UFC 117 Preview

Editor’s Note: Our MMA guru JC checks in with his preview of Saturday’s big UFC 117 card in Oakland. It’s the start of some heavy coverage as we get ready for UFC 118 at the Garden on August 28. Next up, lightweight star (and Boston’s own) Kenny Florian joins us for TD Bank Sports OT on Sunday, August 15 at 11:30. He’ll be talking about his big fight versus Gray Maynard at UFC 118.

Six days after watching new poster-boy Jon “Bones” Jones dismantle Vladimir Matyushenko, the UFC travels to Oakland Saturday to continue its busiest month since December 2008 with UFC 117.

Main Event

Not too long ago Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva was considered by many to be the “Baddest Man on the Planet”. A few fights later, Silva has come no closer to defeat but has fallen so far off the mountaintop that UFC President Dana White threatened to cut his title-holder after his unanimous-decision over Demian Maia.

Silva’s opponent is former Oregon State House candidate Chael Sonnen. Like any good politician Sonnen has talked a big game. Against any other champion, Sonnen’s Clubber Lang impression would have made him public enemy #1, but Silva holds that title too. Saturday night we’ll see if Sonnen’s game plan is as sharp as his tongue.

Prediction: The question is not whether Silva will win, but which Silva will show up. Will the Champ toy with Sonnen for 5 rounds and coast to another victory, putting Dana White in the unenviable position of having to consider putting his money where his mouth is and cut a title-holder coming off nine straight title defenses? Or will the Spider shut Sonnen up in the ring with the type of performance that catapulted him to the top of the UFC? My vote is somewhere in between. Sonnen will take the Spider down Saturday night, but Silva’s still dangerous on his back and Clubber Jr. is susceptible to submissions and will eventually get caught.

Silva wins by submission in the 2nd.

The Rest

Jon Fitch vs. Thiago Alves – Contrasting styles in this fight. Fitch is all wrestling and puts together some major snoozefests. On the other hand, ten of Alves’s sixteen victories have come by knockout or TKO. Prediction: GSP showed the world the gameplan to beating Alves and it’s right in Fitch’s wheelhouse. Take him down and grind him out. Fitch by unanimous decision.

Clay Guida vs. Rafael dos Anjos – Fan favorite Guida is back after losing two of three and takes on the young Brazilian dos Anjos. Prediction: Guida lays on him for three rounds and dos Anjos spends Sunday pulling hair out of his mouth. Guida by decision.

Matt Hughes vs. Ricardo Almeida – UFC Legend Matt Hughes is back and looking for his third straight victory after dropping two straight (Alves & GSP). After taking a step down in competition, Hughes is enjoying some success in the twilight of his career (take note, Iceman). Prediction: Hughes by decision.

Junior dos Santos vs. Roy Nelson – Fans in Oakland haven’t seen a belly like Nelson’s since JaMarcus Russell left town. Fortunately for Nelson, the belly is all they have in common. Casual fans will think it’s some kind of joke when the mullet-wearing Nelson enters the ring, but the joke is on dos Santos if he doesn’t take Big Country Nelson seriously. Perhaps the most intriguing matchup of the night pits the young prospect dos Santos against the wily old veteran in Nelson. A shot at the UFC Heavyweight title is on the line in this fight and word is that the loser is already slotted to take on Shane Carwin. Prediction: Nelson by TKO.

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