Friday, December 26, 2008

UFC 92 - Analysis and Predictions

Quite possibly, the greatest MMA card ever.

When UFC 73 - Stacked was first advertised, it seemed like the greatest MMA card ever, on both sides of the ocean. But with UFC 92, the matchmakers at UFC may have outdone themselves, especially in hindsight.

Looking back, UFC 73 was a great card that turned out fairly good results. And none of those matches, individually, could have been held as a PPV main event. UFC 92 boasts 3 matches that could conceivably be held months apart, but thankfully, they aren't.

For some reason the "weakest" fight on the card is the co-main event pitting former champ Frank Mir vs. Antonio Noguiera, also this season's TUF coaches. This is a bout for the grappling fans as both Nogueira and Mir are experts on the mat. Look for the older Nogueira to out fox the younger Mir who's looking for a second match, and possible repeat win, against current UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar.

The other co-main event, may have been the third fight between Quinton Jackson and Wanderlei Silva. This is the match all MMA fans have been salivating and waiting to see. The first two meetings between the two featured real bad blood and took place in Japan in PRIDE FC, and in the ring. Silva own two KO wins over Jackson, the second a devastating win that left Jackson's body hanging lifeless on the second rope strand, blood gushing from his nostrils.

Since then, Jackson has been on a rampage and lost his last fight in a close decision. Silva, on the other hand, has been on a mixed review. He lost an exciting stand up war to UFC posterboy Chuck Liddell. Then he came back to starch Liddell conqueror Keith Jardine in less than a round in brutal fashion. Maybe Silva has Jackson's number the same way Jackson has Liddell's or maybe Jackson has overcome an emotionally tumultuous 2008 and has learned how to defend against Silva's Muay Thai clinch. Rich Franklin never did against Anderson Silva and it's hard to forget how Silva performs in rematches. Ask MMA legend, Kasushi Sakuraba. This is a can't miss fight for anyone who enjoys combat sports. A main event in any era.

UFC 92 Weigh in

But here is why the UFC continually gains more fans and boxing tends to lag. The UFC could easily have held the Silva-Jackson 3 card as the main even and no one, not even this writer, would have uttered a letter of protest. But the UFC has maintained on the right path of building stars and not merely relying on the same names.

In the main event, red-hot Rashad Evans takes on equally fiery Forrest Griffin. Evans, fresh off a one-punch, highlight reel KO of Liddell, faces a surging force in Griffin who own wins over PRIDE phenom, Mauricio Rua and the man whom he won the UFC light-heavyweight, Jackson. The winner of this fight will be the king of the light HW division until either Lyoto Machida or Thiago Silva have a say in that matter. Perhaps Evans' wrestling background, coupled with slick lateral movement, will be enough to unseat the current champion who has continually progressed in all his matches, critics be damned.

Here are the questions that should be answered at UFC 92.

Can Mir overcome Nogueira's vast experience? How long can Nogueira compete at the elite level before the punishment finally takes its toll?

How will Jackson overcome the mental aspect of facing a man who has knocked him out twice and has absolutely no fear of him? Will the cage make any difference for Silva who had much success in the ring against Jackson? How much effect will Jackson's legal troubles and new trainer have?

Who's ground game will prevail, Evans or Griffin's? Is Evans really a better striker than Griffin? Whose the harder hitter in this match?

All questions that will be answered tonight. The heads at UFC deserve credit where it's due, and it is here.

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