UFC welterweight contender Matt Brown takes some time out this week to break down the year's final and biggest UFC card with the Cagewriter, Elias Cepeda. UFC 168 takes place this Saturday in Las Vegas and will be aired live on pay per view.
Check out what Cepeda and Brown have to say about the night's three top bouts. Then, let us know your picks in the comments section.
Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva II for the UFC middleweight title:
Matt Brown: I’m picking Anderson in this one.
I think Anderson going to have more respect for what Weidman brings to the table and so will be more prepared this time. The first fight Silva was probably feeling invincible, indestructible. I think Anderson will come back with a lot of fire in his heart.
Cagewriter: Matt, an Anderson Silva pick is never a bad one but how do you think the former champ will really be able to deal with the loss psychologically? He didn’t just get flash knocked out. He got hit with three straight left hooks, then got dropped and got beat up on the ground some more.
Before that, in the first round, he was taken down easily, controlled and hit with big shots before almost getting caught in a leg lock. I think Weidman takes this one not just because of the way their skills match up but also because now I think it’s clear he has the clear mental advantage. Also, I think this fight might be happening a little too soon for Anderson. He got concussed and then basically got right back into training for this rematch.
Matt Brown: I hear you, Elias, but Anderson Silva is a master, not just physically but mentally. I think he’ll come back fine from that loss because he’s had tough fights before and come back to win. A lot of people forget that before he came to the UFC, Silva had lost before and lost badly. He is able to respond well to losses.
As for the sure he’s been hurt in the gym before so I don’t think getting hurt in that last fight will affect him in this one. I bet he’s recovered and ready to go. It’s not his first rodeo.
For Anderson Silva, I think it is a matter of whether or not he has a real desire in his heart to win, and I’m betting he does.
Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate II for the UFC women's bantamweight title:
Matt Brown: To be completely honest, I’m no expert on women’s MMA, they are great athletes and it’s great they are doing it but I don’t watch many fights. It’s just not my type of thing.
That said, I think this rematch will probably go the same as the first one. I base that simply on this – taking people down and arm-barring people is what Ronda Rousey does. I imagine her beating Tate that way once gives her an advantage in the second fight. She’s only gotten more experience since then.
Cagewriter: I think Ronda is the smart pick as well, Matt, but Miesha Tate has a better chance than folks think. Anyone can get clipped in an MMA fight and though I don’t know if Tate has a huge technical advantage on the feet in the striking department, I think her overall MMA experience edge over Ronda helps give her a puncher’s chance in this fight.
Tate isn’t afraid to let the fists fly and, though that can work against her by closing the distance for Rousey the way the Judoka wants it to be, if one of Miesha’s shots lands solidly, it could disrupt Ronda enough to put “Takedown” Tate into the bout.
On the flip side, if Tate plays the fight more cautiously than she did the first time around, she might be able to land a few jabs and make the uber-aggressive Rousey get impatient and make mistakes. Wrestling is a timing game and if a patient Tate can time an over-aggressive Rousey, she might be able to put the Olympian on her back and score points.
From there, Tate had better have better submission defense than she did the first time, however.
Matt Brown: You just said something key there, Elias – Ronda Rousey was an Olympic medalist in Judo long before she ever began fighting. So, even though Tate may have ha more MMA fights, Rousey has probably had many more high-level competitions in combat sports overall. Tate has good take downs but she was a high school wrestler. That really can’t compare to an Olympic-level Judo background, in my opinion.
Anything can happen but I’ve also heard from people I know who have trained with Ronda that she is legit and nasty.
Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne:
Matt Brown: I’m going to have to go with my boy Josh Barnett in this one. I didn’t get to train with him too much in the past but I did pick up a few tricks from him.
The past few fights, he has really looked like the old Josh Barnett. He looks hungry and in good shape. The loss to Cormier was a bit of a slip up but he fought well even in that fight and that is just a tough match up for him.
That’s really the only way to beat Barnett – to have high-level wrestling. Most everyone else gets taken down by Barnett or gets submitted by him. His submission skills are very legit, man.
Anything can happen in MMA but I think with his experience and with being hungry again, Barnett is a bad match up for Browne.
Cagewriter: Barnett is a good pick, Matt, but I’m down counting out Travis Browne. I always seem to think that he’s no match for his opponent and then he usually goes ahead and proves a lot tougher than I gave him credit for.
Barnett had better be in better shape as you say because Browne is only looking leaner and better with each fight. His overall conditioning – not just his cardiovascular conditioning and muscle endurance, but also his ability to take and recover from hard shots – is the ‘X’ factor here, in my opinion.
Should Barnett jump all over him the way he did on Frank Mir in his last fight, or the way Alistair Overeem did to Browne in their prior fight, he may very well win. But, if Barnett doesn’t knock Browne clean out or lock up the submission quickly, I think Browne can take a lot of punishment, get back up and win a war of attrition.
Follow Matt Brown on Twitter @IamTheImmortal.