UFC 70: Nations Collide preview

Originally, this was set to be the debut of the UFC on HBO. Unfortunately things didn’t quite work out and we ended up with the first UFC “PPV” to air on (relatively) free television thanks to a deal with Spike TV. Which is great for us here in North America, but not so great elsewhere as non-North Americans will have to pay to watch the show.

Of interest in the UK is the fact that Cage Rage 21 is also scheduled for Saturday, featuring Bob SappTank Abbott, Vitor Belfort and Ninja Rua and airing live on Sky Sports. I don’t know if they release UK PPV buyrates, but I know that I’d like to know what they are.

And for those of you in Canada, the UFC website is listing the PPV as available LIVE on Viewers Choice starting at 3pm EDT. It may be something you want to look into if you can’t wait 6 hours for the Spike broadcast.

Enough with that, let’s look at the card:

Heavyweights: Gabriel “Napão” Gonzaga (Ludlow, MA, 7-1) vs. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (Zagreb, Croatia, 22-4-2)
It’s his second fight in the Octagon, and fans would love to see nothing better than to see Cro Cop win via his trademark kick to the head. And Gonzaga may provide him with that opportunity. Napão is a black belt in BJJ, but he likes to strike and may try to throw with Cro Cop in the early going. Make no mistake though, if this fight goes to the ground Cro Cop will be in some trouble. But given Mirko’s takedown defence, that’s a big if. I’m expecting a short fight between these two.

Prediction: Cro Cop, TKO R1

Light Heavyweights: Elvis “The King of Rock and Rumble” Sinosic (Sydney, Australia, 8-9-2) vs. Michael “The Count” Bisping (Liverpool, England, 13-0)
Sinosic is pretty much the definition of a journeyman fighter who puts up a good battle whenever he’s in the Octagon, but has won only once in six tries. Bisping is a fighter that I believe the UFC is very high on, and with good reason – he’s an exciting fighter, he’s well spoken, and being British, he helps the UFC increase their international exposure. He’s won both of his two official UFC fights via strikes and while I know that Sinosic is game, I don’t see this ending any differently.

Prediction: Bisping, TKO R1

Light Heavyweights: David “Not Gangrel” Heath (Tulsa, OK, 9-0) vs. Lyoto Machida (Belen, Brazil, 9-0)
Heath is a late replacement for Forrest Griffin, who withdrew from the fight due to a staph infection. His previous two fights are a mixture of submission and TKO victories, as well as a split decision against Victor Valimaki at UFC Fight Night 7. Machida considers himself primarily a karate fighter, which I don’t think we see a lot of these days. I mean, we see GSP pay homage to his karate roots, but most of us would consider him more of a complete fighter than a karate fighter. But whatever Machida’s style, it appears to have worked, earning him victories against Stephan Bonnar, Rich Franklin and B.J. Penn (who must have had a body that finally matched his head size in that fight).

Prediction: Machida, Decision

Heavyweights:Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum (Sao Paulo, Brazil, 9-2-1) vs. Andrei “Pitbull” Arlovski (Chicago, IL, 12-5)
This fight is interesting, as the winner would probably be considered the #3 contender behind Cro Cop and Minotauro in UFC’s suddenly stacked Heavyweight division. Werdum is making his UFC debut, and while he’s probably known for being Cro Cop’s BJJ coach, he holds victories over Aleksander Emelianenko and Gabriel Gonzaga, and took Minotauro to the limit in a decision loss. Like Cro Cop/Gonzaga, this fight comes down to who can control the fight. Arlovski would love to keep this fight standing up – where Wedum is least comfortable, while Werdum will be looking to take the fight to the ground and work for submissions. Arlovski may have his leglocks and GnP, but Werdum’s jiu jitsu is more than a match for the Sambo fighter. This should be an interesting bout, and really it’s a coin flip as to who wins it. The coin came up in Arlovski’s favour, so…

Prediction: Arlovski, TKO R2

Heavyweights: Assuerio Silva (Sao Paulo, Brazil, 32-4) vs. Cheick Kongo (Sevran, France, 19-3-1)
Silva’s last two fights were not as successful as he’d have liked them to be, losing to Tim Sylvia in a boring match and to Brandon Vera by tapout. Kongo had a good couple of matches but lost a decision in his last fight. Chances are that this fight will be the last UFC bout for the loser, so let’s hope for an exciting fight between these two big guys.

Prediction: Kongo, TKO R2

Lightweights: “The Real One” Matt Grice (Harrah, OK, 8-0) vs. Terry Etim (Liverpool, England, 7-0)
Terry Etim’s previous claim to fame was being in a fight that Mike Tyson was a special referee for. Etim considers himself to be more of a standup fighter although six of his victories were via submission. Grice, meanwhile is more of a wrestler who will be looking to take this fight to the ground. I’ve yet to see a boring lightweight fight – not even from Sean Sherk – so I’m expecting more of the same. In all likelihood, this fight will be contested on the ground, and I see the almost-hometown boy Etim pulling one out.

Prediction: Etim, Submission R1

Lightweights: Junior Assuncao (Atlanta, GA, 5-2) vs. David Lee (London, England, 5-2)
Both fighters are coming off of submission losses in their UFC debuts – Junior to Kurt “Batman” Pelligrino, and Lee to Tyson Griffin. Being a Brit, Lee has home country advantage but both guys will be looking for an impressive victory to show that they belong in the Octagon.

Prediction: Lee, TKO R1

Light Heavyweights: Victor “The Matrix” Valimaki (Edmonton, AB, 8-3) vs. Alessio “Legionarius” Sakara (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 10-5, 1 NC)
To say that this is a must win situation for Sakara is an understatement. After taking a kick to the jewels in his UFC debut, he gained a decision victory over Elvis Sinosic but has lost two in a row, to Dean Lister (who moved up in weight for the fight) and then to Drew McFedries after gassing out. Valimaki, meanwhile, is a teammate of Jason McDonald who was brought back after an entertaining loss to David “Not the British MP” Heath in his UFC debut. I can’t imagine that Valimaki will try to trade leather with former pro boxer Sakara, so he’ll probably do what Lister did – take this fight to the ground and work for a submission.

Prediction: Valimaki, Submission R1

Welterweights: Dennis Siver (Mannheim, Germany, 10-3) vs. Jess “The Joker” Liaudin (London, England, 10-8)
Apparently Jess thinks that most of us are retards, but I won’t hold that against him because I readily admit to being an idiot at times. Also he’s pretty realistic about his record and notes that he hasn’t beaten anyone “good”, and I appreciate that kind of candor. Siver’s background is judo and kickboxing, and he seems to use kicks to set up submissions. Liaudin has a Thai boxing background but interestingly enough, most of his wins have – like Siver – come via submission. Both of these guys will be looking to press the action and this should be an entertaining standup battle for the live audience.

Prediction: Siver, Split Decision

Welterweights: Edilberto “Crocotá” de Oliveira (Bahia, Brazil, 8-0-1) vs. “Relentless” Paul Taylor (Walsall, England, 6-1-1, 1 NC)
Crocotá is a prospect from the Nogueira brothers camp making his UFC debut against another newcomer in Paul Taylor. Coming from that camp you’d expect his jiu-jitsu to be pretty good but he’s also been working on his boxing and has three knockout wins on his CV. Taylor is coming off two consecuting non-victories but he has an advantage in that most of his fights have been in a cage, whereas Crocotá’s fights have been in a ring. Both fighters appear to be middleweights who have dropped down to 170, so this could come down to who has acclimated to the lighter weight class better.

Prediction: Crocotá, Submission R2