By: Logan Helfferich
Middleweight: Anderson Silva vs. Michael Bisping
“The Spider” is making his long awaited return after being suspended following his decision victory over Nick Diaz. The decision was changed to a no contest after Silva tested positive for PEDs. Bisping is known for his striking and knockout power. The only way Bisping could win this fight is by knockout and Silva’s chin has been tested before, most recently by Chris Weidman. Bisping could also try to hold onto top position like Chael Sonnen did against Silva, but Silva’s jiu-jitsu is world class and the ground is just as dangerous as standing with “The Spider.” Sonnen was dominating Silva in their first fight, but got caught in a late triangle choke, which just goes to show how dangerous Silva’s jiu-jitsu can be. Unless Bisping can catch Silva with a well-timed shot and get an unexpected knockout or TKO, Silva’s return will be a successful one.
Prediction: Silva defeats Bisping via KO/TKO
Middleweight: Gegard Mousasi vs. Thales Leites
Leites is coming off of a split decision loss to the main-event fighter, Bisping. Mousasi is coming off of a TKO loss to Urijah Hall, the young up-and-comer. Before that though, Mousasi was able to finish Dan Henderson early in the first round and beat Costas Philippou via a unanimous decision. Leites should look to stand and strike with Mousasi, even with his proven power. Mousasi is most effective using his ground and pound and Leites has had trouble defending takedowns. He’s good great jiu-jitsu and several submission victories, but Mousasi’s size advantage should give him the edge on the ground. Although Leites’ best shot is to keep it standing, Mousasi has excellent defensive striking and is an exceptional kickboxer. On top of that, Mousasi has ten submission victories, but was submitted by the Brazilian Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. He’ll need to avoid being finished by another Brazilian, but he shouldn’t have much trouble.
Prediction: Mousasi defeats Leites via Decision
Welterweight: Tom Breese vs. Keita Nakamura
Breese is looking to remain undefeated and pick up his third UFC victory in front of his home country. Originally, Breese was known for his ground game and won six fights via submission. Since then though, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt has won his last two fights by knockout, both of which were in the UFC. Nakamura is also looking for his third straight UFC victory and won Submission of the Night honors in his last fight against Li Jingliang. He’s won 15 fights via submission, but is also a good striker. Breese could struggle against the crafty veteran, but expect the crowd to give him a boost.
Prediction: Breese defeats Nakamura via Submission
Bantamweight: Francisco Rivera vs. Brad Pickett
“One Punch” Pickett is looking to rebound from three straight losses in front of his home fans. Rivera is coming off of a submission loss to John Lineker. Pickett will probably be pumped up by the English crowd, but he needs to keep his cool and probably should avoid striking with Rivera. Rivera uses his range well and could pick apart Pickett with lots of movement and by switching his angles. Pickett should try to use his wrestling and get Rivera to the ground. Pickett could be on his way out of the UFC very soon if he doesn’t secure a victory.
Prediction: Rivera defeats Pickett via KO/TKO
Featherweight: Mike Wilkinson vs. Makwan Amirkhani
Once again, this fight features an Englishmen, but it’s common for the UFC to schedule fighters from the home country for events in other countries besides the USA. It makes sense since fans will obviously cheer for their native fighters. In this fight, Wilkinson will likely be looking for the knockout. Amirkhani is a submission specialist though and has secured nine of his twelve victories by way of submission. If Wilkinson can avoid the takedown and not gas out, he should use his power and try to land a knockout blow. Any ground exchange is going to spell trouble for Wilkinson though.
Prediction: Amirkhani defeats Wilkinson via Submission