Travis Browne vs. Josh Barnett
Fighting Josh Barnett must feel like tying yourself to a cement block and jumping into water. He’s not real flashy or explosive — but he’s always on you. He fucked Frank Mir’s world to pieces with uppercuts against the cage back in late August at UFC 164. Travis Browne has to back him off somehow. Whether it’s using his footwork to create space and stay off the fence or landing something significant of his own in the clinch, he can’t afford to get bottled up like he did early against Alistair Overeem. Browne’s takedown defense in the UFC is a sparking 100 percent. That’s great, but it also means we don’t have a great idea of what his guard looks like. If he does get the space he wants, he’s likely to look very good. He mixes in kicks with his punches effectively and he’ll have a major hand speed advantage.
Browne needs to embrace what his thought process is going to be, here. Either dance around Barnett or come out guns blazing and force him to retreat a bit. If he falls somewhere in the middle, I think Barnett will big brother him along the fence or on the floor.
Prediction: Josh Barnett by decision.
Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey
I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time. But first thing’s first: Ronda Rousey is not invincible. She’s athletic, technically awesome at what she does and unafraid of a fight — but she’s not invincible. And her attitude on this last season of The Ultimate Fighter irked the hell out of me. Miesha Tate is not the athlete Rousey is, but she’s not helpless against her style. There’s a difference between going to the ground with Rousey and being taken down by her. If Tate can fight off those judo throws and take Rousey down on her terms, that’s OK — if she get’s thrown on her back, that’s not OK. That usually means game over. Tate is aggressive, but she’s got to do things under control here and keep her balance. If she beats Rousey in a scramble and gets top position, she will have won a major battle already.
I hope Miesha Tate wins. I truly do. And Rousey has a lot going on outside the cage. And even if she didn’t, this is a dangerous fight despite what betting lines say. She’s so aggressive and determined to do what she wants that she’s actually given opponents openings before. She’s so athletic, though, none can take advantage. Stay safe, Ronda “Boo Boo”. (Had to do it.)
Prediction: Ronda Rousey by armbar submission.
Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman
Here it is. Here… it… is. Finally. The rematch that I’ve been writing about ad nauseum for the last six, almost seven months. Everything has changed — and yet, nothing has. When it comes to predicting this second fight, I more or less have the same feelings I had going into the first. Chris Weidman took Anderson Silva down within 30 seconds first time they fought. Great sign for him — and he had relative success beating Silva up on the floor. At the same time, Silva got back to his feet and started to do his thing, only without throwing any punches. Had he actually thrown punches, I think it would have been a completely different fight. Let’s not forget that Chris Weidman is generally a mediocre striker, and in the world of MMA, one lucky punch can easily catch somebody. Silva is better on the feet, Weidman is better on the ground and we don’t know how crazy or how sane Silva is going to act once it all starts.
Weidman getting an early takedown in the first fight was eye-opening. Even if Silva plays it straight this time, he’ll lose if he can’t stay off his back. Bottom line, though, I simply cannot make a prediction that involves Silva losing consecutive fights. That’s suicidal. I just can’t bet against the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time.
Prediction: Anderson “The Spider” Silva wins his UFC Middleweight title back by knockout.