If you're a fight fan, you have to find a way to dislike Saturday's main event. It's rare a single mixed martial arts bout offers so much for fight fans of all varieties and preferences. There's rivalry, storyline, engaging personalities, a title on the line and much more.
A fight like this also answers questions about the sport and the combatants. Can Silva finally overcome the suffocating wrestling of Sonnen? Is Sonnen the kryptonite for Silva's style? Will Sonnen achieve the top athletic achievement of his career with a win over the consensus best fighter on the planet? We won't know until Saturday night, but I do my best to answer these questions about UFC 148.
What: UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen II
Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada
When: Saturday, the one-fight Facebook fight starts at 7:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight FX card starts at 8 and the main card on pay-per-view at 10.
Predictions for the six-fight pay-per-view card below.
If you're picking Sonnen, I have nothing bad to say about your pick. There's a ton of good reasons to think he's going to be the victor on Saturday. But for me, I just can't help shake the idea Silva's going to get his way here. I suspect he's going to manage distance better and be slightly more proactive about hurting Sonnen while they're on their feet. I admit the fight's going to be close. And I also believe Silva is going to drop a round or two. Maybe more. But by stoppage or decision, I see Silva making enough adjustments to frustrate and cause problems for Sonnen.
I'm not saying Griffin is some dynamic powerhouse, but at this point I find it hard to believe he's going to lose to Ortiz. That's especially true if Griffin can win the first round, although I suspect he won't. The numbers show there's a huge drop off for Ortiz from one round to the next, so even if Ortiz takes the first Griffin simply has to turn it on later. If Griffin can manage range better in this fight and stay on the outside, Ortiz will end up taking desperate shots from a mile away. And really, that's almost all Griffin needs to do to win.
I'm of two minds on this one. When I first heard Maia was dropping to welterweight, I thought it was a terrible idea. I've seen Maia up close and the guy is big. To think he's going to get down to welterweight at this late in his career seems hard to believe without suffering serious performance issues. On the other hand, if he can get down there he can probably get out of this decision rut he's been stuck in for some time. I'm going to go with my gut on this one and say the cut is too much, too late for Maia.
Cote packs a solid punch, but is basically a traditional pocket exchanger. That leads me to believe he's going to have serious difficulty doing much of anything against Le. I'm not a believer that Le vs. Anderson Silva is some sort of meeting of MMA's best middleweight strikes, but I do think Le's particular rangey style is problematic for someone who is more of a boxer who stops moving a lot and sits on his punches.
I've known Easton for quite some time and believe he's yet to show his best work in the UFC. That's specifically true as it relates to his punching power. But I worry about this match-up for him. If I have any criticism of Easton, it's that he's a slow starter and doesn't mix up his offense as much as he could. Against a guy like Menjivar, a fighter who is all too happy to dictate the offensive complexion of the fight, that's going to prove costly. Easton is capable of beating just about anyone at bantamweight, but I get the sense Menjivar's willingness to be proactive is going to be the difference.
Let's just keep it real one hundred: I give McKenzie absolutely no chance to win whatsoever. Yes, he's got a pretty incredible guillotine, or at least a pretty incredible ability to get opponents to attempt head outside singles and doubles on him. Either way, I simply cannot see McKenzie scoring a guillotine on Mendes even if he locks it up and Mendes has to fight his way out.