It’s been a few weeks but the UFC are back with another pay per view and while most of the attention goes on the world title main event, were gonna stick to form and give the undercard it’s due attention before we look at Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman tomorrow.
Heading up the supporting cast is former Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar (15-4-1) looking to bounce back from three gallingly close decision losses in World title matches when he faces Charles Oliveira (16-3) who rides into the biggest fight of his career off the back of a first round knockout loss to Cub Swanson.
Edgar is a solid favourite for this fight and there is a sense that Oliveira has been selected as a fun opponent for the big name to beat, seeing as he’s shown he can be finished and has only gone to a decision once in nineteen fights.
However, that’s maybe a disservice to Oliveira who has finish victories over the likes of Darren Elkins and it’s not as if being subbed by Jim Miller or KO’d by Donald Cerrone or Cub Swanson is anything to be ashamed of.
Of course, Edgar has never been finished, and given he’s contested seven world title matches, including a total of 75 minutes in the cage with BJ Penn and Jose Aldo that is a pretty imposing statistic.
Edgar’s movement, wrestling and boxing are top drawer but he’s not won a fight since 2011 and winning is a habit…
Next down the bill is BJJ legend Roger Gracie (6-1) making his UFC debut against mouthy fellow Strikeforce import Tim Kennedy (15-4).
Gracie has the advantage of size and submission ability, but Kennedy has never been subbed in a pro MMA boot and has a well rounded skillset, with the wrestling and boxing to trouble the Brazilian.
Hell, who am I kidding, I like Gracie and Kennedy had always come across as an unlikeable poor-man’s-Brian-Stann. Gracie by sub in the first…
At one time in the not too distant past, Mark Munoz (12-3) and Tim Boetsch (16-5) were on the edge of title contention, riding four fight win streaks.
Knockout losses to Chris Weidman and Costa Phillipou respectively derailed those ambitions, and it’s taken some time for either man to get back in the saddle.
Munoz in particular has had a well documented struggle with depression and weight gain during his year on the shelf but looks to be coming into this fight in incredible shape.
It’s an interesting prospect between these two as the contest between their grappling disciplines (wrestling vs. judo) is made more interesting by the fact that they both possess knockout power.
If he’s back on form, I can’t look past Munoz but Boestch is a known spoiler.
Opening the main card is my pick for the fight of the night as Cub Swanson (19-5) looks to continue his push for a shot at the Featherweight belt against Dennis Siver (21-8) who has been in great form since his drop to 145lbs.
Both well rounded, experienced fighters with a tendency towards some awesome striking displays and seemingly allergic to being dull, whoever wins will be right in line for a title shot – assuming logical booking prevails, of course.
The pick of the preliminary card bouts are veteran Chris Leben (22-9) facing off with fast rising Andrew Craig (8-1) with both guys looking to recover from losses and TUF: the Smashes winner Norman Parke (17-2) taking on Kazuki Tokudome (12-3-1) in what promises to be a very interesting lightweight battle.
Despite losing the very compelling featherweight contest between Ricardo Lamas and Chang Sung Jung this is still a very worthy undercard and after all, it’s always the fights you don’t expect anything of that pay off biggest.
MAIN (10 p.m. ET)
• Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman – for middleweight title
• Frankie Edgar vs. Charles Oliveira
• Roger Gracie vs. Tim Kennedy
• Tim Boetsch vs. Mark Munoz
• Dennis Siver vs. Cub Swanson
PRELIMINARY (8 p.m. ET)
• Andrew Craig vs. Chris Leben
• Norman Parke vs. Kazuki Tokudome
• Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Dave Herman
• Edson Barboza vs. Rafaello Oliveira
PRELIMINARY (7 p.m. ET)
• Seth Baczynski vs. Brian Melancon
• David Mitchell vs. Mike Pierce