The UFC returns to pay-per-view with their traditional Fourth of July weekend event. Normally, the UFC puts their biggest events/cards on the weekends of New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. This year’s event is no exception.
Two highly anticipated rematches headline UFC 148, which will air from Las Vegas’s MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday July 7th. There are 11 matches scheduled for the card on Saturday.
UFC Middleweight Championship bout: Anderson Silva (29-4) vs Chael Sonnen (28-11-1)
The much-anticipated rematch for the UFC Middleweight title between Silva and Sonnen will be a good draw no matter the outcome of the match. The two previously met at UFC 117 in August of 2010 which won MMA Fight of the Year honors. Sonnen dominated the first four rounds of the fight and was on the verge of dethroning the champion, Silva. In the fifth and final round, Silva locked Sonnen in a triangle choke within the final two minutes and got Sonnen to tap out in a stunning come-from-behind victory. Sonnen will once again attempt to defeat Silva, who is the longest reigning champion in UFC history, holding the title since 2006. In recent media appearances, both fighters have been doing a lot of trash-talking towards each other.
PREDICITION: Silva is arguably the No. 1 fighter in the world. I like both fighters and the viewers should get their money’s worth. I predict Silva will retain his title in another close battle via fifth round split decision.
Light Heavyweight bout: Forrest Griffin (18-7) vs Tito Ortiz (17-10-1)
This is a bout between two of the most notable names in the Light Heavyweight division, as they meet for the third time. In their first meeting back in April 2006 at UFC 56, Ortiz won in a controversial split decision. Many believe Griffin won the fight because he endured everything Ortiz gave him despite losing on the judges’ scorecards. Griffin won their second encounter at UFC 106 in November 2009 via split decision. Griffin showed better striking and ground skills, which helped him defeat Ortiz. Ortiz is looking to snap a two-fight losing streak, and Griffin is also looking to get back to his winning ways as he lost his last fight.
PREDICTION: Putting my hatred for Ortiz aside, he must be recognized as one of the greatest UFC fighters in history. I’ve been a fan of Griffin ever since his arrival in the UFC during the first season of the Ultimate Fighter. If Griffin can still show his ability to withstand the punishment, he should win the fight. Griffin via third round TKO.
Middleweight bout: Cung Le (7-2) vs Patrick Cote (18-7)
This will be Patrick Cote’s return fight to the UFC, as he has not fought in the UFC since a three-fight losing streak from 2008-2010. Many fans of the UFC will remember Cote from his loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 90 (which was at Rosemont’s Allstate Arena). Cote will face former Strikeforce Middleweight champion, Cung Le. At age 40, Le only has nine MMA fights under his belt as he was previously an undefeated kickboxing champion. The winner of this bout may be putting himself in contention of a title shot down the line.
PREDICTION: Le has won all of his MMA fights by TKO or KO, which demonstrates his striking ability. Cote is known for his striking ability and has the ability to take the strikes as well. The younger and more aggressive Cote should defeat Le in the second round via KO (punches).
Welterweight bout: Dong Hyun Kim (15-1-1, 1 NC) vs Demian Maia (15-4)
Maia is currently ranked No. 6 in the Middleweight division by Sherdog, but is dropping down to the Welterweight division for this bout. His opponent, Dong Hyun Kim, has been impressive in eight UFC fights since his debut in 2008. Kim’s only career UFC loss came to current interim Welterweight champion, Carlos Condit in July 2011. Kim can make his biggest statement with a convincing victory over a top Middleweight fighter. Maia is coming off a tough loss. If Maia can defeat Kim, he may look to stay within the Welterweight division.
PREDICTION: I’m going to take the veteran Maia here even though the odds maybe with Kim. Maia wins in a third round decision via unanimous decision.
Featherweight bout: Chad Mendes (11-1) vs Cody McKenzie (13-2)
Many figure this Featherweight fight to be a title-contender elimination match. Mendes is trying to get back into the title hunt after suffering his only loss to UFC Featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, at UFC 142 in January this year. McKenzie first appeared in the UFC during The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs Team Koscheck season. His only two career MMA losses came in his only two fights in 2011. McKenzie’s victory in his last fight against Marcus LeVesseur ended a two-fight losing streak.
PREDICTION: McKenzie is known for using a dangerous modified guillotine choke. Mendes’ endurance will be the key to victory for him. I predict McKenzie’s guillotine choke will help him to victory over Mendes late in the third round.
Bantamweight bout: Ivan Menjivar (24-8) vs Mike Easton (12-1)
This bantamweight fight is a battle of two former WEC fighters. Ivan Menjivar is the seasoned veteran and Mike Easton is the upcoming star. Easton has not lost an MMA fight since September 2007. Menjivar has won his only three UFC fights since joining.
PREDICTION: Easton carries the momentum coming into this fight and should win. Easton via KO (punches).
The preliminary card (which can be seen on FX) includes:
Lightweight bout: Gelison Tibau (34-7) vs Khabib Nurmagomedov (17-0)
Lightweight bout: Melvin Guillard (46-11-3, 1 NC) vs Fabricio Camoes (13-6-1)
Middleweight bout: Constantinos Philippou (10-2, 1 NC) vs Riki Fukuda (18-5)
Lightweight bout: John Alessio (34-15) vs Shane Roller (10-6)
Lightweight bout: Rafaello Oliveira (14-5) vs Yoislandy Izquierdo (6-1)
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