On September 20th, two heavy handed heavyweights will collide at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. Implications are high, as the winner will undoubtedly be in the mix, in what is seemingly a shallow heavyweight title picture. Hunt, is coming off a five round draw against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, in which is considered, one of the best heavyweight fights in UFC history. It was an absolute war of nutrition and despite Antonio Silva being later popped for elevated testosterone, Hunt was able to showcase his iron chin, heart and overall abilities. Nelson, is coming off a highlight reel knockout win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, which is just one of many during his UFC tenure.
Now, as the days wane closer, the anticipation for this fight is real. It’s one of those dream matchups that you’ve always envisioned about and now it’s finally here. It’s drawn up on paper to be a slugfest, promising of a knockout and I can’t say I disagree. I’ve said it in the past, but how can this fight possibly go five rounds? I’ve now grown a bit to the art of surprise in MMA, but seriously, two heavyweights that are aggressive strikers, are expected to need five rounds? Umm, No… but, we shall see very soon.
Anyways, this is going to be a fun fight to watch, as I’ve probably indicated a thousand times already. The durability of both men will make for an interesting result. I mean, Roy Nelson has only been knocked out once and has been in some fights where I think almost any other heavyweight would of fallen down. His ability to take punishment is uncanny. The same could be said about Mark Hunt, although knocked out twice, has endured punches in bunches from the best. Also, dare I say, his last fight went the full five rounds and for heavyweights, that’s rare milestone to complete.
As for a prediction and I’ll keep short and sweet, I believe that Mark Hunt will finish Roy Nelson at some point. Nelson, as I mentioned before has only been finished once, so it’s almost hard to say that he will be finished. I just think, in a five round fight, his gas tank will be an issue. Hunt, who’s been finished in everyone of his eight losses (6 via submission, 2 via knockout), will have to avoid Nelson’s signature looping right hand and slick top ground game. That’s really the X-factor here, as Nelson is far superior on the ground than Mark Hunt. BUT, I believe that Hunt will do whatever to keep this one on the feet and work his way inside of Nelson’s defense, punishing him. From there, Nelson will only have the ability to survive so long and Hunt will force the referee’s hand to step in at some point. Just don’t blink guys…
The co-main event features an interesting fight in the lightweight division, as the undefeated Myles Jury looks to add a signature win to his resume in the form of “The Fireball Kid” Takanori Gomi. This fight has the expression “the changing of the guard” written all over it, as the new breed of fighters including Myles Jury look to surpass the legends such as Takanori Gomi.
Stylistically, this fight favors Jury, as he he’s very well diverse in striking and grappling. He’s capable of bringing the fight down to the mat and controlling his opponent, just watch his fight against Michael Johnson. As for Gomi, it’s clear he wants this one on the feet, where he displays a very technical and at the same time aggressive approach. However, Gomi needs to avoid grappling with Jury, as he’s had a hard time against wrestlers and superior grapplers. And despite an improving takedown defense, once Jury goes for a takedown, he’s committed and usually succeeds.
As for a prediction, I’d have to say Myles Jury takes this fight via decision. I just think that Jury has too many weapons in his arsenal, which should keep Gomi uncomfortable and guessing. And while I think Gomi is still a credible fighter, it just seems that his fighting style is more geared towards PRIDE. In the UFC, you have to be well diverse because the new crop of fighters that are coming in now, have a strong wrestling background and are learning the other martial arts. The wrestling base will give them an advantage, especially against mainly strikers like Gomi. I’m hoping for an exciting fight and I wouldn’t be upset to see either guy win, although if Gomi wins, it would make for an interesting last hoorah, to his already legendary career. In my mind however, this is Jury’s time and his fight to lose. He is too well rounded to succumb to Gomi and should avoid getting into a brawl, although he has power himself.
Talk about a fight among fighters who haven’t competed in sometime, as Yoshihiro Akiyama returns over two years later, looking to end a 4 fights losing streak against Amir Sadollah, who hasn’t competed in nearly two years. It will be interesting to see if ring rust plays a factor here, as both men have endured lengthy layoffs. Akiyama, better known as “Sexyama” has been a fan favorite ever since gracing the UFC, earning three “Fight of the Night” bonuses in his first three fights in the Octagon. Sadollah, the Ultimate Fighter 7 winner, is among a rare breed of fighters who have only competed professionally for the UFC. With a record of 6-4, Sadollah will look to get things going and put behind injuries that have cost him fighting for the last two years.
Akiyama is a banger with excellent judo and takedown defense. However, his striking defense is rather poor, often allowing opponents to tag him. Sadollah, who strikes in volume, would like to keep this one on the feet where he can technically defeat Akiyama. Saddolah should try to avoid any grappling exchanges because Akiyama has excellent throws, just watch the Jake Shields fight. Akiyama can sometimes be hesitant to let his hands go, which worries me, but I’m hoping this layoff has revamped Akiyama’s overall game. I really think that while Sadollah might have the edge in striking, Akiyama certainly has the more power and a better chin, as well as the edge in grappling. That’s not to say Sadollah doesn’t have any grappling because he certainly does and he can threaten with a submission, it’s just that I see him on his back more than Akiyama in grappling exchanges. This leads me to my prediction, in which “Sexyama” ends the 4 fight losing streak and takes this via decision, prolonging his UFC career. I’ve honestly always enjoyed watching Akiyama, he never fails to deliver an exciting fight, to the fans, so should he lose, I hope he goes out on his shield.
An intriguing bout in the women’s bantamweight division, as Miesha “Cupcake” Tate looks to build off her controversial win over Liz Carmouche, while Rin Nakai looks to make a successful UFC debut and stay undefeated. Tate, who finally notched her first UFC win in a rather uninspiring fight against Liz Carmouche, really needs to win this fight. Being the former Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion can only keep you afloat so long, so wins are very important at this stage, especially when you are 1-2 in the UFC. Nakai, who is rather unknown despite a very impressive 16-0-1 record, looks to make an instant splash onto the scene.
I will admit, I haven’t really watched too much tape on Rin Nakai. The little I’ve seen, it appears she is a good grappler, with great strength. She is short and bulky, so it would appear she has a strong base. Her striking appeared ok, nothing too impressive. Tate on the other end is well rounded, although she could use some work on her standup. The second time against Ronda Rousey, her striking defense was very poor, so hopefully she shored that up. When looking at Rin Nakai’s record, it’s a little alarming to see some of the competition she has faced, even drawing against Danielle West (4-5 record). I’m not quiet sure she is ready to face the caliber of a fighter that Miesha Tate is, although Liz Carmouche kind of set a blueprint of smothering Tate. I doubt that happens however and I believe that Tate’s cardio should help her prevail. With that, I predict that Miesha Tate will finish Rin Nakai sometime late into the fight. I’d be semi shocked if Nakai pulled the upset, but since she is rather unknown and this is MMA, anything could happen. Regardless, it should be a unique and interesting fight in the women’s bantamweight division, with interesting implications for the winner.
Rest of the Card Predictions (Winner Bolded):
Kiichi Kunimoto vs. Richard Walsh (Submission)
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Jon Delos Reyes (Submission)
Alex Caceres vs. Masanori Kanehara (T/KO)
Sam Sacilia vs. Katsunari Kikuno (T/KO)
Hyun Gyu Lim vs. Takenori Sato (T/KO)
Michinori Tanaka vs. Kyung Ho Kang (Decision)
Kazuki Tokudome vs. Johnny Case (Decision)
Maximo Blanco vs. Dan Hooker (T/KO)