Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Chael Sonnen:
Mike Drahota: This bout is one that has a good amount of backstory to it, in that Sonnen hasn’t really run his mouth about Shogun too much, but rather Rua’s training partner and friend Wanderlei Silva. It’s no secret that Shogun will attempt to use his vaunted striking to earn a finish while Sonnen will use his trademark wrestling to smother Rua. Shogun appears motivated and well trained for this bout, and he’s a scary man when in that state of mind. That’s why I’ll pick Rua via R1 TKO (strikes).
Rory Kernaghan: Sonnen vs. Shogun could be labeled as a 'Last Stand' fight for both these veterans. They each are in desperate need of a win; often this principle brings out the best in fighters. I expect Shogun to get the better of Sonnen on the feet, and handle his takedown attempts as they come. Look for Rua to finish Chael with some heavy G n P. Rua by TKO round two.
Brian Cox: In all likelihood this is apt to be a one-sided affair. Rua has a lot of tools, more than Sonnen. I believe he’s going to look to keep the fight standing and make Sonnen trade with him. That said, can he? Regardless of whether or not his star is waning, Sonnen is still a great wrestler and one that brings the fight to his opponent. Should he be able to get Rua down and keep him there, he could grind out a victory, but probably not a finish. All considered, I think Shogun is the more dominant fighter. I’m picking Shogun Rua via TKO in the 2nd round.
Alistair Overeem vs. Travis Browne:
Mike Drahota: I like this fight because I think it’ll great for the fans. Both heavyweights will come in with a lot to prove. Overeem needs a win to stay afloat in a not-so-deep division, while Browne looks to rise towards the top. ‘Don’t blink’ is an altogether overdone MMA cliché, but it actually strikes true in this case. Browne looks to be in great shape for this fight, agile and fast for a big Heavyweight. I think that’s where his advantage will be, but it’s a close one, because I’m pretty sure Overeem will fight much smarted than he did against ‘Bigfoot.’ Still, I have to go with Browne via R1 TKO.
Rory Kernaghan: Overeem vs. Browne is not going to last more than one round, I would bet my mortgage on that, if I had a mortgage. The general opinion is that Browne will take Overeem out with ease, but I have a different opinion. Overeem is looking in incredible shape, and has spoke openly about the lessons that he learned from the Bigfoot fight. Look for ‘The Reem’ to fight smart. Browne is very dangerous, but I think a renewed Overeem will flatten him in the opening stanza. Overeem by KO round one.
Brian Cox: This is a big fight in the heavyweight division, and a huge fight for Alistair Overeem. Should he lose this fight, his career will be in big trouble. For Browne, this fight is a heck of an opportunity. Should he be able to defeat “The Reem,” Browne could find himself a fight away from a title shot. Both are large, powerful men with KO power. I give the skills advantage to Overeem and the cardio advantage to Browne. At the end of the day, I believe that Overeem will take this fight because I believe he’s focused on winning and has put his ego in check. I’m picking Overeem by KO in the 2nd round.