UFC 147 – Preview and Predictions

Twenty four hours after Clay Guida and Gray Maynard headlined a UFC on FX card we have a pay per view card, live from Brazil.

Wanderlei Silva vs. Rich Franklin

Fight Breakdown: Up to the Cung Le fight, it was getting hard to watch Wanderlei Silva fight. Why? Because he kept savagely knocked out. It may have been to some heavy handed fighters but watching a guy who used to have one of the toughest chins in MMA go down regularly in almost horrifying fashion was getting hard to fathom as a fan and as a writer. While the wannabe movie star couldn’t put down the Pride stalwart, now comes an opportunity to see if he still has what it takes to be a top level fighter against an opponent coming off a substantial layoff on short notice in Rich Franklin.

Franklin’s been the UFC’s company guy for the past couple years since Anderson Silva destroyed him a second time. Fighting at light heavyweight a bit undersized, and at 195 twice, Franklin is the best middleweight in the world not named Anderson Silva. And with two resounding losses to the champion he’ll always be on the outside looking in for that division; a move up made sense in a way. If he’d never get another title shot why stay there when light heavyweight offered a route to UFC gold again.

Silva and Franklin fought at 195 three years ago; Franklin was scheduled to return to middleweight against Cung Le, joining Silva down at that weight, when he took this fight on short notice due to injuries in the division causing all sorts of changes. And that fight is a good precursor to this one as we’re going to see the same fight but with one major question to be answered.

How much chin does Wanderlei have left?

If Silva can still take a punch from someone like Franklin, who has knockout power but isn’t a headhunter, then he might have another run left in him. If Franklin connects full blast and Silva goes down, we could see him retire on the spot as well.

Both fighters remain the same from their first fight: Silva is a full throttle, full speed ahead striker looking to turn any fight into a brawl. Franklin still does everything fairly well but doesn’t have one particular skillset he’s mastered. Nothing has changed from the first fight and this one will most likely mirror the first but now that it’s five rounds we’ll most likely see a definitive finish before 25 minutes are up.

Why it matters: Silva needs to prove he hasn’t hit Chuck Liddell levels. Franklin can potentially make another run at middleweight depending on the result of UFC 148.

Prediction: Silva by TKO round 4

TUF Brazil Middleweight Final Sergio Moraes vs. Cezar Ferreira

Fight Breakdown: Two of the better middleweight prospects step into the cage to crown the first TUF Brazil Middleweight champion, though only one fought his way there.

Cezar Ferreira fights a lot like his mentor, Vitor Belfort, in that he’s qualified on the ground but lethal on his feet. He wrecked his way to the finals with some impressive knockouts and looks like he has the potential to be a world champion. He was the favorite day one, Vitor’s first pick, and his key to victory is keeping it standing.

Moraes is easily the best fighter on the TUF: Brazil cast when it comes to submissions, a multiple time BJJ world champion, and maybe the best BJJ fighter to be on the show in any season. Only Vinny Magalhaes can claim anywhere near the credentials in BJJ that Moraes has. Moraes is coming into the final as an alternate, losing in the semi-finals but stepping in due to injury. To win he needs to get the fight to the ground.

Why it matters: One of the two TUF Brazil championships are on the line and a guaranteed spot in the UFC.

Prediction: Moraes by submission, round 2

TUF Brazil Featherweight Final Godofredo Pepey vs. Rony Mariano Bezerra

Fight Breakdown: Two fairly substantial featherweight prospects from Brazil, this has all the makings of a potential fight of the night. Bezerra comes out of Team Nogueira and is proficient on his feet and on the ground. He’s better on his feet, though, and if he wins most likely it’ll come as a result of his striking game.

De Oliveira has only left the first round once in his career, finishing everyone he’s faced. Both guys generally go for the finish and this could end in many ways. His ground game is stellar but the one caveat is that so far he’s only fought guys in his native Brazil and hasn’t left the first round: does he have the cardio to last?

Why it matters: One of the two TUF Brazil championships are on the line and a guaranteed spot in the UFC.

Prediction: Pepey by TKO

Fabricio Werdum vs. Mike Russow

Fight Breakdown: Fabricio Werdum was a heavyweight who flamed out of the UFC and relaunched his career in one fell swoop with one fight: Fedor Emelianenko. That submission victory may be the defining moment of his career so far, as he stopped the unbeaten streak of perhaps the greatest heavyweight in MMA history, and since then he’s starting to show a much diverse style than ever before. His fight against Roy Nelson was a Muay Thai clinic as Werdum wrecked Roy fairly savagely with a shockingly developed kickboxing game.

Russow, on the other hand, fights rarely but somehow has managed to develop an 11 fight win streak over increasingly better competition. And this fight will mark the first time since 2007 that he’s fought more than once a year, as well, as the Chicago cop manages to squeak out a fighting career while also being a full time police officer. The former Division 1 wrestler is tough and has one game plan; get the fight to the ground and grind it out.

That’ll be the interesting thing for Werdum: whether or not he can keep the fight standing. Werdum is one of the best BJJ practitioners in the world and as such he’ll be at an advantage on the ground but Russow managed to stifle the ground game of John-Olav Einemo (who has a similar pedigree) at the Chicago UFC on Fox card. Russow also is remarkably tough as he took a fairly strong beating from Todd Duffee and pulled out a shocking win.

Look for Werdum to tee off on Russow in the same way he did Nelson; Russow is going to come in and go for the takedown and Werdum needs to deny him and punish him for his efforts. On his back Werdum can submit Russow but Russow has surprisingly good top control; if he can get Werdum down he can keep him there and win by grinding it out. Russow has a number of wins via submission and while it’d be shocking to see him submit Werdum it’s possible. It’ll also keep him busy on his back defending submissions if it goes there.

Werdum needs to win the damage game and make this into a kickboxing matchup; Russow is a tough fighter to finish (as his only loss was by armbar in Pride to Sergei Kharitonov) but Werdum has the tools to take a dominant decision.

Why it matters: Werdum is a top level fighter that the UFC wants to put in position to fight for a title sooner than later. A win here puts him in the mix to face the JDS/Cain winner. Russow is on a four fight win streak and a win here oddly enough might put him one win away from a title shot of his own as well.

Prediction: Werdum by UD

Yuri Alcantara vs. Hacran Dias

Fight Breakdown: A fight of burgeoning featherweight prospects, this is the sort of barn-burner to open a card that the inclusion of the WEC into the UFC proper was bred to do.

Dias is from Nova Uniao, the same fight camp that houses Jose Aldo amongst others, and as such carries a similar skill set as his teammates: terrific Muay Thai and strong BJJ off his back. He’s not quite as vicious as his teammate Aldo but Dias is a terrifically talented prospect out of Brazil. He was pegged to be on the TUF: Brazil show but opted to sign to the UFC directly instead. The one downside to Dias is that his entire career has basically been spent fighting guys in Brazil; it’s hard to gauge how good he really is based off this. So far a handful of fighters who’ve been great prospects from that country have been either terrific coming in or looked horrible in their first UFC fight.

Alcantara has a similarly skilled portfolio of fighting abilities but has a lot more finishes via strikes than anything else. Slowly but surely he’s elevating his game as the man who made his debut on the last WEC card is starting to show that he could be a title contender down the round.

Why it matters: A win here gets you one step up in a shallow division.

Prediction: Dias by TKO rd 2

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