|The Crippler vs. The Filipino Wrecking Machine|
Dana White has always been quick to remind anyone within earshot that the UFC consistently put on the best shows wherever they are in the world. A quick perusal of the line up for Saturday night in Birmingham and you’d be forgiven for questioning this claim.
Considering the stacked cards that the people of Canada, Brazil and to a lesser extent Germany have been gifted with over the last twelve months, the fight fans of these islands are more than entitled to feel a little hard done by.
Think about it, there are no major British or European stars competing, and the main event is two Americans battling for Middleweight mediocrity. The UFC run the risk of alienating their European fan base when they deny them the marquee events they deserve.
Ok, the axe is ground! Good, bad or indifferent there are fights to consider and some of them have potential. On paper, the main event between Chris Leben and Mark Munoz is the classic striker versus grappler. Munoz is a highly decorated amateur wrestler and Leben has been on either side of some the sport’s most memorable knockouts.
If Munoz is smart, checks his ego at the gate, this fight is his to lose. Despite having a devastating right hand, he should avoid going toe to toe at all costs; Leben has one punch knockout power and a head like a cinder block. The Crippler likes to lure his opponents into brawling with him, but when he fails to do so he looks pretty limited.
Munoz can take his opponent down whenever he pleases and this is exactly what he should do. Once it hits the ground, this fight can be finished by applying the Chael Sonnen method; get good posture in the guard and reign down power shots to the head and body. This will be most effective against the cage, so Leben’s offensive movement is limited.
Leben has a decent ground game, but is highly unlikely to submit a wrestler of Munoz’s power. If Munoz sticks to what he knows best and remembers he’s not Rocky, he can finish Leben. My prediction: Munoz by TKO/Referee stoppage in Round 2.
Bantamweight Brad Pickett will enjoy hometown advantage when he takes on takes on Renan Barao in the Co-main event. Expect a frenetic, technical battle from these WEC crossovers. Pickett, who has a victory over Demetrious Johnson, possesses some of the best boxing skills in the division. Barao is a submission specialist with solid Muay Thai. Pickett will be difficult to stop in his own backyard, coupling that with his experience and striking ability, you’d have to back him. My prediction: Pickett by decision.
Thiago Alves will want to prove a point to the UFC brass after they matched him with Octagon debutant Papy Abedi. The point of course is; that he is still a contender at 170lbs. Abedi is unbeaten and well rounded, but he has not fought close to the same level of competition Alves has. My prediction: Alves by KO/TKO in Round 1.
Enjoy the show. Keep an eye out for Scouser Terry Etim, who has been out injured for the last year. He fights Edward Faaloloto at Lightweight.