UFC Bantamweight Title: Dominick Cruz (Champion) vs. Urijah Faber
Top Prediction: Dominick Cruz via Decision
Anton Gurevich: Despite what he says in his recent interviews, this is the most important fight in Dominick Cruz’s career. I’m fully confident in The Dominator’s ability to withstand the pressure and defeat his arch nemesis Urijah Faber in another P4P Top 5-worthy performance. Dominick Cruz via Decision.
Ryan Ventura: The two have met in 2007 with Faber coming out on top, but in 2011 things are going to be different. Dominick Cruz has matured into one of the best Bantamweights in MMA and his boxing abilities have made him hard to train for. There is no one on Team Alpha Male that can emulate Cruz for Faber and I believe the California Kid will have his hands full. The Dominator will keep it on the feet and the belt will stay around his waist. Cruz by decision.
Joey Santosus: This was a tough one to call, largely in part to the fact that each fighter, employing the appropriate gameplan, have the strengths needed to exploit the others shortcomings. In the end, however, I’ll go with the upset here. Speed and cardio are not likely to be an issue for Faber and I expect him to eventually get his hands on Cruz, where he’ll have an advantage in both the clinch and on the ground. Urijah Faber via Decision.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Chris Leben
Top Prediction: Wandeco via TKO in Round 2
Anton Gurevich: Wanderlei Silva’s last fight took place almost a year and a half ago, back at UFC 110 against Michael “The Count” Bisping. Chris Leben fought three times since then, defeating Aaron Simpson and Yoshihiro Akiyama, and losing to Brian Stann in his most recent fight at UFC 125. Ring rust is real, and it will play a major role in Crippler’s victory over Silva. Chris Leben via TKO in Round 3.
Ryan Ventura: A dream match for many fans that will finally become a reality on Saturday. I expect there to be fireworks as soon as the ref starts the fight and it will not go to the distance. Chris Leben seems to have a head made out of iron and The Axe Murderer has been dropped in the past. However, I think Wandy will be the better “banger” that night and I can see The Crippler taking a nap on the canvas. Silva via 2nd round TKO.
Joey Santosus: This was another tough fight to call, although for much less complex reasons. It’s going to ultimately come down to whose chin betrays them first and a solid case can be built for either fighter. With that said, I expect Leben to take more unanswered punches than “The Axe Murderer,” who is known for his ferocious flurries. Wanderlei Silva via 2nd Rnd TKO.
Photo: Chuck Liddell, left, fights Wanderlei Silva during UFC 79 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Saturday, December 29, 2007. Photo credit: Francis Specker
Tito Ortiz vs. Ryan Bader
Top Prediction: Bader via Decision
Anton Gurevich: Tito Ortiz will be fighting for his career in this one, once again facing one of the top 205’ers in the UFC. I really want Tito to win, not because I’m his fan or something, but simply because I admire his fighting spirit and like “the story” behind the encounter against Bader. Ortiz via Decision.
Ryan Ventura: Tito hasn’t fought for a while and I believe he was way past his prime a long time ago. There was a time when he was one of the world’s best, but 2002 is long gone. Ryan Bader is younger, hungrier, faster, stronger, and will be looking to add a legend to his resume. UFC 132 maybe the last time we see The Huntington Beach Bad Boy. Ryan Bader via 2nd round TKO.
Joey Santosus: Stylistically, this almost seems like a winnable fight for Ortiz… almost. In a recent interview, Tito stated that a wrestler’s kryptonite is always another wrestler. I agree with him there to an extent. Which is why I’ll take the better wrestler of the two, who actually possess functional stand-up. Ryan Bader via Decision.
Carlos Condit vs. Stun Gun
Top Prediction: NBK via Decision
Anton Gurevich: Stun Gun Dong Hyun Kim is probably the most underrated fighter in the UFC. Kim is 5-0-1 in the UFC thank to his elite-level wrestling skills, but I firmly believe that Carlos Condit has what it takes to keep this fight standing. I’ll pick Carlos Condit via TKO in 2nd.
Ryan Ventura: Both men in the stacked welterweight division have been on a hot streak. The Stun Gun has yet to lose a fight in his career, but I believe Carlos Condit could repeat what he did to Dan Hardy. Condit via 1st round KO.
Joey Santosus: One fighter moves into contention, the other heads back to the drawing board. Condit has picked up some impressive victories as of late, but all three were by a matter of inches. After edging out a split decision over Jake Ellenberger, he was handled by Rory MacDonald before pulling off a late TKO with 8 secs remaining. And had he pulled the trigger a fraction of a second later against Dan Hardy, it may have been him face down on the canvas. “Stun Gun,” on the other hand, has looked dominant in his 15-fight unbeaten streak and will likely grind out another lackluster victory. Dong Hyun Kim via Decision.
Dennis Siver vs. Dennis Wiman
Top Prediction: Siver via TKO in 3rd
Anton Gurevich: Another Grappler vs. Striker match-up. Dennis Siver already proved his worth against George Sotiropoulos, and I don’t think that Matt Wiman brings anything new to the table against the German kickboxer. Siver will dominate this fight, and walk away with a finisher. Dennis Siver via TKO/KO in Round 2.
Ryan Ventura: Classic clash of styles in the opening bout of the night. We know Siver is capable of keeping fights standing against BJJ experts like George Sotiropoulos, but let’s see how he does against a hard grinding wrestler like Matt Wiman. Personally, I believe not only could Dennis Siver keep the bout on his feet, but he could very well finish Wiman in devastating fashion. Siver via 1st round TKO.
Joey Santosus: After his controversial “submission” win over Mac Danzig, Wiman returned with a surprisingly solid performance to defeat Cole Miller in his last outing. Against Siver, however, who is coming off perhaps his biggest victory to date over G-Sots, he’ll likely struggle to drag the fight to the ground, forcing him to stand with the much more dynamic striker. Dennis Siver via Decision.