By Brian Beard
Jose “Junior” Aldo (21-1-0) vs. Frankie “The Answer” Edgar (14-3-1):
What a great fight this will be! Edgar is making the drop from 155 to 145 and gets an immediate title shot. Considering he is the former 155lb UFC World Champion and has beaten the likes of BJ Penn twice I’d say it is well deserved. Aldo, the champ, is an absolute monster at 145 and this will be no easy task for Edgar. Both have outstanding stand up with Edgar possibly being the better boxer and Aldo the better kick boxer. I give the wresting edge to Edgar and the submissions to Aldo, but don’t look for this fight to go to the ground. We will be watching two guys that are very elusive trying to hunt each other down and it will be very entertaining. I look for the first round to be a feeling out round where the fighters don’t engage too much and try to find their range. The second round should liven up and we will see a very technical game of cat and mouse. I am very interested to see how Edgar does at 145 as I think he would absolutely dominate the division if it weren’t for Aldo. My prediction: I think Aldo will win a very technical decision and both fighters will look like they could go five more rounds.
Rashad “Suga” Evans (22-2-1) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (20-5-0):
Why does it feel like the game has passed both of these awesome veterans by? They just don’t seem relevant like they used to and I’m not sure why. Especially Rashad Evans. This dude is a BEAST and only has two losses in a 25 fight professional career. Nog on the other hand is a legend that I believe is on his way out. Unfortunately he has become a gate keeper, which happens to all of the greats eventually. I don’t put Evans in that boat just yet. Nog is still extremely dangerous but tends to struggle with good wrestlers as of late. He has awesome Jiu Jistu but Evans has awesome Jiu Jitsu defense and awesome wrestling. Nog is a pretty technical boxer where as Evans is very fast and explosive with his strikes. My prediction: I look for this to be a war but I look for Evans to win definitively. Evans via TKO late in the second round.
Alistair “The Reem” Overeem (36-11-1) vs. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (17-4-0):
Will we see the anabolic freak show Overeem for this fight? He was busted for failing a drug test before his last fight in April of ’12 and who knows how much of a difference being clean will make. I am going to guess a lot. Silva is a beast but has shown to have a little bit of a soft spot on the chin. Both guys have great power and will be ready to bang. I think we will see a lesser version of the Reem as he should be drug free for this one. He also hasn’t fought in over a year so ring rust could play a factor as well. Both are pretty well rounded with Overeem holding the striking advantage. I would give the ground game a slight edge for Silva. When you are dealing with guys this big and skilled, anything goes. One shot is all it takes. My prediction: I look for Overeem to win this one but he will not look the same as he did when he fought big Cock Chestner in 2011. Overeem by decision.
Jon Fitch (27-4-1) vs. Demian Maia (17- 4-0):
This is a very interesting matchup that will pit an expert wrestler against an expert submission fighter. Maia is one of the best submission fighters in the UFC and the world and has been improving his stand up game with every fight. Fitch is a scrappy wrestler with good enough stand up to push the fight where he wants it, into the cage and onto the ground. I give the striking advantage to Fitch. He also has a great submission game and awesome submission defense. I look for that to be the difference here. The first round will consist of ugly stand up with Maia trying to get the fight to the ground, unsuccessfully. My prediction: The fight will eventually go to the ground where Fitch will fend off submissions from Maia and eventually pound out a decision. For those of you that hate the ground fighting tune out for this fight, but it should be great!