva to be much more competitive.
Winner and Still Champion via Third Round TKO: Cain Velasquez
I’m expecting this to be even better than UFC 146 from last year. Even though every fight ended in a knockout last year on Memorial Day weekend, this seems to be more unpredictable. Unless there is a major upset, I’m not going to post a recap of the show.
Due to Memorial Day weekend, I’ll be traveling on Sunday and won’t have much time to write. If either Antonio Silva and/or Mark Hunt wins, I will have something posted about it on Tuesday because it’ll be major news. If it ends up as Cain Velasquez versus Junior Dos Santos III like most people predicted, I’m sure there will be plenty of time to talk about that in the future.
In terms of how our records are so far, John is 13-11 this year while I’m 12-12 in picking fights this year. I’ll find out from him beforehand about what his picks are. Hopefully he’ll be back next time. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and enjoy this fantastic card that I’m really excited for. This is all-around the best pay-per-view card I’ve seen in quite some time.
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