For Anderson Silva, every fight going forward is about legacy more so than any other fighter this side of Floyd Mayweather. He could potentially be the greatest mixed martial artist of his era and of all time. Silva, who has had his career highs with a cinematic knockout of Forrest Griffin, has also been the butt of the MMA world when he humiliated Damian Maia in Abu Dhabi and found himself being vilified. At that time, 2010, Silva was viewed as an artist. Silva is a showman first and foremost, and the cousin of that is a showboat which can be one’s demise, but much like Mayweather, Silva never seems to get caught up with the side shows and politics. His only real opponent will be father time–Silva is 38.
His foe on Independence Day will be Chris Weidman, who lacks experience yet was an incredibly successful collegiate wrestler who wrestled above the middleweight division in college and beat UFC Light Heavyweights Ryan Bader and Phil Davis while in school. Weidman will be bigger than Silva and will take Silva down barring a quick flash knockout that Silva is always capable of. Weidman is interesting, because he has the type of game that excels at the flaws Silva has shown over the years–submissions and wrestling. Though Weidman may not have fought a murderer’s row to get to Silva, he also is no cake walk and his credentials, coupled with the eye test, tell me he’s for real. The one big thing is he has been out for nearly a year and for such a young guy in the sport this could be a bigger factor in the way the fight plays out as Silva is the type of fighter who you can’t have an off night against.
As for Silva, it is unclear if his mind is even in the fight as Silva appears to be more focused on wanting to fight washed up pro boxer, Roy Jones, than he is anyone in the UFC. Silva with fame has grown a tad bit more unpredictable–for the lead up to the press tour for the promotion of the fight Silva was heavily fined for no showing the events. In fact Silva felt Weidman did not deserve the fight. One thing is for sure–this fight can lay the ground work for how they are remembered for the rest of their careers.
Frankie Edgar was once the rocky of the lightweight division, finding himself getting beaten down early only to rally late and win fights. This all ended when Benson Henderson won two close split decision against Edgar that ended his reign and found him dropping to the featherweight division at the advise of UFC President, Dana White. Things did not get better sadly as Edgar found himself having trouble with the speed of champ Jose Aldo who beat him down and won a fight by a clear decision. So now Edgar is in limbo, the featherweight division has a log jam with Ricardo Lamas being skipped for the number one contender spot by the Korean Zombie who is filling in for Anthony Pettis, who moved down from lightweight to challenge Aldo, but know will resume to crusade at lightweight. On top of this deep rolodex, Cub Swanson and Dennis Siver, who open the main card, should be ahead of Edgar.
Charles Oliveira on the other hand, was viewed as the future of the lightweight division and was supposed to battle Edgar by now for the lightweight belt yet Oliveira has looked strangely human when stepping up in competition. This has happened on three occasions with Jim Miller, Donold Cerrone, and Cub Swanson. Even more startling all three of them finished Oliveira and the last two (Cerrone and Swanson) finished Oliveira by body shot. Oliveira is a far cry from the “Shogun” Rua 2.0 that was being touted when he was coming up in 2010 and now he’s viewed as brawler who doesn’t like to get hit in the gut and will become hyper aggressive for any submission attempt that is made available for him.
This fight essentially places value on who is elite, and who will become the gatekeeper of the featherweight division with potentially an underlining hope that Edgar wins since so much has been invested in him during his tenure as champ, but Edgar does not have the one punch power of the fighter who have stopped him or the ground game of Miller, so things could get hairy if Oliveira does not start the fight flat-footed and chases Edgar around the octagon. This fight will be a bit closer than most might suspect.
How to get fired 101
Tim Kennedy is not smart. He is fighting for the first time in the UFC and in the process, openly talking about fighter salaries and the UFC’s pay rate. Minor details, but Kennedy now will face a myriad of questions strictly about this subject as well as the UFC is a non-union company. This topic is taboo and they do not wish employees to engage in this discourse, especially from someone who looks expendable and is making a promotional debut. On top of this Kennedy is fighting a guy that he matches up poorly with in Roger Gracie, who barring an early knockout from Kennedy, should win. Gracie has the height and reach advantage, an effective jab and the far superior ground game. Kennedy is simply heading down the road of being another heavily hyped fighter fighting on the World Series of Fighting. Even if he wins, Kennedy will get the hardest possible matches from this point on.
Underachiever vs. overachiever
Mark Munoz was supposed to be a star. But he was outclassed in his fight against main eventer Chris Weidman, and is now at a career crossroads. Munoz seems to lose any match that could move him up the ranks, and finds himself coming off a depression from recent, long layoff (he gained as much as 260 lbs during this stretch). Munoz is viewed as a wrestler and unable to transfer his style to MMA since he essentially was a counter wrestler and can’t do this in these ranks, because fighters do not engage in the clinch with him. Thus Munoz is a stiff stand up fighter who is fearsome from top position on the ground when applying ground and pound, yet limited in a lot of areas as well. He’s also the owner of Reign MMA in southern California, which also brings up question about how much time Munoz has to devote to himself.
Munoz faces Tim Boetsch, the ultimate overachiever. Boetsch beat Hector Lombard and seemingly ruined Lombard’s appeal as elite in the UFC. He’s used his brute strength and tactical cage work to find himself in the midst of the middleweight division , but he’s not a marketable fighter. Boetsch is boring to interview, his back story features nothing that stands out, and the fact that Boetsch looks like an ’80s pro wrestler does not help. Boetsch is the classic case of someone who is good, but has zero commercial appeal whereas the charismatic Munoz has all the appeal as well as a following in the Phillipines. This fight places the loser very close to being cut.
Something is rotten in the featherweight division
Ricardo Lamas should be fighting for the title, but he isn’t. So now we wait for the winner between Dennis Siver, a staut burly German who has overpowered his foes with his size, and Cub Swanson, the explosive boxer turned mixed martial artist. The logical match up would be to pit the winner of this fight with the co-main event winner and place them on a TV card on Fox. Siver has relied on being a bully and overpowering foes at the featherweight division since being embarrassed by Donold Cerrone when Siver was making a bid for a lightweight title run. Now at his new weight, this is Siver’s best chance to crack the top five of the division and possibly end with a high profile fight such as Chad Mendes or Clay Guida if the main event falls through.
Swanson on the other hand has been on a tear in the UFC since losing to Lamas. He’s far more skilled than Siver, but lacks Siver’s size and has twice the speed.
Chris Leben has gotten a cult following in the UFC, from being the most hated cast member on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. He’s been brutally honest about his battles with drugs and depression. Leben will now be fitting for his job on the prelims against a fighter most fans have never heard of, Andrew Craig. Leben will probably not win, but even if he does the end may have come for Leben who is in the midst of his swan song. I just hope he’s able to go out with dignity.
TUF: overseas , do we care?
Do we care about the ultimate fighters from other countries? Norman Parke won the Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes yet the average UFC fans probably knows little about him and his debut at UFC 162 seems more anti-climactic than fighters’ of recent memory–even the dreadful Colton Smith. Kazuki Tokudome is another guy that fans just shrug their shoulder at. The big question is if these fights do not produce excitement, are these the fighters who are at the front of the line for contractual termination? Probably.
Gabriel Gonzaga always seems to be around at heavyweight. He’s the once-feared heavyweight who knocked out Mirko “Cro Cop” and is now a shell of his former self as he faces Dave Herman, a man who does not take his career or pot drug testing seriously. Herman has been losing fights like mad and failed two drug tests in just the past year. The fight screams who cares? as both fighters are nothing more than gatekeepers at this point and even that is pushing it. To be clear, the loser of this fight will no longer be employed by the UFC and within the next year.
Edison Barboza was once the kid with the ESPN wheelkick highlight now he is the guy who Jamie Verner knocked out and unanswered questions about his chin. He faces an underrated Rafaello Oliveira, just the type of guy who could give Barboza problems. Barboza is hoping not to become the new Charles Oliveira and this fight will tell us everything we need to know about him.
The Facebook Prelims
The Facebook prelims often feature the fighters who the promotion deems so boring that they’re placed on the hardest place to watch the fights possible. Normally veteran wrestlers find themselves here, and in these matches the loser more often than not cut. Seth Baczynski and Mike Pierce are both vets that fought each other recently. For Pierce, it is no secret that the UFC is not a huge fan of style which is heavily based off of wrestling and stalling, but Baczynski, who is more of an action packed fighter, finds himself having to prove a lot as he is being put on notice that he is expendable.