UFC 168 takes place Saturday December 28th in Las Vegas, Nevada live at the Mandalay Bay Garden Arena. This year end PPV could very well be subtitled “The Rematch” as no fewer then 2 titles are up from grabs, both with combatants looking to avenge brutal loses.
The main event pits long time ex-middle weight champion Anderson “The Spiders” Silva (35-5, 16-1 UFC) looking to regain his title after his only loss in the octagon against current champ Chris “The All-American” Weidman (10-0, 6-0 UFC). In a shocking second round knockout at UFC 162, Weidman stunningly wrenched the title away from argueably the greatest fighter in MMA history and ended the champs nearly 7 year reign (see Alex Hernandez’s excellent indepth article covering the first fight). Silva has been working to increase his strength for this fight, looking to counter Chris’s wrestling and looks physically bigger. When asked if he would change his training for Weidman, Silva responded with a frown, “The same. The same. I no change nothing because this is me. Anderson,“ said Silva, who later bristled when asked whether he sees Weidman any differently than before. “Normal. It’s normal. C’mon, guys. It’s normal. Two legs. Two arms. It’s normal. I back, believe me I back.”
Chris Weidman looks to prove that his first victory to grab the title was not a fluke. “I have to beat Anderson Silva this next time,” Weidman said in a recent interview. “I have to solidify my first victory, and solidify myself as a champion by winning again. That’s where my heart is at, so it’s hard to sit back and enjoy my successes… I need to win this fight for me and my family. I look forward to proving my critics wrong.”
The champ is not trying to reinvent himself, looking to bring the same formula that helped him capture the belt the first time. “This is my game plan: I’m going to walk forward, I’m going to put pressure on him, I’m going to cut him off,” Weidman added. “If he has his hands down, I’m punching him in his face. If he has his hands up, and he’s expecting me to punch him in the face, I’m taking him down. I’m not afraid to get hit. I’m going to be walking forward with my chin down and my teeth gritted. I don’t care what he throws at me; I’m going to be there.”
In the co-main event, what looks to be even more intense, is another rematch between the first woman to break the top ten pound for pound list, current champ Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey (7-0, 1-0 UFC) VS #2 ranked Meisha “Cupcake” Tate (13-4, 0-1 UFC). Coming off Season 18 of “The Ultimate Fighter”, both coaches look to a rematch they have eagerly awaited.
Both ladies have taken shots verbally at each other. Ronda has questioned her challenger even deserving this title shot, with Meisha only getting this match after her original challeneger Cat Zingano had to pull out due to injury. “I would say that the factors in giving her a title shot are definitely outside of her recent athletic performances. That’s why they’re playing up the rivalry and her looks part, because, athletically, look at the Vegas odds, she’s 10-to-1 – it’s hard to sell that! You have to look outside the box at how to get people interested.” Reportedly her corner is so confident in Ronda that they have bet $20,000 on the champ.
Miesha is making the most of this opportunity and talked about her strategy for this rematch. ““There are always weaknesses in her game. I think a lot of people have built Ronda up to be this invincible person and that there’s no way that she can be beaten. But, I don’t see it that way at all. I see a lot of holes in her game and I see a lot of ways she can be exploited. But, just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen. You know what I mean? And I’m going to do something different on the 28th that anybody else has done. Those holes are there. You guys saw it, I saw it and I don’t think that it needs any explanation, they are there and they are waiting to be taken advantage of.”
Rounding out this year end card is heavy weight contenders #6 ranked Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett (33-6-0) vs #5 ranked Travis “Hapa” Browne (15-1-1), Jim Miller (24-4-0) vs Fabricio “Morango” Camoes (14-7-1), and Dustin (The Diamond) Poirier (14-3-0) vs Diego “DB” Brandao (22-8-0).
My picks for UFC 168 are as follows:
Silva via strikes.
Rousey via submission.
Barnett via strikes.
Miller via decision.
Brandao via decision.
Question my knowledge? Think you have better picks? You can leave your picks in the comment section below, via EMAIL or follow me on Twitter @robertsavalajr , Chris Jobes @pghwn or Alex Hernandez here on UST.
Enjoy the UFC 168 promo: http://youtu.be/B1rZAxQPzSk