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 UFC139 Predictions

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Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua

A fantasy matchup that never happened in the famed PRIDE organization. Dan Henderson was the last man to hold the PRIDE Middleweight championship which equates to the light heavyweight division stateside. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua had possibly the most spectacular year in the history of the division back in 2005 when he tore through Quinton Rampage Jackson, Alistair Overeem, Antonio Rogerio Minotoro Nogueira, and Ricardo Arona to not only win the PRIDE middleweight grand prix but got unanimously voted fighter of the year in 2005. Both men have since come to the UFC but while Dan Henderson fought to unify titles Shogun got off to a slow start fresh off knee surgery and dropped the upset to Forest Griffin in his debut. Fast forward to today with Shogun having just avenged that loss after losing the UFC Light Heavyweight title to Jon Jones, while Hendo has won the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight title and become the first man to ever legitimately stop the legendary Fedor Emelianenko. While it is a bit late, both men still have plenty in the tank to provide us with a fight to remember.

These two are evenly matched in several areas while dominating others. Striking is split into power and technique. Power is essentially a wash because both of these guys have enough power to crush opponents. Technique wise Shogun is the much better striker and has many more weapons standing. It cannot be ignored though that Hendo has never been knocked out before, and he has a long history of landing the big shot on guys who are much better strikers than himself. Grappling is broken down into four areas, those being wrestling, overall grappling, submissions, and overall strength. Obviously wrestling goes to Hendo, but it is entirely possible that Shogun gets a takedown or two as well. Henderson has been taken down before by lesser wrestlers due to his aggression and the way he extends himself standing at times. Overall grappling goes to Rua for a strong base, but phenominal bottom game as well with a variety of sweeps and submissions from everywhere on the ground. Submissions obviously go to Rua as well who has shown a willingness to go "all in" on them and makes them work for him. Grappling strength goes to Dan, who just spent a good deal of time ragdolling a man who outweighed him by near thirty pounds at the weigh ins alone.

So while each have their strengths here only one can prevail. I see this fight as either a candidate for fight of the year or one that ends as fast as last weeks main event. As much as these two like to strike and as hard as they hit I can't help but feel that someone is going down hard. Henderson could absolutely win this fight but I'm having a hard time imagining a scenario in which he can effectively impliment a gameplan that sees him grinding Shogun down for five rounds. Henderson while he hasn't looked this good in a very long time is visibly getting older and certain things are starting to catch up to him. He has been dropped in both of his last two fights but survived and landed the shot he needed to come out on top. I don't think if Rua is presented with something like that that he will pass it up. He's got more killer instinct than Feijao, and still has the drive and tenacity Fedor no longer does. Not only am I picking Shogun here with his varied strikes and submission game, I'm going to be so bold as to even predict something that has never happened before.

Prediction: Mauricio Rua by (T)KO

Urijah Faber vs. Brian Bowles

Fresh off his decision loss to Champion Dominick Cruz, Urijah Faber takes on the man who had to lose for Cruz to have it. Brian Bowles has accomplished quite a bit in his short career. Winning the WEC bantamweight title in only his eighth fight against long time champion Miguel Torres. Since losing the belt to Cruz Bowles put the beat down on Damacio Page and won a decision over Takeya Mizugaki. Faber entered this division after his one sided loss to Jose Aldo. Sicne then he about killed Mizugaki with a rear naked choke before winning a decision over Eddie Wineland prior to his loss to Cruz. This is an interesting matchup since both of these guys are above average wrestlers with above average striking. Bowles is known for his punching power while Faber is known for his speed and unorthodox strikes and angles. I can't really tell which of them is the better wrestler but I do know Bowles has used his wrestling more on the offensive. However the better overall grappler has to be Faber, who has shown a much better submission game. I think the wrestling is going to be effectively canceled here which is going to leave a striking fight. If that is in fact the case I find the most likely outcome is Faber winning the fight by providing Brian with something he's never seen before and using speed to evade and land consistently.

Wanderlei Silva vs. Cung Le

In what could be the last time we see yet another legend of the sport, we have Wanderlei Silva facing off against Cung Le. Both are 1-1 in their last two fights, and both are eager to put on the most exciting fight possible. Wanderlei lost in the worst possible way against Chris Leben earlier this year, only furthering the conclusion that at this point his chin is shot. Cung Le has competed twice in the last two years. Both against Scott Smith, in which he split those two fights with a loss and then a dominant win. There has been a question for a long time as to when Le would stop making movies to venture fully into MMA or whether the sport was more a hobby for him between shoots. As far as the fight goes the striking is the most even part of this fight. Both men are highly technical strikers who use a wide array of attacks. Le being a traditional Tae Kwon Do fighter with a good deal of professional kickboxing experience. Wanderlei on the other hand learned muay thai at the famed Chute Boxe academy in Brazil. Wanderlei is the epitome of that Chute Boxe style. Pure aggression and devastating flurries. If I had to give someone an edge here I would split things into striking power and striking application. Wanderlei would get the nod for power while Le would get the edge in application. What I mean by that is Le is content to sit back and apply his extremely technical striking for the duration of a fight or until he builds up enough strikes to hurt his opponent for a finish. These two fighters come from two completely different mindsets about fighting. While Wanderlei rushes in and looks to live and die by the sword so to speak Cung likes to sit back, make someone fight his game which is to inflict as much damage while taking as little damage as possible. Grappling is split into wrestling and jiu jitsu. Obviously the advantages are again split with Le having a wrestling advantage and Silva being the better jiu jitsu practicioner. As much as it pains Me here I don't see many scenarios that have Silva winning this fight. His chin is just too fragile these days. While Le isn't exactly a guy who throws bombs and knocks guys out regularly I don't think he would be unable to do it to today's shell of Silva. If Wanderlei comes out to blitz Cung he's going to get countered and eventually leveled. If he sits back and shows patience he may be able to land the shot but Le is very cautious and has good defense. I honestly see Le winning either by decision or referee stoppage. I see no reason why Wanderlei doesn't announce retirement if he gets knocked out here.

Prediction: Cung Le by (T)KO

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