Travis Browne said that he felt three pops in his left hamstring after one of the first kicks he threw against Antonio Silva last Friday night. If you've never fought professionally, you have to wonder what it would feel like to suddenly know you're nowhere near 100 percent but still in the midst of a fight, with a gigantic man stalking you with the intention of putting your lights out.
The legs, after all, are where power begins. Throwing a proper punch or kick requires a kinetic chain of events that starts from the ground up. When any one link is badly compromised, or in Browne's case, torn away, power is badly decreased. So Browne was basically ripe for the pickings, and Silva did what he had to do in finishing him quickly. As a result, it's not a fight that ultimately taught us a lot about where either man is going, but it's not the worst result for the UFC. In a heavyweight division that's always searching for contenders, Silva is back on a winning track and Browne's stock doesn't slide much due to his unfortunate injury.
On to the picks...
You have to admire someone who has his back up against the wall but still delivers. Going into the bout with two straight losses, Silva knew he desperately needed a win and he got it, knocking out the previously unbeaten Browne. Sure, Browne's injury, since diagnosed as a torn hamstring, might have affected the outcome, but it was still up to Silva to finish him, and he did. Afterward, Silva put the victory in perspective, saying, "For me, it [was] kill or die, and I got a kill."
Prediction: He takes on Mark Hunt when the "Super Samoan" returns from his injury rehabilitation.
Browne says that doctors have informed him that he will be out between two and four months. That makes forecasting his next opponent a bit of a shot in the dark, but as I previously noted, I don't think the UFC will penalize him greatly for a loss after suffering an injury during competition.
Prediction: He faces someone like Ben Rothwell or Gabriel Gonzaga.
Since Jay Hieron is a tough fighter to look good against, Ellenberger's win unsurprisingly did not come with style points. On the other hand, Ellenberger showed up to UFC on FX 5 with some adjustments to his style, tightening up his striking to leave fewer holes for his opponent's return fire. That's obviously a lesson he learned from his last fight, a loss to Martin Kampmann, and that can only benefit him going forward. He's still probably a top five or so welterweight.
Prediction: I'd like to see an Ellenberger vs. Nick Diaz fight but I don't think the UFC will keep him on ice until Diaz's suspension lapses, so I think they go back to his original opponent, Josh Koscheck.
Prior to last Friday, Edwards had done very little to distinguish himself as a UFC welterweight, but finishing the always-game Josh Neer inside of a minute is a statement. In 46 fights, Neer's loss to Edwards was the fastest in his career. Now it's incumbent upon Edwards to continue that momentum and prove it wasn't a fluke.
Prediction: He faces Che Mills.
The Blackzilians are an immensely talented team but truth be told, they probably haven't gotten the results they've wanted so far. Rashad Evans and Vitor Belfort have lost in title bouts. Melvin Guillard has dropped three of his last four. Alistair Overeem is currently under suspension. But Johnson has certainly been one of their bright spots, winning three in a row after knocking out Danny Castillo. It's onward and upward for him.
Prediction: He fights the winner of November's Rafael dos Anjos vs. Mark Bocek fight.
This might sound a little crazy but Pierce is one of the most dangerous welterweights in the UFC. Not in the sense of finishing people (only three of his seven UFC wins are via stoppage), but with his overall skill and sheer ability to grind, Pierce can make anyone look bad on any given day. He fought a close bout with Jon Fitch, and lost disputed split-decisions to Johny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck. So his KO win over Aaron Simpson shouldn't come as a surprise. Keep matching him up against the division's best, and he's going to eventually beat one of them, too.
Prediction: He faces the winner of UFC 153's Demian Maia vs. Rick Story fight.
After having his five-fight win streak snapped last time out, Volkmann rebounded with a finish win over Shane Roller. With victories in six of his last seven overall, Volkmann is in some impressive company, so it's time to match him up against a next-level opponent to see if he's capable of making the jump.
Prediction: He faces Jim Miller