If you are looking for a technical breakdown of all the fights for UFC 117: Silva vs. Sonnen, you will not find it in this column. What we have here is some predictions, storylines and other fun tidbits to enjoy before you sit down to enjoy some MMA goodness Saturday night.
Fight of the Night: Jon Fitch vs. Thiago Alves. Almost went with Clay Guida vs. Rafael dos Anjos here but the backstory behind this rematch is just too good to pass up. Take two of the top Welterweights in the world, mix in a dash of Fitch's quest for a rematch with GSP and thrown in a pinch of Alves's recovery from brain surgery and you got yourself a pretty sweet recipe for Fight of the Night. Delicious.
Knockout of the Night: Junior dos Santos. Eventually his streak of rearranging fighter's faces has to stop, but I don't think it is going to end at UFC 117. Junior knows that a shot at the title is on the line here, so don't expect him to over look the aesthetically challenged Roy Nelson. What a better way to make a statement to the champ then destroying your opponent's face in a number one contender fight.
Submission of the Night: Dustin Hazelett. I am hoping Paul Daley knocked some sense into Hazelett and made it so he doesn't think he is a stand up fighter anymore. Hopefully, Hazelett will not want to test out his striking again and goes back to being the submission wizard that got him four out of his five wins in the UFC. As the old saying goes, "dance with the girl that brung ya" and that girl for Hazelett happens to be some high level BJJ.
Non Combat Related Story of the Night: UFC PPV buys. Even though Anderson Silva may be the best pound for pound fighter in the world, the buy rates for the PPV he headlines don't always back that up. This might change with UFC 117 due to the campaign his opponent, Chael Sonnen, has been on for the past few months promoting this fight. I guess the question is, will Sonnen's non-stop ranting equal huge PPV numbers?
More funbits and predictions after the jump...
Fighter in danger of getting cut: Rodney Wallace. Three is the magic number in the UFC and by magic, I mean you get cut if you rack up three losses in a row. Rodney has lost his first two fights in the UFC and isn't getting an easy one when he faces Phil Davis this weekend who is filling in for the newly signed, injured, undefeated Senguko veteran Stanislav Nedkov. Speaking of Mr. Davis...
Hot UFC Prospect: Phil Davis. I guess if you are a former collegiate national wrestling champion that has a career 6-0 record in MMA and is 2-0 in the UFC, you probably aren't a prospect anymore. Anywho, let's see if he can continue his impressive roll and change the "hot prospect" status to "the next big thing" on Saturday night.
Most interesting match-up in terms of style: Matt Hughes vs. Ricardo Almeida. Sure, I could have taken the easy way out here and gone with Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen, but who really wants to do that. So instead, I picked Hughes vs. Almeida. Will Hughes's experience and wrestling ability be able to counter Almeida's BBJ prowess? I guess we will find out if wrestling or BJJ is better when these two meet in the center of the Octagon.
Don't blink fight: Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen. Yes, on this one, I took the easy way out. Since Silva first debuted in the UFC way back in June 2006, all his fights have been "must-watch" events (not in terms of PPV numbers though). Come Saturday, we are either going to see one of two Anderson Silvas; the one that made Forrest Griffin look like the Brooklyn Brawler of the UFC or the one that looked like he was auditioning for "Step Up 3-D" against Demian Maia. You just never know which Silva is going to show up (I personally think angry... no... very angry Silva is going to show up). Either way, you aren't going to want to turn your head for a second when this fight starts because something either awesome or crazy (or both) is going to happen. I guarantee it.
Do you think I am off with any of my picks? Let me know.