UFC 117: Silva vs. Sonnen brings the Ultimate Fighting Championship back to California’s Oracle Arena in Oakland for a night of fights that could potentially shake the foundations of every division in the promotion. In addition to the obvious implications of the middleweight title affair between incumbent champ “The Spider” Anderson Silva (26-4) and verbally antagonistic wrestler Chael Sonnen (24-10-1) and the number one heavyweight contender showdown between “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-4) and “Cigano” Junior dos Santos (11-1), Dana White and Joe Silva have provided the MMA community with a long awaited welterweight rematch between former GSP victims Jon Fitch (21-3) and “Pitbull” Thiago Alves (16-6). The pair first crossed paths in 2006 at UFC Fight Night 5 where Fitch managed to stop the then 22 year old American Top Team standout in the second round due to strikes. Since that time, Alves has been on fire, winning seven of his last eight with five of those wins coming by way of TKO or referee stoppage. Fitch has won nine of the ten since he last saw Alves, but he has only managed to finish two of those opponents. Brought to this point by two very different paths, this meeting between old rivals promises to be a barn burner that any fan would love as Fitch pits his smothering top control and grinding ground-n-pound against the brutal Thai assault of “Pitbull.”
For the second time in seven days, the UFC returns to California for UFC117: Silva vs. Sonnen at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. Amidst a card that features every one from the best pound for pound fighter in the world, “The Spider” Anderson Silva (26-4) to hall of fame fighter Matt Hughes (42-7) we find a lightweight gem between the “The Carpenter” Clay Guida (26-11) and Rafael dos Anjos (15-3). The two lightweights are firmly entrenched in the middle of the light weight pack with Guida having shown a tendency to be outclassed by upper tier competition and dos Anjos still trying to repair the damage done to his title dreams by losing his first two UFC bouts. The match up is an interesting one that pits Guida’s soul draining style of top pressure wrestling and ground-n-pound against Rafael’s advanced level jiu-jitsu and leg kick oriented counter boxing. The result should be a fairly exciting bout that propels one man back into lightweight relevance.
In the past two years Dana White has been able to change the UFC’s heavyweight division from bloated and overrated, to relevant and exciting. UFC 117 promises just that, a relevant and exciting bout between top contenders. When “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-4-0) faces off against rapidly rising knockout artist “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (11-1-0) much more will be revealed about the depth of the UFC heavyweight division. While Roy Nelson is quite obviously the seasoned veteran and former IFL champion he will face his toughest test yet against a very game Dos Santos.
If you ever need a bathroom break during a UFC event the most innappropriate time to go would be during a Junior Dos Santos fight. He has had only one fight go past the first round in his career and that was mostly because Mirko “Cro Cop” wasted a lot of time not engaging Dos Santos in their fight. In this fight I saw no issues with the cardio nor the takedown defense of Dos Santos. He was able to keep the fight standing, and go into the later rounds without slowing down. I mention all of this because this is more than likely the situation he will face when it comes to Roy Nelson.
Nelson will more than likely be looking for the takedown with Dos Santos, but don’t look for this to turn into another Leites-Silva matchup. Nelson has a capable standup game and as long as he believes he can stand with Dos Santos this is where he’ll be most vunerable. If Dos Santos does what he is good at and uses his power and ability to throw “punches in bunches” he will be able to put Nelson away quickly and with relative ease.
This fight will be a true test of Junior Dos Santos as a mixed martial artist. We already know that he can knock people out seemingly at will however we haven’t seen extensive use of his brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I’m sure many fans would love to see Dos Santos show another dimension of his MMA game in a submission victory over Nelson. He will have the opportunity to show his skill, if he chooses to engage Nelson if and when the fight goes to the ground. In past fights we have seen Dos Santos stand up quickly when put on the ground and more so look to keep the fight standing with superior takedown defense. Both fighters have skills on the ground and standing so there is no guarantee as to where the fight stays on Saturday.
I truly believe that if Dos Santos can effectively stifle Nelson’s takedowns then the fight will stay standing. He will more than likely settle into his bread and butter game and stand and bang with Nelson. If Dos Santos can execute this gameplan, I believe he can edge out Nelson on the scorecards if not put him away early.