Here’s a little preview breaking down tomorrow night’s UFC 82: Pride of a Champion, fight-by-fight, including detailed predictions along the way.
UFC 82 features a main event, middleweight title unification bout between current UFC title holder Anderson Silva and PRIDE champion Dan Henderson.
The show, which will take place at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, will also include a heavyweight affair between Cheick Kongo and Heath Herring as well as the return of former champion Evan Tanner as he takes on Japanese sensation Yushin Okami.
A total of ten fights round out the card.
I’m very excited for this fight. It’s one of those dream fights that I always wanted to see but didn’t think it would ever end up happening.
I don’t believe Henderson for a minute when he says that he’s going to try and stand with Silva. It’d be a stupid move on his part. Is Henderson overrated as a striker? I’d tend to think so. His knockout of Silva has been blown out of proportion. Henderson was able to catch Silva because he’s patient on his feet and doesn’t let himself buy into Silva’s game.
With that said he has one hell of a chin. When I say is striking isn’t as advertised, he does tend to take a good amount of shots in some of his fights. That’s a bad idea against Silva in my opinion.
I’ve long been a believer that guys like Henderson, Matt Lindland, and Evan Tanner have the style to be able to beat Silva. Henderson is likely the best out of the bunch so it’s going to be interesting to see how this fight turns out. While I think Henderson will be able to control Silva on the ground, he has a better chance of actually finishing the fight in the later rounds, where Silva has never been before.
Prediction: Henderson by TKO
This is a fight that doesn’t really make much sense but because of the lack of heavyweight contenders, it kind of has to happen. At least it’s better than Kongo-Justin McCully which was nearly signed. Still, there is no clear cut contender to Nogueira’s title, unless Arlovski beats O’Brien and then signs an extension.
Anyway, I’m not sure if this fight is going to be the heavyweight slugfest that everyone is expecting. As we saw on Countdown to UFC 82, this is a revamped Heath Herring, who has formed a new camp and lost weight. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Herring quickly takes this one to the ground.
Kongo really only has one way to win this fight and he’s going up against a fighter that will be able to hang with him on the feet. He looked impressive against Cro Cop but I tend to think that he’ll have trouble with Herring, who has impressive submissions in his arsenal. I don’t think this will go the distance but it’s definitely not going to be because someone was knocked out.
Prediction: Herring by submission
This will be the war on the feet everyone is looking for. Both guys don’t mind banging at all. This is Sakara’s first fight at 185 lbs so it’ll be interesting to see how the weight cutting goes for him and if it affects him at all going into the fight.
I guess you could say that Sakara has the advantage on the feet based on the fact that he’s a former boxer and the better technical puncher. However skills learned inside the ring aren’t always as effective inside the cage, as we’ve seen in Sakara’s stint in the UFC so far. He doesn’t exactly have the best record.
I’m glad that Leben decided to stay with the UFC. He’s a guy that they can really market. I think his confidence is back after the huge win over Martin. While this fight should take place on the feet for the majority of the time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Leben go for a few takedowns to score easy points as well. Leben is the better all-around fighter here.
Prediction: Leben by unanimous decision.
I’m looking forward to Tanner’s return very much, just as many others. This fight is very interesting as Okami will be the first ground and pound-style type of fighter that Tanner has probably faced since Tito Ortiz. If you look at his record, you’ll see exactly what I mean.
The key to this one is what Tanner’s conditioning is going to be like. All of that time off no doubt took a toll on his body and he’s only been in fighting shape for a couple of months now. I’d definitely give Tanner the edge on the feet. As much of an unorthodox striker he is, Okami is that much worse technically. As for the ground, Tanner has better submissions but Okami is the strong fighter and might be able to out-wrestler his counterpart.
On a side note, the Tanner-Okami fight is basically for a shot at the winner of Silva-Henderson. There’s no one else in the middleweight division right now that owns enough consecutive wins nor is prepared enough. Tanner is basically getting thrown to the wolves in this one. Going up against Okami after a two-year layoff is going to be a tough task. I like Tanner in this fight but I think he’s going to experience many a close call, similar to how all of his fights usually go.
Prediction: Tanner by submission
Wilson is a very good fighter but he’s making his UFC debut against the wrong person in this one. Wilson is a very well-rounded fighter but Fitch takes the cake in all of those categories. There’s really not much to say here. The only thing Fitch has to watch out for is Wilson’s triangle, as it’s quite good. Other than that, he should be able to coast to an easy win.
Prediction: Fitch by submission
It’s pretty sad to see Arlovski go out like this. Despite what anyone else says, especially these positive quotes from his management team, it’s obvious what’s going on – this will be Arlovski’s last fight in the UFC. Usually this is one of those fights where you’d think Arlovski would grab an easy win in his exit. I don’t think so here. I’m not too keen on Arlovski’s wrestling ability and I’m thinking that O’Brien should be able to have a field day. Throw the ring rust out the window in this one, both haven’t fought in a long time.
Prediction: O’Brien by unanimous decision
This should be a good one. Fioravanti has a huge advantage with his knockout power but Cummo is a decent wrestler and won’t have any problem closing the distance and keeping Fioravanti in the clinch. Fioravanti usually has problems with fighters who refuse to buy into his game of standing and banging. Cummo should give him fits all night long.
Prediction: Cummo by unanimous decision
Koscheck should be able to win this fight anywhere it goes. I’d look for a fight similar to the performance he put on against Diego Sanchez. It may not be the most entertaining but it’ll be effective. If Hazelett somehow goads him into going on the ground, his wrestling should be good enough to be able to prevent him from getting caught in anything serious.
Prediction: Koscheck by unanimous decision
Interesting matchup in this one. Both guys have similar styles. They either like to pound their opponent out or try to crank on a submission. The fact that Sanchez has a lot of heart and is very aggressive in his fights should play well for him here. Bielkheden is notorious for folding like a cheap suit once he becomes overwhelmed.
Prediction: Diego Sanchez by TKO
Halverson brings a good amount of experience to the table but I don’t see him getting past Gurgel in this one. Gurgel’s aggressiveness should offset any kind of plan Halverson has to be able to control his opponent. I just hope he doesn’t pull the same crap he did in his last UFC fight against Huerta.
Prediction: Jorge Gurgel by submission