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UFC 132 Preview

UFC 132 will be the first UFC event to feature two bantamweights as the main attraction.  In Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber, the UFC has two of their premier 135 pound fighters competing in the first ever UFC Bantamweight Title fight.  This fight works, since these are two great fighters that will also make girls say, “Oh, they’re so cute!  I just want to put those little men in my purse and carry them around with me!”  I worry that Cruz’s somewhat avoidant style might turn off casual fans, but I’m looking forward to this fight.

The undercard is pretty solid, though not spectacular.  Middleweights Chris Leben and Wanderlei Silva will likely put on an incredible show, while we can expect the same from welterweights Carlos Condit and Dong Hyun Kim.  Dennis Siver vs. Matt Wiman is an interesting lightweight bout and I fully expect Ryan Bader to bust open Tito Ortiz’s melon head, forcing sweet, delicious brain fruit to spill from Ortiz’s skull.

George Sotiropoulos and Melvin Guillard each have fights on the Spike TV portion of this broadcast and I’m very pleased about that.  Of course, no UFC card is complete without burying a couple of lighter fighters – even on an event headlined by bantamweights!  Brian Bowles vs. Takeya Mizugaki is going to be a really good, competitive fight between two top ten fighters.  The outcome of this fight is very relevant in the bantamweight division and will have ramifications on who Cruz or Faber could fight next.

UFC 132 will be live on pay-per-view at 9:00 PM EST/8:00 PM CST with the Spike TV preliminary fights beginning at 8:00 PM EST/7:00 PM CST.  The remaining four prelims will be live on Facebook at 6:00 PM EST/5:00 PM CST.  The Facebook prelims will be tough to catch on account of the Wladimir Klitschko vs. David Haye boxing contest, which is airing live in the afternoon from Germany.  Thank goodness for boxing in Europe since I will have a good excuse to get drunk in the middle of the day!  Then again, it’s a Saturday on a long weekend and that seems to be a good enough reason on its own.

Bantamweight Title: (c) Dominick Cruz (17-1, No. 1 BW) vs. Urijah Faber (25-4, No. 5 BW)

Cruz: Very balanced fighter with solid boxing and wrestling, ten of his 17 career wins have been by decision, reigning and first ever UFC Bantamweight Title, held the WEC Bantamweight Title from March 2010 to when the promotion merged with the UFC in December 2010, 7-1 in the WEC with the sole loss to Urijah Faber, 6-0 during his career at bantamweight, defeated currently ranked fighters Ian McCall, Joseph Benavidez, Brian Bowles, and Scott Jorgensen, making his UFC debut.

Faber: Former NCAA Division 1 wrestler at the University of California – Davis with a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belt, 13 career submissions along with seven knockout victories, went 9-3 in the WEC and held the promotion’s Featherweight Title, has gone 2-0 since dropping down to bantamweight with wins over Takeya Mizugaki and Eddie Wineland, only career losses are to Jose Aldo, Mike Brown, and Tyson Griffin, known as the “California Kid”, is good friends with Kenny Powers.

Remarks: Dominick Cruz likes it when a fight goes the distance.  Urijah Faber does not necessarily feel the same way.  I feel like we’re going to see a bit of a clash in styles in this one, as Cruz likes to stick and move with his boxing while Faber will look to utilize takedowns to control and potentially submit his opponent.  I guess the question is how much success can we expect Faber to have against such an elusive opponent?

Cruz is the younger and faster fighter and has a nice job clearing out the top of the bantamweight division, but Faber was able to submit Takeya Mizugaki and took a unanimous decision against former WEC Bantamweight Champion Eddie Wineland.  Cruz has the more impressive resume and has looked untouchable as of late, but I’m still inclined to give Faber the edge here.  Urijah is a strong wrestler and a good enough striker to make things interesting on the feet.  Cruz is also recovering from a hand injury and a long layoff and Faber has already had a chance to make his UFC debut.

I’m generally not one to think pressure is a big factor in fights, but it could be here.  Faber was long the centerpiece of the WEC and fought in the co-main event of a huge UFC 128 card.  Dominick Cruz has yet to experience the bright lights of the UFC and will have 17,000+ in attendance rooting against him.  I think Faber is more prepared for what lies ahead in this fight and will catch Cruz with an early submission.  Faber is pretty well suited in the 135 pound division and could potentially have a longer run at the top of the bantamweight division.  In order for that to happen, he must be successful in tonight’s main event.

Middleweight: Wanderlei Silva (33-10-1, 1 NC, No. 10 MW) vs. Chris Leben (21-7, No. 15 MW)

Silva: BJJ black belt with huge punching power, 23 career knockout victories, former PRIDE middleweight champion who won more fights than any other fighter in PRIDE history, went undefeated in 18 fights from August 2000 to October 2004, has gone just 2-5 in his last seven fights dating back to September 2006, last defeated Michael Bisping in his middleweight debut in February 2010, was scheduled to fight Yoshihiro Akiyama in June 2010 before rib injuries forced Silva out of the fight, has a son named Thor.

Leben: Another big puncher with 13 career (T)KO wins, has gone 11-6 in the UFC with three wins in his last four fights, has won Fight of the Night honors twice along with three Knockout of the Night awards, defeated Aaron Simpson and Yoshihiro Akiyama within weeks of each other in June and July 2010, lost to Brian Stann in his last fight at UFC 125, has struggled with substances having previously tested positive for steroids along with receiving multiple DUI arrests, shares his nickname with a family murdering former professional wrestler.

Remarks: We are going to see some absolute fireworks in this fight.  Chris Leben and Wanderlei Silva have both asked for this fight and have every expectation to punch one another in the head extremely hard.  This has fight of the night written all over it, even on a night with a number of competitive fights and exciting fighters.  I am looking forward to this fight more than any other on this card.

I would really love to see Silva win this fight, but I don’t see it happening.  Wanderlei is coming off a 17 month layoff from fighting against a really tough, head-hunting striker.  Leben might be coming off a loss to rising star Brian Stann, but I think this is his fight to lose.  Silva might be the odds on favorite, but I think we’ll see a knockout victory for Leben in this fight.  Silva has looked better since dropping down to 185 and certainly could score the win, but I really feel more confident in Leben’s chances.

Welterweight: Carlos Condit (26-5, No. 9 WW) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (14-0-1, 1 NC, No. 21 WW)

Condit: BJJ purple belt who trains with Greg Jackson, 12 career (T)KO wins along with 13 submission victories, went 5-0 in the UFC with wins over Carlo Prater, John Alessio, and Brock Larson, has been undefeated in the UFC since losing to Jake Ellenberger in April 2009, took Fight of the Night against Rory MacDonald in June 2010 and Knockout of the Night against Dan Hardy in October 2010, was originally scheduled to fight Chris Lytle at UFC 127 before being forced out by a knee injury.

Kim: A very gifted judo practitioner from South Korea with a 4th dan black belt, half of his wins have come by decision, has gone 5-0 with a single no contest in the UFC, has won his last three fights by unanimous decision against Nate Diaz, Amir Sadollah, and T.J. Grant, won five consecutive fights in DEEP by (T)KO from October 2006 to August 2007, nicknamed “Stun Gun”.

Remarks: I really like this fight and think it will be a very competitive affair.  I really like Stun Gun Kim, but I have to give the edge to Carlos Condit.  Kim has looked very good in the UFC thus far, but he doesn’t quite have the resume that Condit has.  Condit’s wins over Hardy, MacDonald, and Ellenberger in consecutive fights are very impressive and Carlos Condit has looked very scary at times.  He’s got very powerful hands and loves finishing fights and I don’t know that Kim can stop him in this fight.  I think we’ll see a TKO win out of Condit who has quickly been climbing the ranks at welterweight.

Light Heavyweight: Ryan Bader (12-1, No. 10 LHW) vs. Tito Ortiz (15-8-1)

Bader: Two time NCAA wrestling All-American at Arizona State University, five career (T)KO wins along with three submissions, winner of the Ultimate Fighter’s eighth season, was undefeated in MMA prior to being submitted by Jon Jones at UFC 126, holds notable victories over Keith Jardine and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, has the dorkiest MMA nickname in “Darth”.

Ortiz: Former collegiate wrestler who holds eight career knockout wins, has not won a fight since knocking out Ken Shamrock in December 2006, has lost consecutive fights to Lyoto Machida, Forrest Griffin, and Matt Hamill, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, has fought only once a year dating back to 2007, birth name is “Jacob”.

Remarks: The biggest question I have going into this fight: do I have the stomach to watch Tito Ortiz get wrestled to death by Ryan Bader?  The fight will likely go as follows: Bader takedown, Bader smashes Ortiz, Bader finishes fight or gets stood up.  In the event of stand up, repeat process.  Tito Ortiz is well past his prime and looked competitive against Matt Hamill for all of three or four minutes.  How in the hell does he stand a chance against Ryan Bader if he was beat by Matt Hamill?  I’ll give Bader a TKO win here and I’m just hopeful that Tito will be among the living once the fight is complete.

Almost as compelling as the fight itself is speculation on what Tito Ortiz could use as an excuse after he loses the fight.  It’s common knowledge in MMA that Ortiz never loses fights cleanly, since he alleges to enter each fight with a list of crippling maladies.  Fractured skull, broken back and neck, concussion, torn ligaments…we’ve heard it all from Ortiz.  Here are some potential excuses we can expect to hear from the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” after this inevitable defeat:

Restless leg syndrome, fibromyalgia, high fiber fibromyalgia, hot tub foot, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Lou Barlow’s disease, Lucy Liu flu, advanced moist shin disorder, a hyper tolerance to lactose, urinary tract infection, urinary 8-track infection, trickle nipple, thick urine syndrome, Hapsburg cholera, clogged arteries, dropsy, dry lip, intestinal colic, allergies to indoor toilets, milk leg, lufa rash, bone worm, selective fatigue syndrome.

Hepatitis R, irritable bowel syndrome, spastic ear discharge, pubic lice, amphibial rabies, anglocentric sickle cell anemia, scabies, rabies, Mickey Rooney sugar babies, tarnished yam simplex, chronic shame disorder, larval penis, dirt belly, Parkinson’s disease, valet Parkinson’s disease, parallel Parkinson’s disease, Parker Posey pox, Pere Ubu, canine derived hip dysplasia, selective albinism, scrotal migraines, prolapsed navel, puff knuckle, hard to kill, carpool tunnel syndrome.

Lightweight: Matt Wiman (13-5, No. 25 LW) vs. Dennis Siver (18-7, No. 14 LW)

Wiman: Wrestler who holds five decision victories along with four knockouts and four submissions, has gone 7-3 in the UFC with wins in his last three fights, took three consecutive Fight of the Night Awards from June 2008 to April 2009 against Thiago Tavares, Jim Miller, and Sam Stout, last defeated Cole Miller by unanimous decision at the second UFC Fight for the Troops, is nicknamed “Handsome” and I am not prepared to argue this moniker.

Siver: Very balanced and talented fighter with a BJJ purple belt and taekwondo black belt, also has very good kickboxing as a former German kickboxing champion, 8-4 in the UFC with wins in seven of his last eight fights, has taken Knockout, Submission, and Fight of the Night awards during these eight fights, upset George Sotiropoulos at UFC 127 in February 2011.

Remarks: I expect this fight to be a pretty close contest between two ranked fighters.  Siver’s impressive win over a great BJJ practitioner like Sotiropoulos opened a lot of eyes this past February.  If Siver can withstand Wiman’s wrestling, I think he’ll win this fight.  Of course, that is a big “if” which is pretty much the basis of why fights happen.  Siver is really well-balanced, but Wiman also has better takedowns than Sotiropoulos.

This has the makings of a trap fight for Siver, coming off a huge win against a lower ranked fighter.  Wiman is a good fighter who always puts on a show and has defeated some big opponents.  Wiman will have to push hard to score takedowns and avoid Siver’s striking in order to take this fight.  Will Wiman be able to succeed where Siver’s last opponent failed?  I think we’ll see this contest go to a decision where Wiman will pull off the upset.  I think Wiman will be able to do just enough to keep Siver uncomfortable in the cage and he’ll take a very close win.

Lightweight: George Sotiropoulos (14-3, No. 8 LW) vs. Rafael dos Anjos (14-5)

Sotiropoulos: Outstanding BJJ practitioner with ten submission victories, competitor on season six of the Ultimate Fighter, was 7-0 in the UFC before being upset by Dennis Siver, has won two Fight of the Night awards in the UFC, key wins include Joe Lauzon, Kurt Pellegrino, and Joe Stevenson, requires no nickname because he is fairly awesome.

Dos Anjos: Another BJJ black belt, holds seven career submission victories, is an even 3-3 in the UFC with both Submission and Fight of the Night awards to his name, won three consecutive fights before losing to Clay Guida at UFC 117, is a replacement for original opponent Evan Dunham.

Remarks: George Sotiropoulos should take the decision victory here.  I don’t see him submitting dos Anjos, a fellow BJJ black belt, but I think he’s got the advantage in this contest.  I like Sotiropoulos’ three inch height advantage, while his wrestling training at Impact Jiu Jitsu will give him the opening he needs to bring dos Anjos to the mat.  I’m admittedly a big fan of Sotiropoulos and fully expect him to get back to his winning ways against Rafael dos Anjos.

Lightweight: Melvin Guillard (27-8-2, 1 NC, No. 11 LW) vs. Shane Roller (10-3)

Guillard: BJJ blue belt and judo brown belt out of Greg Jackson’s camp, very dangerous striker with 16 career (T)KO wins, has won four fights in a row and has won seven out of his last eight fights, last upset Evan Dunham with a devastating TKO win in January where he took Knockout of the Night, was previously suspended for eight months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for a positive cocaine test.

Roller: Three time NCAA All-American wrestler out of Oklahoma State University, has finished nine of ten wins with 3 knockouts and six submissions, went 6-2 in the WEC with losses to Ben Henderson and Anthony Pettis, defeated Thiago Tavares in his UFC debut in March and took Knockout of the Night honors, twice won WEC Submission of the Night Awards, also holds wins over Anthony Njokuani, Danny Castillo, and Jamie Varner.

Remarks: I like Shane Roller and think he’ll have great success in the UFC, but Melvin Guillard has been red hot since he started training with Greg Jackson.  It’s not just that Guillard has won four fights in a row.  The improvements in his game have been noticeable, becoming more patient while maintaining the awesome striking that he used to make his name.  Much like Clay Guida, Guillard was a super skilled fighter who needed his skills to be honed.  Greg Jackson has worked wonders with both of these fighters, turning them into legitimate title contenders at 155 pounds.

Shane Roller could pose some potential problems for Guillard.  Roller has superior wrestling and very good submissions.  He proved against Thiago Tavares that he can bust out a slick knockout if need be, though he’s not especially known for his striking.  Roller could potentially steal this fight with frequent takedowns as long as he can avoid Guillard’s power.  Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done against “The Young Assassin”.  I like Guillard to extend his winning streak to five with a TKO victory over Shane Roller.

Bantamweight: Brian Bowles (9-1, No. 3 BW) vs. Takeya Mizugaki (14-5-2, No. 9 BW)

Bowles: Very good wrestler with a BJJ brown belt, six of his nine wins have come by submission, former WEC Bantamweight Champion, won two Submission of the Night awards in the WEC and won Submission of the Night in his UFC debut against Damacio Page this past March, also holds wins over Marcos Galvao and Miguel Torres.

Mizugaki: A good striker who has nine career decision victories, went 2-3 during his time in the WEC with losses to Miguel Torres, Scott Jorgensen, and Urijah Faber, won Fight of the Night awards in his losses to Torres and Jorgensen, defeated Reuben Duran by split decision in his UFC debut,

Remarks: Taking a closer look at Mizugaki’s record, I can’t help but feel that many sites (including mine) tend to overrate Mizugaki.  His biggest wins are against Jeff Curran and Rani Yahya, yet somehow, Mizugaki is a top ten fighter at bantamweight?  He looked impressive at times in the WEC, but he couldn’t pull off the big wins.  It was good that he could start his UFC career with a win, but now he’s up against a very strong opponent in Brian Bowles.

Bowles is a very well-balanced fighter and has earned his place at the top of this division.  Wins over Miguel Torres and Damacio Page have cemented his status as a bantamweight contender, while a sole loss to Dominick Cruz isn’t too much of a blemish.  Bowles has great wrestling and submissions but is also a dangerous striker, as he proved by knocking out Torres to win the WEC Bantamweight Title.  I like Bowles to score a submission victory in this fight on his way to becoming the number one contender for the UFC Bantamweight Title.

Lightweight: Anthony Njokuani (13-5, 1 NC) vs. Andre Winner (11-5-1)

Middleweight: Aaron Simpson (8-2) vs. Brad Tavares (7-0)

Bantamweight: Jeff Hougland (9-4) vs. Donny Walker (15-6)

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