Saturday, UFC 81 takes the stage at the Mandalay Bay events center in Las Vegas with Heavyweights the focus of the show for the UFC. Two marquee match-ups of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira a.k.a. “Big Nog” vs. Tim Sylvia and Frank Mir vs. UFC newcomer Brock Lesnar. Since Randy Couture resigned from the UFC, these are the match-ups that we are given on Super Saturday. Some of the undercard bouts that are somewhat intriguing are Nate Marquadt taking on Jeremy Horn who returns to the octagon after a bit of a hiatus as well as Tyson Griffin vs. Gleison Tibau. So without further adoo, here is my analysis of the aforementioned bouts…
Tyson Griffin vs. Gleison Tibau (155 lbs)
Tibau is 15-4 and coming off an unanimous decision win over the Brit Terry Etim. Tibau is a bit bigger than Griffin and will have a longer reach. He’s not a terribly explosive fighter but solid in all aspects of the fighting game; he also does have knockout power in his hands. Griffin on the other hand is unquestionably on the rise in the Lightweight division and is a very explosive fighter who fights at a very high energy level, quick pace. He is the favorite entering this fight and riding a nice winning streak. I don’t see that momentum being halted by Tibau and I think that Griffin wins via TKO in the 2nd.
Griffin TKO, 2nd round
Nate Marquadt vs. Jeremy Horn (185 lbs)
Originally supposed to be Marquadt versus Thales Leites but with Leites forced to withdraw from the bout due to injury the veteran Jeremy Horn fills his spot on short notice. Marquadt looks to be in great shape after the weigh-ins and in my opinion has the advantage in every aspect of this fight even with Horn’s renowned ground game. Horn even being the veteran he is, simply is getting up there in age and just no longer can contend with the strength and skill of the top notch middleweights. I don’t see Marquadt submitting Horn however, so this fight should go to the cards.
Marquadt by unanimous decision
Tim Sylvia vs. “Big Nog” for interim Heavyweight Championship
This match-up seems very even on paper and definitely a tough one to call. Nogueira hasn’t fought since UFC 73: Stacked in early July of last year where he got rocked by Heath Herring but because of Herring’s hesitation, managed to recover and win based on his name. Nogueira is a well-rounded fighter with a black-belt in BJJ so his ground game is excellent. The only problem is, Tim Sylvia is 6’7″ with a very solid takedown defense and very long reach — he keeps his opponents at bay because of this. Nogueira is by no means a great wrestler and neither is he that stout on his feet — he’s capable, don’t get me wrong — but Sylvia, if he can keep the fight standing, will have the advantage because of his length and power in the striking game.
Sylvia KO, 2nd round
Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar (Heavyweight)
Certainly the most hyped fight of the night and in my opinion, the most intriguing as Brock Lesnar makes his octagon debut against the former UFC Heavyweight Champ Frank Mir who continues to work his way back up the ladder after his horrible motorcycle accident a few years ago. Mir is unquestionably the more polished fighter and comes in being extremely underrated. Remember, as I mentioned above, he is a former champion of the division. He has great submission skills from both the top and bottom while being on the ground. His guard really his just as dangerous as if he were in the mount. Not only that, he certainly has knockout power in his hands and when the fight is on the feet he will be able to trade shots with the powerful Lesnar. That’s what Lesnar has on his side — power. The 265 pound monster, is a collegiate wrestling champion who has wrestled basically all of his life and is essentially a world class wrestler. Now, as much as wrestling is a great foundation for which an MMA fighter would like to start out with, it’s not good enough on its own to defeat a world class fighter like Frank Mir. Lesnar is going to have to show the ability to take and deliver punishment on his feet while avoiding submissions on the ground. I think he will be able to do this for only a matter of time before Mir finishes him.
Mir TKO, 3rd round
And there you have it. I suggest you all take a look at the fights on Saturday night either by ordering the PPV or going to a local bar that carries it, should be a good night of fights. Check back here on Sunday for results and some analysis of the fights.