It's been nearly 13 years at an event called 'Ultimate Brazil', since the UFC has been in the uncrowned birthplace of what we now know as Mixed Martial Arts. At that time the city was Sao Paolo, but this time the UFC is pulling out all the stops and are going to Rio de Janeiro. A card laden heavy with Brazilian fighters, probably the greatest of them all Anderson 'The Spider' Silva tops the bill.
Silva (30-4, 17 KO's, 6 subs), the current UFC middleweight (185 lbs.) champion, will defend that title against number one contender Yushin 'Thunder' Okami (26-5, 9 KO's 4 subs) in a rematch of a fight that took place over five years ago in another organization. In that fight, Okami won a technical disqualification due to what was deemed to be an illegal kick by Silva. I doubt the same will happen here as I anticipate Silva will dominate his formidable challenger.
This is not to say that Okami doesn't have a chance; he is a strong wrestler, which many believe is the formula needed to defeat Silva, ala Chael Sonnen's near flawless performance last year. He also has a very strong chin as of his five losses, only one has come via KO and that was early in his career back in 2003. However, in Silva he's fighting arguably the number one fighter in the world. As a matter of fact, that DQ loss to Okami was Silva's last.
Winner of 14 fights in a row, including 11 title defenses, Anderson Silva is the epitome of well rounded. A superior striker with fast hands, crisp boxing skills and legs like a spider that throw kicks from anywhere, he is also quite adept on the ground as a jiu-jitsu black belt under the renowned Nogueira brothers. Thus, with all this and fighting in his home country, I anticipate Silva winning in dominant fashion by KO, quite possibly in the first round. Don't blink is all else I'll say.
The co-main event is also a rematch and this one features two former UFC light-heavyweight (205 lbs.) champions in Forrest Griffin (18-6, 3 KO's 7 subs) and Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua (19-5, 16 KO's 1 sub). Their first fight which took place nearly four years ago at UFC 76, ended with Griffin pulling off a submission victory over Rua via rear naked choke late in the third round. In Rua's defense, it was his first fight ever in the octagon, versus the ring they used in the Pride Fighting Championships, and he was actually fighting injured with a torn ligament in his knee.
Thus, those factors, plus Griffin did not look all that impressive in his return from injury decision victory over Rich Franklin in February. 'Shogun' is looking to come back strong after losing his belt in his last fight; revenge and the fight taking place in Brazil all lead me to believe Rua will win by decision in a tough three round war. That said I am not picking all the Brazilians to win on this card.
In the other "big" fight of the night, heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-6-1, 2 KO's 20 subs) takes on fast rising up and comer Brendan 'The Hybrid' Schaub (8-1, 7 KO's). Nogueira, a former UFC interim champion and former Pride champion, is a legend in this sport. Fighting professionally since 1999, the man known as 'Minotauro' has fought the who's who of the heavyweight division in MMA. Meanwhile Schaub has come a long way since his stint on 'The Ultimate Fighter' show less than two years ago.
In the last two years, the careers of these two have taken different paths. Nogueira hasn't fought since February 2010 when he got blasted in the first round by current champ Cain Velasquez. Since then he's had surgeries on both his hips and knees to repair nagging injuries. Meanwhile, since losing in the Ultimate Fighter Finale, Schaub is on a four fight win streak, winning three of four by knockout. Sadly, I expect that to happen here as I see Schaub finishing Nogueira via KO and possibly a passing of the torch from a legend to a future star. Enjoy the fights!