I hate unnecessary sequels. They are simply an effort by the production company (the UFC in this case) to capitalize on the success of the first even if there is no true reason for the sequel (besides the money) or it doesn't make sense. Seriously people, did Caddyshack need a sequel? I suppose the UFC sees the pairing of Mauricio Rua and Dan Henderson as the last opportunity to capitalize on their fantastic first fight before they fade into oblivion or retire. I suppose I can't blame them... but I really never wanted to see a repeat of this fight.
Now that I've let my honest feelings out, I should start looking for the good in it. Rua and Henderson are both legends of the sport and though they are at the end of the line, it is possible that they still have something pleasing left to offer the viewing public. Whoever wins the fight will receive one last reprieve at being a marquee name to headline UFC shows. The loser... well, lets not go there out of respect for both fighters massive legacies.
The rest of the card is solid but unspectacular. The casual fan likely won't recognize any of the names there. What do you expect from a Fight Night card? There are a number of youngerish fighters that could end up being in the rankings or even mentioned as contenders before too long. Hey... don't laugh! Raise your hand if you ever thought TJ Grant would be discussed as a title challenger two years ago. Thats what I thought.
The sequel to one of the greatest masterpieces performed in a steel cage shouldn't be compared to the original at all. If you can do that this should enjoy a good finish at the very least.
Rua was able to snatch his name out of the void of obscurity by pulling out a quick KO over James Te Huna in his last outing. Everyone knew it was Rua's last opportunity to keep any sort of shine to his name value (as there was and still is tarnish on it), at least for the present time. All it takes is a short flurry of violence for Rua to end the fight... which still makes him dangerous for anyone.
Though he hasn't been able to efficiently land it recently, you gotta believe that Henderson's famed (and feared) H-Bomb is still as dangerous as ever. The problem here is that Henderson has become too reliant on it as his other skills have begun to fade. That would be why you find him on his current 3-fight losing streak, though all of the loses have come against top competition.
This is gonna be the usual Rua prognosis for now. Rua was once the most feared striker in all of MMA. Thats right, was. His flurries of violence were performed with such speed and technique that every strike was done with such a high level of hurt applied to it that few would ever be able to match it. His violent brand made Muay Thai the hip and cool thing for a while. (For the record, I still think its cool) But years of wear and tear (mostly to his knees) have slowed the legend significantly. At this point he will never be a title contender again. But he is still dangerous. He showed with James Te Huna that he can still be a feared counter striker and (as mentioned earlier) can throw together short spurts of combinations that will wilt if not flat out KO his opponent. Still, the loss of speed leaves him open to take more damage than he used to and he was the last person to feel the full effects of Henderson's right hand... though he did survive it.
Henderson might want to shake up his strategy. I understand that it led to what may have been the most successful string of victories in his career (including the first match with Rua), but everyone is aware of his strategy at this point and Henderson's need to load up on the punch (in addition to his opponents looking for it) lead to the H-Bomb not landing. He has implemented leg kicks more than what he used to do in the past and that is one welcome change but more needs to be done. Once a chin has been cracked, it is more likely to be cracked as well. I'm not saying Henderson is guaranteed to go out again... but I believe it is a greater possibility at this point.
What Henderson might want to consider is closing the distance, utilizing constant pressure (though I admit I don't know if he has the tank for this anymore) and wrestling. Considering he is a former Olympic wrestler, you know that he has the chops. But in his last 5 fights combined he has scored a total of two takedowns. I know he doesn't have the tank to control Rua the entirety of the fight, but seeing as how Rua has a questionable tank himself, it isn't inconceivable to see him getting the takedown and staying just busy enough with GNP to ride out and win the round. Not exciting, but might be his best option. As for submissions, forget about it. Henderson has one submission victory from a hold/choke and that was in 1997. Then again, Chael Sonnen is his teammate and we saw what Sonnen did to Rua...
Rua does own a black belt in BJJ, but he never utilizes it. It leaves us fans to wonder if it is merely a paper belt, but I'm prone to believe that it actually does mean something... so long as he isn't on his back. Still, I don't expect Rua to try and take the fight to the ground unless he wants to unleash some GNP. If the fight drags, he could do that as Henderson showed little ability to stop the takedowns as he tired.
I'm reluctant to doubt Henderson. He is one of the all-time greats for a reason and the first two losses on his current streak were close fights to top competition. But the first fight between these two was close enough that I would look at whose abilities have declined the most and that would have to be Henderson. Rua has changed camps recently as well and that can rejuvinate a fighter. Throw in the fact that Rua was able to get back to his feet once Henderson had him down and I can't help but expect Rua to pull this one out. Rua by TKO 3rd Round
The weird triangle between Ferreira, Dollaway, and Daniel Sarafian is about to be complete and we will find out definitively the best out of those three. Not that that is really the point of this match...
Ferreira was the winner of the inaugural TUF Brazil season at middleweight. He has a total of 3 wins in the UFC at this point without a loss yet but is about to face his first real true challenge. The Vitor Belfort protege has shown potential to move up the rankings and make some serious noise. This fight will be the first fight against an opponent as talented and experienced as Dollaway.
Dollaway should probably be on a 3-fight win streak as his decision loss to Tim Boetsch was bogus despite him poking Boetsch in the eyes multiple times. He has been showing growth as a fighter over the last year or so and should be entering his fighting prime based on his age (30) and experience (12 UFC fights) at this juncture.
As I watched some of Ferreira's fights to refresh my memory, I realized just how often he threw kicks... which is a lot. And I'm not just talking about shots to the legs. He has a lot of variety in those kicks including those of the spinning variety. He has some useful punches (like his uppercut), but its a shame that a middleweight with a 78' reach has yet to develop a jab. Until he can do that, it'll be difficult to take him serious as an elite striker. His opponents have had far too easy of a time getting inside of his range and landing on him as a result.
Dollaway hasn't exactly made it difficult to land on him either. Though his standup has certainly been improving (well... offensively), he still allows his opponents to get their licks in on him. He doesn't use a jab much either, preferring to throw hooks to the body and head. He really pushed the pace against Boetsch and clearly was getting the better of the Barbarian. Boetsch didn't have the speed to properly punish Dollaway for his aggressiveness. Ferreira will.
The good thing for Dollaway is that his All-American wrestling background has transferred over into MMA quite well. He is far from a juggernaut, but is incredibly doggish trying to get his opponent on the ground and succeeds far more often than he is given credit for. He has also shown an excellent sprawl as he has only been taken down twice in his UFC tenure. His issue here is similar to his striking weakness: defense. He leaves his limbs (specifically his arm and neck) for the taking.
Ferreira isn't exactly a submission artist himself, but does have the capabilities to make Dollaway pay the price for his carelessness. His grappling was what made the difference against Sarafian and though he never came anywhere near a sub, his top control enough to maintain an advantage over Sarafian. Dollaway would be much more difficult to handle on the ground, but Dollaway won't have as much success with him as he did Sarafian. See why I mentioned that at the beginning?
This is a very tight fight. Ferreira is still learning and growing, but Dollaway has been improving as well, just perhaps not at the same rate. I do believe that Ferreira has the higher ceiling though and as Dollaway's confidence grows, so does his cockiness which leads to openings which leads to... Ferreira by TKO 2nd Round
A couple of recent TUF winners face off in what would be an assumed battle of prospects. But can you really term Santos a prospect at 34?
I'm not trying to rip on Santos when I say that, but there is a very good possibility that his prime has already passed him even before he got to step into the UFC. Nonetheless, he defeated a bigger, stronger, and likely faster opponent in William Macario to take the TUF Brazil 2 title, showing he still has something to offer. It shows what a wily veteran can do against those with less experience.
Parke is the winner of the TUF Smashes and was able to take the title with relative ease. He has yet to really be challenged in the UFC, but then again the UFC has been taking it easy on the 27-year old. That isn't to say that Parke's record is a fluke, but I don't see any Takanori Gomi's on his ledger (as opposed to Santos). Its about time his competition level is stepped up.
Santos' bread and butter is his submission game by far. With 8 of his victories coming that way, it only points out the obvious. If he gets top control, Parke is going to be in a lot of trouble. He may not get the submission (though he is very good at that), but he will almost certainly ride out the rest of the round from that position. He was able to do that to the larger Thiago Santos in the TUF house. He also owns an active guard and does a solid job of preventing damage.
Parke doesn't have a bad ground game himself as his 12 submission victories (mostly chokes) attribute to that. But the level of grappling in Europe is different than found in Brazil. Well... perhaps I should say BJJ or submission grappling is superior. Still, he was Irish freestyle wrestling champion and is pretty good (or at the very least relentless) at getting his opponent to the ground. His ability to keep his opponents on the ground doesn't rival Santos abilities, but it isn't necessarily a bad thing.
The reason it isn't necessarily bad is that Parke actually prefers to stand and box up his opponents. He doesn't have a lot of power, but is aware of his deficiencies and plays to his strengths. He uses his jab a lot and his southpaw stance creates awkwardness for his opponents. But his greatest weapon is his cardio. He pushes the pace relentlessly throughout the fight whether its on the feet or on the ground. Few opponents can match his pace so even if they don't tire, they aren't going at the same level as Parke.
Santos doesn't seem to be able to match Parke's pace. Still, he has some tools that will keep Parke from dominating on his feet. While his punches are more stiff than what Parke throws, he may be more diverse than Parke. He's gonna have to mix things up to keep Parke guessing. The more he gets Parke guessing, the more likely he'll be able to land a takedown and play to his strengths.
I like this match for both fighters. Its a step up for Parke as he has yet to face an opponent with the veteran know-how that Santos possess and allows the UFC to show respect to Santos in his first non-tournament match in the Octagon by not giving him a gimme. But I like Parke to outpace Santos and do enough in the eyes of the judges. Parke by Decision
With the light heavyweight division at epically shallow proportions, a win puts either one of these guys on the fringe of the rankings. Oh yeah, they both love to throw down too.
Maldonado is too tough for his own good as he endured one of the most epic beatings that the UFC has ever seen against Glover Teixeira. As a result and in combination with his propensity to stand and bang, he has gained a little bit of a cult following. He picked up a victory following his bitter split from Team Nogueira and will interesting to see where he goes from there.
Villante has a lot of similarities to Maldonando in the sense that both of them like to throw down. After an excursion to heavyweight while in Strikeforce, Villante moved back to the light heavyweight division and has found much greater success. However, he may be best known to UFC fans for having his match with Ovince St. Preux stopped early due to an eye poke.
Maldonado has been praised time and again for his boxing skills (he does own a 22-0 professional boxing record) and with good reason as his short range hooks to the head and body and uppercuts are as vicious and lethal as anyone in the UFC. Problem is he limits himself as he only seems willing to fight from close range and thus often takes a lot of damage in getting into his sweet spot. Not only that, he is very much a punches-in-bunches fighter as he doesn't have one-punch power. Good thing he is tough!
Villante has a very boxing-centric style himself (without the professional background though), but owns more KO power than Maldonado. Not that I'm saying he is going to put Maldonado out... but he sure as hell could rock him. Villante needs to improve his movement though or Maldonado will be able to tee off on him all day. His leg kicks are effective, but any other kick he telegraphs. He owns a quick jab as well, but doesn't throw it often enough.
The biggest difference between these two will be Villante's wrestling. In addition to being a linebacker in college, he also wrestled at Hofstra and his double-leg in particular shows that background as he plows through his opponents. Being a big light heavyweight, he can telegraph it at times with his lack of speed. As aggressive as Maldonado is, I wouldn't expect that to be a big issue. He has heavy GNP that may not put Maldonado out, but could force the ref to intervene.
Maldonado has occasionally gone for takedowns when his opponent hasn't been expecting it, but that has really only worked with grapplers that seem to be as inexperienced as he is. Villante is not in that category. I can't remember Maldonado attempting a submission outside of a guillotine attempt with Joey Beltran either. If Villante gets him on his back, the only thing he will need to worry about is Maldonado getting back to his feet.
This should be a fun fight that has FOTN potential. Both will swing heavy leather and both have chins that should withstand the onslaught put on from the other. But I think Villante's wrestling will be the difference here and give him the points he needs to sway the judges. Villante by Decision
I'm sure many people are wondering why this is on the main card. Taisumov seems to have an unlimited gas tank and a wide variety of strikes. Reason enough to watch?
Prazeres is known as Tractor and with good reason. He is an absolutely massive lightweight that looks to ground his opponent into the soil of the earth. He dropped from welterweight after losing his debut to Paulo Thiago and now looks to build on the momentum he started with his victory over Jesse Ronson at UFC 165.
Taisumov is likely more unknown (and Prazeres isn't really known) to the casual fan as he started his UFC career on the prelims of the first Fight Pass card. He looked very good in showing a well-rounded game to beat up Tae Hyun Bang and many have high expectations for him as a result. Well... those who watched do at least.
There have been a lot of comparisons to Rousimar Palhares for Prazeres and based on his short and stocky frame. While he doesn't possess the same killer instinct in going for heel hooks as his Brazilian counterpart, he is similar in his striking limitations. Prazeres is at even more of a disadvantage based on his short reach at '67. He avoids striking as much as he can. In the two rounds that he won by majority against Ronson he landed a total of 6 significant strikes. Total. Remember how I said grind his opponent into the earth? I think that paints a good picture of that.
As you can already tell based on what I previously said, Taisumov will look to stay on his feet. Being fairly light on his feet, look for him to utilize a lot of movement as Prazeres isn't exactly swift on his feet. His right hand is capable of putting his opponent to sleep with one shot or can do so with a head kick. Expect him to be the aggressor moving in and out with some powerful shots and mixing in some combinations. But he is more than comfortable countering as well. Prazeres has little hope of winning the standup.
What about when it goes to the floor? Taisumov is capable of getting the fight to the ground himself and has a good variety of judo trips, but don't look for him to do so against Prazeres. He owns 9 submission victories as well indicating his submission knowledge, but Prazeres is very strong and difficult to submit. Unless he gets Prazeres' back, Taisumov will simply look to get to his feet as soon as possible. His sprawl is solid as well and should allow him to stay up most of the time.
Prazeres himself is very heavy when he gets on top of his opponent. He does just enough with his strikes to keep the fight from being stood up and waits for his opponents to create an opening for him to latch on for a sub. Its a shame with his build he isn't more versed in GNP as he could be devastating on top of his opponents raining down punches. He gets his opponents down using body locks and double legs, but tires as the fight goes on and his efficiency ends up fading. Taisumov doesn't get tired... this spells trouble.
Taisumov should be able to pick apart Prazeres all day and I fully expect him to. Mairbek will have a similar advantage on the feet that Ronson did over Prazeres (maybe more so), but will be able to avoid being taken down much more efficiently. Taisumov by TKO 3rd Round
Though having good success in the UFC thus far, both men have failed in their attempts to break into the ranks of featherweight. The winner will likely gain another attempt to do so.
Jason was the featherweight victor in the first season of TUF Brazil and showed plenty of potential by scoring both a TKO and submission victory since winning the tournament. Perhaps most telling of where he is at though was his reaction to his quick loss to Jeremy Stephens: he punched a wall and required stitches as a result. Greater maturity will be required of him if he hopes to break into the rankings.
Little was expected of Siler after his stint on TUF 14, but he has quietly compiled a 5-2 UFC record in that time, including victories over Cole Miller and former WEC featherweight champion Mike Thomas Brown. A conservative plan never seems to be in the books with Siler, so it is surprising he hasn't become more of a fan favorite. Maybe its his non-threatening appearance.
Jason is more than happy to stand and bang with his opponents. He did so with reputed brawler Sam Sicilia and came out on top which should say something about his abilities. Though talented, there are holes in his game. His technique could use work as he favors overhands and power hooks. He doesn't always keep his hands up either. With a '73 reach, he'd serve himself well if he could develop an effective jab as well. Still, he mixes things up pretty well with punches and kicks to the head and body and I really shouldn't look so hard into his holes as they have been shrinking. Overall, Jason is actually pretty damned polished on the feet.
Perhaps Jason could take lessons from Siler on how to use an effective jab as he uses his height very efficiently. Similar to Jason, he mixes his shots up quite well and he shows more technique. While he doesn't possess the same power Jason does, he is capable of putting his opponent out as Brown lasted less than a minute thanks to Siler's uppercut counter. Did I mention his uppercuts? Or his counters? He uses them both frequently and efficiently. Jason will want to be careful about rushing in there with Siler.
While Siler is fun on his feet, its his aggression when it comes to submissions that make him so damn entertaining. Dennis Bermudez was able to control him for most of the fight using his wrestling, but Siler made a fight of it by attempting guillotines, triangle chokes, etc. to keep the wrestler honest. But in that last sentance is Super Siler's kryptonite as well: wrestling. Both of his Octagon losses were to wrestlers (Bermudez and Darren Elkins) who were able to get him down at will and keep him on the ground.
Lucky for Siler, Jason isn't the wrestler that either of those two are, though he is much more of a submission threat. He is efficient off of his back (see his sub of Mike Wilkinson) and owns 8 total submission victories. I would expect Jason to attempt to submit Siler as opposed to control him with his wrestling, but Jason has improved his wrestling steadily to the point that I would expect the occasional takedown (or trip) to keep Siler honest.
Jason is the favorite, but this seems like the type of match where Siler gets overlooked and ends up excelling. He is great at the smaller intangibles in fights and I feel that those will make the difference for the American here. Should be a FOTN candidate. Siler by Decision
Record for last Card: 5-8
Record for Year: 62-36
*I just want to quickly acknowledge that I referred to the last Fight Night as Fight Night 38 as well not knowing if the Macau card would count in that lineage. It appears it won't... thus my repeating of calling an event Fight Night 38. Sorry for confusion.