UFC 168 takes place this Saturday night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for the all fights for you below.
Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva
What a fascinating rematch we have here. There’s a lot of questions leading into this one about Silva – how badly does he want to get back on top? How is his chin after being KO’d last time out? Will he change his strategy, or continue to tempt fate with his hands down as he has done in so many of his other recent fights?
The most telling question of all though is, what will Weidman’s strategy be in this bout? If he’s willing to stand and trade with Silva again then we have a fight on our hands. However, there’s every chance that on this occasion he’s going to attempt to use his wrestling advantage to try to get this fight to the mat and outgrapple the former champ over the course of five rounds, much as Sonnen tried – and almost succeeded – in doing a few years ago.
Weidman did manage to get Silva down relatively easily in the first round of their previous encounter, though in all fairness Silva did then show his ground skills off as he escaped back to his feet. It was at that stage that Weidman opted to start striking, but I think he’d continued to pursue takedowns he could also have found success.
The signs are that if this one is fought over five rounds then Silva will have some opportunities to strike with Weidman or perhaps threaten with a submission on the gournd, and there’s no-one better at seizing the moment and finding those magical ‘lightning in a bottle’ moments to end the fight.
Nevertheless, I can’t shake that gut feeling that Weidman can follow the blueprint left by Sonnen a few years ago, and go one better by outwrestling him for the full five rounds to retain his title and leave us truly entering a brave new world in 2014 with the likes of Silva and GSP no longer the kingpins of the UFC’s fight calender.
Chris Weidman to win by decision.
Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate
The rivarly between these two has been terrific for woman’s MMA, but the question now is whether the drama outside of the cage can be matched by the actual fight itself.
Well, for as long as it lasted their first encounter in the Strikeforce promotion was actually very entertaining indeed. While everyone remembers the fact that Rousey nearly ripped Tate’s arm off, don’t forget that Tate did escape one armbar attempt early in the fight and actually took her rival’s back at on stage.
So Tate’s no slouch on the mat, but the evidence did suggest that overall Rousey has a signficant edge. So, Tate has to really fight hard to keep this one standing, and that’s where things could get interesting as Rousey’s certainly not the finished article on the feet and Tate offers enough to potentially offer her some problems.
I suspect Tate doesn’t have the power to keep Rousey at bay though and she will be able to close the distance and use her judo to get this fight to the mat. From there it’s just a question of how long it is before Rousey seizes a limb – it’d something of a victory for Tate if she could survive a round, but I say the champ still gets it done inside the first.
Ronda Rousey to win by submission (armbar) in Rd1.
Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne
Good fight here between two heavyweights looking to push into title contention in 2014.
Browne has the heavier hands of the two and will be looking to keep this fight standing, while Barnett should have a significant advantage on the ground with his wrestling and submission skills.
Both definitely have a chance to win here inside the distance if they can implement their gameplans, but overall Barnett’s fight smarts, experience and level of comfort wherever the fight takes place has me leaning more towards him here and I think he can tap out Browne at some stage in this encounter.
Josh Barnett to win by submission in Rd2.
Jim Miller vs. Fabricio Camoes
Miller’s form has been uncharacteristically patchy of late, albeit against some of the very best at 155lbs. Nevertheless, he still remains a very tough opponent for pretty much anyone in the division with his hard-nosed, hard working approach to fighting and well-rounded skills.
It’s not a great match-up for Camoes who’s already coming off a loss to Melvin Guillard and is now facing someone even more challenging in many aspects. he’s also been out of action for a year and half now, and Miller isn’t the type of opponent you’d look for if you’ve got any signs of ring rust.
Camoes is at his most dangerous with submissions, but he’ll struggle to take down Miller, and the UFC vet should be too experienced to give him openings to lock in a submission. I see Miller just applying his usual pressure game, mixing up a bit of striking with takedowns, positional control and steady ground and pound to earn a decision victory here.
Jim Miller to win by decision.
Dustin Poirier vs. Diego Brandao
Given the high profile nature of some of the other bouts on this event, the main card opener between Poirier and Brandao has slipped under the radar a little, but it has all the makings of a cracking encounter.
Brandao is a very potent, dynamic and explosive talent on the feet who’s particularly dangerous in the first half of his fights, but does tend to fade in the latter stages if he doesn’t find a way to finish.
Poirier doesn’t wield the same kind of power in his punches, but he is still a good technical striker who’s less reckless with his attacks which could be to his benefit.
It’s an interesting fight if it goes to the mat too with both men being good grapplers who pose a legitimate submission threat.
If Poirier survives the early onslaught he should have a notable cardio advantage in the later rounds though which could pay dividends on the mat in particular. With that in mind I’m taking him to eek out a close decision on the scorecards.
Dustin Poirier to win by decision.
Prelims: (Predicted Winners In Bold)
Uriah Hall vs. Chris Leben
Gleison Tibau vs. Michael Johnson
Manny Gamburyan vs. Dennis Siver
John Howard vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
Bobby Voelker vs. William Macario
Robbie Peralta vs. Estevan Payan